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Finest Hour 111

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Churchill’s Orders, Decorations and Medals. Churchill Historiography in the 21st Century. Man of Kent, Kentish Man. Our Vanishing National Anthems. Myths: “Alcohol Abuser.” Churchill and his First Constituency, Oldham. Question Time. Cover: Churchill as Hon. Air Commodore, painting by Douglas Chandor.

Finest Hour 111, Summer 2001

Page 47

In an article entitled, "Rethinking Negotiation with Hitler" written in The New York Times of 25 November 2000, Benjamin Schwarz recapped the changing views among historians of Churchill on this subject. (Schwarz lumped Andrew Roberts, Sheila Lawlor and John Charmley into the category of "revisionist historians" with Clive Ponting, a great disservice to Lawlor, Roberts and Charmley.)

The revisionists argue, Schwarz wrote, "...that the idea of an armed truce with Germany didn't carry the same moral odium it does today. (Even Churchill speculated in 1935 that Hitler 'will go down in history as the man who restored honor and peace of mind to the great Germanic nation.')."

As in most attempts to startle, Mr. Schwarz took the quote out of context. It originates with Churchill's "The Truth About Hitler," published in The Strand magazine, November 1935 and reprinted as a chapter, "Hitler and His Choice," in Churchill's Great Contemporaries (London: Butterworth, New York: Putnams 1937). The full applicable quote (in 1935, remember) reads:

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Finest Hour 111, Summer 2001

Page 22

By Michael McMenamin

One hundred years ago:

Summer 1901 'Age 26

"The Hughligans"

The war in South Africa droned on, and the expense of paying for it was the major issue. Speaking in the House on 17 July, Churchill said: "What is of great importance is that this House as a whole is thoroughly agreed upon the principal features of the policy that has led to all this expenditure which everyone deplores. But hon. members opposite have indeed advocated a somewhat curious policy. The Rt. Hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition I believe hopes to check the expenditure and to bring the war to an end at an early date by combining the policy of swords with that of olive branches. That is an extraordinary policy, and I quite agree with the Rt. Hon. Gentleman that the party opposite is the only party in the State who could carry it out, for it is the only party which has in itself all the elements which make for peace and for war."

It was during this period that Churchill joined forces with a few other dissident young Tory MPs, Ian Malcolm, Lord Percy, Arthur Stanley, and Lord Hugh Cecil. As Churchill's son wrote in the Official Biography, "Later they were on occasion to be outrageous in their Parliamentary manners and the critics dubbed them the Hughligans, or Hooligans." Together, they made things hot for the Tory establishment.

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Finest Hour 111, Summer 2001

Page 51

A compendium of facts eventually to appear as a reader's guide.


Compiled by Douglas Russell & Paul Courtenay

2nd Lieutenant, 4th Queen's Own Hussars, 20 Feb 1895.
Lieutenant, 4th Queens Own Hussars, 20 May 1896.
Lieutenant, South African Light Horse, Jan 1900.
Captain, Imperial Yeomanry, Queens Own Oxfordshire Hussars, 4 Jan 1902.
Major, Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars, 25 May 1905.
Lieutenant-Colonel (temporary), QOOH, posted to 6th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers, 5 January 1916.


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Finest Hour 111, Summer 2001

Page 08

Two Pullman carriages, 246 Lydia and 247 Isle of Thanet, which formed part of Churchill's funeral train, are to be returned to Britain. They were purchased by an unnamed buyer for a six-figure sum. The two Pullmans will become part of the new Wessex Belle dining train on the Swanage Railway in the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset....Congratulations to WSC's grandson Nicholas Soames MP and his wife Serena on the birth in January of their son, Christopher, named for his grandfather, the late Lord Soames. "My mother is especially happy and very touched that we have named him after my father," said Mr. Soames. "He's a magnificent specimen, but it's difficult to see who he'll take after. He hasn't got any discernible features just yet."...."I am surprised that Nicholas Soames reports that his new-born son has no discernible features," wrote The Rev. D. W. Johnson of Oxford to the Daily Telegraph. "In my experience of baptising them, all babies invariably betray an uncanny resemblance to Winston Churchill.... Britain's flap over the Alanbrooke Diaries died early, possibly crowded out by the General Election. Nevertheless, some of the conclusions drawn by London reviewers show a remarkable lack of perspective and comprehension. In an otherwise balanced review, Simon Jenkins wrote: "Alanbrooke was Britain's top soldier and Churchill's top military counsellor. He never left Churchill's side. He

