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Churchill in the News

11 October 2011
If Only It Were So Simple

By David Stafford

Finest Hour 153

Professor Stafford is the author of Churchill and Secret Service and related books on wartime intelligence.

Hoodwinking Churchill: Tito's Great Confidence Trick, by Peter Batty. Shepheard-Wlawyn, hardbound, illus. 384 pages, $42.95, Amazon $32.64.

What is this book about? Simply that President Tito of Yugoslavia, who died in 1980, was "the man who, during World War II... hoodwinked Britain's staunchly anti-communist Prime Minister into giving his full backing to the communist Partisans and cutting all aid to the anti-communist forces resisting the Germans in Yugoslavia.... Churchill's decision was based on information provided by two trusted advisers, Fitzroy Maclean and William Deakin, who simply passed on without verification what Tito told them. The deception was compounded by a communist mole at SOE headquarters in Cairo who withheld or doctored information from liaison officers with the anti-communist leader, Draza Mihailovic." Without Churchill's support, the blurb tells us, Tito would not have overcome his political opponents to emerge as the country's leader, and Yugoslavs would have been spared over forty years of harsh communist rule.

If only it were so simple. Remove Churchill, and three more people from the complex situation that was wartime Yugoslavia, and all would have been radically different.

The author is a British journalist and TV producer. His motive for writing the book comes from a bust-up with the BBC over a documentary he made about Tito at the time of the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s—which was, he claims, crudely and savagely re-edited behind his back in order to protect the received "myth" of Tito as the great Partisan hero, as well as the reputation of the late Sir Fitzroy Maclean.

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5 October 2011

Writing for Business Insider on September 29th, Grace Wyler correctly reports a Churchill misquote by presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Defending himself from charges that he is a "flip-flopper," Wyler writes, Romney confused "the Brit every Republican loves with the Brit every Republican loves to hate."

Romney said: "In the private sector, if you don't change your view when the facts change, well you'll get fired for being stubborn and stupid. Winston Churchill said, 'When facts change, I change too, madam.'"

Wyler correctly notes that this was said by John Maynard Keynes, "the British economist whose theories about government intervention in the economy is reviled by conservatives everywhere." (Keynes's actual words were: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?")

We heard Romney's remark with only a small clang, instead of the large one we usually hear when Churchill is misquoted—because, while Romney had the attribution wrong, he had Churchill's sentiments right.

Churchill changed parties twice (effectively placing himself against some of the people, all of the time). He even wrote an article defending himself: "Consistency in Politics" (Nash's Pall Mall, July 1927, reprinted in his book Thoughts and Adventures): "The only way a man can remain consistent amid changing circumstances is to change with them while preserving the same dominating purpose."

A quarter century later, chided for changing his mind in the House of Commons, Churchill retorted: "My views are a harmonious process which keeps them in relation to the current movements of events." (5 May 1952).

When the present Queen was crowned Churchill mused over his diehard support for her uncle, Edward VIII, who had abdicated in 1936 in favor of his brother, George VI, Britain's wartime sovereign: "I'm glad I was wrong. We could not have had a better King. And now we have this splendid Queen." (June 1953).

The main reason Churchill "flip-flopped" so many times was the extraordinary length of his political career: fifty years on the scene. When after the war, the Labour Party wished further to curb the power of the House of Lords, Prime Minister Attlee quoted what Churchill, now a Conservative, had said about the Lords in 1911, as a Liberal, Churchill had called the Lords "one-sided, hereditary, unpurged, unrepresentative, irresponsible, absentee."

Churchill replied: "Really, I do believe there ought to be a statute of limitations on my remarks. I'm willing to be held responsible for anything I've said for the past thirty years, but before that I think a veil should be drawn over the past."

How many politicians last long enough to make that particular request?

--Richard M. Langworth, Editor, Finest Hour

Quotations from Finest Hour 151 and the author's book Churchill By Himself.

13 September 2011
From her private diaries, Winston Churchill's daughter Lady Soames gives a vivid account of London society at war.

