Bulletin #53 – Nov 2012
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Toronto plays host to the annual gathering of Churchillians from across Europe and North America.
Conference Chairman Randy Barber with Gen. Richard RohmerThe moment that the 29th International Churchill Conference, held this year in Canada’s “Queen City” of Toronto, Ontario concluded, the approving comments came pouring in.
The Churchill Centre and the International Churchill Society of Canada hosted the annual conference this year at the four-star landmark Royal York Hotel in the heart of Canada’s largest city.
The hotel originally opened its doors on June 11, 1929 as the tallest building in the British Commonwealth.
The theme of this years conference was, “Churchill’s North America: The States and Canada, Foe to Friend.”
In her introductory letter for the conference, Winston and Clementine’s youngest daughter, The Lady Soames said, “He (Churchill) visited the U.S. and Canada many times during his life, never tiring of the energy and robustness that he discovered in these two great nations.”
Over 225 participants from Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. were in attendance at this year’s successful assembly.
The conference began on Thursday, October 11, 2012 with Welcome Reception for all attendees and a smaller reception just for the first time attendees to the event.
The Churchill Centre’s Chairman Mr. Laurence Geller CBE in his letter welcoming guests for the conference said, “This year’s (conference) location pays deserving tribute to the great admiration in which Sir Winston is held by Canadians from coast to coast…”
Promptly the next morning, the conference kicked off with breakfast and the first sessions. The conference always welcomes student participation and Misha Boutilier of the University of Toronto commented, “…the historical sweep of the sessions from the War of 1812 to the early Cold War was amazing. I came away from the conference with a much better grasp of Churchill’s life, Canada-US relations, and the World War II period.”
The first day’s proceedings included an interesting discussion by John Milton Cooper and R.H. Thompson on a panel entitled: W.W.I, The Treaty of Versailles, and the League of Nations; chaired by Joan Martyn.
Friday ended with a black-tie banquet in the Concert Hall of the Royal York, with Winston Churchill’s granddaughter Celia Sandys delivering a compelling keynote address on “Churchill’s Birthday’s”.
One of the significant highlights of this year’s conference was Session 7 that took place on Saturday afternoon. The session was entitled, “The Veteran’s Panel: We Were There” and was hosted by Canadian Churchillian Gordon Walker. The panel included George MacDonnell, Jack Rhind, Richard Rohmer, and former Canadian Prime Minister John N. Turner.
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Sir William Orpen’s 1916 portrait on long-term loan by the Churchill family for public viewing.
Winston S. Churchill, 1916In 1916, at one of the greatest moments of despair in Churchill’s life, an official war artist was painting his portrait. He commented when he saw the canvas, “It is not the picture of a man. It is the picture of a man’s soul.”
At age 41 Churchill suffered one of the greatest political setbacks of his life.
After the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli, 1915-16, fought in the Dardanelles Straits and the Gallipoli peninsula, he resigned his office in the Asquith government, having taken the blame for the terrible tragedy and loss of life during the catastrophic campaign.
It is during this lowest time of Churchill’s career, as the Dardanelles Commission was convened to investigate, that this revealing portrait was painted.
Though the commission on the matter did not find him personally at fault, he was forced to resign his cherished post of First Lord of the Admiralty.
The Irish artist Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen (1878-1931), having been recommended by John Singer Sergeant, became an official British war artist during the time of the First World War.
Churchill sat for Orpen eleven times for what was to be Churchill’s favorite, and perhaps most illuminating, portrait of himself.
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William Manchester’s freind and fan, Paul Reid, finishes the third and final volume of The Last Lion.
By James Andrew Miller
Illustration by Denise Nestor and Shout THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, 1 November 2012 — After one of the longest waits in publishing history — more than 20 years — the third and final volume of William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill, “The Last Lion,” is finally about to arrive in bookstores. Manchester, who died in 2004, will not be among those eagerly awaiting its reception. The man with the most at stake is the co-author of record, and in fact the actual author: Paul Reid, who had never written a book before and whose specialty before he met Manchester was features for The Palm Beach Post. The story of how Reid, 63, was plucked from anonymity and thrust into the spotlight is not a simple understudy-replaces-star saga, and it’s safe to say that Reid could not have imagined what a mixed blessing he would experience after accepting Manchester’s invitation to co-write the third volume of Churchill’s biography. Now he has emerged from the project in a kind of literary shell shock, knowing that if the book is a success, most of the praise will go to Manchester, and if it flops, blame will fall on him.