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Finest Hour 111, Summer 2001

Page 48

By Georgina Landemare, Churchill family cook, 1940s-1950s

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

"We picnicked near a river in the Atlas foothills against a background of prickly pear... [Beaverbrook] was greatly impressed by the antagonism of the Moorish and Jewish children who refused to play with one another.... We fed them with biscuits, cakes and oranges.... JOHN COLVILLE, FRINGES OF POWER: DOWNING STREET DIARIES 1940-1955 (1985)

The American word "cookie" comes from the Dutch koekje meaning "little cake." The closest thing in Britain would be a "sweet biscuit." The word "biscuit" is from the French bis cuit, (twice cooked) which may have originally referred to sea biscuits, cooked twice to keep them crisp.


3/4 lb. finely ground almonds
1/2 lb [2 cups] icing [powdered] sugar, sifted
2 whipped egg whites
2 unwhipped egg whites
Baking [parchment/rice] paper
Blanched almonds for top

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Finest Hour 111, Summer 2001

Page 40

By Andrew Roberts

Churchill: A Study in Greatness, by Geoffrey Best, London, Hambledon, 370 pp., illus., published at £19.95 ($30), CC Book Club price $25.

History is, as Pieter Geyl called it in Napoleon: For and Against (1945), "an argument without end," and this book is a masterly summation of the present arguments for and against Winston Churchill. Although he usually comes down in Churchill's favour, Geoffrey Best is scrupulously objective in explaining the anti-Churchill case of the so-called "revisionists." Indeed, no better book has been written about the state of the historiographical struggle over Churchill.

Geoffrey Best is well placed to adopt the Olympian stance necessary to eschew subjectivity in this most emotive of historical fields. A former history professor at Edinburgh and Sussex universities, he is a senior member of St Antonys College, Oxford. Unlike some academic historians, he has a felicitous turn of phrase. I defy anyone who starts his chapter on 1940, "His Finest Hour," not to finish it in a sitting.

Unfortunately, this book has been published just too early for Best to be able to include reference to the second volume of David Irving's Life of Churchill (expected in August). He does make short work of several of the more hoary anti-Churchill myths, writing, "I have enjoyed making my own mind up." His subtitle—an answer, perhaps, to the late Sir Robert Rhodes James's Churchill: a Study in Failure (1970)—allows no doubt as to which side Best finally favours.

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Finest Hour 111, Summer 2001

Page 41

By David Freeman

Churchill, by Ian S. Wood. British History in Perspective series, New York: St. Martins Press, 220 pp. hardbound, published at $49.95. Member price $36.

Ian Wood is a Lecturer in History at Napier University in Edinburgh and a tutor with the Open University. His book is aimed primarily at students, but the general reader will find this to be a solid, thoughtful and up-to-date assessment of Churchill's career. Regarding the production of yet another conventional biography as superfluous, Wood adopts a thematic approach. The brief monograph's nine chapters analyze topics such as: Churchill the Warrior, Churchill and Appeasement, Churchill and the United States, and so on. These essays rely on much of the most recent (and best) scholarship in Churchill studies with all evidence duly documented. The results are first rate and go a long way towards confounding recent revisionist theories.

Wood addresses many of the tired old points that revisionists have hammered away at over the years, but gives these topics a refreshing twist because he takes the responsible approach of providing balance and perspective. Thus, on the book's very first page Wood observes that it has often been said Churchill "derived a real excitement for war and preparation for it." But the author immediately goes on to write that "it was a guilty excitement, as Churchill often made clear when he thought aloud about it, and he was never indifferent to war's implacable human price." To follow this up Wood produces an appropriate illustrating quote from Churchill's very first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force.

