Finest Hour Extras

Here you will find Finest Hour Extras that were submitted for publication in the journal. 

Churchill and Polo

The Hot Pursuit of his Other Hobby
By: Barbara F. Langworth (Finest Hour Issue 72) 

l T- T E rides in the game like heavy cavalry getting XJL into position for the assault. He trots about, keenly watchful, biding his time, a matter of tactics and strategy. Abruptly he sees his chance, and he gathers his pony and charges in, neither deft nor graceful, but full of tearing physical energy — and skillful with it too. He bears down opposition by the weight of his dash, and strikes the ball. Did I say strike? He slashes the ball.”[1]

Thus Patrick Thompson, a contemporary writer, compared “Churchill’s angle in life” to his game of polo. An apt comparison it was, for Churchill loved the sport, which he always called “The Emperor of Games.”

From obscure beginnings in the Orient, the modern version of polo was developed in 1863 by British army officers stationed in the Punjab, India; they had learned the game from the Manipuri, an Indian border tribe. Six years later, polo was introduced in England.[2]

Churchill first mentions polo in a letter to his father, seeking permission to ride in September 1893, shortly after young Winston had arrived at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. But soon after, he wrote to his mother, “I find that you do not have to obtain permission from home to ride — but only to play polo — so the Infantry cadet will be allowed to ride for amusement until next term when all are taught.”[3] From this it seems that he was not planning to participate in polo at that time, despite its availability. This is contrary to Volume I of the official biography, which states that Winston had “started to play . . . whilst still a cadet at Sandhurst.”[4] But no subsequent Churchill letters mention polo until February 1894 when he refers to it in an aside: “Besides the crusade against extravagance — they have stopped hunting — polo — and owning horses.”[5] 

Churchill had taken the entrance exam for Sandhurst three times before he passed. His final test score was too low for him to be accepted in the Infantry and qualified him only for the Cavalry — a great disappointment to his father, who remarked, 1 ‘In the infantry one has to keep a man; in the cavalry a man and a horse as well.” ‘ ‘Little did he foresee not only one horse, but two official chargers and one or two hunters besides,” Churchill recalled later, “to say nothing of the string of polo ponies!”[6] 

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Butterflies to Chartwell

L. Hugh Newman

He learned species by name and liked to watch colorful varieties emerge from their chrysalides, freeing them at once.

Mr. Newman operated a butterfly farm founded by his father, L.W. Newman, author of The Text Book of British Lepidoptera. Together they supplied Churchill with numerous native species before and after World War II. This article first appeared in Audobon Magazine in 1965, and was reprinted by permission in Finest Hour 89, Winter 1995-96.

This is Winston Churchill speaking,” the voice on the telephone said. “I have just read an article in the magazine Good Gardening entitled ‘Stock Your Garden with Butterflies.’ I found it most interesting.”

The voice that all the world was soon to know continued – deep, cultured and polite in a decisive sort of way. It was the spring of 1939, a busy season at my father’s butterfly farm at Bexley, Kent, and Mr. Churchill wanted to know more about our butterflies and our business.

“I should like some butterflies to liberate in my garden at Chartwell,” he continued. “May I come and see your butterfly farm and discuss a plan?”

I turned to my father, L.W. Newman, who was sitting at his desk nearby. Placing my hand over the mouthpiece of the phone, I whispered, “It’s Winston Churchill on the line. Do you want to show him around the farm?”

“Of course I do,” my father replied, “if he’s really interested. Here, pass me the phone.”

Immediately Mr. Churchill recognized the voice of authority on butterflies, and for quite a long time they talked – Mr. Churchill listening while my father told him something of the aims and objects of our unique profession. Before Mr. Churchill rang off, a date had been arranged for his visit to our establishment.

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“If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg”

By: Winston S. Churchill

“If today [Kaiser Wilhelm II] occupies in old age the most splendid situation in Europe, let him not forget that he might well have found himself eating the bitter bread of exile, a dethroned sovereign and a broken man loaded with unutterable reproach. And this, we repeat, might well have been his fate, if Lee had not won the Battle of Gettysburg.”