By Lady Soames

[Editors Note: The Daily Mail incorrectly refers to our Patron as "Lady Mary Soames," when, as she herself has often pointed out, she is "Lady Soames," having acquired the title by marriage rather than inheritance.]

THE DAILY MAIL, 3 September 2011—It was September 3, 1939. There was a blue summer sky with white clouds floating slowly by and I had made plans to ride with friends in the country.

At 11.15 came the brief statement by Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister. No reply had been received to Britain's ultimatum that Hitler withdraw from Poland, he said, and, consequently, we were at war with Germany. I found it impossible to believe.

There must have been five or six of us there, subdued and moved by the announcement. Then we set off in a gallop.

This gesture of sheer theatre was the perfect touch – releasing tension and emotions. But I believe it marked the end of our world as we had known it.

During these early days of the war I divided my energies between helping with the major task of sewing blackout curtains and doing four-hour shifts as a telephonist at the ambulance headquarters in Westerham, near our home at Chartwell in Kent.

My father Winston Churchill had become First Lord of the Admiralty and it was planned, to my delight, that I should live in London with my parents. Just short of my 18th birthday, we moved into Admiralty House, between Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade.

I started as soon as possible at Queen's College, Harley Street, joining a part-time course in English Literature, History and French. I also enrolled with the Red Cross making bandages: this was a severe test of my patriotism, as my natural aptitude with needle and thread is zero.

I much preferred my shifts at a Forces canteen at Victoria Station (except when one of my superiors took the unsporting view that I talked too much to the customers and planted me behind the steaming tea and coffee urns, from where I emerged rather crossly, and with my hairdo predictably ruined). I was unashamedly happy and excited by what I regarded as my first taste of 'grown-up' life – the badges of which were a telephone in my room and a latchkey.

'It was now that my love and admiration for my father became enhanced by an element of heroworship. My affection became inextricably entwined with all the emotions I felt as a young, patriotic Englishwoman'

London social life was lively – theatres were full, there were plenty of nightclubs and often we would dine where we could dance. The Savoy, the Dorchester, the Cafe de Paris and Kettner's were favourites.

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13 September 2011
From her private diaries, Lady Mary Soames recalls how she feared her father Winston Churchill would have a seizure after a row with her brother.

By Lady Soames

[Editors Note: The Daily Mail incorrectly refers to our Patron as "Lady Mary Soames," when, as she herself has often pointed out, she is "Lady Soames," having acquired the title by marriage rather than inheritance.]

THE DAILY MAIL, 10 September 2011—In Part 1, Lady Soames recalled dancing the night away in wartime London, listening spellbound to her father Winston Churchill's speeches and witnessing his grief at his electoral defeat in 1945.

Here, in the second extract from her touching new book, she looks back on family traumas, narrow escapes and her unusual courtship...

My father Winston had fallen in love at once and forever with Chartwell Manor, which stands on a hilltop commanding the most sensational view to the south over the Weald of Kent.

Below, the hillside falls away to a lake, fed by a spring and alongside the valley ran a wide belt of beech woods.
Blushing bride: Mary accompanied by her father, Winston Churchill, on the day of her wedding to Christopher Soames in 1947

Blushing bride: Mary accompanied by her father, Winston Churchill, on the day of her wedding to Christopher Soames in 1947

I was nearly two years old when our family moved in and my first memory is snapshot-clear and must be from that summer of 1924.

I am lying in my big pram under the great yew tree on the lawn in front of the arcaded windows of the new dining room. Woken from my mid-morning siesta, I am greatly bored.

I am really too big now for the pram and start jiggling, and – securely held by my harness – manage to rock my 'boat'.

Now I try a back-and-forth movement: this is great fun, except the pram pitches forward on to its handle, and I slide down, held awkwardly suspended by my straps.

Suddenly, grown-ups clutching white table napkins are running towards me – a luncheon party was in progress and my plight had been observed: I am rescued, taken into the dining room, consoled and made much of. I think dining-room life is very agreeable and plan to join it as soon as may be.

