Finest Hour 116

Books, Arts & Curiosities – Winston’s War: A Precis

Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 33


A Churchillan novel to be published by HarperCollins in November

Let me take you back to Saturday, 1st October, 1938. Mr. Neville Chamberlain has just returned from Munich promising “peace for our time.” He is universally acclaimed as a saviour.

Meanwhile, Winston Churchill is alone at Charrwell. Abandoned. An outcast.

It’s not difficult to imagine how Churchill must have felt. He had been lost in the wilderness for a decade and his political career was all but over. He was an old man who had outlived both his usefulness and his welcome. And everything he had ever held dear in politics had just been betrayed, handed over to the dictators.

What would have added to his sense of humiliation was that Chamberlain had flown back from Munich to a hero’s welcome. His rival had become the Messiah, while Churchill was a pariah.

Alone in Chartwell, the Black Dog would have been howling at him with extraordinary ferocity. Saturday, 1st October, 1938, was arguably the worst day of Churchill’s life.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – “War is too important to be left to the generals”

Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 32


Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen and Leadership in Wartime, by Eliot Cohen, Free Press, 288 pages, $25, member price $18

David Stafford begins his Churchill and Roosevelt with a fanciful appreciation of a statue of the two men on a bench in London’s Bond Street. Similar consideration might be given to the statues of Field Marshals Alanbrooke and Montgomery in Whitehall, looking toward Downing Street. There is ample evidence in Alanbrooke’s recently published diaries (see FH 110:42, 112:34) to support the view that he is looking disdainfully away, expressing contempt for the politicians who live at Number 10. Montgomery, however, is staring directly down the street in such a manner to give credence to the story that when Churchill remarked that Monty wanted his job, King George VI replied, “I rather think that he also wants mine.”

The tensions between military and civil leadership that have bedeviled nations over the centuries are the subject of Supreme Command. Eliot Cohen, who first presented his theories to the International Churchill Conference in Washington in 1993, uses four case studies to “uncover the nature of strategy-making in war”Lincoln, Clemenceau, Ben-Gurion, and Churchill. While they are all illuminating in different ways, only the last concerns us in this review.

Before considering each leader, Cohen evaluates theories of civilmilitary relations. He invites those who wish to plunge more deeply into the issue to consult an appendix on “The Theory of Civilian Control.” My own plunge was a little too deep to include here, but those so inclined will be wellrewarded for their efforts.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – “We listen round the clock for a code called peacetime”

Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 31


Secret Agent, by David Stafford, Overlook Press, 254 pages, $29.95, member price $22

David Stafford wrote Secret Agent to accompany a television series of the same name shown on BBC2 in the summer of 2000. This is the true story of SOE (Special Operations Executive) agents, told through a series of riveting interviews with the agents and support people themselves.

“In the darkness of Nazi occupation, SOE fanned the flames of hope and kept alive the flag of freedom.” This is David Stafford as I had never read him before, combining his talents for thorough research with the prose of a Kipling. His book, which will satisfy history buffs as well as fans of Ludlum, Fleming and Clancy, is a poignant and arresting tale that concentrates on SOE activities beginning in gloomy flats at Berkeley Court—a floor below some department of the Japanese Embassy: a highly undesirable location.

Stafford recounts much of the political infighting that accompanied SOE’s evolution from what was expected to be a group of harmless backroom lunatics to a professional and effective intelligence organization that left a mark on history. He names both those who helped and those hindered its development, and describes the rivalries among the various agencies, departments and allies. He gives us a plentiful supply of footnotes and references deserving further study.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Teaching Churchill

Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 28


Leading Lives: Winston Churchill
, by Fiona Richardson, Heinemann Library, 64 pages, $27.86, member price $23
Churchill: A Beginners Guide, by Nigel Rodgers, Hodder & Stoughton, 90 pages, paperback, £5.99, member price $10
Winston Churchill: Soldier, Statesman, Artist, by John Severance, Houghton Mifflin, 144 pages, $17.95, member price $12
Winston S Churchill: Man of the Twentieth Century, by Craig Read, Minerva, 290 pp.,pbk., $19.50, member price $17

A recent survey disclosed that one in six British schoolchildren could not identify Churchill as Britain’s wartime leader; an astonishing 4% thought it was Adolf Hitler. Similar shocking results obtain on the other side of the Atlantic, so it is superfluous to elaborate an argument in support of even the humblest attempt to “teach Churchill.” Unfortunately, most of these efforts are humble indeed.

