Finest Hour 115

“KEEPING THE MEMORY GREEN AND THE RECORD ACCURATE” – LEADING CHURCHILL MYTHS

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 46


The fable that Sir Alexander Fleming saved Churchill from drowning as a boy and from pneumonia many years later by his discovery of penicillin had quite a run on the Internet a year or so ago, and the question still comes up occasionally. Charming as it is, it is certainly fictitious.

The story goes at least as far back as Worship Programs for Juniors, by Alice A. Bays and Elizabeth Jones Oakbery, published ca. 1950 by an American religious house, in a chapter entitled “The Power of Kindness.” This is an odd source for an original myth, and we suspect the tale goes back before that.

According to Bays and Oakbery, Churchill is saved from drowning in a Scottish lake by a farm boy named Alex, who grows up wanting to become a doctor. (Other versions say WSC is saved by Alex’s father.) Churchill telephones the Flemings in Scotland to say that his parents, in gratitude, will sponsor Alex’s otherwise unaffordable medical school education. Alex graduates with honours and in 1928 discovers that certain bacteria cannot grow in certain vegetable molds. In 1943, when Churchill becomes ill in the Near East, Alex’s discovery, penicillin, is flown out to effect his cure. Thus once again Alexander Fleming saves the life of Winston Churchill.
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Arts – Recipes from No. 10: Beignets with Cheese

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 44

By Georgina Landemare, the Churchill family cook, 1940s-1950s, updated and annotated for the modern kitchen by Barbara Langworth (b_langworth@conknet.com).


In the fascinating life of her mother, Clementine Churchill: The Biography of a Marriage, Lady Soames acquaints us with Georgina Landemare:

“Mrs. Landemare was a superb cook, combining the best of French and English cooking. She had learned her craft the hard way, starting as No. 6 in the kitchen over which reigned the French chef, Monsieur Landemare, whom she eventually married. Clementine had come to know and appreciate her talents and her delightful personality during the Thirties, when she used to come to Chartwell for special parties or busy weekends to boost and teach the rather inexperienced cooks or promoted kitchenmaids that Clementine could then afford. When they moved into Downing Street, Mrs. Landemare came to cook for Winston and Clementine on a permanent basis. Through all the difficulties of wartime rationing, she managed to produce delicious food. After the war she stayed with us until 1953 when she retired, aged seventy.” Lady Churchill later wrote the foreword for Mrs. Landemare’s book, Recipes from No. 10, which may be republished by her granddaughter.

These delectable morsels from Mrs. Landemare’s kitchen were a particular favorite of the Churchill family.
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Question Time – PRIME MINISTER’S QUESTIONS

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 43

Edited and annotated by Paul H. Courtenay


Question Time is that period in the Parliamentary week where Members are allowed to ask the Prime Minister any question, governed only by decorum and the judgment of the Speaker as to whether they are genuinely asking questions or (commonly) giving a speech. Churchill was a master of Question Time, as Mr. Courtenay demonstrates.

Innovation and Logic

On 17 December 1942 a Member asked whether the titles Minister of Defence and Secretary of State for War should not under the circumstances be changed respectively to Minister for War and Secretary of State for the Army. WSC: “Sir, we must beware of needless innovation, especially when guided by logic.”

Cheap Demagogic Gestures

In 1951, Churchill reduced Ministerial salaries to set an example of economy. On 29 July 1952, Lt. Col. Lipton (Lab.) asked if this was not “a hollow gesture.” WSC: “I am looking forward to seeing the hon. and gallant Gentleman make a gesture of which it can be said that it is at any rate not less hollow.” Mr. W. Wyatt (Lab.): “Is it not a fact that when Income Tax has been deducted the saving is relatively negligible, and would it not be more appropriate if at his time of Read More >

WOODS CORNER – IN PRINT AND UPCOMING

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 42


After a brief lull, the cascade of new books about Winston Churchill has begun afresh. Here are titles we are acquiring for the Churchill Center Book Club. Our prices will be substantially below prices mentioned here, and lower than Amazon.com, of course!

• Cohen, Eliot: Supreme Command (Free Press, 272 pp., $25), will be reviewed in our autumn number. See also Cohen’s brilliant “Churchill and His Generals” in our Proceedings 1992-1993.