There was a wide age gap between myself and older siblings: Sarah was nearly eight years old, Randolph 11 and Diana 13 when I appeared on the family scene. I found myself alternately in the roles of new cuddly toy and real little bore.

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13 September 2011


By Frank Shatz

According to The New York Times, the asking prize is $56 million and one of the potential buyers is said to be the Chanel Foundation.

La Pausa, a chateau of "sophisticated simplicity" was built on the French Riviera for Coco Chanel, the world-famous fashion designer, by her lover, the Duke of Westminster. Subsequently, in 1953, La Pausa had become the home of Emery and Wendy Reves.

With its spectacular views of Monte Carlo and the Mediterranean, five-acres of exotic gardens, pool, seven bedrooms and a vast reception hall, as well as its long and colorful history involving some of the world's best known artists, musicians, writers and political personalities, as guests, La Pausa, is a unique property.

It went on the market as part of the estate bequeathed by Wendy Reves. According to her original will composed and signed in September 1989, at her Chalet L'Ermitage in Glion, Switzerland, she directed that "40% of the income of the original, compiled, invested capital should be given to the Wendy & Emery Reves Center for International Studies at the College of William & Mary." The institute, she has endowed.

Having an astute business mind, in her will Wendy instructed the executor to hire Sotheby's or Christie's to sell La Pausa dispose of furnishing, artworks and decorative items. "Money is our objective," she wrote, "to be added to the capital of the Reves Foundation."

Read more about Churchill and Reves at www.winstonchurchill.org.

She added: "Attention: Every item at La Pausa, has value...Even the antique kitchen utensils plus a marble table in the kitchen, which I was offered $40,000 from one of the great chefs of France."

She believed that items auctioned off from La Pausa would bring premium prizes. "They are associated with guests who visited or stayed at La Pausa, such as Winston Churchill, Gen. De Gaulle, Konrad Adenauer, Greta Garbo, Somerset Maugham, and many others," she used to say.

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8 September 2011

By Colin Randall in Paris

THE TELEGRAPH, 8 April 2006—Avilla on the French Riviera built by the Second Duke of Westminster for his lover, Coco Chanel, and later the setting for banquets attended by royalty, statesmen and film stars, has been put up for sale.

With its spectacular views of Monte Carlo and the Mediterranean, an acre-and-a-half of exotic gardens, pool, seven bedrooms and vast reception hall, La Pausa - as the house was known in its heyday - is expected by its present owner, a German businessman, to fetch around £7 million.

As La Pausa, built in the belle epoque style for which Roquebrune Cap Martin became renowned, the property was a favourite retreat of Sir Winston Churchill, a close friend of Emery and Wendy Reves, who bought it from Chanel in 1953.

The beautiful surroundings also fired Sir Winston's artistic imagination, inspiring his painting The View of Menton and Italy from La Pausa. It is now known as Villa Egerton, apparently the choice of subsequent British owners.

Read more about Churchill and Reves at www.winstonchurchill.org.

But it was during Chanel's ownership that the house enjoyed its early celebrity. The Duke chose the location while sailing the Riviera with the couturier in his yacht.

To please his mistress, the duke bought five acres just outside Roquebrune Cap Martin in 1927 and commissioned a young architect, Robert Streitz, to design the house.

Chanel made repeated trips from Paris to supervise the work, paying such attention to the detail of its interior design that she insisted on the installation of a replica of the stone staircase she remembered from the French orphanage where she grew up.

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8 September 2011

THE CAMBRIDGE NEWS, 7 September 2011—Actor Warren Clarke got a personal perspective on his latest role during a tour of the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge yesterday.

The Dalziel and Pascoe star is at Cambridge Arts Theatre this week, playing Winston Churchill in Three Days in May, a new political thriller about the critical period in May 1940 when Britain teetered on the brink of giving in to Hitler.

Yesterday, Clarke was joined by co-star Jeremy Clyde – who plays Lord Halifax – for a tour of the purpose-built archives centre at Churchill College, which houses around 3,000 boxes of Churchill's letters and documents.