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Finest Hour 111, Summer 2001

Page 39

By Andrew Roberts

War Diaries 1939-1945, by Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke, edited by Alex Danchev and Daniel Todman. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £25 ($38), member price $28.

"ON NO ACCOUNT MUST THE CONTENTS OF THIS BOOK BE PUBLISHED," wrote Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke on the opening page of his wartime diary, and it is easy to understand why. As the "Master of Strategy," the man Churchill had implored to become Britain's senior soldier, Alanbrooke was the repository of all the most important wartime secrets. Even when they were published in 1957, the diaries were heavily censored both on grounds of national security and for fear of antagonising powerful figures such as the then American President Dwight Eisenhower and the past and serving prime ministers Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan.

They are now published unexpurgated for the first time and, although it has long been no secret that Alanbrooke did not always see eye to eye on strategic matters with Churchill, it is only now apparent that for much of the war he could hardly bear the prime minister. Churchill, on the other hand, seems to have harboured no reciprocal ill-will towards Alanbrooke.

Alanbrooke's influence on global strategy cannot be underestimated. It was he, more even than Churchill, Roosevelt or Stalin, who set out the stages by which Nazi Germany was going to be defeated in the West. It was he who laid down the crucial sequence of North Africa, Italy and Normandy as the path to Berlin. Once thought of as a tough, humourless, Ulster-born "brass hat," it is now clear that Alanbrooke was a passionate man given to bouts of depression and elation and also of fury against many of those with whom he had to work, especially Generals Marshall, Eisenhower and Patton and much of the British political establishment.

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Finest Hour 111, Summer 2001

Page 27

By Mary Digby

Assistant Head Gardener at Chartwell

Reprinted with permission from The National Trust Magazine

When Chartwell first opened in 1966, it was Lady Churchill's wish to have fresh flowers in the house, as there had been in Winston's lifetime. These simple arrangements of cottage-garden flowers have been a feature ever since.

In March, when the house opens, daffodils forced in the greenhouse add variety to those growing outside, and are especially necessary after a cold winter. Freesias grown in pots in the greenhouse follow on, with tulips and De Caen anemones from the garden. These are grown in beds which were left for cut flowers when the kitchen garden was landscaped with trees and shrubs. Here, later in the year, Dutch and Spanish iris, gladioli, Canterbury Bells, Sweet Williams and permanent herbaceous plants like aquilegia and Alstroemerie "Ligtu Hybrids" will flower.

Brompton Stocks are a long-lasting cut flower. The seed is sown in the greenhouse in late July, then the seedlings transplanted into a cold frame in September where they grow throughout the winter and flower in May. Cosmea "Sensation Mixed" is an excellent annual for picking as it flowers all summer. The plants do need supporting, however, as they can reach four feet in height. Asters, larkspurs and lavateras add variety in season.

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Finest Hour 111, Summer 2001

Page 34

Allen Packwood explains how the grandson of a Duke came to represent a working class suburb of industrial Manchester

Churchill's links with the town of Oldham began in the summer of 1899 when he was approached by the local Conservative Party and asked to stand as a Tory candidate in the impending by-election. At first glance he appears a strange choice. He was certainly not a local man. In fact, it would be fair to say that his roots were both geographically and socially far removed from the industrial North-West.

Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, born at Blenheim Palace to the second son of a Duke, was brought up by a nanny in large houses full of servants. His education was typical of the Victorian aristocrat, passing from private boarding schools to Harrow and then to Sandhurst. He did not excel at all of his studies. His early school reports make for entertaining reading. His first headmaster described him as "a constant trouble to everybody...always in some scrape or other" and, on another occasion, opined (with notable lack of prescience) that he lacked ambition.

But by 1899 Churchill did have two things going for him. The first was the reputation of his father. Lord Randolph Churchill's glittering political career had been cut short by illness, and he had died in 1895 aged only 45. But at the height of his powers in the early 1880s Lord Randolph had been famous for his wit and fiery speeches. It was Lord Randolph who conceived of appealing for support of the Conservative Party to ordinary working classes under the slogan of "Tory Democracy." Although he never really defined what Tory Democracy actually was, it ensured that he was remembered fondly in places like Oldham, where his speeches had been well received.

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