• Dobbs, Michael: Winston ’s War: A Novel (HarperCollins, 352 pp., £17, November). Fans of the book and television series “House of Cards,” with fiendish Francis Urquhart, MP , will be pleased to know that its author, ICS (UK) member Michael Dobbs, is now serving us a Churchill novel. Thus far, Dobbs’s novels have been purely fictional, if all too close to certain marks. Now he focuses his detailed knowledge of Parliamentary politics on real history. The story begins in September 1938, with Churchill nearly a decade out of power, derided over India, ignored over Hitler, and scorned for supporting Edward VIII during the Abdication crisis. Neville Chamberlain has returned from Munich bearing Peace in Our Time. Then Churchill receives a visitor at Chartwell named Guy Burgess: the first in a series of surprise developments that propel Churchill into Number Ten and change history. Churchill, who became a hero, and Burgess, who became a traitor by spying for the Soviets, are juxtaposed in a fascinating novel.
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INSIDE THE JOURNALS – Focusing on the Real Menace

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 41

Abstracts by Chris Hanger


Kaufman, Robert, “The Line In The Sand—What George Bush Learned from Winston Churchill,” Policy Review, Spring 1991: 36-43.

With his decisive response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the first President Bush exhibited principles advocated by Winston Churchill. Like Churchill, he focused the national interest both from a moral and geopolitical standpoint, but also joined with allies, or “coalition partners” as they were called, whose governments were often less democratic than America’s. Bush’s chief aim was to define which country was the ultimate menace, then work toward building partnerships to neutralize that threat.

Three earlier developments illustrate Churchill’s foreign policy: the successive threats of Imperial Germany, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and Cold War. In each case, Churchill’s vision has been vindicated.

The late 19th century saw Germany as a menacing power bent on European domination and naval supremacy over England. By 1911, Churchill’s view of Germany had changed from that of a relatively innocuous country into a real threat to European peace. Churchill’s premise was that Britain could not tolerate a bellicose Germany because it would likely destabilize and subjugate British interests. Though Russia was more autocratic, Germany posed the more destabilizing threat to the region.
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EMINENT CHURCHILLIANS – Patrick Kinna MBE: “He was sure we would win all along.”

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 38

By JASON WOODWARD

Cdr. Mike Franken, commanding officer of the guided missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill, welcomes a special guest at the International Festival of the Sea, 2001, when Patrick Kinna was invited to visit in honour of his being the last surviving member of Churchill’s wartime Private Office


Churchill hated whistling, Roosevelt always said hello, De Gaulle was a gossip, Stalin never smiled.

As one of Churchill’s personal secretaries, ICS UK member Patrick Kinna accompanied the Prime Minister everywhere he went and met many of the 20th century’s greatest statesmen. Though he stayed at the White House and slept at the Kremlin, he lived for most of the time in Downing Street.

Now aged 88, Mr. Kinna lives in Sussex Square, Brighton in the flat he shared with his sister Gladys until her death six years ago. He is the last surviving member of the “little people,” the close-knit Secretariat which surrounded Churchill during the war. Last summer he was guest of honour during the visit of USS Winston S. Churchill to Portsmouth Harbour, where he was given a full tour of the latest vessel named for his old chief.

“I had the most wonderful day,” he said. “I felt embarrassed because they made such a fuss of me. It’s all changed from my day. Almost everything on board was completely different from when I was on a warship. Time has moved on.”
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MOMENTS IN TIME – Wielding the Whip Hands, 1950s

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 37


Eric Kane of Bayport, New York sent us a copy of this interesting 8×10-inch photograph signed by Churchill and numerous others, and asks us to identify the cast of characters. Allen Packwood and Paul Courtenay agree that the photograph shows Churchill with members of the Conservative Whips Office from his second ministry in the 1950s. They identified most of the front row. Left to right: Unknown, Edward Heath (Deputy Chief Whip, later Prime Minister), Patrick Buchnan-Hepburn (later Lord Hailes, Government Chief Whip 1951-55), WSC, Cedric Drewe, Roger Conant and Henry Studholme. They recognise few in the back row, but of the remaining legible signatures, the following were whips at the time: Martin Redmayne (presumably back row, far left), Dennis Vosper (later Lord Runcorn, Conservative Whip 1950-54, centre under portrait) and Dick Thompson (second from right). Can anyone help identify the others?

OLDER TITLES REVIEWED – Those Wily British…

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 36

By Warren F. Kimball

Spies and Saboteurs: Anglo-American Collaboration and Rivalry in Human Intelligence Collection and Special Operations, 1940-1945, by Jay Jakub. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.


Despite the title, this book is not the place to find exciting madefor-Hollywood stories of derring-do, with a Mata Hari, a James Bond, or even an Allen Dulles seducing secrets out of diplomats, blowing up bridges, or subverting governments. Rather this is a careful, detailed, tightly focused study of the administrative relationship between British and American intelligence agencies during the Second World War. It is, at times, a blow by blow description of turf battles fought by and amongst all those various agencies: Brits versus Yanks, Brits versus Brits, and OSS versus the Washington bureaucracy and J. Edgar Hoover. The author has given us neat introductions and summaries of each chapter, allowing us to pick and choose the details we decide to examine. Operations in the field to collect intelligence or support this or that politician are left largely to other histories.

