Finest Hour 152

Regional and Local Organizations

FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011

Chapters: Please send all event reports to the Chartwell Bulletin: news@winstonchurchill.org  Read More >

Poetry

POETRY: FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011

AT BLADON Read More >

Churchill Quiz

CHURCHILL QUIZ: FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011

BY JAMES LANCASTER Read More >

Riddles Mysteries Enigmas

RIDDLES, MYSTERIES, ENIGMAS: FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011 Read More >

Action this Day

ACTION THIS DAY: FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011

BY MICHAEL MCMENAMIN

125-100-75-50 YEARS AGO Read More >

Moments in Time

MOMENTS IN TIME: FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011

THE POSTWAR ICON: 1945-46 Read More >

Quotation of the Season

QUOTATION OF THE SEASON: FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011 Read More >

Datelines

DATELINES: FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011

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THE VALIANT YEARS AVAILABLE AGAIN 

BAYONNE, N.J. AUGUST 8TH— Larry Kryske notifies us that Jack LeVien’s famous 26-episode documentary of Churchill in World War II, “The Valiant Years,” has been remastered in a 7-disk DVD, offered for $44.49 from MediaOutlet.com. It can be ordered here.  Although hagiographic, LeVien’s epic is widely admired. The film footage is simply fantastic, providing a real insight into Churchill and the major war of the last century. The narrator is Richard Burton, who despised Churchill politically, but a job’s a job. Burton’s dislike is not apparent in his narrative—nor was it in his later role as WSC in the original “Gathering Storm” production.

CHURCHILLFLORA

LONDON, JULY 14TH— The second breed of hybrid tea rose named for Sir Winston, developed by Churchill College to mark its 50th-anniversary last year, was planted in the garden at Ten Downing Street by Prime Minister David Cameron. The first “Rose Sir Winston Churchill,” a pinkish orange variety with strong fragrance which blooms throughout the year, was developed in 1955 by Alexander Dickson III. The new Churchill rose, developed for Churchill College by Peter Beales Roses in Norfolk, a peach-coloured variety, debuted this year at the Chelsea Flower Show.

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Around and About

AROUND AND ABOUT: FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011 Read More >

Despatch Box

DESPATCH BOX: FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011 Read More >

Leading Churchill Myths: “Churchill’s campaign against the ‘feeble-minded’ was deliberately omitted by his biographers”

FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011

BY MARTIN GILBERT

Sir Martin succeeded Randolph Churchill as the official biographer of Sir Winston Churchill, and has been a contributor to Finest Hour for thirty years. See also Paul Addison, “Churchill and the Sterilisation Issue,” Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006, pages 22-23  Read More >

“All the World’s a Stage”: Churchill and the Theatre

FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011

BY ERICA L. CHENOWETH

Ms. Chenoweth is a science educator and historian for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and an accomplished musician, who earned a B.M. from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a B.S. in Natural Sciences from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She assisted on the forthcoming ISI Books edition of Great Contemporaries. We thank Dale Vargas and Harrow School for permission to publish Churchill’s play script Read More >

The Prime Minister and the Censorship

FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011

BY REAR-ADMIRAL G.P, THOMSON

George P. Thomson CB CBE (1887-1965) was chief censor in the World War II Ministry of Information, and later Secretary of the Admiralty, War Office and Air Ministry Press Committee. He died the same day as Churchill. Though on friendly terms with both government and media, Thomson was often faced with impatient reporters demanding advance copies of a Churchill speech, which WSC often withheld to the last minute, polishing and correcting. A more serious problem was Churchill’s habit of divulging in a speech news on the “stop” list. This article is excerpted from Thomson’s “Churchill and the Censorship,” published in Charles Eade, editor, Churchill by His Contemporaries (London: Hutchinson, 1953). Read More >

Wit and Wisdom

WIT AND WISDOM: FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011

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THE PRESS AT HOME

Churchill had different approaches to the domestic and foreign press. In Britain, he did not go out of his way with them. The House of Commons was his venue. Some speeches were rebroadcast, or published in the papers—at that time people actually read. Politicians didn’t tend to pursue their agendas with the media, as they do now. Occasionally he gave lengthy if reluctant interviews to single reporters; we published two which he gave as a young man, to Bram Stoker and Herbert Vivian, in FH 144.