First published in Scribner’s Magazine, December 1930, pp. 587-97, republished in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, 4 vols. (London: Library of Imperial History, 1975), Volume IV, Churchill at Large, 73-84. Reprinted by kind courtesy of Randolph S. Churchill and the Churchill Literary Estate. Except for the section subtitles and footnotes, this is the unedited original, as Churchill wrote it. Copyright © Churchill Literary Estate, renewed 2001; reprinted by permission.

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“He Had No Use for Second Best”

Memoirs of Churchill’s Private Secretary, 1940-1955

By SIR JOHN COLVILLE CB CVO
Sir John Colville, known as “Jock” (1915-1987), was an English civil servant who served three prime ministers: Chamberlain, Churchill and Attlee. He was assistant private secretary to Churchill in 1940-41 and 1943-45 and joint principal private secretary in 1951-55. His diaries, Fringes of Power, are a standard primary source. These remarks were delivered at the Pinafore Room, Savoy Hotel, London, on 22 May 1983 during the First Churchill Tour, conducted by the then-International Churchill Society.
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Churchill and His Generals: The Tasks of Supreme Command

“Churchill exercised one of his most important functions as war leader by holding military calculations and assertions up to the standards of a massive common sense, informed by wide reading and experience at war….His uneasy relationship with his generals stemmed, in large part, from his willingness to pick commanders who disagreed with him—and who often did so violently.”

Eliot A. Cohen

This paper was presented at the 1993 International Churchill Conference in Washington, D.C., and has been updated in a few places to reflect developments and publications since. Dr. Cohen is Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.
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Churchill and the Art of the Statesman-Writer

FINEST HOUR 102, SPRING 1999

BY RICHARD M. LANGWORTH

ABSTRACT
An Address at the Boston Athenaeum, May 6th

====================

Fifty years and five weeks ago tonight, Winston Churchill addressed a distinguished Boston symposium a few blocks away at M.I.T., where they had convened to consider the science and technology of the second half of the century. “I frankly confess that I feel somewhat overawed in addressing this vast scientific and learned audience,” Churchill said. “I have no technical and no university education, and have just had to pick up a few things as I went along.”1

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What About the Dardanelles?

SIR MARTIN GILBERT CBE
FINEST HOUR 126, SPRING 2005

Sir Martin is the official biographer of Sir Winston Churchill, a regular attendee at our conferences, and a CC honorary member.

ABSTRACT
THIRTEEN QUESTIONS often asked about the Dardanelles have their answers in the Official Biography and subsequent research. And the answers are illuminating.
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“When You Care Enough”: Joyce Hall and Hallmark’s Churchill Connection

Finest Hour 137, Winter 2007-08

“When You Care Enough”: Joyce Hall and Hallmark’s Churchill Connection

By Philip and Susan Larson

Years ago the Larsons, who chaired our 2006 Chicago conference, purchased a box of Hallmark Christmas cards adorned with Churchill paintings, and other Hallmark items bearing his art. Whence the pairing of Churchill and Hallmark? They set out to learn the story.

The unassuming Midwesterner who first presented the art of Winston Churchill to the American people was Joyce C. Hall of Kansas City, who with his brothers built the internationally renowned Hallmark Greeting Card Company, known by one of the most famous slogans in advertising: “When you care enough to send the very best.” Hall, who preferred to be known as “J.C.,” exposed Americans to a new side of the statesman he so respected—a side few previously knew existed—through greeting cards, books, exhibitions and television.