Treasures shown to the actors by the centre's director, Allen Packwood, included original speeches, rare photos and papers from the War Cabinet.

Clarke told the News it was a challenge playing the man voted Greatest Briton: "It's challenging because people know who he is.

"They have seen him, and can still see him in footage. They can hear and see him making speeches. It's a challenge to get close to the man, but every role is a challenge and, if it's not, you shouldn't be doing it.

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7 September 2011
Mike Scialom is mesmerised by a tour-de-force performance from Warren Clarke as Winston Churchill.

THE CAMBRIDGE NEWS, 6 September 2011—A BELL tolls in the opening scene of Three Days in May. Five men are at prayer in front of a map of Europe. A sixth, the narrator - Winston Churchill's aide de camp, Jock Colville (James Alper) - tells us that Great Britain's darkest hour is at hand.

It is the end of May, 1940: the enemy is at the gate. On May 26, French premier Paul Reynard flies to London with proposals for negotiations which he puts to Churchill. Dunkirk is the backdrop to the decision that must be taken - does the British Government press on with its resistance to Nazism or does it sue for peace?

Writer Ben Brown suggests, via his interpretation of Colville's diaries, that this was the moment when Churchill wobbled. I'm not sure that this revisionist interpretation of events is entirely accurate because, although it was certainly the moment when Churchill might have wobbled, it's not actually clear he did. What he certainly did was give the appearance he could be up for a bit of wobbling so as to snare his key opponent, the foreign secretary of the day, Lord Halifax, who was chief cheerleader for the appeasers.

How much of this deception was acting on Churchill's part and how much of it was a genuine period of self-doubt is all about interpretation, and conveying this is a task that would prove to be the better of most actors, but not so here at the Arts Theatre this week, thanks to the superb casting of Jeremy Clyde as Lord Halifax, only bested by Warren Clarke as Churchill.

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30 August 2011
X Factor finalist Tracy Solomon among the talent taking to the stage at the Westerham concert

By Jenna Pudelek, chief reporter

KENT NEWS, Friday, August 26, 2011 — Chartwell the country home of Sir Winston Churchill is set to host a tribute concert and aerial display to the Royal Air Force.

The Musical Salute to the Royal Air Force takes place in the tranquil gardens of the National Trust property in Westerham next weekend (September 3-4).

Audience members have been promised a "massively challenging and unique musical programme" played by the Central Band of the RAF.

The Spitfire Choir, which is made up of sixteen personnel, 50 Air Training Corps Cadets, the narration by the RAF's Presentation Team, an opera singer, Fiona Howell, and a contemporary singer, X Factor finalist Tracy Solomon.

Aerial displays will be provided by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the RAF's Chinook demonstration and, only on Saturday, The Blades Aerobatic Team.

Andy Pawsey, creative director and former RAF Squadron Leader, said: "Our events will always seek to combine different presentation elements with the highest production values. We want to tell stories, to engage with the spectators, we want to make them laugh and make them cry and leave with a little more knowledge of the work of our brave servicemen and women."

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9 August 2011

By David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst

CNN.COM, 8 August 2011 - Before returning to the States this weekend, I and others in my family spent enthralled hours at the Churchill War Rooms in London, along with the new museum in his honor next door. Now, there was a leader! There was a man whose example shouts out to us now in our hour of trouble.

On both sides of the Atlantic, the turmoil of this past week has sparked cries for those in political power to step up and for God's sake, lead. Fears are spreading across Europe as well as the U.S. that not only are our economies teetering but our politicians are ineffectual.

In their summit a short while ago, leaders of European democracies promised they had fixed the problems of their weakest player, Greece. Instead, their solution was so timid that fears of default have spread to Italy and Spain, the third and fourth largest economies in the euro zone. In the U.S., President Obama and Congressional leaders assured us that their budget deal would put us on a safe path. Instead, markets plunged and Standard & Poors stripped our county of its AAA credit rating for the first time ever.

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