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Finest Hour 167

Finest Hour 167, Special Issue 2015

Page 06

By the Rt. Hon. David Cameron

cameronPrime Minister David Cameron speaks inside the Members’ Lobby on 30 January 2015We are here to honour a great  leader—and a great Briton.

He was born in my constituency and is buried in my constituency.

A full fifty years since his funeral, when the cranes along the Thames dipped low and the streets were lined with vast silent crowds, the sheer brilliance of Winston Churchill remains undimmed.

I will never forget the first time I heard that voice. I was at my grandmother’s house, as a young boy, and looking through a box of dusty old things I found some vinyl records of his speeches. I put one on the record player and the phrases boomed out:

“Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be…”

“Let us to the task, to the battle, to the toil…”

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Finest Hour 167, Special Issue 2015

Page 10

By Rodney J. Croft

Churchill’s granddaughter Emma Soames aboard Havengore | Credit: Tom GordonChurchill’s granddaughter Emma Soames aboard Havengore | Credit: Tom GordonLast year, following the publication of my book about the State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, a newspaper article about the book caught the eye of an employee of The Corporation of London who then showed it to his superior. They soon discovered that I am a Liveryman in the City of London of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries as well as a Freeman of The City who previously served as a Surgeon-Lieutenant Commander aboard HMS President, London Division Royal Naval Reserve. This convinced Corporation leaders to phone and say that I was wanted to halt some of London’s traffic on 30 January 2015. I thought they were alluding to the age-old tradition, now frowned upon by the Metropolitan Police, of herding a flock of sheep over London Bridge! I was, however, informed that The Corporation wished me to clear  Tower Bridge and raise it to allow MV Havengore to pass through in salute to Sir Winston Churchill. Hearing this, I nearly dropped the telephone.

On the big day, accompanied by my wife and family, I arrived at the North East Control Room of Tower Bridge, where I was briefed on procedure by the Bridgemaster. At 12:40 pm Havengore cast off from HMS President downstream from Tower Bridge. The bridge raising procedure then began. Using the Tannoy system I made the announcement to clear the bridge, after which the road and pedestrian gates were closed. The four pumps, one at each base of the Towers, were switched on. A soft humming sound was discernible, but the remainder of the forthcoming manoeuvre was silent. Following the order of the Bridgemaster, I pulled back the black lever on the control panel, and the 1100-ton bascules began to move slowly upwards.

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Finest Hour 167, Special Issue 2015

Page 16

By Lloyd Hand

Lloyd Hand was the United States Chief of Protocol for President Lyndon Johnson. In January 1965 he unexpectedly found himself part of the official US delegation attending the State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. Fifty years later Ambassador Hand took the time to recall for Finest Hour how this turn of events transpired.

Ambassador David Bruce leads Chief Justice Earl Warren and Chief of Protocol Lloyd Hand into  St. Paul’s Cathedral. Joe Scherschel / National Geographic CreativeAmbassador David Bruce leads Chief Justice Earl Warren and Chief of Protocol Lloyd Hand into St. Paul’s Cathedral. Joe Scherschel / National Geographic CreativeFollowing the election of 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President of the United States in his own right on 20 January 1965, a bitterly cold day in Washington. Consequently, the President contracted pneumonia and was hospitalized at the time of Churchill’s death four days later.

President Johnson was a great admirer of Churchill and very much wanted to attend the State Funeral in London on 30 January, but his condition even after his release from the hospital was more serious than could be made public. His doctors advised him not to go. The President himself told me his situation was “dicey.” Postponing an immediate decision, President Johnson followed events closely and asked me to travel to London to investigate the feasibility of his making the trip himself.

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Finest Hour 167, Special Issue 2015

Page 24


20131211034646To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, BBC One produced a one-hour documentary presented by Jeremy Paxman. Using archival footage and interviews with survivors who took part in the ceremonies, the results are splendid—but for one not-so-small detail.

First, though, the good: Paxman speaks with London Mayor Boris Johnson, author of The Churchill Factor (reviewed in FH 166) about the relevancy of Churchill’s legacy. The ever-effusive Johnson will have no part of Paxman’s suggestion that Churchill may not be part of the consciousness of today’s youth.

Churchill’s grandchildren Sir Nicholas Soames and Celia Sandys provide personal memories from the family, while Lady Williams (formerly Jane Portal, personal secretary from 1949-55) illustrates the level of devotion among those who worked for Sir Winston.

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Finest Hour 167, Special Issue 2015

Page 25


With Richard Dimbleby’s peerless commentary on the State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill ringing in our ears, reporter William Crawley conducts us on a radio tour that starts in London and leads to Bladon, where he explores the simple setting of Churchill’s grave.

After a symbolic railway journey, we arrive at the station of Hanborough and are picked up by local taxi driver Nicky, who points out that some visitors to close-by Blenheim Palace do not even realise that Churchill is buried so near. Arriving at the Parish Church of St. Martin’s, Churchwarden Mollie Hance notes how Churchill lies with his family next to his father, mother and brother, as “all of us would like to rest.” John Anson, who lives just outside the graveyard, explains how the villagers feel that they are the protectors of an important local tradition.

No one is more aware of this than the Rector, Canon Adrian Daffern, who guides the listener through the simple and peaceful Church and sees the people who come inside to reflect. Their names fill the visitors book. People travel not only from Britain but from Winnipeg, Detroit, Oklahoma, Kansas, California, and Alabama.