J.C. Hall was a graduate Churchillian. His appreciation for Sir Winston was summarized on the jacket of Hallmark’s book Never Give In!: “He was the unquenchable voice of freedom… [his] wisdom extended beyond the pressing problems of peace and war.”
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“Winston has Gone Mad”: Churchill, the British Admiralty, and the Rise of Japanese Naval Power

By Dr. John Maurer, Chair, Strategy and Policy Department, Naval War College

Abstract:

Winston Churchill served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Conservative government during the late 1920s. His goal as Chancellor was to renew Britain’s power in the world by reviving the British economy. His economic policies brought him into conflict with the leaders of Britain’s Royal Navy, who wanted to undertake an expensive buildup of British naval strength to balance against the rising power of Japan. In this article, John Maurer examines how Churchill sought to manage and reconcile the risks facing Britain in the economic sphere, in domestic politics, and in the international strategic environment. The article forms part of a larger study on which I have been working about Churchill and the decline of British power.
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“Former Naval Persons”

The Rt Hon Sir Winston Spencer Churchill Society of British Columbia
Annual Banquet
Friday 13th June 2008

by Admiral The Lord Boyce GCB, OBE, DL

President, members of the WSC Society of British Columbia, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Very many thanks for your kind and generous introduction.

May I start by saying many thanks for the superb dinner we have enjoyed this evening; I am sure everyone would want to join me in congratulating the team here at the Vancouver Club for looking after us so well.

And may I go on to say many thanks for the marvellous welcome Fleur and I have had. It really could not have been friendlier and it certainly brings back happy memories to me of the couple of times I have previously visited Canada – although not to Vancouver, so this is a most pleasant experience. And I know it is already making an indelible impression on Fleur who is on her first visit to your beautiful country.

Ladies & Gentlemen, when I was kindly asked to come and speak at your Society’s Annual Banquet, I do not think I fully appreciated what I had agreed to undertake – but that became very clear when I received a copy of the ‘Heroic Memory’. My heart sank as my eyes ran down the list of my illustrious predecessors, all of whom seem to have had some personal knowledge of Winston Churchill to judge by their excellent renditions – which made my heart sink even lower as I read them, for I make absolutely no claim to be a Churchill scholar, nor have I any personal connections with him, nor any forebears who had. So to say that I am daunted as I stand before this knowledgeable gathering is putting it mildly. I hope, at the end of my contribution his evening, you are not minded to recall with a rueful sigh WSC’s words on being asked by a young MP whether or how he might have put more fire into his speech. WSC: “What you should have done was put the speech in the fire”.

I suppose, however, I have got something going for me in that I have, in a small way, followed in some of Churchill’s footsteps.

I have been a member of the Admiralty Board, and presided over the Navy Board (the Executive Arm of the former) as First Sea Lord, sitting in the same chair as he would have used as First Lord of the Admiralty in the historic Admiralty Board Room in Whitehall; and like him, no doubt, admired the famous 300 year old Grinling Gibbons carvings around the fireplace; and been distracted by musing over what sort of decisions may have been driven by the great wind indicator as our predecessors sat in that same room in the C18th and C19th in the days of sail. Incidentally we no longer have a First Lord as such, as the Admiralty Board is now presided over by the Secretary of State for Defence – as he does over the Army and Air Force Boards.

Then I go on to reflect that, like me, Churchill was an Elder Brother of Trinity House – an honour he assumed in 1913 when he was First Lord for the first time.

Trinity House is an ancient fraternity which obtained its charter from King Henry V111 in 1514 – primarily “to act for the relief, increase and augmentation of the shipping of this realm of England” – and today is still the lead authority for safe navigation around the shores of England, responsible for all light houses and buoyage; and is also a leading world authority in this area. WSC was enormously proud of his Elder Brother uniform and greatly enjoyed wearing it on ceremonial occasions and, indeed, wore it when he accompanied the Naval Division (which he had been largely responsible for forming) when it went to try to relieve Antwerp in the First World War. And you will also have seen him wearing his Trinity House cap in the famous picture sitting down talking to Franklin D. Roosevelt on board HMS Prince of Wales in 1941 – a picture caught in the life-size sculpture of them in the same pose that can be found in Bond Street in London.

He was proud too to wear his Royal Yacht Squadron cap that one sees in many pictures with his double-breasted naval looking coat because he was, as I am, an honorary member of the Squadron.

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Churchill At The Time: A Retrospective

by Alistair Cooke, KBE

Keynote Speech, Churchill Society International Conference, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, 27 August 1988. From Proceedings of the International Churchill Society, 1988-1989 (published 1990).