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Manchester would have been a hard act to follow for even a much more seasoned writer. Back in the late 1970s, he began his biography of Churchill for what would end up being a $1 million advance. Then a writer in residence at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., Manchester was the author of more than a dozen major works, including “The Death of a President,” the landmark 1967 study of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and biographies of Gen. Douglas MacArthur (“American Caesar”) and H. L. Mencken (“Disturber of the Peace”). He was also an outsize personality, known for writing sessions that lasted as long as 50 hours and for turning out books at a metronomic clip.
Each Churchill volume took Manchester four years to write, but the second was much more difficult for him. Unknown to Manchester’s friends, admirers and, perhaps most important, his publisher, Little, Brown & Company, he had begun to struggle with writer’s block. For years, it had been what he feared most, telling at least one intimate, “I’ve been lucky so far.” Then, in March 1985, Manchester confessed in a note his son found among his papers: “For the first time in my life, I have a writer’s block. It is a real crisis. In the past three weeks, I have written exactly four pages. It is very painful.”
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A provocative question answered in our Autumn 2012 issue.
Churchill, King George, and downed Nazi planes: Decades after documenting the war, photos are rediscovered.
Jack Ford shows off part of his collection
By Joe O’Connor
THE NATIONAL POST, 2 November 2012 — Some of the details of that long ago day are smudged, blurred by the almost 70 years that have passed since Jack Ford found himself at an Allied airstrip in France, a few weeks after the D-Day landings, fumbling with his camera, fighting nerves, aiming his lens at Sir Winston Churchill.
Mr. Ford later became a Mad Man – a deal-maker, vice-president of what was then MacLaren Advertising, the largest ad firm in Canada. But at the time, he was “Private Nobody,” he says, a lowly soldier, only even lowlier than most soldiers because he carried a camera and film canisters for RCAF Squadron 414’s Photo Unit instead of a gun.
On that June day in France, however, he was in the middle of the action. Listening as the question — “Could you let me take your picture before you put that cigar in the mouth?” — passed from his lips to the ears of a British Prime Minister famous for giving stirring speeches and perhaps even more famous for being photographed with a stogie clenched between his teeth and a scowl on his face.
“Three planes had arrived that day and we didn’t who it was,” Mr. Ford says, hopping about his room in Sunnybrook hospital’s veterans wing, pantomiming the Prime Minister’s reaction to his anti-smoking request. “We were told to grab our cameras. It was Churchill, [Field Marshal Bernard Law] Montgomery and King George VI. It was Churchill — and the King!
“And I was scared s—less, and Churchill, he was just staring at me and so his handler says, ‘What’s the problem, Sonny?’ I told him I wanted a picture without the cigar and so Churchill hands it to his handler, makes a face at me and then…”
He smiled, or he almost did, for a young Canadian war photographer in a never-before-published photograph that would languish, for decades, in a box in Mr. Ford’s basement. The picture is a forgotten wartime treasure, and just one among thousands taken by Mr. Ford and the other photographers and Spitfire pilots of Squadron 414 while they advanced across Western Europe.
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Hardy is to play Winston Churchill for the eighth time in his career opposite Dame Helen Mirren’s Queen Elizabeth II in the West End.
Robert Hardy will star opposite Dame Helen Mirren in the new play
BBC NEWS, 2 November 2012 — Peter Morgan’s new play, The Audience, begins at the Gielgud Theatre in February.
It depicts the weekly meetings between the Queen and 12 prime ministers from Churchill to David Cameron.
Haydn Gwynne will play Margaret Thatcher, with Paul Ritter as John Major.
Hardy has previously played Churchill seven times including Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years and most recently in Celui Qui A Dit Non in Paris in French.
He played Siegfried Farnon in the television adaptation of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small and is also known for starring in the Harry Potter films as Cornelius Fudge.
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Bust made from an original Oscar Nemon cast unveiled in Jerusalem.
