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Finest Hour 127

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Churchill’s Continued Relevance. WSC, the RAF and Naval Aviation. The Voyage Home from Africa, 1900. Myths: “He Reveled in the Bombing of Germany.” Winston Churchill and Boston 1900-1949. The Most Caricatured Politician of All Time: A London Exhibition. Cover: A postwar painting pays tribute to the Royal Air Force.

Finest Hour 127, Summer 2005

Page 08



As the Wehrmacht drove through Poland on the night of 2 September 1939, a mutinous group of MPs gathered beneath the rain-lashed mansard roof of 11 Morpeth Mansions to discuss Britain’s failure to issue an ultimatum to Hitler. At a desk, writing to Chamberlain, was Winston Churchill; around him were Anthony Eden, Bob Boothby, Brendan Bracken and Alfred Duff Cooper. Within a day of delivery of WSC’s letter, Britain was at war with Germany.

Churchill’s London base from 1930 or 1932 (accounts vary) through 1939 was the top two floors at this red brick 1880s apartment block half a mile from Parliament. The Churchills enlarged the two-storey flat, but the kitchen and study were tiny, and the access to the upper floor was a narrow spiral staircase.

The flat is now for sale by owner Peter Sheppard, who notes that it was also once the home of Lloyd George’s mistress, Frances Stevenson. Sheppard replaced the spiral staircase with a conventional one, enlarged the kitchen, and remodelled the downstairs.

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Finest Hour 127, Summer 2005

Page 19

By Michael McMenamin

21 JUNE 1955: “I am most grateful to you, my Lord Mayor, for the great kindness with which you have spoken about my work and character, and I shall not hesitate to include it among my testimonials if ever I should be looking for another job.”



125 YEARS AGO:

Summer1880 • Age5

“The Radicals stirred uneasily”


The “Fourth Party”––that informal group of feisty MPs including Winston’s father Lord Randolph, Sir Henry Wolfe, Harold Gorst and Arthur Balfour––continued to bedevil the new Liberal government. The occasion was the government’s introduction of the “Employers’ Liability Bill,” intended to ameliorate the harsh effects of the common law which held an employer liable for injuries done third parties by his servants’ negligence, but not for injuries to servants through the negligence of other servants or the employer himself.

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Finest Hour 127, Summer 2005

Page 51



Senior editor Paul Courtenay was first to identify nearly all of the maypole dancers on the back cover of the previous issue, number 126.

From left to right (roughly): Mossadeq of Iran (overthrown with the help of British and American intelligence), King Saud (likely), General Mark Clark (C-in-C Far East and suitably portrayed facing Mao), German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, unknown European (possibly a Greek or Spain’s Franco), unknown African (possibly Kwame Nkrumah), Mao Tse-tung, Malan of South Africa (or possibly Paul Henri Spaak of Belgium), another African, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, unknown Japanese, unknown Latin American, Dwight Eisenhower, Juan Peron, Jawaharlal Nehru, Georgi Malenkov, Chin Peng of Malaya, and Neguib of Egypt. If anyone thinks they can better this, they had better let us know!

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Finest Hour 127, Summer 2005

Page 11



Proof that Churchill’s The Second World War needed a book about it (David ReynoldsIn Command of History) is obvious from In Command’s reviews. Max Hastings’ referred to WSC’s volumes as a History and was accompanied by a cartoon referring to The World Crisis. Frank McLynn’s (The Times) and Ian McIntyre’s (The Independent) perpetuated the myth that Churchill won the 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature for his war volumes. McLynn was upset that “Churchill employed a team, underpaid them and pocketed most of the loot. What emerged was a farrago of tendentious, tunnel-vision judgments, burnished with the benefit of hindsight and flavoured with phoney counterfactuals designed to show Churchill as wise and omniscient.” And now for the facts: see FH’s own review on page 38!

The New York Times, never wont to call George W. Bush a “great leader,” now records that unlike President Reagan, “who largely accepted the expansions in government made by his liberal predecessors, Mr. Bush is the first conservative whose policies would gradually unwind major commitments like Social Security and progressive taxes. It is increasingly clear that Mr. Bush embraces the view of Winston Churchill that great leaders should set great goals."

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Finest Hour 127, Summer 2005

Page 46

By Tim Benson

WINSTON CHURCHILL IN CARICATURE: Through September 17th, the London exhibition of the Political Cartoon Society presents the many faces of Churchill as seen by cartoonists, friendly and vicious, over sixty years.



With an unrivalled political career, Winston Churchill became the most caricatured and cartooned politician of all time. His egocentric personality, along with his capacity for political misjudgment, offered a welcome target to cartoonists of all political persuasions. From his first election to Parliament in 1900 through his retirement as an MP in 1964, Churchill was taken to task by cartoonists of all political stripes at every available opportunity.

