Finest Hour 106

INSIDE THE JOURNALS – Friendly Enemies: David Low, Winston Churchill

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 37

Abstract by Chris Hanger

“Low and Churchill,” by Timothy Benson, History Today 50(2), February 2000, pp 9-15.


Sir David Low was the supreme British political cartoonist of his age. Churchill’s beliefs regarding the Empire, working classes, and the Labour Party made him an excellent subject for the socialist Low and newspapers that supported Labour. During Churchill’s unsuccessful campaign against Russian Bolshevism, Low depicted him as a “war mongering arch-reactionary” wearing a worn-out Napoleonic uniform sitting astride an equally worn-out donkey.

During the Twenties, Winston Churchill’s position with both his party and the public rendered him a misguided and solitary figure, distrusted by friend and foe alike, in the eyes of the Press. One Low cartoon depicted Churchill walking away from two stodgy men who appear quite puzzled. With a couple in the foreground, the man whispers to the female character: “That’s Mr. Churchill. His party don’t know whether to regard him as a Pitt or a pity.”

Little evidence exists that Churchill disliked Low. Instead, he found an appreciation of Low’s ability to capture the essence of political figures and issues of the day without the benefit of hindsight. In January 1924 Churchill paid tribute: “It was the turn of the Press to satirize the politician at the present moment if they were not satisfied already by the very full indulgence which we daily see in the brilliant cartoons of Low.”
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Undersecretary. Overachiever

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 36

By Steve Walker

Elgin and Churchill at the Colonial Office 1905-1908, by Ronald Hyam. London: Macmillan and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1968. 574 pages. Typical price for fine jacketed copies $75+. Frequency: very scarce.


Read Sir Martin Gilbert’s single-volume Churchill: A Life and you’ll find only twenty pages covering the period 1905-1908. In the official biography, 130 pages give us a more in-depth discussion of this period encompassing Churchill’s first government office. But for anyone tantalized by this period, the standard work by Cambridge lecturer Ronald Hyam provides nearly 600 pages detailing life at the Colonial Office during the tenure of Churchill, the undersecretary, and his senior, Lord Elgin (pronounced “El’-gan”). The author charmingly dedicates the work to “those of my friends who, though they will not read this book, encouraged me to persevere.”

The work is divided into five parts. The Introduction comprises a fascinating presentation on Lord Elgin, a man we barely glimpse in passing as we study the life of Winston Churchill. Next come two chapters covering the formation of the great Liberal government which some historians hold the most brilliant in modern British history, which brought Elgin and Churchill together.

The bulk of the book consists of three central parts which Hyam defines in his Preface as “attitudes and policies with respect to three things”: the principle of continuity of policy (1905-06); the principle of self-government (1906-07); and “the so-called native question” (1907-08). These are followed by a Conclusion, with chapters on the conduct of business at the Colonial Office, and the departure of Lord Elgin from the ministry. Also in this part is a summarizing chapter entitled “The watershed of the Empire-Commonwealth: the imperial policy of the Liberal government, 1905-1908.” This last chapter alone is almost worth the cost of buying the book.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – A French View: Par for the Curse

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 35

By Robert Franks

Churchill, by Francois Bedarida; Paris, Fayard, 576 pp. 160 F. ($25). Text in French. Will members desiring a copy please contact the editor.


No one is better qualified to write a French biography of Churchill than Francois Bedarida, a specialist in both British history and the Second World War. The risk is large, as so much has been said, but the merit of Bedarida is in presenting a more synthetic work, which delves into interesting facets of historical interpretation.

The book seeks to scrutinize the resiliency of a fantastic personality, both flamboyant and contradictory. Bedarida believes young Winston’s lack of affection from his parents left “an indelible mark on his innermost being,” resulting in an incessant need to attract attention and to seek recognition. Throughout his life he had to fight against his cyclothymic nature.

After mostly mediocre studies, he is admitted to the military academy at Sandhurst. But the prospect of a life in a garrison bores him and his diirst for action propels him, at the age of 21, into becoming a volunteer soldier and journalist in Cuba (1895), India (1897), the Sudan (1898) and South Africa (1899). Captured by the Boers, he escapes and writes a best-seller. Fame opens Parliament to him, where he sits among die Conservatives from 1900 on.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Hero and Anti-Hero

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 34

Churchill and Hitler: in Victory and Defeat, by John Strawson. New York: Fromm International 1997, 540 pages, illus., published at $30, member price $22.