Copyright © 1988 the Estate of Alistair Cooke

 


I think it is a happy thing that you are holding this anniversary meeting in New Hampshire, where, as you all know, Winston Churchill spent the last fifty years of his life.

I refer, of course, to the eminent novelist whose fame was so considerable that when the young Winston Spencer Churchill decided to publish a book, he wrote to Winston Churchill in New Hampshire saying he did not wish to trade on his fame or mislead the reading public. Thus the young, unknown, English author would henceforth publish his books under the byline, “Winston S. Churchill.”

No doubt most of you knew that, but I thought it would interest the few who-out of praiseworthy but mistaken devotion-today, I’m told, made a pilgrimage to Cornish, New Hampshire, which was where Winston Churchill lived and died.

I must say I’m glad that Richard Langworth gave a boost to my credentials because a lot of you must have wondered what I’m doing here. When I look through the list of all the very eminent scholars and Churchillians who have spoken to you; and when I think that since the 1960s there have been over two hundred books on Winston Churchill, all of which you’ve devoured, I feel almost as intimidated as Churchill did himself when he appeared as the guest of honor at the American Association for the Advancement of Science at M.I.T., on March 22nd, 1949. (It requires no great feat of memory to recall the date, since it happened to be the day my daughter was born.)

 

He looked out at an audience of Nobel Prize winners, the cream of scientific expertise from universities in North America and Europe. And he “confessed” that they not only intimidated but frightened him. “I myself never had the privilege of going to a University. I simply-er-had to pick up-ah-a few things as I went along.” Then he spent the next two hours instructing them in the future of science and all its applications in war and peace.

I can only say my main credential is that I was alive and sentient and interested in life, and politics, for the last forty to fifty years of Churchill’s life. I also have a Churchill library, modest but substantial, which includes one treasure that (my vanity hopes) nobody here possesses. It is a physically beautiful book, an edition of Churchill’s My Early Life. What makes it unique, I think, is that opposite the title page, in the scrawl of a very old lady, it says: “Inscribed by Clementine Churchill and presented to Alistair Cooke, whose broadcasts gave so much pleasure to the author.”

What I should like to do is to retrace Churchill’s reputation, his public reputation-not from the view of historians or insiders, but as it appeared at the time to the ordinary people who lived through those years. I hope this will serve to correct or to modify the picture that we have formed of Churchill from television documentaries, and especially from the new, insidious form of docu-drama. It’s true also, I think, of many recent biographies, that suffer from the innate curse of the biographical form: which is to pretend that the subject was at the focal center of the world or of his country, and that all the life of the time swirled around him.

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Winston Churchill & Eamon De Valera: A Thirty Year “Relationship”

By David Freeman

Abstract: The 2008 International Churchill Conference in Boston had as its theme “Churchill and Ireland,” and numerous papers have been published in Finest Hour 142-145 under the rubric “Churchill Proceedings,” which are downloadable by registered users of this website.

One of the most important omissions from the printed pages was the following paper by Finest Hour contributing editor David Freeman, who delivered the original in person. The paper in its present form was substantially enlarged for a forthcoming book, The Churchills and Ireland: Connections and Controversies from the 1660s to the 1960s (Irish Academic Press). It is based on Dr. Freeman’s presentation at a conference of the same name in Belfast in June 2009 sponsored by the University of Ulster. Copyright © David Freeman, 2010.


Winston Churchill enjoyed a good joke. According to Dennis Kelly, one of Churchill’s former literary assistants, the following was one of his boss’s favorite stories, one that ‘he used to adore telling’: ‘British bomber over Berlin, caught in the searchlights, flak coming up, one engine on fire, rear-gunner wounded, Irish pilot mutters, “Thank God Dev kept us out of this bloody war.”’i

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“The Creeds of the Devil”: Churchill between the Two Totalitarianisms, 1917-1945 (1 of 3)

By Antoine Capet

Université de Rouen (France)

