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Finest Hour 121

Finest Hour 121, Winter 2003-04

Page 05

Caping yawns greet most efforts to write about changes in an organization's formal structure. Yet that structure, usually set out in a "constitution" or by-laws, has a direct and decisive impact on an organization's governance, which, in turn, contributes much to the perceptions of its stature and effectiveness held by members and non-members alike.

It is for this reason that I run the risk of glazed eyes and chasing you on to the next page by discussing in this space several significant by-law changes recently adopted by our Board of Governors.

The Board in September created positions for two new Governors beginning January 1st, 2004. These new Governors are, to be appointed by the President for one-year terms. Appointed Governors are not eligible for reappointment until three years have elapsed after the conclusion of their appointed terms. They would, of course, be eligible at any time for election to the standard three-year term. (Each year, two Governors are elected for three-year terms.)

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Finest Hour 121, Winter 2003-04

Page 29


Transportation writers hold a handful of passages in special respect: Ken Purdy's sketch ofTazio Nuvolari, the greatest racing driver who ever lived; Lucius Beebe's paean to The 20th Century Limited, greatest train in the world; Don Vorderman's tribute to Simon Templars Hirondel, the greatest car in all fiction. Churchill's long association with the Cunard-White Star Queens suggests that another such piece by John Malcolm Brinnin, reprinted by permission from his book, Sway of the Grand Saloon (NY: Barnes & Noble, 2000), is not out of place here. —Editor

Twelve-ten AM, 25 September 1967. The Royal Mail Ship Queen Elizabeth, largest ship in the world, twenty-seven years old, is bound westward. At some point in the early morning she will meet and pass the Queen Mary, the next-largest ship in the world, thirty-one years old, bound east. This will be their final meeting, their last sight of one another, ever.

For more than two decades they have been the proudest sisters on the ocean, deferential to one another, secure in the knowledge that they are the most celebrated things on water since rafts went floating down the Tigris and Euphrates.

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Finest Hour 121, Winter 2003-04

Page 14

By Michael McMenamin

125 Years Ago:

Winter 1878-79-Age4

"Lord Randolph was mute"

After Lord Randolph's scathing attack on the President of the Local Government Board earlier in the year, nothing more was heard from Lord Randolph on the political front. As Winston wrote in his biography of his father, "For the rest of the Parliament Lord Randolph was mute. Scarcely a mention of his name occurs in the 'Debates.' He was absent from many important divisions. His relations and feelings towards the Government seem somewhat to have improved as the Russian war crisis receded, and he remained an impassive spectator of their doings in Afghanistan, in Zululand, and the Transvaal."

Meanwhile, Churchill's parents continued during the winter their extensive travels throughout Ireland. As Lord Randolph wrote to his mother, "This weather is certainly very wintry and does not seem to lend itself to anything congenial, while anything more odious or unfortunate for fishing cannot be well imagined. I fished for two days in the Suir and never moved a fish, nor did anyone else. However, I have added another Irish county (Tipperary) to my peregrinations in this island."

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Finest Hour 121, Winter 2003-04

Page 47

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

The Rt Hon Sir Winston Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, PC, FRS, MP had several other "letters," often represented by that most coveted citation, "the Order of Etcetera." Here are the usual letters attached to his name, in the order of precedence:

Rt Hon: Right Honorable, a prefix denoting peers and peeresses below the degree of Marquess/Marchioness, all members of the Privy Council, and Lord Mayors of certain principal cities. Churchill became a Rt Hon by becoming a PC in 1907.

KG: Knight of the Garter. The highest honour for military and civil service a Briton may receive. Selection is made personally by the Sovereign and is given in only one class, knight. Membership is limited to the Sovereign and twenty-five knights. Churchill was invested with the Garter on 24 April 1953 and was formally installed at Windsor on 14 June 1954. As a knighthood, it takes precedence in the titles after his name.

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Finest Hour 121, Winter 2003-04

Page 13

Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia was born in Suite 212 at Claridge's Hotel in London, recalls the Los Angeles Times. "Yet for the heir to the throne ever to lay claim to his kingdom, just vacated by the Nazis, he had to be born on Yugoslav territory. Luckily for King Peter II and his wife, Princess Alexandra of Greece, Churchill came to the rescue, declaring the luxurious hotel room in central London a slice of Yugoslavia." Can anyone confirm this?


The originator of the campaign to recall California Governor Gray Davis, Congressman Darrell Issa, told CNN that one of the leading Republican contenders, Tom McClintock, had promised him months ago that he would abort his candidacy if it would split the Republican vote with Arnold Schwarzenegger. McClintock replied that Winston Churchill would call this Issa's comment a "terminological inexactitude," because the word "lie" was disallowed in parliamentary debate

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Finest Hour 121, Winter 2003-04

Page 44

By Christopher H. Sterling

FDR in 1944: A Diminished President, by Matthew B. Wills. Ivy House, 192pp., illus., $22.95. Order from the publisher, (800) 948-2786.

