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Finest Hour 117

Finest Hour 117, Winter 2002-03

Page 26


The 19th International Churchill Conference was held in the magnificent Lansdowne Resort, in Leesburg, Virginia, on September 19th through 22nd. Over 220 people attended and sixty-one students joined the conference for the last day.

The theme “Churchill and Intelligence,” as Lady Soames said in her letter of welcome, was “a truly fascinating one, and concerns a whole dimension in the panorama of Winston Churchill’s life which has been open to research only relatively recently, for obvious reasons.”

The scene was set by the film, “The Man Who Never Was” amusingly introduced by Max Arthur. Two presentations were given by Sir Martin Gilbert, who covered Churchill’s interest and fascination with intelligence both up to and after 1940. David Stafford and Warren Kimball talked about Roosevelt and Churchill, and were ably supported by Ruth Ive who had been a censor on the transatlantic radio link from 1942 to 1945. Rita Kramer told of the work of the Special Operations Executive, Max Arthur of the role of the SAS and Commandos.

The book discussion was based on the first of Churchill’s war volumes, The Gathering Storm, with James Muller, Richard Langworth, David Stafford and Warren Kimball. The final formal presentation was on “Churchill and the Cold War,” expertly handled by David Jablonsky, David Stafford and John Ramsden. Two interesting visits were made to the new International Spy Museum in Washington and to the Presidential yacht Sequoia.

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Finest Hour 117, Winter 2002-03

Page 44


The death of Lord Randolph Churchill at age 45 cast a pall over his early fame, and the notion that the cause was syphilis is one of the most enduring myths of the Churchill saga. In fact, his main symptoms are more consistent with a less titillating but far more logical diagnosis. It is not possible to say with certainty what killed Lord Randolph; but it is no longer possible to say he died of syphilis.

Even as a young man, his health had been unreliable. He was a heavy smoker and a hard worker, with a frenetic energy that led to exhaustion, followed by periods of fatigue and melancholia. He fell seriously ill with exhaustion in 1890; the following year he experienced an episode of severe confusion, which suggests acute high blood pressure. In mid-1893 the family physician, Dr. Robson Roose, told a distraught Jennie that a heart condition had been cured. But around this time, Randolph began to have speaking difficulties, associated with hearing and balance problems.

Over the next two years until his death in 1895, he complained of dizziness, palpitations, and intermittent numbness in his hands and feet. He died in a coma, with pneumonia and, probably, kidney failure. Many of his biographers, including his son (in conversation, not in print), attributed his deterioration and death to syphilis.

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Finest Hour 117, Winter 2002-03

Page 05

This is an exciting time—The Churchill Centre is on the cusp of great events and noble endeavors. We are entering an era of aggressive expansion among young and old alike, buttressed by a central professional administrative structure actively supported by an engaged Board of Governors. What then can we expect in 2003 and beyond?

Younger generations are our top priority. Initiatives are already blooming. A solid working relationship has been established with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Our website (winstonchurchill.org) offers the “Churchill Classroom,” an innovative educational opportunity. Student participation will be a significant feature of our annual conferences. The Centre will continue to provide hundreds of our “Study History!” posters to anyone who requests one.

The Centre’s allied organizations and academic advisers will be asked to become more deeply involved in introducing high school and college students to Churchill's example and enduring legacy. When financing becomes available, I will recommend that the Centre employ a Director of Student Affairs, a full time staff position whose sole responsibility will be to manage and expand our student relationships.

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Finest Hour 117, Winter 2002-03

Page 14

By D. Craig Horn

NORFOLK, VA., APRIL 15TH— I arrived at U.S. Naval Station about 6:30 in the evening, and was escorted aboard USS Winston S. Churchill by a courteous Ensign, David Noe, who secured my bunk arrangements and showed me around the ship. Our first stop was the bridge, where I had a wonderful view of the ship, the Navy Yard, and the USS Theodore Roosevelt tied up on our starboard side. Ensign Noe took me through Combat Information Centre (CIC), to the fantail, down to the engine room. It seemed only an instant before I needed “sack time.”