The first Churchill “juveniles” were published in the late Fifties and with few exceptions were hagiographic potboilers. Some appeared after WSC’s death in 1965, another round during the 1974 centenary of his birth, but the pickings have been fairly slim since.

Now, however, comes a change: two new juveniles from Heinemann Library and Hodder & Stoughton; a new printing of an outstanding Houghton Mifflin production, and a book on why Churchill was the “Man of the 20th Century.” We should be glad. Two of the four are great, one is good, and the other is…well.
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Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 51

Will future generations remember? Will the ideas you cherish now be sustained therii Will someone articulate your principles? Who will guide your grandchildren, and your country? There is an answer.

And now is the time!

In 2003—at last—The Churchill Center establishes its permanent office in Washington, D.C., with a salaried executive director, who will integrate everything we do in the most logical place to do it: the nation’s capital. Now we have a vital permanent infrastructure, heretofore maintained by devoted but widely-spread volunteers.

Four people in particular—about whom you will hear shortly—have made much of this possible.
Will you give us the tools, so that we can finish the job?

Eighty-eight Churchill Center Associates (named on page 2) have committed $10,000 or more, over five years, all tax-deductible, to Churchill Center and Society Endowment funds earning interest in the United States and Canada.
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The Finest Hour Reader Survey

Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 41


Thanks! —to the nearly 200 of you who took the trouble to respond to our survey, and Barbara Langworth for many weeks’ work keylining and compiling the results. So many of you asked that the whole thing be published that we do so herewith. Please know that your thoughts and suggestions are all being carefully considered by our leadership.

The response was equally good from the USA, UK, Canada, and elsewhere, and a number of frequent suggestions have already been implemented: Churchilltrivia answers will now appear in the same issue with the questions; Recipes from No. 10 will be reduced to a half page every other issue; and other features will be emphasized or de-emphasized according to demand. Meanwhile, a few observations…

1. Average age is alarming, even in the USA, where we proclaim an average age of 48 (based mainly on new members who tell us). Maybe older folk have more time to fill out forms, but we need to consider how we can recruit more new, young members.

2. “How did you hear of us?” shows that a remarkable one-third of you heard of us not by advertising but via a friend. USA members will shortly receive new membership brochures and will be asked to make them count—or order gift memberships, remembering our subsidized student rate is only $20.
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Cruising Speed: A Fortnight in the Life of Finest Hour

Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 41


People sometimes ask us, though no one really knows the answer: what does it take to put an issue together? So just once I kept notes. This might be of passing interest. It was to me. I don’t think our publisher will like it. But she knows.

For months prior to the start of work, FH 115 has germinated, some articles for years. How many hours that involved I have no idea. A lot. Three weeks before handover to the printer, the makings are on hand, but disorganized. The “departments” always come in on time from our faithful contributors. Articles have been evaluated, discussed with authors, revised accordingly, and filed for the likely issue: 115, 116, on through 120. There is always 50 percent more than any issue can hold. The raw material glares at us.

DAYS 1-4

Gather ye chickens. We assemble the contents of the issue, constructing a page by page “road map” as a rough guide, shuffling things that won’t fit into next issue’s file. Much has come in by e-mail, tossed into raw computer files, awaiting attention. Every word has to be edited and turned into uniform type. Garamond is the current favorite, set 11 point for features and 10 1/2 point for departments (after long experimentation, the ideal compromise between space-saving and eye-saving). My own material has been periodically revised for weeks after the first draft, some of it sent out to for others to critique.
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Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 40

A compendium of facts eventually to appear as a reader’s guide.


Queen Victoria, 1837-1901
King Edward VII, 1901-1910
King George V, 1910-1936
King Edward VIII, 1936
King George VI, 1936-1952
Queen Elizabeth II, 1952-date


William Gladstone, Lib., 1868-74
Benjamin Disraeli, Cons., 1874-80
William Gladstone, Lib., 1880-85
Marquess of Salisbury, Cons., 1885-86
William Gladstone, Lib., 1886
Marquess of Salisbury, Cons., 1886-92
William Gladstone, Lib., 1892-94
Earl of Rosebery, Lib., 1894-95
Marquess of Salisbury, Cons., 1895-02
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Leading Churchill Myths – (5) “Churchill and Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harhor in advance”

Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 38


On a recent anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the History Channel, whose programs sometimes produce opium for the people, ran a BBC documentary claiming that President Franklin Roosevelt knew all about the surprise attack and allowed it to happen to get the United States into the war. The program, as Arthur Balfour might have said, contained much that is trite and much that is true, but what was true was trite, and what was not trite was not true.