There seems to be a growing fascination with and trend toward issuing studies of great persons in the context of their personal histories—medical and matrimonial. Recent studies of John Kennedy and Princess Diana are but two examples. This privately-published volume is such a book—a warm and feeling description of the last full year of Franklin Roosevelt's life as his health worsened, though this vital fact was withheld from all but a tiny handful of close aides. Wills's focus is on the impact of that disastrous decline on American policy as the war turned solidly in the Allies' favor.

The author practiced law for a third of a century in Colorado before retiring and turning to his love of American history. He had a published study of the many wartime missions of Harry Hopkins to his credit before undertaking this analysis of the complex tale of Roosevelt's decline. Not a medical man himself, Wills seems to have sought good advice from others as he pored over papers from the FDR Library and other resources better to understand and relate how the President's declining faculties affected political and military decision-making in Washington, and with the Big Three, including Churchill. Only when FDR reported to Congress early in 1945, just after returning from the Yalta conference, was his obvious decline on public display for all to see. He died just three months later.

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Finest Hour 121, Winter 2003-04

Page 43

By Judith Mills Kambestad

Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill, A Brief Account of a Long Life, by Gretchen Rubin. Ballantine, 308 pages, $22.95. Member price $16.

Gretchen Rubin teaches at Yale Law School and School of Management. She has mined the work of other authors to compile this book and present her case in a "Churchill vs. Churchill," pro vs. con format. In paired chapters, a positive, admirable, likeable Churchill emerges, only to be dashed by a pursuing chapter of negative rancor.

If you read the jacket of this book, you may be inclined to buy it. It has an intriguing title, and declares it is for 21st century readers. Rubin's only other work, Power Money Fame Sex: A User's Guide—a very 21st century title reminding one of supermarket check-out stand headlines—may explain the author's inclusion of lurid, attention-grabbing headings such as "Churchill the Drinker," "Churchill the Spendthrift," "Churchill and Sex," and "Churchill as Husband." I was reminded of Celia Sandys's remark quoted in The Los Angeles Times (Calendar, July 27th): "People think, 'Ah, if I write a book with Churchill in the title it'll sell a few copies. But if I say something nasty about him it will—shock, horror—sell more.'"

The table of contents lists forty chapters. Why forty? Rubin tells us that historically, "forty meant many." Some chapters are only a page or two, and some give the impression that a stretch was needed to meet the required forty.

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Finest Hour 121, Winter 2003-04

Page 41

By Richard M. Langworth

The blistering volume of Churchill publishing—print, digital, and video—continues apace, straining our resources to keep up. Among the offerings this season are a fine new catalogue of Churchill paintings produced by the literary marriage of David Coombs and Minnie Churchill; another attempt at marrying Winston Churchill to the "brief life" treatment; and a three-hour television opus which might have better served as an obituary, except for its length. Together these productions remind me of the title of a 1994 Hugh Grant film. Let's take the funeral first.

Very Nice, and. Very Dull

Churchill, a three-hour documentary produced by TWI (UK) and PBS (USA). Narrated by Sir Ian McKellen.

No runs, no hits, no errors," the American baseball expression for an inning in which nothing happens, well summarizes this three-hour lullaby. In Britain it runs in three separate parts, which may keep more people watching.

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Finest Hour 121, Winter 2003-04

Page 16

By Christopher H. Sterling

Dr. Sterling is on the faculty of The George Washington University and is editor of The Churchillian, published by the Washington Society for Churchill. His "Churchill and Air Travel" appeared in FH 118.

queen mary maiden voyage 1936Throughout his long life, Winston Churchill was a prolific traveler. He enjoyed a variety of modes of transport, including on one notable and photographed occasion, a camel.1 Of the many ships on which he took passage, Churchill is most closely identified with the Cunard liner Queen Mary, on which he sailed numerous times (more than any other single vessel) during and after World War II—and about which he wrote the tribute published in this issue.

Churchill sailed on at least fifteen different liners over nearly six decades.2 His trips varied considerably in length and the conditions under which he sailed, but few sources detail them. Passing reference is often made ("Churchill sailed..."), offering no information on the ship involved. What follows is culled from a wide variety of sources on ships and Churchill.

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Finest Hour 121, Winter 2003-04

Page 30


Winston Churchill first visited the island of Madeira on 17 October 1899. He was sailing on the Dunottar Castle to South Africa as a newspaper correspondent covering the Boer War. Also on board was the Army Commander-in-Chief, Sir Redvers Buller. Churchill writes in My Early Life that there was no wireless in those days and for the duration of the voyage they "dropped completely out of the world." While in Madeira he wrote to his Mother, "We have had a nasty rough voyage and I have been grievously sick." (See also page 17.)

He was not to visit the island for another fifty years; in the intervening years, however, he enjoyed the fruits of Madeira vines and once commented when drinking a vintage from the late 1700s, "My God, do you realize this Madeira was made when Marie Antoinette was still alive?"

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