Randolph Churchill (left) and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat
THE DAILY MAIL, 5 November 2012 — British tourists visiting Jerusalem will be greeted by a familiar face on their next tour of the city.
Winston Churchill has been honoured with a bust in the Israeli city nearly fifty years after his death.
The former British prime minister’s great-grandson, Lt. Randolph Churchill, unveiled the bronze bust in Montefiore Gardens just outside the Old City walls yesterday.
The statue looks out over the Tower of David to Jerusalem’s Old City which Mr Churchill first visited in 1921 with Lawrence of Arabia.
The bust’s permanent home will be Mishkenot’s new international press club, which is currently under construction and is due to be completed in June 2013.
It was made from an original cast by Croatian-born Jewish sculptor Oscar Nemon, who fled to Britain just before the outbreak of the Second World War.
Randolph Churchill, who visited the Israel Museum and the Dead Sea area with his wife during the trip, said his great-grandfather was a ‘lifelong friend of the Jewish people and the Zionist cause.’
British Ambassador Matthew Gould said it was ‘absolutely right’ that Churchill be honoured by the city and said: ‘He stood up for the rights of the Jewish people to a Jewish homeland long before it became fashionable – if it was ever fashionable.’
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said Churchill was admired by Israelis for opposing Hitler and Nazism and for his ability to stand up for what he believed in.
Mr Barkat claimed that Mr Churchill’s assertion that ‘if you have enemies, good it means that you have stood up for something in your life’ captured the Israeli ethos.
Israeli politician Isaac Herzog, who campaigned to get the bust erected, said: ‘The world is yearning for strong leadership and moral clarity; someone who knows the difference between good and bad.’
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In an extract from his new book, Nick Robinson recalls how Churchill finally came out on top in his long-standing feud with Lord Reith.
Winston Churchill on the campaign trail
By Nick Robinson
THE TELEGRAPH, 14 October 2012 — John Reith, the BBC’s founding father, had always disliked Winston Churchill and ended up loathing him. After the war, he remarked: “A whole lot of people could have done it better and more cheaply.”
Even when Churchill was dead, Reith refused to walk past his commemorative plaque in the floor of Westminster Abbey. The feeling had been mutual. Churchill referred to the puritanical Scot who towered over him as “that Wuthering Height”, and wrote: “I absolutely hate him.”
These two gigantic egos were always likely to collide spectacularly. Both men had enormous self-belief and very little self-doubt. This was a personality clash with policy consequences. Churchill never forgave the BBC for what he saw as the censorship of his views. Years later, he would exact his revenge.
The way Churchill was handled is a powerful warning of the dangers of the BBC believing it is being balanced by excluding the voices of those who do not represent conventional wisdom.
In the early years of the BBC, Reith’s main way of steering clear of controversy was to aim for political balance. Reith did this by subcontracting the choice of political speakers heard on the BBC. The leadership of each party could choose who broadcast on its behalf. It was an approach that guaranteed exposure for the opinions of ministers and their shadows, while dissident voices were silenced. Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George jointly complained that they were being prevented from broadcasting their views simply because they were not party loyalists.
Churchill’s frustration grew so great that, in 1929, he offered the BBC £100 to allow him to make a single broadcast warning against dominion status for India. When his offer was rejected, he complained that the corporation was “debarring public men from access to a public who wish to hear”.
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BBC Two’s Jonathan Dimbleby commemorates the 70th anniversary of the battle for North Africa.
Jonathan Dimbleby in North Africa
By Jonathan Dimbleby
RADIO TIMES, 5 November 2012 — When Rommel was finally routed at El Alamein 70 years ago this week (4 November), Winston Churchill was so relieved that he ordered the church bells to be rung all over Britain. The prime minister had been under intense political and personal pressure to secure a decisive victory over the “Desert Fox” who, for 18 months, had persistently outsmarted the British Eighth Army on a desolate and blood-soaked battlefield.
Following the fall of Tobruk in June 1942 – a humiliation that prompted a surge of national resentment – Churchill’s critics inspired a no-confidence debate in the House of Commons. Although their target emerged virtually unscathed, the formidable Aneurin Bevan reflected a widespread feeling when he declared waspishly, “The prime minister wins debate after debate and loses battle after battle.” The jibe cut deep.
