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Finest Hour 116

Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 12


125 Years Ago:

Autumn 1877 • Age 2

"Mad or Singularly Affected"

Winston's father, Lord Randolph, is most often quoted on matters Irish with the words "Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right," predicting violent resistance to Irish Home Rule. Yet in autumn 1877, Lord Randolph gave a speech on Ireland where, as Winston wrote in his biography of his father, he "expressed his opinion...with unguarded freedom, much to the astonishment and displeasure of his family."

Lord Randolph sided with a small number of Irish MPs were using much criticized tactics to obstruct business in the House of Commons: "I have no hesitation in saying that it is inattention to Irish legislation that has produced obstruction. There are great and crying Irish questions which the Government have not attended to, do not seem to be inclined to attend to and perhaps do not intend to attend to." Winston then paraphrases his father: "Truths, he said, were always unpalatable, and he who spoke them very seldom got much thanks; but that did not render them less true. England had years of wrong, years of crime, years of tyranny, years of oppression, years of general misgovernment to make amends for in Ireland....It was for these reasons that he should propose no extreme measures against Irish members, believing as he did that the cure for obstruction lay not in threats, not in hard words, but in conciliatory legislation."

Lord Randolph's father, the Duke of Marlborough (Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, where Randolph served as his private secretary) was astonished. In a letter to Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, he wrote, "The only excuse I can find for Randolph is that he must either be mad or have been singularly affected with local Champagne or claret. I can only say that the sentiments he has indulged in are purely his own; and, more than this, I was as much amazed as you in reading them, and had no conception that he entertained such opinions."

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Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 40

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


Queen Victoria, 1837-1901
King Edward VII, 1901-1910
King George V, 1910-1936
King Edward VIII, 1936
King George VI, 1936-1952
Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-date


William Gladstone, Lib., 1868-74
Benjamin Disraeli, Cons., 1874-80
William Gladstone, Lib., 1880-85
Marquess of Salisbury, Cons., 1885-86
William Gladstone, Lib., 1886
Marquess of Salisbury, Cons., 1886-92
William Gladstone, Lib., 1892-94
Earl of Rosebery, Lib., 1894-95
Marquess of Salisbury, Cons., 1895-02

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Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 10

The receiver running Chester Barrie, the Savile Row tailor best known for designing Winston Churchill's "siren suits," was given ten days to make a firm offer or the company would be closed, The Times reported on June 8th. Fire sale, anyone?


On July 5th Janet Conant, granddaughter of the great Harvard president James Conant who hosted Churchill when he delivered his famous 1943 speech on Anglo-American Unity, was interviewed on National Public Radio. She has a new book, Tuxedo Park, about Loomis and the development of radar. Ms. Conant did her credibility little good when she explained that in 1940, while Roosevelt was sending beleaguered Britain supplies, they were being destroyed by "U-2 submarines." Ewe too should know that the U-2 was a postwar spy-aircraft.


Eliot Cohen's new book, Supreme Command (reviewed this issue) carries a curious reference: "The existence of an International Churchill Society (complete with annual conferences, a glossy magazine, and a souvenir shop selling Action This Day' stickers) embodies the kind of hero worship that most historians instinctively reject—this is all the more upsetting in view of Churchill's indubitably checkered career." We've been told this refers to other historians, not Cohen.

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Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 14


"An Abundantly Full Life": Churchill Through German Eyes Part I: The Man

For some reason it is difficult not to smile when Winston Churchill is mentioned. Not because he cannot be taken seriously, nor because during the Great War he talked of the "rat holes" in which the German Fleet was hiding, nor because many people in England say that he has made himself ridiculous more often than other politicians and statesmen; nor is it because he has a liking for monstrous collars and a tendency to embonpoint. Oh, no! All that is to some extent untrue, and to some extent unimportant.

There are people who smile just as automatically when they speak of a funeral as when they hear beautiful music. Evidently, direct contact with a bit of genuine life is what sometimes compels us to smile involuntarily. It is certainly so in the case of Winston Churchill. He is a diplomat, but in spite of that, we see him more clearly as he really is than any other Englishman of importance. Churchill typifies real life in England. A good deal about him is sham, but it may also be said that nothing about him is false.

He is thoroughly English in appearance, like the pictures of John Bull on the posters of a whisky firm: broad-shouldered, very massive and not at all "smart." He is not made up in any way, everything about him is natural. That, as one knows, is un-English nowadays—but what is English about him stands out all the more clearly.

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Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 32


Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen and Leadership in Wartime, by Eliot Cohen, Free Press, 288 pages, $25, member price $18

David Stafford begins his Churchill and Roosevelt with a fanciful appreciation of a statue of the two men on a bench in London's Bond Street. Similar consideration might be given to the statues of Field Marshals Alanbrooke and Montgomery in Whitehall, looking toward Downing Street. There is ample evidence in Alanbrooke's recently published diaries (see FH 110:42, 112:34) to support the view that he is looking disdainfully away, expressing contempt for the politicians who live at Number 10. Montgomery, however, is staring directly down the street in such a manner to give credence to the story that when Churchill remarked that Monty wanted his job, King George VI replied, "I rather think that he also wants mine."

The tensions between military and civil leadership that have bedeviled nations over the centuries are the subject of Supreme Command. Eliot Cohen, who first presented his theories to the International Churchill Conference in Washington in 1993, uses four case studies to "uncover the nature of strategy-making in war"Lincoln, Clemenceau, Ben-Gurion, and Churchill. While they are all illuminating in different ways, only the last concerns us in this review.