Part 1 of 3

Last March, I was invited to deliver a keynote lecture on ‘Churchill, Fascism and the Fascists’ at the University of Lille (France),[1] and when Dr Michael Kandiah[2] asked me later in the spring if I were interested in giving a paper at the Cold War Conference which he was organising,[3] I immediately thought of ‘Churchill and Bolshevism’[4] as the obverse of the same coin.[5]

Probably the image of Churchill which continues to prevail in the remotest corners of the globe is that of the ‘Bulldog’ relentlessly resisting and finally defeating the Fascist Dictators – including of course their archetype, Hitler.[6] But David Carlton, who has devoted a monograph to the study of Churchill’s attitude to Soviet Communism[7] – or Bolshevism as it was better known before the Second World War – argues that Churchill’s real relentless struggle was against the Bolsheviks and Soviet Communists, a protracted one, in fact almost a lifelong task from the 1917 Revolution until his retirement from active politics, with the period from 1941 to 1945 not even constituting the lull which mainstream historians and biographers like to emphasise.

Carlton summed up the gist of his book in a paper which he gave at the Institute of Historical Research in January 2001 and published in the Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. Concluding the paper on a minute sent to Eden on 6 December 1953 in which Churchill addressed the Soviet threat in no uncertain terms, this is what Carlton has to say:

These are not the words of a serious pioneer of détente. For with great certitude they depict the Soviets as unreformable creatures of tireless aggression. In fact they represent the convictions of the visceral anti-Soviet that Churchill had never ceased to be since the first days of the Bolshevik Revolution. In short, his anti-Nazi phase, for which ironically he will always be principally remembered, was for him something of a digression, however necessary, in his extraordinarily long career. Thus, once the Battle of Britain had been won and the Americans had entered the war, the struggle to defeat Germany became for him no more than a second-order crusade. For in his own eyes at least the contest with Soviet Bolshevism was what gave his political life the greatest continuity and meaning.[8]

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Churchill’s Dagger: A Memoir of Capponcina


In 1949, after “the best feast of conversational entertainment ever enjoyed” and an uncanny prophecy, Churchill suffered his first stroke—within an hour of removing for the first time his father’s ring from his hand. Lord Beaverbrook’s companion offers rare insights into the Churchill persona, his long friendship with “Max”—and words which bear an uncanny relevance today.

By Michael Wardell1

It was raining heavily on the French Riviera on an August morning of 1949. Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Beaverbrook, and I were sitting in the drawing room of La Capponcina, Lord Beaverbrook’s villa at Cap d’Ail, across the bay from Monte Carlo. The gramophone was playing a selection of records picked more or less at random by Lord Beaverbrook. There were the French songs of the popular fancy that summer, La Seine, Polygon, Clopin-Clopant, mixed with a new rendering of Old Folks at Home, Grieg’s Homage March, pieces from Cavalleria Rusticana, and finally the Miserere from Il Trovatore.

“Let’s have some more, Max,” said Churchill.

“What sort do you want, popular or classical?” asked Beaverbrook.

“Let’s have some beautiful music like the last,” Churchill replied.
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Churchill and Eugenics

By Sir Martin Gilbert CBE

Abstract: When he was Home Secretary (February 1910-October 1911) Churchill was in favor of the confinement, segregation, and sterilization of a class of persons contemporarily described as the “feeble minded.” The most significant letter Churchill wrote in support of eugenics was not, however, deliberately left out of the official biography by Randolph Churchill for reasons of embarrassment, but simply through oversight. -Ted Hutchinson

The author (www.martingilbert.com) is an honorary member and trustee of The Churchill Centre, is the official biographer of Sir Winston Churchill and the author of more than eighty books, on the two World Wars, the Holocaust and 20th century history as well as Churchill.


Randolph Churchill has been accused of deliberately omitting from his narrative volumes and from the companion volumes-because he was ashamed of it-a letter from Churchill to Asquith, written in December 1910, stating that “The unnatural and increasingly rapid growth of the Feeble-Minded and Insane classes, coupled as it is with a steady restriction among all the thrifty, energetic and superior stocks, constitutes a national and race danger which it is impossible to exaggerate.”
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The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.