Churchill was assailed by deep gloom, fearing, as he wrote later, that he’d be driven from office “with a load of calamity on my shoulders”, while “the harvest, at last to be reaped, would have been ascribed to my belated disappearance”. He was querulous and impatient, goading his generals in the Middle East beyond all military reason. But his insatiable hunger for victory in the desert was not merely driven by an urge to save his own skin. He was a far greater man than that.
From the moment he became prime minister in May 1940, Churchill’s two overriding objectives – from which he never wavered – were to save the British Empire and to enlist the United States in the struggle to vanquish Nazism. The Middle East was critical to the fate of the Empire, a vital artery linking Britain to its possessions in Africa, India and the Far East. To lose the Middle East would not only be to imperil Britain’s global reach but the nation’s capacity to wage war effectively against Hitler as well.
Yet, following the fall of Tobruk, Rommel’s panzers seemed poised to break through the British lines at El Alamein and launch a blitzkrieg against Alexandria and Cairo – a prospect that caused panic in the Egyptian capital. When Churchill told a press conference in August, “We are determined to fight for Egypt and the Nile Valley as if it were the soil of England itself,” he was in absolute earnest.
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Levenger announces a perfect gift for any Churchillian.
The latest Churchill offering from Levenger this holiday season is an all-wood puzzle from one of his paintings; “Tapestries at Blenheim.”
“Tapestries at Blenheim” is among the more than 500 oils he painted, and one of the few to feature his initials, WSC (bottom right).
The scene is celebrating a military victory of his ancestor, John Spencer-Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough.
Blenheim Palace played an integral role in Sir Winston’s life; he was born there in 1874 and he proposed to his beloved Clementine in the garden’s there. He gave the painting to his beloved daughter Mary, the Lady Soames.
Visit the Levenger website for details.
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A recap of an outstanding panel which took place at the most recent Churchill Conference in Toronto.
Rt. Hon John Turner, Jack Rhind, George MacDonell, General Richard Rohmer
By Gordon W. Walker, Q.C.
A great highlight of the Churchill Centre 2012 Conference in Toronto in October was what was labeled “The Veteran’s Panel – We were there”. Indeed they were!
Canada played a huge role in WW II, punching far above its weight. A country of barely 11 million people in 1939, Canada fielded over 1 million men in uniform by War’s end. The Army saw action first in Hong Kong. But two years prior to that the Canadian Army was on guard in Southern England, and for a while it stood as the only defence to London from the anticipated German invasion. The Army saw action in Italy in 1943 and 44 and it was the British, Americans and Canadians that landed on Normandy Beaches in 1944 and carried through France to Germany for victory less than a year later. On the seas and in the air the Canadian Navy and Canadian Air Force fought right from the earliest stages of the War; to the point where, almost from a zero start, the Canadian Navy and Air Force were the 3rd largest in the world by the end of the War.
The Canadian War effort was forcefully brought home to the delegates attending the Convention in Session 7, Saturday afternoon October 13th. The room was packed with people waiting to hear from four people who all had a part to play in Churchill theatres of war, one might call it. The panel included former Prime Minister John Turner who was too young to enlist but when he was a boy of 12 years met Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Ottawa minutes after his famous ‘Some Chicken Some Neck’ speech, December 30th, 1941. Winston had just emerged from the equally famous Karsh photo session in the Speakers Office and walked outside on that chilly day to meet the public who had listened to the speech by loudspeaker. Mr. Turner has given a fine account of that meeting, blow by blow, in FH 154. Ottawa was certainly the centre of the Canadian War effort, as most political decisions were made there pertaining to the War.
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David Boler devoted much of his time over the last twenty-five years to keeping the memory of Winston Churchill alive.
David Boler (L) with John Simpson, Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne and Allen Packwood at the recent awards dinner in London
David Boler, member and Churchill Centre Board Member, resigned his board seat at the recent meeting in Toronto during the 29th International Churchill Conference.
One of the Centre’s longest standing members, David did a tremendous amount to further the mission of The Churchill Centre with his tireless organizing and fundraising.
The following are a few comments by those who have known Mr Boler best.