Comparative studies of Churchill and Hitler are surprisingly scarce. In 1942, journalists Stephen Laird and Walter Graebner (the latter was Churchill’s Life editor for his serialized war memoirs) published their conversation, Hitler’s Reich, Churchill’s Britain (Batsford, 1942); and John Lukacs has written in The Duel and in Five Days in London about the Hitler-Churchill stand-off which he believes settled the war. Now military historian Gen. John Strawson expands the Hitler-Churchill juxtaposition by comparing their lives from childhood through World War II, with big chapters on each year of the war, ending with a “Verdict” that summarizes the views of their admirers, critics and colleagues. No revisionist, Strawson records Churchill’s faults, but emphasizes his indispensability, even in the eyes of his chief military critics. He concludes that Churchill “did not want war but the war he got changed history.”

The book is thick and comprehensive in its coverage, better than half of it devoted to the campaigns of 1939-45 and Hitler’s and Churchill’s reactions to them. But there is not much that is original or new, and the absence of source references constantly frustrates. “Where have I read that before?” one asks; “where did he get that?” The bibliography, while commendably full of German sources—which recent English revisionists rarely consult—is neither lengthy nor revealing, except of Strawson’s intent to portray the German view of things. Not surprisingly (since most of it was written after 1945) this tends to corroborate the popular view that Hitler was an evil genius whose total control over the German military machine eventually lost the war—yet equally led to stunning victories that would probably not have occurred without him.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – “If Chamberlain Had Not Lost the Battle for Britain”

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 33

Alternative to Churchill: The Eternal Bondage, by Inder Dan Ratnu, Jaipur, India: self-published, 1995,314 pages, illus., softbound, published at Rs./1000, member price $40


The theme of this book is “the Eternal Relevance of Churchill,” which the author demonstrates by combining fact and fiction. Alternative to Churchill is similar in approach to Norman Longmate’s If Britain Had Fallen (reviewed FH 33), factually relating the course of World War II up to a point—then presenting an imagined scenario if a few things had happened differently.

For Longmate, the turning point is Hermann Goering’s decision to concentrate the Luftwaffe assault on RAP bases instead of London, leading to a successful German invasion and the fall of Churchill, defending Number Ten Downing Street from the onrushing Wehrmacht, dying with his pistol ablaze. For Ratnu, the turning point (which he calls “the diversion”) is the decision of Chamberlain’s critics— Amery for the Tories, Lloyd George for the Liberals, and most of the Labour Party—to mute their May 1940 attacks on the Government for the sake of national unity. Thus Churchill does not become Premier on May 10th—or any other time. And there hangs our tale.

Although the surviving Chamberlain delegates increasing military authority to Churchill, the two split fatally over Reynaud’s call for Britain to fling the bulk of her air force into Battle of France, which Chamberlain feels he cannot deny. As the British Expeditionary Force is beaten back, Chamberlain fails to withdraw around Dunkirk in a timely fashion, and 300,000 British troops are captured or killed in the greatest military disaster in British history. “Because of the absence of a dynamic, daring and driving personality at the top,” Ratnu concludes, “the British fell short of taking appropriate measures well in time at every stage.”
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – And Now for Something Completely Different

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 32

By Richard M. Langworth

Layman’s Questions About Churchill, by Inder Dan Ratnu, Jaipur, India: Mumal Publishers 1998, 112 pages, illus. softbound, Rs./125, Member price $15


What Every Indian Needs to Know

Given what’s come out of India on Churchill in the past (see sidebar), it is a pleasure to find an Indian author with something positive to say. Inder Dan Ratnu has been doing so for a quarter century, evidently without the total enthusiasm of his countrymen, or even his family. Finding a paperback copy of Churchill’s Great War Speeches, about to be used to wrap peanuts by a Gujarat street vendor, Mr. Ratnu salvaged it and wore it out with the use for which it was intended: reading. A member of the poet community of “Charans” of Rajasthan State in Western India, he has been reciting Churchill’s war speeches “as an item of entertainment” since 1974. After his first book was published (see next review), Indian readers wanted to know more about the statesman responsible for Mr. Ratnu’s excitement. This book provides it. Perhaps more important to non-Indians, it gives a close glimpse of the ordinary Indian’s view of Churchill—about which quite a lot needs to be done.

The author divides his book into seven closely set sections: biographic details, contemporary personalities, the war speeches, Indian independence, “controversial aspects” (charges that WSC was an imperialist, racist, dictator, etc.), “hypothetical” (Churchill and the European Union), and “conceptual” (Churchill on Britain, America, Germany, Liberty; and WSC’s philosophy and achievement). All are interesting, the sections on Gandhi especially so given recent debates over the “Person of the Century,” in which Gandhi was usually a strong contender.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – WSC at Munitions

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 31

By Chris Bell

Churchill, Munitions and Mechanical Warfare: The Politics of Supply and Strategy, by Eugene Edward Beiriger, New York: Peter Lang, 1997. Hardbound, 188 pages, published at $39.95, member price $37.