Much of the story and the perspective is familiar. The British, wily and experienced, begin in 1940 by manipulating (“mentoring” is the author’s gentler word) the Americans to get them to create an intelligence agency that would be professional and would cooperate with Britain. (British manipulation of the Americans is only hinted at, but for some overwrought hints see the confused and exaggerated study of British intelligence operations inside the United States by Thomas E. Mahl, Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-1944, Washington and London: Brassey’s, 1998.) “Big” Bill Donovan, “little” Bill Stevenson (“Intrepid”), and the rest of the usual suspects Read More >

Books, Arts & Curiosities – Finland: Contradictory Perspectives

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 36

By Jari Lybeck

Translation by Riikka Forsström

Churchill ja Suomi [Churchill and Finland] 1900-1955, by Markku Ruotsila. Helsinki: Otava 2002. Subtitle translates, “Winston Churchill’s Ideas and Action Related to Finland.” Text in Finnish. Anyone interested in acquiring this title should contact the editor; one order will be placed.


This doctoral thesis is the first of its kind in Finnish historiography. It deals with Churchill’s opinions related to Finland and the importance of Finland for Churchill in a wider, international context.

According to Ruotsila, Churchill knew little of Finland or its culture, and was interested in the country only as a part of a larger totality containing two sides: geo-strategical and ideological. Churchill’s leading ideological idea was anti-Communism. His geo-strategy concerned the balance of power in international relations.

Churchill became interested in Finland after the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia and the Western Powers thought to undermine their control. In 1919, Churchill’s vehement campaign to help the White Russians against the Reds found sympathy with Finland’s Marshal Mannerheim; they even made common plans for an Anglo-Finnish capture of St. Petersburg. But Churchill’s influence was limited, and neither Prime Minister Lloyd George nor the United States was much interested. Mannerheim found little support in Finnish ruling circles, and Churchill in frustration held Finland partly responsible for the failure “to strangle Bolshevism in its cradle.”
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Flavour Minus Ingredients

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 35

By Paul H. Courtenay

The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill, compiled by Dominique Enright, published by Michael O’Mara Books Ltd, 2001. Hardbound, 162 pages, £10/$16.95, member price $10.


At first glance this is an attractive looking little book, but the first sentence of the introduction quickly raises doubts. Ms. Enright tells us that Churchill was born a nephew of the Duke of Marlborough!

From this point the reader’s confidence is undermined, and it is easy to spot other errors of fact before even reaching the twelve chapters of quotations, many of which are close enough, but inaccurately recorded. The author has clearly lifted many of her quotes— often word for word—from an earlier book of this genre which is itself full of inaccuracies and inventions.

A typical misquotation occurs over Churchill’s famous definition of a lie in an early debate over what some had called “Chinese slavery”: “…it cannot in the opinion of His Majesty’s Government be classified as slavery in the extreme acceptance of the word without some risk of terminological inexactitude.” For this Enright substitutes: “Perhaps we have been guilty of some terminological inexactitudes.”
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – “If We Lose at Sea, We Lose…”

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 33

By David Freeman

Churchill’s Anchor: The Biography of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound OM, GCB, GCVO, by Robin Brodhurst. Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Leo Cooper, 320 pp., illus. Regular price $36.95, member price $30.


While accompanying the Prime Minister to Washington for talks with the American high command in May 1943, Britain’s First Sea Lord, Sir Dudley Pound, was asked by a journalist: “Can you give us anything on the battle of the Atlantic? How’s it really going?” Pound looked grave, stroked his chin, and chatter died away as the entire room listened for his answer. Eventually, after long consideration, he said, still with a deadly serious expression: “I can tell you this, my boy. I’d rather be Ernie King or Dudley Pound than that fellow Doenitz!”

Victory in the crucial Battle of the Atlantic owed as much to the strategic vision of Pound as it did to the thousands of sailors who waged the struggle on salt water. For it was Pound who understood from the war’s beginning and made clear to his colleagues and superiors the salient point: “If we lose the war at sea, we lose the war.”

Amazingly, perhaps, for a subject as well documented as World War II naval history, there has never before been a dedicated biography of the man who led Britain’s Senior Service during the war’s first four years. Robin Brodhurst, who is Head of History at Pangbourne College, has at last filled the gap with this admirable work made possible, appropriately, by means of a Churchill Fellowship. Agreeably, Brodhurst, like Churchill, graduated from Sandhurst and served in the army before pursuing his interests in writing the history of naval affairs. As the title implies, Churchill figures prominently in this book, over half of which is given over to the Second World War.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Love Story

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 32

By Richard M. Langworth

“The Gathering Storm,” a film for television produced by BBC Films and HBO Inc., starring Albert Finney as Winston Churchill and Vanessa Redgrave as Clementine. Script by Hugh Whitemore, directed by Richard Loncraine. 90 minutes. We have eight brand new reviewer’s videotapes (USA format), $40 postpaid in USA, elsewhere enquire; make payable to The Churchill Center.