I first met David Boler when I first became involved with the world of Winston Churchill in 1995. He was a passionate supporter then, as now, of the idea of getting everybody pulling together for the common cause and he seemed to know everybody. I warmed to him very quickly, how could one not, but our friendship was greatly helped by his insistence on including me in the conference he organised in Bermuda in 2003 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the 1953 summit. We bonded over business class air travel and exotic rum based cocktails. Little did I know then that there is always a price to pay, and David exacted his in 2010 when he approached me (again over drinks – a recurring theme) and asked me to consider helping out with The Churchill Centre (UK).
In the last couple of years I have enjoyed working with him on award dinners and the UK conference. He combines dedication with a sense of fun and a genuine concern for those around him.
One of my abiding memories of David is his grabbing the microphone at an Churchill Archives Centre conference to remind the audience of Churchill’s dictum to study history. It is this passion that has inspired him to support the Churchill cause on both sides of the Atlantic for so long. He has finally decided to step back from front rank duties, and while we should all thank him and mourn the loss to our committees and events, we should welcome the chance to engage with him as a friend and fellow enthusiast at future events for years to come.
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Churchill granddaughter Celia Sandys gives a talk at the historic Polish Hearth Club in South Kensington, London.
Mrs Barbara Hamilton and Hon. Celia Sandys
By Celia Lee
Talk by Hon. Celia Sandys
Thursday, 25th October 2012
‘Bring back Churchill’s politics’ was the message of Sir Winston Churchill’s granddaughter the Honourable Celia Sandys, at a dinner and talk at the Polish Hearth Club, London, on Wednesday night 24th October 2012.
The talk was one of a literary series put on by Mrs Barbara Hamilton the newly-elected Chairman of the Polish Hearth Club, South Kensington, London, in aid of the club’s rejuvenation scheme.
The power and influence of the leadership qualities of the late Sir Winston Churchill, wartime Prime Minister (1940-45), were brought to life again. Speaking for 40 minutes at a packed dinner that included Sir Richard Branson’s mother, Mrs Eve Huntley Branson, and Mr Lee Pollock, Executive Director of the Churchill Centre US, who jetted in specially, from Chicago for the talk at the invitation of Churchill historian Mrs Celia Lee, the audience hung on Miss Sandys’ every word. She left them in no doubt that Sir Winston Churchill’s leadership and his power of words are as relevant to politicians today as they were in the 1940s.
Miss Sandys who was very close to her grandfather throughout his life and often rode with him in his car, opened her talk by setting straight Sir Winston’s position on Poland in the Second World War post-war settlement.
‘Poland was very close to my grandfather’s heart. At the Yalta Conference he said he wanted: ‘… a strong, free and independent Poland’. It was this that was so dear to the hearts of the British nation and the British Commonwealth of Nations. It was for this that we had gone to war against Germany, that Poland should be free and sovereign. Sadly for the Polish, Britain and Churchill had become the junior partner in 1945, after valiantly standing alone four years earlier. It was therefore left to a scheming Marshall Stalin and a dying President Roosevelt to determine Poland’s fate. At the end of his life Churchill’s great regret was that the Iron Curtain which had come down across Europe was still in place with Poland locked behind it.
‘This evening, I will bring you some examples of how my grandfather inspired and led by his very powerful words. … Most people know that my grandfather was the master of words – spoken and written.
‘As a politician his speeches became some of the most famous ever made.
As a journalist and author he supported his family and his own life-long extravagant life style. He famously stated at the Plaza Hotel in New York: ‘I am a man of simple tastes easily satisfied by the best.’
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Join us for the 70th Anniversary of Operation Overlord and D-Day.
Winston Churchill & General Sir Bernard Montgomery, 12 June 1944 at Graye-sur-MerAs in 2004 Old Country Tour will lead a tour to visit the beaches where the Americans, British & Canadians landed in June 1944.
On this occasion we will look at actions post 6 June 1944, including the capture of St Lo; Operations Epsom and Cobra – and we will be ending at the Falaise Gap where many German Army units were trapped to await their fate.
Join us on this nine-day tour whch includes one night in Portsmouth, six nights at the Churchill Hotel in Bayeux and one night in Paris.
Contact Dan Myers at The Churchill Centre
Toll Free: +1 (888) WSC-1874 or +1 (630) 512-9341
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