At its gallery in London, the Political Cartoon Society is offering the first exhibition of original cartoons to focus exclusively on Churchill’s long and illustrious political career. The display, made up of about sixty-five original cartoons by some thirty-five cartoonists, simultaneously summarises the 20th century’s most important events as experienced and influenced by one of its most remarkable characters.

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Finest Hour 127, Summer 2005

Page 38

By Paul H. Courtenay

In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War, by David Reynolds. Allen, 527 pp, £30, member price $48.



You are over seventy years of age, not in the best of health, exhausted after six years of energetic and unremitting leadership in a struggle for survival. You are a world statesman from whose lips every utterance is intently studied. And you are the leader of a political party working to regain office in the foreseeable future. So how about spending the next eight years writing two million words in a six-volume history of the recent cataclysm? And, by the way, some critics half a century hence will be amazed and even scornful if you do not do so all by yourself!

Professor and ICS (UK) member David Reynolds is far too good a historian to be among them. His important and masterly book reveals all the pressures placed on Winston Churchill in writing this monumental work, and how these were overcome. Some have been well known for a long time, but others are newly revealed surprises.

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Finest Hour 127, Summer 2005

Page 43

The Path to Victory: The Mediterranean Theater in World War II, by Douglas Porch. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 800 pp., $35, member price $28



As the memory of World War II slips away and the veterans of that conflict answer their last roll call, the national recollection of that titanic struggle has centered on the D-day landings at Normandy on 6 June 1944. Decisive as that event remains, however, it is well to remember that the war extended far beyond just one invasion or one D-Day.

Douglas Porch, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, builds a persuasive case that the Mediterranean theater, which stretched from Spain to Syria and from Italy to Ethiopia, was the pivotal Anglo-American theater of the war. Without it, there could have been no triumph at Normandy. The evidence lies in his brawny volume, The Path to Victory. Full of sprightly prose, keen insights and extensive research, his text deserves to be read and then re-read to gain its full flavor and wisdom.

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Finest Hour 127, Summer 2005

Page 39

By David Freeman

Defending the West: The Truman-Churchill Correspondence, 1945-1960. Edited with an introduction by G.W. Sand. Praeger, 246 pp. hardbound, $70, member price $67.



This important new work completes a trilogy of the published correspondence between Churchill and the American presidents who overlapped with his time as Prime Minister. In length this volume compares with the Churchill-Eisenhower correspondence edited by Peter G. Boyle (University of North Carolina Press, 1990), while both are dwarfed by the the three massive volumes of the Churchill-Roosevelt correspondence edited by Warren F. Kimball (Princeton University Press, 1984). Taken altogether, these books provide a solid, unvarnished view of Churchill’s working relationships with his American counterparts.

Churchill’s Premiership overlapped with just the first three and last eighteen months of the Truman administration. These were critical times, however, especially those three months in the spring of 1945. Well over half the correspondence in this book comes from this period.

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Finest Hour 127, Summer 2005

Page 42

By Rege Behe

Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945, by Max Hastings. Knopf, 584 pp., $30, member price $24.



Histories of war are not only written by the victors; they are told predominately through the viewpoint of the statesmen, generals and leaders. Max Hastings’ Armageddon includes those, but also interviews 170 contemporary witnesses described as “ordinary human beings to whom extraordinary things happened.”

Hastings, the award-winning author of Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy, 1944, thinks the stories of soldiers in the trenches and citizens affected by war helped him develop a deeper respect for the men and women whom journalist Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation.”

“We tend to look at the world in which we’re living today and to see everything in terms of what’s going on around us,” Hastings says from his home outside London. “You often hear people saying today we live in a terrible world, we have the threat of international terrorism and al-Qaida and 9/11. I personally believe each generation has to face different challenges, but when you see what our parents and grandparents who lived through the Second World War went through, it helps us to understand, for all our problems today, we’re a fantastically privileged and pampered generation.”

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Finest Hour 127, Summer 2005

Page 43

By Daniel N. Myers

Winston Churchill: Being an Account of the Life of the Right Hon. Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, P.C., C.H., T.D., M.P., by “Ephesian” [C. Bechofer Roberts]. London: Mills & Boon, 1927; New York: Robert M. McBride & Co., 1928, 272 pp.. Extended editions, London: Newnes, 1936; Hutchinson, 1940. Zoller A11. Availability: fairly common.



It is often more fascinating and revealing to read a contemporaneous biography than the account of someone’s life from a distance. When the author is close in time, one sometimes finds a very different and usually biased take on the subject than that more discretionary appraisals written long after the events recorded. Details frequently presented in summary fashion by later biographers are often given in much greater, and interesting, detail by a contemporary.

So it is with this rather well known book, one of the earliest biographies of Winston Churchill, written by a contemporary and dedicated to the wife of Churchill’s friend, Lord Birkenhead (F. E. Smith). While Ephesian’s bias in favor of Churchill is evident throughout, the writing is well done and highly readable, all the more because of the detail the author provides on Churchill’s early years in the army and in Parliament.

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