At 3:00 am loudspeakers announced “Reveille, now reveille, all hands prepare to get underway.” I was up, dressed and outside in minutes, a little more tired than expected, but so excited I could have exited the cabin without opening the hatch. A great breakfast in the wardroom; I then joined another guest, Don Rullman of the Stamford, Connecticut, Navy League, in the pilothouse.

In the morning gloom the bridge came alive with Navy professionals, each knowing exactly what to do. The lights from scopes, gauges and monitors illuminated the area with an eerie red glow that gave a sense of power and excitement. We cast off and headed out to sea: all business on the bridge for the next couple of hours. Orders are given sternly and responses supplied promptly. These young men and women know their roles and waste no time getting them done, but courtesy is not lost in the process.

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Finest Hour 117, Winter 2002-03

Page 15

From: Captain Mike Franken, USN
To: Editor, FH
Seems the ship put Chris to bed.

From: Lcdr. Mike Elliott
Executive Officer USS
Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81)
To: Pat Hanger

We just returned from our operations south and I wanted personally to let you know we executed a Burial at Sea for First Lieutenant Christopher Thomas Hanger, U.S. Army.* The weather was immaculate and the seas were very supportive of the event. Additionally, the crew was very receptive to this particular service, because they all knew it was being performed for an individual who had ties to the ship and her namesake.

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Finest Hour 117, Winter 2002-03

Page 12

Comment on the BBC Greatest Britons poll (page 8) was mixed. The satirical magazine Private Eye wrote: “British people may have stopped voting in general elections but the life of the couch potato is a more or less permanent ballot. Last weekend alone channel-hoppers got to vote on the UK’s single greatest person ever, the five blokes forming Peter Waterman’s Xmas boy-band, and whether Goldie should be the first kicked out of Celebrity Big Brother....the credibility of [the Greatest Briton] project could not have survived a victory for Diana, a dead Sloane who only entered British history in 1980, or Brunel, his cause inflated by organised voting at the college named after him and some expert populist willy-waving by his advocate....So it was lucky for everyone that Churchill came through at the last minute, an utterly boring and uncontroversial but historically correct choice as, without him, this series would have been in German.” .... Author Mike Davis in his new book, Dead Cities, claimed that Churchill pursued using anthrax-laden bombs as a first-strike weapon against Nazi Germany. Mr. Davis’s point, wrote Mark Laswell, “is to show the murderous hypocrisy of Western leaders.” But, Laswell continued, The Guardian wrote that Davis based this “fact” on a 1987 article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that pretended to know Churchill’s mind; it was later authoritatively rebutted in the same journal. Historian John Keegan said, “Nobody responsible thinks that Churchill intended to use anthrax against the Germans.”

Finest Hour 117, Winter 2002-03

Page 40


Occasionally you see these fine intaglio prints: but have you ever seen them all?

In the 1970s, Sarah Churchill published commercially a series of intaglio drawings by Curtis Hooper entitled, “A Visual Philosophy of Sir Winston Churchill.” Except for one based on a sketch of her father by Sarah, each was composed from famous photographs, selected by Sarah to portray the great impulses of her father’s life. The publisher was Graphic House in New Jersey, USA, and the venture was apparently successful. Artist Hooper went so far as to claim that Graphic House insured his hands for $1 million during the project.

Each print was assigned a particular Churchill quotation and was signed by Sarah in pencil. They came in two sizes: normal page size and a larger format (22 1/2 x 34 1/2"). Each large format print was a limited edition of 400, numbered as well as signed, with a debossed Churchill coat of arms and the assigned quotation.

Few if any full collections exist. We have heard estimates of over twenty prints and we know of two that are not shown here: the aforementioned Sarah sketch and a print based on a photo of WSC painting in France in 1939 (see FH 109, page 49). The Jaffa Collection is one of the most complete collections known, including many we had never laid eyes on before. As we placed them in position for this article, we were struck by the sensitivity of Sarah Churchill in choosing themes and imagery so appropriate to her father, from his early interests in war and air, through his famous friendships, his finest hour, and his declining years amidst the new threats of the nuclear age.

