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Finest Hour 119

Finest Hour 119, Summer 2003

Page 05

By the time you read this, six months will have passed with The Churchill Centre under the guidance of new officers and professional staff operating from new offices in Washington, D. C. Dan Myers, our new Executive Director, has assumed his role as the focal point of administrative activities with a high degree of professionalism. He has smoothly engineered the transfer of all membership and financial records to the Centre's office and is actively managing these essential functions. Churchill Stores and the Churchill Centre Book Club have been combined and transferred to Washington, and Dan will substantially increase their offerings. Through innumerable personal visits, lunches, dinners and telephone calls, Dan is raising the Centre's profile in the capital city.

The Centre's Executive Committee, consisting of Vice President Chuck Platt, Secretary Doug Russell, Treasurer Craig Horn, Trustees Chairman Richard Langworth and myself, is actively engaged in the Centre's affairs. When I scheduled monthly Executive Committee conference calls I promised the committee that the calls would be limited to one hour each. That promise was shattered during our first call, which required nearly two hours. The same has been true with subsequent calls simply because agendas are long and discussions intense.

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Finest Hour 119, Summer 2003

Page 16

By Michael McMenamin

125 Years Ago:

Summer 1878 »Age 3

"I think the Conservative Party are gone mad"

The Congress of Berlin took place in the summer of 1878 in the wake of the Russo-Turkish War, which at one point had threatened to escalate into an Anglo-Russian war if the Russians seized the Dardanelles Straits or the Gallipoli Peninsula. Lord Randolph Churchill had privately opposed Disraeli's policy of threatening war with Russia, writing at one point to a Liberal Party friend: "I think the Conservative party are gone mad. Their speeches are calculated to provoke war."

In the event, war was avoided and, in the Treaty of Berlin of 13 July, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli succeeded in rolling back many territorial gains achieved by the Russians. As Disraeli's biographer Robert Blake wrote: "Disraeli was now at the height of his fame and fortune. The Treaty of Berlin was regarded throughout the country as a major victory for British diplomacy. The old Jew was indeed the man."

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Finest Hour 119, Summer 2003

Page 12

The Opteron micro-processor will bring PC economics to even the most expensive servers, AMD Chairman Jerry Sanders says: "never in the history of Microsoft compatible microprocessors will so few do so much for so many."


In "Gentle in Victory: The changing image of the American Soldier" (National Review Online), Peter Gibbon quotes Churchill's "The story of the human race is War....long before history began, murderous strife was universal and unending." Gibbon adds: "Churchill may be right, but the good news out of Iraq is not only that America won, but that war is far less bloody than in the past and that many Americans once again consider their soldiers heroes." The quotation, from The Aftermath (London: Butterworth, 1929, page 451), is accurate, but Gibbon abbreviated. After the first sentence it read: "Except for brief and precarious interludes there has never been peace in the world; and before history began murderous strife was universal and unending. But the modern developments surely require severe and active attention."

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Finest Hour 119, Summer 2003

Page 48

Winston Churchill reflects on the public image of his grandfather.


Jeanette Gabriel: Let's return to your grandfather later on. You knew him intimately. Why do you think people have such a love for this man, with all his faults, real or imagined? People all over the world feel this way.

Winston Churchill: He was a very lovable human being, but what I think it comes down to is this: On the day my grandfather became Prime Minister, Hitler launched his Blitzkrieg against France and the low countries, and the British people in their hour of need turned to him. Had it not been for him, I firmly believe that Britain would have surrendered in the summer of 1940. The situation on its face was hopeless. By midJune the huge French Army, many time the size of ours, had surrendered. Hitler was the master of Europe.

With Britain out, Hitler's troops would have gone East, defeated Stalin, since he'd have had all his force. Having made a meal of the Russians, he would have come back and devoted his attentions to us, and the full operations of the Gestapo and the concentration camps would have been established here. There would have been no possibility of the United States launching a D-Day type liberation from three thousand miles away across the Atlantic.

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Finest Hour 119, Summer 2003

Page 44

By David Freeman

Man of the Century: Winston Churchill and his Legend Since 1945, by John Ramsden. Harper Collins, 652 pp., £25. U.S. edition in October at lower prices; orders taken.

If you enjoy the Finest Hour book section, this book is a must: a tour d'horizon of all things Churchill by the dean of Conservative Party historians. Only John Ramsden with his encyclopedic knowledge of twentieth-century British politics (he edited the standard work on the subject) could have produced this magnificent work. Bulging with little known facts and thoughtful insights, it will keep anyone with an interest in Churchill transfixed for hours.

Mountains of recent Churchill books travel well-trod ground; Ramsden shows that there are still unknown facets to the never-ending saga. He set out to examine how Churchill fashioned his own legend, and how that image has played out and been transformed over time. The survey, however, includes so much Churchill trivia that enthusiasts will be absorbed by the scenery alone.

The book begins with Churchill's "GDE" (Greatest Dying Englishman) period, his death and funeral, and then works back to chronicle the earlier "GLE" (Greatest Living Englishman) era. Indeed, as Ramsden notes, these very terms were used without need for explanation, just as Victorians referred to Gladstone as the GOM (Grand Old Man).

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Finest Hour 119, Summer 2003

Page 46

By Michael McKernan

The Politics of War—Australia at War 1939-1945: From Churchill to MacArthur, by David Day. HarperCollins, 750 pp., $49.95. CBC will place one order; any reader interested should notify The Churchill Centre.

It would be easy to think this book is a tract for the times: a timely return to the story of Australia in World War II to find out how alliance politics works between powerful and less powerful friends. But it isn't that, although Prime Minister John Howard, who admits to reading Day's prime ministerial biographies on the long flights to visit George Bush and Tony Blair, might still find in it plenty to ponder.