In July 1917, David Lloyd George rescued Winston Churchill from the political wilderness by appointing him Minister of Munitions. This move provoked a storm of political protest. Churchill’s judgment was widely distrusted following the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign, and leading Tories had no desire to see Churchill return to a position of power. Not surprisingly, the new minister was denied a seat on the War Cabinet. This was an arrangement which suited Lloyd George well: it enabled him to exploit Churchill’s considerable administrative talents and drive for the sake of the war effort, but also kept an unpopular, controversial colleague at a safe distance from the central direction of the British war effort.

While Churchill threw himself into the task of managing munitions production, he also attempted to use his position to influence British grand strategy, just as his opponents had feared. By 1917, Churchill’s strategic views no longer resembled those he had held at the beginning of the war. The failure of the Dardanelles campaign made him doubt that victory could be won quickly or easily by attacking Germany’s allies in the east, but his service in the trenches helped to ensure that he never became more than a qualified “westerner.”
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CARTOON HISTORY – “Double Three”: A Game or Dominoes

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 48


This delightful cartoon was found amongst a pile of ephemera. It is unsigned but I would guess that it dates from about 1942. From their expressions it is clear that Roosevelt and Churchill, cheered on by Stalin, are confident that they are on a winning streak in their game of dominoes. In contrast Messrs. Hirohito, Hitler and Mussolini are already contemplating defeat. Perhaps it is because Churchill, owing to artistic licence or otherwise, is about to play an unbeatable double-nine?

In pencil on the reverse of the original is the endorsement FDR LIB NY. (Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, New York?) Can any reader confirm the source of the original and identify the artist? –Douglas ]. Hall

MICHAEL WYBROW 1930-2000

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 11


GUILDFORD, SURREY, MARCH 3RD— His many friends in Churchill and bookish circles mourn the death of our friend and colleague Michael Wybrow, Churchill collector extraordinaire, who created one of the finest collections in Great Britain and was also an active member of the Committee of ICS/UK for many years.

Michael Wybrow and Dalton Newfield were the world’s first Churchill specialist booksellers, both in business as early as the 1970s. Many collectors remember the book fairs Michael organised in the alley next to the Royal Academy, or met him at the Cafe Royale book fairs. Mark Weber recalls Michael’s collecting enthusiasm: “He left no stone unturned and had some remarkable schemes to acquire material. I remember him telling me that in the Sixties after Churchill died, he wrote to many titled people asking if they had programmes or memorabilia from any ceremonies involving Churchill. The result was a nice collection of tickets and leaflets on the various Freedoms of Cities and similar ceremonies honouring Churchill. What rich pickings he must have had back then.”

The greatest day I ever spent at Chartwell was with Michael Wybrow. Former administrator Jean Broome had kindly invited us on a “closed day” and, after a rousing ride out in his beloved Rover 3.5 V-8, we were turned loose to examine the book collection. We found many editions we had never laid eyes on before, particularly foreign language issues like Read More >

Ampersand: Moments in Time: London, 30 November 1964

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 47


“I went home for my father’s ninetieth birthday….I remember when I arrived there were big crowds gathered outside the house hoping for a glimpse of my father. There were photographers and movie cameramen, and even a little group of musicians serenading under the window. When he stood, unaided but obviously with help close by in case of need, to wave from a window, there was a roar of applause from outside.” -Sarah Churchill, Keep on Dancing, 1981.

Churchill Trivia

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 46

BY CURT ZOLLER (zcurt@earthlink.net)


TEST your knowledge! Most questions can be answered in back issues of Churchill Center publications but it’s not really cricket to check. Twenty-four questions appear each issue, answers in the following issue. You can win a case of something vying with friends to get these right! Categories are Contemporaries (C), Literary (L), Miscellaneous (M), Personal (P), Statesmanship (S) and War (W).