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Finest Hour 117, Winter 2002-03

Page 30

By Rudolf Kircher

“An Abundantly Full Life”: Churchill Through German Eyes Part II: His Book, The World Crisis

In his book on the war, Churchill’s German Admiralty counterpart von Tirpitz says “Those who suggest that Germany’s naval policy was responsible for the war cannot even appeal to the enemy as a witness.” He goes so far as to suggest that the seventeen years of naval construction actually improved the prospects of an acceptable peace with England.

“Is it possible to be further from the truth than this?” is Winston Churchill’s reply. “With every rivet that von Tirpitz drove into his ships of war, he united British opinion throughout wide circles of the most powerful people in every walk of life and in every part of the Empire. The hammers that clanged at Kiel and Wilhelmshaven were forging the coalition of nations by which Germany was to be resisted and finally overthrown.”

Nothing did more to confirm Englishmen in the belief that Germany would use her power to tyrannise over others than the repeated attempts made to persuade England to adopt a neutral attitude in case of a German conflict with France. All the English books on the war, particularly those written by Grey and Churchill, make this indisputably clear. “I would have given up the whole Navy Bill for the sake of a really sound treaty of neutrality,” von Tirpitz says in his account of

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Finest Hour 117, Winter 2002-03

Page 35

By Conrad Black

Churchill: Visionary. Statesman. Historian, by John Lukacs. Yale University Press, 224 pp. $21.95, member price $16

John Lukacs, an original and lively historian, provides some new insights on a heavily travelled subject in this small volume, which he calls an essay. It is a catchment for varied perspectives on Winston Churchill, as visionary, historian, and historical subject. Unfortunately, the author tries to exalt Churchill by denigrating Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, and trots out what is broadly known as the Yalta Myth.

John Lukacs knows perfectly well that the British voted with the Russians against the Americans to demarcate the borders of the occupation zones in Germany at the European Advisory Commission in 1943. Roosevelt wanted to leave these unspecified because he believed that the Western Allies would advance (as they did) a good deal more quickly against the Germans than the Russians would. Here, Roosevelt was the visionary.

Roosevelt had to cajole Stalin into helping him convince Churchill to agree to a cross-Channel invasion in 1944. Churchill and Alanbrooke thought Stalin was motivated in his support of Roosevelt by a conviction that it would be a fiasco. They were probably mistaken about Stalin but they were far from visionary about Normandy.

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Finest Hour 117, Winter 2002-03

Page 36

By Richard M. Langworth

Winston’s War, by Michael Dobbs. HarperCollins, 488 pp. £17.95, member price $28

On April 2nd, 1938, facing a mountain of debt, Churchill placed his beloved country home on the market. A few days later he withdrew it. Brendan Bracken, Churchill’s political disciple, had saved Chartwell by convincing financier Sir Henry Strakosch to manage Churchill’s investments, being responsible for all debts and losses. Strakosch acted to spare Churchill financial distractions during his campaign for British preparedness and a firm line toward Hitler.

For purposes of this novel you are required to believe that the Strakosch rescue never occurred—that Churchill’s finances were still precarious when Neville Chamberlain went to Munich in October 1938; and that Churchill was incensed by Munich because his investments, made in anticipation of war, might not now pay off.

You must further accept that Brendan Bracken, far from safeguarding Churchill’s finances, committed an indiscretion that tipped off Hitler to Britain’s Norwegian assault in April 1940; and that knowing he was responsible caused Bracken to retire into obscurity after the war. Finally you must believe that two civil servants, Sir Horace Wilson and Sir Joseph Ball, were, respectively, Chamberlain’s eminence grise and political assassin, the first dictating the PM’s every move between Munich and the invasion of Poland, the latter going after Chamberlain’s enemies with the tactics of a Mafia chieftain.

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