Churchill films seldom engender unanimity among reviewers, but everyone in the room watching the preview, by kind invitation of the British Consul in Boston, had the same reaction: astonishment at just how good this film is. Even in a cynical and antiheroic age, filmmakers still can recreate what Lady Soames calls “The Saga” without reducing her father to a flawed burlesque or a godlike caricature. With the exception of one huge gap in the story line, “The Gathering Storm” is a masterpiece.

Unexpectedly in the male-dominated world of the 1930s, but perhaps intentionally in 2002, the greatest supporting roles are female. Clementine Churchill is one of these. Badly misplayed by Sean Phillips in the “Wilderness Years” documentary two decades ago (FH 38), Clemmie gets justice at the hands of Vanessa Redgrave.
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ENGLISH SPEAKING PEOPLES – ON WAR CRIMES

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 28

By LLOYD W. ROBERTSON

Why was Churchill so forgiving of the Germans?


A war crimes tribunal was a novelty at the time of the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. Now such a tribunal—the International Criminal Court—may become a permanent institution. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia made headlines by making a case against Milosevic; Pinochet was ordered back to Chile by a Spanish court. Milosevic was and is guilty of “ethnic cleansing,” which many people take to be equivalent to attempted genocide; Pinochet was charged with crimes similar to those the Nazis committed—not just war crimes, but crimes against humanity. Today many are wondering what will or should be done with surviving leaders of the Taliban and al Qaeda after the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11th. An international trial is again recommended in some circles.

Whether these different cases should all be treated in the same way is a good question. Were the Nazis not merely an extreme case, but a bizarre exception? Pinochet seems hardly comparable. Was Hitler’s a unique pathology? If so, it may not be wise to pattern modern cases after the Nuremberg example; perhaps, instead of thinking only of punishing the guilty, we should try to discover what is beneficial.

As we seek guidance on how to proceed, we may learn from the thoughts of Winston Churchill. What he says about war crimes and war criminals is remarkably consistent, if we allow for his need on occasion to temper his views alongside public opinion.
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Action This Day – Summer 1877, 1902, 1927, 1952

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 26

By Michael McMenamin


125 Years Ago:

Summer 1877 • Age 2

“Radiant, Translucent, Intense”

Lord Randolph’s summer routine in Dublin was described in his biography, written years later by Winston:

“Often on a summer’s afternoon he would repair to Howth, where the east coast cliffs rise up into bold headlands which would not be unworthy of the Atlantic waves. Here in good company he would make the ‘periplus’ as he called it— or, in other words, sail round ‘Ireland’s Eye’…catch lobsters, and cook and eat them on the rocks of the island. In the evenings he played half-crown whist in Trinity College or at the University Club or dined and argued with…his friends. Before long he had been in Donegal, in Connemara, and all over the place—‘Hail fellow, well met’ with everybody except the aristocrats and the old Tories.”

Meanwhile, Churchill’s mother was making her own impression. Edgar Vincent, an international banker in Turkey and former Ambassador to Berlin, wrote in his memoirs his impression of Lady Randolph:
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CHURCHILLIANA – THOSE REALISTIC HOLOGRAPH LETTERS

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 24

By JAMES MACK

Don’t be taken in—they look genuine, but they’re reproductions.

SPECIMENS FROM THE MARK WEBER COLLECTION


Autograph Letter Signed by Winston S. Churchill, British Prime Minister, on debossed House of Commons Notepaper, thanking a well-wisher for a kind message on his birthday, 1947. Folded once, slightly yellowed from age, otherwise a fine copy. $1200.” (This was an actual offer on the Internet, but the honest seller, alerted by an observer, conscientiously withdrew the item.)

More than one seller or collector has been taken in by these remarkable facsimile holograph notes, produced by Churchill’s Private Office from 1945 through at least 1959— some of them so convincing that casual observers swear they are originals. But distinguishing one is easy: if there is no salutation, it’s a facsimile.

The Private Office acted in self-defense. From the time Winston Churchill was thrown out of office in the July 1945 General Election almost until the end of his days, letters, cards, and gifts flowed to Hyde Park Gate, Downing Street and Chartwell, attesting to the esteem in which he was held by ordinary people all over the world.
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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.