Let us begin with the interview of Robert Ogg, which approaches dishonesty. The producers fail to inform the audience that Mr. Ogg is the infamous “Seaman Z” immortalized by John Toland, an early conspiracy theorist who wrote that Pearl Harbor was plotted by Roosevelt. “Seaman Z,” whose story has had a nasty habit of changing over the years, claimed he heard “queer signals” which could have been the oncoming Japanese aircraft carriers. But he could only have been hearing the carriers if the carriers were broadcasting….

The Japanese themselves claim their fleet (Kido Butai) never sent a single message. They dismantled the telegraph sending devices so a message could not be sent. After the war, the Strategic Bombing Survey found the Japanese military’s own after-action report, which credits the success of the attack to the fact that secrecy was maintained.
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Churchiiliana: Spode’s Ellegant Churchill Pitchers

Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 36


One of the most admired and sought after pieces of Churchilliana is the famous Spode pitcher, first produced in 1941 and reissued in its original and a new shape in 1965. A recent spate of the Spode jugs on eBay has revealed the existence of several permutations of this famous piece of which we were not previously aware.

The most memorable feature of these pitchers, common to each, is the superb transfer decal on the front or obverse: a cameo of Churchill, flanked with a warship, tank and fighter aircraft, under the May 1940 speech excerpt (slightly misquoted), ALL I CAN OFFER IS BLOOD, TOIL, TEARS AND SWEAT above a ribbon bearing Churchill’s remark about the RAF from August 1940: NEVER IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN CONFLICT WAS SO MUCH OWED BY SO MANY TO SO FEW. There are variations in colour, and two different types of decal for the reverse side; but this elegant piece of artistry is common to the front of all pitchers.

The pitcher was likely created by the company’s own designers, since no particular artist is credited with it in Spode’s records. Since it was not a limited edition, Spode has no record of how many were made. There were, however, two distinct runs: in 1941 and again in 1965, when a new shape was produced alongside the original.
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Churchill Trivia

Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 35



In large numbers, readers have requested that we provide Trivia answers with each column (but not on the same page, preserving the option to test your knowledge). Herewith last issue’s questions, with the answers on page 40.

Twenty-four questions appear each issue, answers are on page 40. Categories are Contemporaries (C), Literary (L), Miscellaneous (M), Personal (P), Statesmanship (S) and War (W).

1255. Whom did Churchill replace as First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911? (C)

1256. What was Churchill referring to when he wrote in My Early Life, “One must not yield too easily to the weakness of audiences….They had asked for it and they must have it.” (L)

1257. What was WSC’s code name on the return journey from the Casablanca Conference in February 1943? (M)

1258. What was Clementine Churchill’s maiden name? (P)
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Update: Hoe Farm, Surrey; Arthur Simon, Eminent CHurcHillian

Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 34

This update is provided by David Coombs, author of Churchill: His Paintings, who lives in Godalming, where Churchill took up painting at Hoe Farm, in the nearby village of Hascombe.

In 1915 Hoe Farm was part of the Park Hatch Estate, a large agricultural property with associated houses and woodlands. The owner, Joseph Godman, lived with his family at Park Hatch, a large house outside the village some distance from Hoe Farm, which he letted. One of his tenants, for the summer of 1915, was Winston Churchill, who letted the house for summer holidays following the lowest point in his life—dismissal from the Admiralty following Fisher’s resignation as First Sea Lord over the Dardanelles operation. It was here that Churchill took up oils, as he charmingly relates in Painting as a Pastime.

Mr. Coombs writes: “It has been thought that Churchill letted the property from his friend the Duke of Westminster, but the Duke’s ownership dates only from sometime in the 1960s. He in turn sold it in 1972 to Mr. Ian Anstruther, the current owner. Mr Anstruther is presently refurbishing Hoe Farm for his son to live there: which will, I guess, bring to an end its long years as a tenanted property.” Mr. Coombs has interviewed a Hascome resident, