Bulletin #51 – Sep 2012
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Bloomsbury Publishing announces the launch of an indispensable new online resource.
Over 800,000 documents and photographs from the Churchill Archives Centre (CAC) at Churchill College, Cambridge are now available in a new online archive.
The Churchill Archive includes thousands of private letters, speeches, telegrams, manuscripts, government transcripts and other key historical documents online for the first time ever.
The content of the archive represents the personal papers of the wartime prime minister, including correspondence with constituents, government leaders, and important figures in British twentieth-century society. In addition to critical policies carried out during World War II, documents address the rise of the Cold War standoff with Soviet Russia, as defined in Churchill’s seminal “Iron Curtain” speech.
The online collection will also include secondary materials such as pedagogical resources, and it will eventually link to selected external resources including video and audio files and biographical databases.
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Celia Sandys recounts trips with her grandfather to visit some of the places he loved most.
By Celia Sandys
THE DAILY MAIL, 2 September 2012—My grandfather, Winston Churchill, was an enthusiastic and adventurous traveller throughout his life. He loved Chartwell, his home in Kent, but sometimes needed to get away.
I was lucky enough to travel with him several times between 1959 and 1963. By then he was in his 80s and, although still very much in the public eye, was able to devote more time to writing and his lifelong passion, painting.
He was drawn time and time again to the beauty, light and warmth of the Mediterranean. He always liked having a member of his family with him and, at that time, I was an available grandchild of an appropriate age to accompany him. My first journey with him was the most memorable holiday I have ever had.
With my grandparents and my mother – and an entourage that included Maria Callas and her husband – I spent four weeks sailing in the Mediterranean as a guest of Aristotle Onassis on his fabulous yacht, Christina.
We sailed from Monte Carlo to Capri, from Athens to Rhodes and on to Istanbul. I was 16 and very naive, and watched with fascination as our host and the diva embarked on what would become one of the most famous love affairs of the 20th century.
What a thrill to be observing the sort of things I had only read about in the newspapers I was not meant to see!
The cruise itself was an extraordinary experience for a teenager who had grown up in post-war Britain with its rationed food and clothing. Now I was being waited on hand and foot and visiting places I had only dreamed about.
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Winston Churchill, London 1939
The online ITN Source newsreel archive currently features 86 clips of Winston Churchill.
Clips available range from the Sydney Street incident in 1911 through to Sir Winston’s funeral in 1965. A preview of each of the clips can be played for no charge (with the audio muted) or purchased for a variety of personal or commercial uses.
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New memoir of Churchill’s daughter now available at U.S. bookstores.
By Jonathan Yardley
THE WASHINGTON POST, August 2012—These trips were successful, as “I started to get to know my mother — and, most important, to enjoy her company,” but “I sometimes found her difficult to understand and extremely demanding,” a problem made all the more difficult because Mary was in her teens “and must have been at times excessively tiresome, graceless, and, I fear, a dreadful prig.” Things were much easier with her father, who of course was insulated from the daily minutiae of his daughter’s life but seems to have been, in most respects, an exemplary father to all his children. During the 1930s she was largely oblivious to his involvement in the highest circles of government, but by 1940, when he was prime minister and the family was living at 10 Downing Street, that had changed. Her mother took her to the House of Commons to hear him speak after the evacuation of Dunkirk:
“It was now that my love and admiration for my father became enhanced by an increasing element of hero worship. I saw how people turned to him in confident hope; and my own daughterly affection became inextricably entwined with all the emotions I felt as a young, patriotic Englishwoman. And of course, it was enormously exciting being so near the hub of haute politique. My mother confided in me a good deal, and when I became aware that there was a real and growing fear that France might make a separate peace, having been brought up in an ardently Francophile family I was plunged into anguish, finding this prospect scarcely believable.”
In 1941 she and Judy Montagu, her cousin and best friend, were with her father when he was briefed on a plan for “the first heavy mixed (that is, employing both men and women) anti-aircraft batteries.” The women were to “perform all duties and technical operations (including radar) other than actually forming the gun teams, where the physical strength required to operate the 3.7-inch guns and to handle and load the shells was quite beyond the capacity of women.” The girls, still teenagers, “were much excited by all this, and intervened to say that we would both like to become ‘gunner girls’!”
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One act opera depicting the first meeting of Churchill and Stalin plays in San Francisco.
John Duykers (left) is Winston Churchill, and Scott Graff is Josef Stalin in “Daughter of the Red Tzar.” Photo: Courtesy First Look Sonoma / SF
By Joshua Kosman
THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 26 August 2012—In August of 1942, amid one of the darkest stretches of World War II, Winston Churchill flew to Moscow to meet with Josef Stalin for the first time. It was an attempt to smooth over a diplomatic relationship that had gone sour and to bring Soviet Russia into a closer alliance with the Western powers.
That summit – a surprising turning point in the military struggle against the Third Reich – forms the basis of “Daughter of the Red Tzar,” an engagingly brisk and overstuffed one-act opera that had its world premiere over the weekend at Thick House Theater in Potrero Hill.
Within 80 minutes of music, composer and librettist Lisa Scola-Prosek tackles not only the difficult personal and political detente between these two outsized figures – including the turnaround that seems to have occurred during a late-night bout of feasting and drinking – but also the plight of Stalin’s teenage daughter, Svetlana, and the domestic reign of terror that entraps her Jewish intellectual lover.
“Daughter of the Red Tzar” tears through these matters in a series of taut little scenes, each one getting at something of its subject matter before rushing forward. The result plays like a sort of bonsai version of John Adams’ “Nixon in China” (to which it practically begs comparison). It’s compelling and often illuminating in its details, yet the sense of a disparity in scale between the piece and its subject matter never quite goes away.
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US National Archives releases 1000 documents and photographs, including correspondence about a 1940 Polish massacre.
Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin at Yalta in February 1945
By Christian Lowe
THE SCOTSMAN, 12 September 2012—Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US president Franklin D Roosevelt hushed up evidence the Soviet secret police had killed thousands of Polish men in the Katyn forest in 1940 for fear of alienating then ally Russian despot Josef Stalin, declassified documents reveal.
An estimated 20,000 Polish officers and intellectuals were massacred at Katyn in western Russia, shot in the head from behind and shoved into mass graves, many after being trucked there from prison camps.
The massacre still casts a shadow over Russia-Poland relations, but the released documents shift the focus to how London and Washington put fears of upsetting the Kremlin before exposing the truth. Instead, for years they backed Soviet claims that Nazi Germany was behind the massacre despite dozens of intelligence reports and witness accounts pointing to Russian involvement.
A telegram from US military intelligence dated 28 May, 1943, responding to an offer of information about Katyn, put the Allied position: “If you mean Katyn affair am interested only if report shows German complicity.”
That telegram was among 1,000 pages of documents and photographs just released by the US National Archives. The documents – many marked secret or confidential – included a series of exchanges between Mr Churchill, Mr Roosevelt, and Stalin about reports emerging in April 1943 about the massacre.
Their concerns focused on a demand from the Polish government in exile in London, for a Red Cross investigation into Soviet involvement in the killings, and a threat from Stalin to break off ties with the Polish government as a result.
Washington and London feared a row would harm the effort to defeat Nazi Germany and a letter from Mr Roosevelt to Stalin said Polish leader General Wladyslaw Sikorski “has erred” in pressing for an investigation.
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Family is seeking anyone who knew Churchill’s driver Irene Kaye.
By Lesley Lewis
Irene Constance KayeMy mother, Irene Constance Kaye (1923-2012), and her sister Eileen, were daughters of a Scarborough barrister who made valuable contributions to the war effort—though on most of their war work they remained silent to the end. This was typical of so many people who served—they never wanted to make much of their contributions. I have only a few memories that they shared.
Eileen was a radio operator who spoke rarely about the war, but she did mention “talking” aircrews back home over the English Channel after bombing raids. Constance found herself in a unique circumstance. For a time she served as Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s second RAF driver. She was the WAAF corporal who drove him, often wearing his “boiler suit,” from London to the Air Ministry or airfields like Biggin Hill, usually in the evening through blacked-out streets, navigating by the dim light of blinkered headlamps.
Constance was a rather reserved girl with a quiet smile, but from the few things she related, she often had a laugh with the great man on longish late night drives when he was feeling expansive and chatty.
She once “stood him up” by arriving late after lingering too long at a “Frankie Concert” while he waited at Whitehall. This was usually not a good idea with Churchill! But when she apologized, explaining that she’d lost track of time listening to Sinatra, he gave a huge laugh and forgave her. It was one of her favourite memories, one of the few she would recount in detail.
Having been Churchill’s driver was her most precious memory. She utterly revered him throughout her life, and was proud of occasions when she experienced firsthand his quick wit and sharp intelligence. Occasionally she spoke of long drives in the Blackout, the PM napping to catch up on lengthy periods without sleep. Sometimes those drives took them out of London, and she once recalled her embarrassment when she suggested a “loo stop” near a field. The PM laughed and said he’d be happy too “stretch my legs for a few minutes too.” After she had driven him a few times they were relaxed, and chatted about “life in general.”
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New Zealander John Hawkesby recommends Pol Roger.
By John Hawkesby
THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 13 September 2012—The late Sir Winston Churchill must have known something when he declared, “Great Champagne should be cold, dry and preferably free.”
Winston Churchill and Odette Pol RogerThe first release of the Champagne that bears his name, Pol Roger’s Sir Winston Churchill, was on June 6, 1984, 40 years after D-Day. Fittingly, it was launched at Churchill’s birthplace, Blenheim Palace. “To this day,” says Pol Roger’s ambassador-at-large, Laurent D’Harcourt, “every year we send bottles to members of his family.”
And as if being allowed to name one of your wines after the great statesman isn’t enough, the family-owned Champagne house is ever so quietly pleased that their NV Champagne was chosen for the wedding of the future King of England and his bride last year.
Says D’Harcourt, “Eight Champagne houses were invited to submit samples for the April wedding and naturally we were delighted to be chosen. We had strict instructions not to mention this before the wedding.”
As for helping to boost sales, “it helped put Pol Roger top-of-mind and refreshed the ideas people had about us … currently we are selling what we are producing”.
After the wedding, when news came out about which Champagne the glamour couple were toasted with, sales in Japan went crazy.
“Japanese couples wanted to get married with Pol Roger, no doubt because of the Royals,” says D’Harcourt.
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A Land Rover which was once owned by Sir Winston Churchill is to be auctioned after being stored in a shed for 35 years.
Winston Churchill at home at Chartwell
THE TELEGRAPH, 13 August 2012—A Land Rover which was once owned by Sir Winston Churchill is to be auctioned for an estimated £60,000 after being stored in a shed for 35 years.
The vintage vehicle with the registration number UKE 80 was given to the wartime prime minister as a present from car maker Rover on his 80th birthday in November, 1954.
The Series 1 Land Rover had several non-standard features including an extra-wide passenger seat to accommodate Sir Winston’s considerable girth, a fold-down arm rest and a leather-clad grab handle.
A footwell heater was later added to ensure the great statesman did not catch a chill while he was being chauffeur-driven around his 300 acre estate at Chartwell, Kent.
Another unusual feature is a fitted box which was used to store Sir Winston’s trowel so he could indulge his hobby of bricklaying on his estate.
The Land Rover was inherited after Sir Winston’s death in 1965 by his son-in-law, the Rt Hon Christopher Soames, who used it on his farm near Tonbridge Wells.
Lord Soames sold the dark green pick-up for £160 when he held a sale of his farm equipment in 1973.
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Churchill collection to be auctioned includes one of the Prime Minister’s three-piece suits and hundreds of other items.
Churchill at Downing Street, 5 June 1943The auction of ‘Tom’ Thomas’s collection of Churchilliana will take place at Stride & Son, Southdown House, St John’s Street [between East Street and Market Avenue], Chichester on Friday 28th September 2012.
Details will be published on Stride & Son’s website on Friday 21st September and viewing dates are Monday 24th – Friday 28th September.
Visit Stride & Son Auctions
The WSC items will be sold at an unspecified time during a general sale which starts at 10.00 am.
Contact details are www.stridesauctions.co.uk and 01243-780207. Among the lots for sale are a three-piece suit, signed letters and hundreds of other items of memorabilia.
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Churchill Centre UK members gather in the Stranger’s Dining Room at The Palace of Westminster.
Lady Soames (on the left in green, sitting) is flanked by Mrs Marina Brounger (neé Churchill) and Nonie Chapman, her personal secretary, as The Rt Hon. Lord Watson of Richmond CBE makes his remarks under the watchful gaze of 1st Viscount Peel.
By Allen Packwood
In the splendour of the Strangers Dining Room of the Palace of Westminster, against the backdrop of the sun setting on the Thames on a magnificent September evening, about seventy members of The Churchill Centre (UK) and their guests gathered to celebrate the greatest parliamentarian of recent times.
There were speeches by The Rt. Hon. Nicholas Soames MP, and by Lord Watson of Richmond, thus ensuring that both Houses and both the Conservative and Liberal parties (for whom Churchill served as an MP) were represented.
Lord Marland of Odstock, the new Chairman of The Churchill Centre (UK) gave an eloquent of vote of thanks and spoke of his vision for the Churchill Centre going forward.
The family was well represented, but the undoubted star of the show was a radiant Lady Soames. The membership wished her a very happy ninetieth birthday, and she left to a rousing three cheers.
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Long-time Churchillian Christopher Hebb was asked to pen a short piece about the history of his association with the the Churchill Societies.
Ian Marshall, Chris Hebb, and Brooke Campbell
By Christopher Hebb
I was fortunate to grow up during the lifetime of Sir Winston Churchill. I remember the relief when Sir Winston was elected Prime Minister in 1951 and I clearly remember the day of Churchill’s death in 1965 when I was in Law School in Toronto. I well remember listening to Matthew Halton during the late ’40’s as the Cold War developed and Stalin and Molotov worked to move the Iron Curtain ever westward and Secretary of State Marshall instituted the Marshall Plan to overcome the threat.
The first Churchill Society in the world and the only one created during the life of Churchill was formed in Edmonton, Alberta in 1964. The second Churchill Society was formed in Calgary, Alberta in 1965. I spent my youth from the age of five to fourteen in Edmonton and my parents resided there until their deaths in the l990’s. My father was an early member of the Edmonton Churchill Society; joining in 1965. The Edmonton Society would bring speakers once a year to address its members. The early speakers were all close associates of Sir Winston including Lord Harding, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Earl Alexander of Tunis, Lord R.A.B. Butler, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, and General Mark Clark. I would return from Law School in Toronto to attend the Banquets in Edmonton in the mid-sixties and had the privilege of meeting Lord Mountbatten on one of these occasations.
My father, Dr. Harvey Hebb, became President of the Edmonton Society 1974-1975. The speaker that year was Sir John (Jock) Colville. My parents became friends with Jock and his wife Meg and visited them in the U.K. It was during that time that my father came up with the idea of the Edmonton Society sponsoring a graduate student to attend Churchill College, Cambridge. I quote from what he wrote in 1992 prior to his death about the origin of the Scholarship:
“I became a member of the Churchill Society in 1965 and soon after became a member of the executive. In 1975, I became President at the time that Sir John Colville, the former private secretary to Sir Winston Churchill, was the speaker at the Annual Banquet.
In the summer of 1976 when my wife and I were in England we were invited to Jock’s home. While there, we were given a private tour of Blenheim Palace and had lunch with the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. Jock arranged a trip for us to visit Churchill College, Cambridge.
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The International Churchill Society of Canada publishes their Autumn 2012 newsletter.