Day argues that Australian prime ministers throughout World War II were routinely misinformed, ignored and treated with barely concealed contempt by their alliance partners, particularly Churchill. Day reveals, with example piled upon example, how Churchill simply could not get the idea that the colonies had grown up. The Australian decision to take their remaining troops from the siege at Tobruk, for instance, caused fury in Whitehall and charges of cowardice from the British. In punishment for this exercise of limited Australian independence, Churchill and his cronies seemed to delight in thwarting legitimate expectations of help in Australia's darkest hour, 1942.

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Finest Hour 119, Summer 2003

Page 18

By Richard M. Langworth

"The only thing that's new in the world is the history you don't know" —WSC

If the Almighty dabbles in the creation of individuals, He must have chortled when He conjured up Lawrence of Arabia. For here was the ideal companion, surrogate, adviser, foil and friend of Winston Spencer Churchill. To paraphrase Churchill's famous quip, Lawrence possessed all the vices WSC admired, and none of the virtues he deplored.

He was indeed as Churchill said untrammeled by convention, independent of the ordinary currents of human action: the fair-haired westerner who helped lead the Arabs in their finest recent hours, wresting their homeland from the Ottoman Turks in World War I. Then he wrote a book about it, of the same lofty quality and style as Churchill himself. Like another of Churchill's longtime collaborators, Louis Spears (and WSC himself), Lawrence combined a noble war record with prodigious writing talent. An admiring Churchill leaned heavily on Spears during World War II, and mourned the loss of Lawrence in the years leading up to it.

From the early Twenties until his untimely death in 1935, Lawrence was a ranking Chartwell favorite. Like such cronies as Clementine Churchill's "three dreadful Bs," Bracken, Beaverbrook and Birkenhead, there was an air of disrepute about Lawrence, which he'd earned by consistently defying, disappointing and repelling the Establishment. Essentially self-made, he claimed to care not a fig about his reputation, changed his name twice to stop it pursuing him. Yet this was to some extent an affectation. Churchill in later life remarked of Lawrence to Anthony Montague Browne: "He had the art of backing uneasily into the limelight. He was a very remarkable character, and very careful of that fact."

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Finest Hour 119, Summer 2003

Page 37

By Paul Alkon

Churchill's Advice for Alexander Kordas Stillborn Film, "Lawrence of Arabia"

Accounts of Churchill's involvements with cinema have not gone much beyond anecdotes. Frequently mentioned is his fondness for movies as a means of late-night relaxation from wartime tensions during his first Premiership. Often the spotlight hovers on his unquenchable appetite for "Lady Hamilton" ("That Hamilton Woman" in the U.S.), Alexander Kordas 1941 patriotic epic starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Churchill is said to have seen it seventeen times.1

We are invited to admire the old bulldog beaming in approval at this tale of Nelson's defiance of Napoleon and glorious victory at Trafalgar. Equally admirable are the tears reportedly shed by Churchill at each reiteration on screen of Nelson's heroic death and Emma Hamilton's subsequent sad neglect by an ungrateful country. There are whispers that Churchill had some hand not only in urging Korda to make the film in Hollywood as pro-British propaganda to counter American isolationism, but even in writing its script of Nelson's speech, insisting that "You cannot make peace with Dictators. You have to destroy them."2 Alas, there is no evidence that Churchill wrote this.3

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Finest Hour 119, Summer 2003

Page 20

By Winston S. Churchill

He was indeed a dweller upon the mountain tops where the air is cold, crisp and rarefied, and where the view on clear days commands all the Kingdoms of the world and the glory of them.

I did not meet Lawrence till after the First World War was over. It was in the spring of 1919, when the Peace-makers, or at any rate the Treaty-makers, were gathered in Paris and all England was in the ferment of the aftermath. So great had been the pressure in the War, so vast its scale, so dominating the great battles in France, that I had only been dimly conscious of the part played in Allenby's campaigns by the Arab revolt in the desert. But now someone said to me: "You ought to meet this wonderful young man. His exploits are an epic." So Lawrence came to luncheon.

Usually at this time in London or Paris he wore his Arab dress in order to identify himself with the interests of the Emir Feisal and with the Arabian claims then under harsh debate. On this occasion, however, he wore plain clothes, and looked at first sight like one of the many clean-cut young officers who had gained high rank and distinction in the struggle. We were men only and the conversation was general, but presently someone rather mischievously told the story of his behavior at an Investiture some weeks before.

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Finest Hour 119, Summer 2003

Page 30

By Paul Alkon

"I went up the Tigris with one hundred Devon Territorials, young, clean, delightful fellows.... And we were casting them by thousands into the fire and to the worst of deaths, not to win the war but that the corn and rice and oil of Mesopotamia might be ours All our subject provinces to me were not worth one dead Englishman."—T. E. Lawrence

Writing Seven Pillars of Wisdom was for Lawrence an extended effort almost as exhausting as participation in the Arab Revolt itself. Reliving that adventure, while writing about it in successive drafts over seven years, greatly contributed to his post-war anomie.

The initial manuscript was begun in Paris during the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919 and lost in November of that year when a suitcase containing it was stolen at Reading railway station—or so Lawrence claimed in one of several versions he gave of the first draft's disappearance. He reports that he reluctantly wrote it again "with heavy repugnance in London in the winter of 1919-20 from memory and . . . surviving notes."1 Dissatisfied, he burned this second draft on 10 May 1922—except, oddly, for one page retained as a kind of souvenir.

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