Before considering each leader, Cohen evaluates theories of civilmilitary relations. He invites those who wish to plunge more deeply into the issue to consult an appendix on "The Theory of Civilian Control." My own plunge was a little too deep to include here, but those so inclined will be wellrewarded for their efforts.

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Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 31


Secret Agent, by David Stafford, Overlook Press, 254 pages, $29.95, member price $22

David Stafford wrote Secret Agent to accompany a television series of the same name shown on BBC2 in the summer of 2000. This is the true story of SOE (Special Operations Executive) agents, told through a series of riveting interviews with the agents and support people themselves.

"In the darkness of Nazi occupation, SOE fanned the flames of hope and kept alive the flag of freedom." This is David Stafford as I had never read him before, combining his talents for thorough research with the prose of a Kipling. His book, which will satisfy history buffs as well as fans of Ludlum, Fleming and Clancy, is a poignant and arresting tale that concentrates on SOE activities beginning in gloomy flats at Berkeley Court—a floor below some department of the Japanese Embassy: a highly undesirable location.

Stafford recounts much of the political infighting that accompanied SOE's evolution from what was expected to be a group of harmless backroom lunatics to a professional and effective intelligence organization that left a mark on history. He names both those who helped and those hindered its development, and describes the rivalries among the various agencies, departments and allies. He gives us a plentiful supply of footnotes and references deserving further study.

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Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 28


Leading Lives: Winston Churchill
, by Fiona Richardson, Heinemann Library, 64 pages, $27.86, member price $23
Churchill: A Beginners Guide, by Nigel Rodgers, Hodder & Stoughton, 90 pages, paperback, £5.99, member price $10
Winston Churchill: Soldier, Statesman, Artist, by John Severance, Houghton Mifflin, 144 pages, $17.95, member price $12
Winston S Churchill: Man of the Twentieth Century, by Craig Read, Minerva, 290 pp.,pbk., $19.50, member price $17

A recent survey disclosed that one in six British schoolchildren could not identify Churchill as Britain's wartime leader; an astonishing 4% thought it was Adolf Hitler. Similar shocking results obtain on the other side of the Atlantic, so it is superfluous to elaborate an argument in support of even the humblest attempt to "teach Churchill." Unfortunately, most of these efforts are humble indeed.

The first Churchill "juveniles" were published in the late Fifties and with few exceptions were hagiographic potboilers. Some appeared after WSC's death in 1965, another round during the 1974 centenary of his birth, but the pickings have been fairly slim since.

Now, however, comes a change: two new juveniles from Heinemann Library and Hodder & Stoughton; a new printing of an outstanding Houghton Mifflin production, and a book on why Churchill was the "Man of the 20th Century." We should be glad. Two of the four are great, one is good, and the other is...well.

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Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 33


A Churchillan novel to be published by HarperCollins in November

Let me take you back to Saturday, 1st October, 1938. Mr. Neville Chamberlain has just returned from Munich promising "peace for our time." He is universally acclaimed as a saviour.

Meanwhile, Winston Churchill is alone at Charrwell. Abandoned. An outcast.

It's not difficult to imagine how Churchill must have felt. He had been lost in the wilderness for a decade and his political career was all but over. He was an old man who had outlived both his usefulness and his welcome. And everything he had ever held dear in politics had just been betrayed, handed over to the dictators.

What would have added to his sense of humiliation was that Chamberlain had flown back from Munich to a hero's welcome. His rival had become the Messiah, while Churchill was a pariah.

Alone in Chartwell, the Black Dog would have been howling at him with extraordinary ferocity. Saturday, 1st October, 1938, was arguably the worst day of Churchill's life.

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Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 36


One of the most admired and sought after pieces of Churchilliana is the famous Spode pitcher, first produced in 1941 and reissued in its original and a new shape in 1965. A recent spate of the Spode jugs on eBay has revealed the existence of several permutations of this famous piece of which we were not previously aware.

The most memorable feature of these pitchers, common to each, is the superb transfer decal on the front or obverse: a cameo of Churchill, flanked with a warship, tank and fighter aircraft, under the May 1940 speech excerpt (slightly misquoted), ALL I CAN OFFER IS BLOOD, TOIL, TEARS AND SWEAT above a ribbon bearing Churchill's remark about the RAF from August 1940: NEVER IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN CONFLICT WAS SO MUCH OWED BY SO MANY TO SO FEW. There are variations in colour, and two different types of decal for the reverse side; but this elegant piece of artistry is common to the front of all pitchers.

The pitcher was likely created by the company's own designers, since no particular artist is credited with it in Spode's records. Since it was not a limited edition, Spode has no record of how many were made. There were, however, two distinct runs: in 1941 and again in 1965, when a new shape was produced alongside the original.

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Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 09

Local events organizers: please send upcoming event notices to the editor for posting here. If address and email is not stated below, look for it on inside front cover.

30 November: Sir Winston Churchill's 128th birthday will be celebrated with black tie dinners in Boston, Chicago, and Anchorage, Alaska. Contacts: Alaska, James Muller (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), tel. (907) 786-4740. Boston, Suzanne Sigman (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), tel. (617) 696-1833. Chicago, Sue & Phil Larson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), tel. (708) 352-6825.

November 2003: 20th International Churchill Conference, Hamilton, Bermuda, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Bermuda Conference. Contacts: David Boler (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), tel. (0207) 558-3522 and Randy Barber (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), tel. (905) 881-8550.

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