By World War II, his attitude had been shaped by the way leading newspapers and the BBC had frustrated him during his “Wilderness Years,” as Martin Gilbert wrote in the official biography, Volume VIII, “Never Despair” (246):

One of those institutions was The Times, which, as he wrote to its proprietor, Colonel J.J. Astor, on July 7th, had in its editorial columns during the previous fifteen years “been a very important adverse factor in the life and strength of the British Empire and Commonwealth.” Churchill went on to explain, in an outburst against the newspaper’s editorial columns which in the end he decided not to send: “Time after time they have thrown their immense weight on the wrong side, and such is their power that they have been able again and again to blow away the head of every front or formation which could be made to keep Britain great and strong. Forgive me if I recall some milestones: India, 1930/31; one-sided disarmament, 1931/35; the Anglo-German Naval Treaty, 1935; preparation for war, 1936/39—always the bias against the effort; Munich (but many were in that too); in latter days Greece; India again, and Egypt. I do not deal with the smaller matters of domestic policies because they are so numerous, and in almost every one of them the whole balance has been tilted against the stable continuity of our life and history.

No doubt you will feel all this is very wrong and unkind. I can only tell you that, living my life during all this long period, I have felt a cramping, paralysing influence at work encouraging the subversive forces and weakening our poor island and its life and power in the world. You may well rejoin that the course of events has proved that the nation does not agree with me. All the same, The Times, apart from personal courtesies, has been a heartbreak to me and a dire oppression to all the ideas for which I stand.

We are slithering down the drain pretty fast now. Poor old England, with all her sacrifices and all her victories, is sinking to a minor position in the world, but nobody seems to mind, and I have no doubt The Times will write a very good leading article on the advantage and moral dignity of Britain taking a back seat.” These views, Churchill added, came “from the bottom of my heart.”

THE PRESS ABROAD

In North America, Churchill fascinated reporters, who followed him around asking questions, often silly ones. (See “From British Cassandra to American Hero,” by Jonathan Sikorsky, FH 108, 30-36). In New York in 1895, after returning from observing the Cuban revolt, he remarked about the Spanish to a reporter from the New York World: “I make no reflections on their courage, but they are well versed in the art of retreat.” He added, “I think that the upshot of it will be that the United States will intervene as a peacemaker.” Three years later, the United States did.

Mostly, Churchill was careful not to get into serious policy discussions with journalists. The press conference seems to have been an American invention, and was strange ground to WSC, although he acquitted himself well when he attended them (pages 22-31).

At the first of these in Washington in December 1941 (page 27), when Roosevelt prodded him to give his audience a better view, Churchill climbed on his chair to be seen better. Although he had some difficulty hearing, his wit charmed everyone. When a reporter asked when he expected we would “lick these fellows,” he needed an interpretation to reply. When he heard a southerner asking if he considered the U.S. entry into World War II one of its “great climacterics,” Churchill answered in his best Texan drawl: “I sho’ do.”

Churchill actually held a press conference of his own in January 1952. A reporter asked if he wasn’t flattered by sell-outs at his speeches: “I always remember that if instead of making a political speech I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big.”

Finally, it’s worth a smile to recall his remark on his 75th birthday to the precocious press photographer who said: “I hope, sir, that I will shoot your picture on your 100th birthday.” WSC replied, “I don’t see why not, young man. You look reasonably fit and healthy.”

Griffin and Churchill: Another View

FINEST HOUR 152, AUTUMN 2011

BY MICHAEL MCMENAMIN

Mr. McMenamin, FH contributor, novelist, attorney and writer for Reason and other journals, assisted with research but draws a different conclusion. Read More >

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