1033. What was Ernest Bevin’s official position in the War Cabinet? (C)

1034. When did Churchill declare, “This was their finest hour”? (L)

1035. What was the “Limpet,” developed in Churchill’s “Toyshop”? (M)

1036. When Churchill replaced Chamberlain as Prime Minister, what office did he give the former Prime Minister? (P)

1037. In August 1919 Churchill as Secretary for War urged the Government to accept the “Ten-year Rule” as Britain’s principal defense policy. What was the Rule? (S)

1038. What U.S. Secretary of the Navy made the 1995 decision to name a guided missile destroyer after Churchill? (W)
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Recipes from No. 10: Mousse de Jambon Froid (Cold Ham Mousse)

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 45

By Georgina Landemare (Churchill Family Cook, c. 1940s-50s)

Updated & annotated for the modern kitchen by Barbara Langworth (b_langworth@conknet.com)


Serves 6:

This is a favorite family recipe. I have totally modernized the preparation, and it is easily made using a food processor. The mousse and aspic need to be refrigerated at least an hour before presentation.

2 lbs cooked lean ham
4 oz [1/2 cup] tomato puree
1/2 tsp of paprika [or to taste]
1/2 pint [10 oz] cream, whipped
1/2 oz unflavored gelatine [2 envelopes], softened in about
1 /4 cup water
Chopped aspic jelly*

Cut the ham into one-inch pieces and put a few at a time into the container of a food processor. Turn the machine on and off for about thirty seconds each time.
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Churchill Online – Gold Standard and Stalin-Roosevelt

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 44


CHURCHILL AND THE GOLD STANDARD

From: Michael Tombs (michael.tombs@tesco.net):

I’m wondering if anyone might know where I can find some material on Churchill’s time as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and on his views on the resumption and effects of the gold standard after World War I.

From: Simon Riordan, UK:

Some suggestions: Peter Clarke, “Churchill’s Economic Ideas, 1900-1930” in Robert Blake and William Roger Louis (eds.), Churchill: A Major New Assessment (1993); Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill, Volume V (1976), especially Chapter 5. And, a little more specialised: D. E. Moggridge, The Return to Gold, 1925: The Formulation of Policy and its Critics (1969), and British Monetary Policy 1924-1931: The Norman Conquest of $4.86 (1972); and R. S. Sayers, “The Return to Gold, 1925” in Pressnell (ed.) Studies in the Industrial Revolution (1960)

From: Ronald I. Cohen (roncohen@cyberus.ca)

A good place to start would be John Maynard Keynes’s 32-page pamphlet, The Economic Consequences of Mr. Churchill (London, Woolf, 1925); Churchill’s first Budget Speech (28 April 1925) and the follow-up speeches of 30 April and 1 May; the speeches of 4 and 5 May 1925 on the Gold Standards Bill. All are collected in Robert Rhodes James’s Complete Speeches, Vol. IV, at pp. 3556 and following. Sir Hubert Douglas Henderson was another very vocal critic of the day. I Read More >

Reflections on Churchill’s Thoughts and Adventures

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 42

BY GUNNAR KNAPP


IT WAS with some trepidation that I accepted Jim Muller’s invitation to speak to you tonight. What, I wondered, could I say about Winston Churchill that most of you would not already know, and know better than I? But then I realized that my task was easy. I needed only to open any book by Churchill at random and start reading, and my listeners were likely to hear something said well and well worth saying.

So I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity to share some selections from a work of Churchill’s which I read and enjoyed recently, at Jim’s recommendation. The book is Thoughts and Adventures (whose American title is Amid These Storms), which was published in 1932 when Churchill was 58 years old.

Thoughts and Adventures consists of twenty-three essays, most of which had been previously published, on a wide range of topics. Here are some of the titles:

Cartoons and Cartoonists
Election Memories
TheU-BoatWar
The Irish Treaty
Mass Effects in Modern Life
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Cigars: Protecting the Premier

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 38

BY ALLEN PACKWOOD


RECENT revelations from the Public Record Office about British plots to assassinate Hitler in 1944 raise intriguing questions about the possibility of German plots to assassinate Winston Churchill. Some interesting correspondence relating to the testing of Churchill’s cigars survives among his papers at the Churchill Archives Centre.

Churchill’s penchant for cigars and fine drink was known throughout the world. His Private Office was regularly offered gifts of alcohol and tobacco. Clearly there was a risk of poisoning that had to be taken seriously. In the early part of the war such gifts appear to have been intercepted and passed to Scotland Yard for testing and safekeeping.

In January 1941 the Maceo Society of Camaguey, Cuba presented the British Legation in Havana with two boxes of cigars for the Prime Minister. These were sent by the Foreign Office to Scotland Yard, who in turn passed them to the senior official analyst at the Home Office, one Roche Lynch, an expert in poisons working at die Department of Chemical Pathology at St Mary’s Hospital in London. Lynch offered to perform his routine tests but observed that, “…it is impossible for me to test the cigars for every known poison especially when it is possible that they could have been treated with some tropical poison not seen in this country.”
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