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Finest Hour 167, Special Issue 2015

Page 17

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of Churchill’s death, two members of the United States House of Representatives addressed the chamber. Here are their remarks as recorded in the Congressional Record for 22 January 2015.

Hon. George E.B. Holding of North Carolina

Mr. Speaker, this Saturday, January 24, marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill. Over the past half century, he has passed from memory into history, yet stands unchallenged as one of the greatest figures of modern times.

Born of an American mother and a British father, his life and career symbolized the fellowship of the English-speaking peoples.

Just outside this very Chamber, Mr. Speaker, stands an enduring tribute to the ‘‘British Bulldog’’ in the Freedom Foyer. The placement of Churchill’s bust inside the U.S. Capitol [donated in 2013 by The Churchill Centre] serves as a testament to our special relationship with the United Kingdom and to the values our two nations have fought so dearly to defend: democracy and freedom.

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Finest Hour 167, Special Issue 2015

Page 07

By Sir David Cannadine

Planning for the official commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary of Churchill’s death began four years ago. Historian Sir David Cannadine recalls how the coordinating body, Churchill 2015, came into being and what still remains to be done.

The idea for Churchill 2015 originated over a dinner at Brooks’s Club in London in the autumn of 2011. There were only two people present, Mary Soames and myself. Some time before, and with the encouragement of Mike Shaw, formerly of Curtis Brown, who was both Mary’s literary agent and also mine, I had sent Mary a letter, suggesting that, since the fiftieth anniversary of her father’s death was not all that far off, it might be a good idea to ponder how that anniversary would be marked, and how the many organizations that made up the international Churchill world might be involved.

She said she thought this a very good idea, and that she would do all she could to help get the family fully involved as well as the Churchill organizations with which she had especially close links. (It never occurred to me at the time, but perhaps Mary also wanted to ensure that all this would be in place because she might not be there to oversee things herself in the anniversary year.) She absolutely delivered on all her undertakings, and she also insisted that since I had proposed such an organization, then I had better chair it.

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Finest Hour 167, Special Issue 2015

Page 11

By Warren Dockter

Winston Churchill is one of the most important leaders of the twentieth century. His legacy looms large in the British national psyche and commands reverence from all quarters of the globe. The fiftieth anniversary of his state funeral offers the world a chance to commemorate his memory and celebrate his life.

In fact, this year sees a number of significant anniversaries linked to Churchill, including the sixtieth anniversary of his retirement as prime minister in 1955 and the seventieth anniversary of when he stood as an architect of victory over Nazism, followed by his defeat in the General Election. This year also marks the seventy-fifith anniversary of Churchill becoming prime minister and facing down the Blitz in the skies over London. It has been eighty years since the passage of the Government of India Act, which saw the defeat of Churchill’s antiquated and misplaced campaign to deny home rule to South Asia. Ninety years ago saw Churchill’s still controversial decision, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to return Britain to the gold standard. And, finally, this year marks the hundredth anniversary of Churchill’s unsuccessful but daring campaign to force the Dardanelles Straits during the First World War.

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Finest Hour 167, Special Issue 2015

Page 09

By Katherine Barnett

Chartwell ManorChartwell ManorChartwell, the much-loved home of Sir Winston Churchill for over forty years, is commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of his passing and state funeral with a dedicated exhibition entitled “Death of a Hero,” which in sixty objects tells the story of the latter years of his life, his passing, the state funeral and the legacy he has left us with today.

As House and Collections Manager of Chartwell, it was my job to curate this moving and poignant exhibition. We took our inspiration from the words of Clementine Churchill. According to their youngest daughter Mary Soames, on the evening of her father’s state funeral, her mother turned to her and said, “You know, Mary, it wasn’t a funeral—it was a Triumph.” It is this feeling of the awe of the occasion, and the spectacle which would undoubtedly have been approved of by the man himself, that we honour through this exhibition.

It is common knowledge that Sir Winston Churchill is buried at Bladon, surrounded by family and overlooked by his ancestral home of Blenheim, but this was only decided in the last few years of his life. For much of his time at Chartwell he intended to be laid to rest by having his ashes scattered over the lawn to the south of the house, looking out over the view of the Weald of Kent, which he had fallen in love with many years earlier. It is through documented evidence to this effect that we gain an insight into just how much Chartwell meant to him, beyond being the home he loved but where, for many years, he hoped to remain forevermore.

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Finest Hour 167, Special Issue 2015

Page 05

By Randolph Churchill

unnamedOn 30 January 1965 the world stood still for the State Funeral of Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill. It was the end of an era—an era that had seen two terrible world wars but also an era where the leadership and sacrifice of the good, the brave, and the valiant prevailed over evil and tyranny. The images broadcast that day showed the grief of ordinary men and women tinged with pride. Their respect for Churchill is humbling even today. My cousin Nicholas Soames reflected that the moment that “undid us all” was the unexpected dipping of the cranes along the Thames to salute the funeral barge Havengore.

Now, fifty years on, we who have not known the horrors of world war have our chance to reflect on the sacrifice and the legacy of those who gave their lives for our freedom.

The Churchill family has been overwhelmed by the support we have received over the past few weeks during the commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary of Sir Winston’s death. Friday, 30 January 2015, was a particularly proud day. It began when my cousin Celia Sandys and I laid a beautiful wreath at the Churchill statue in Parliament Square. We saw photographs from around the country and were touched by the flowers that had been laid at the many other Churchill statues, as well as at his grave at Bladon.

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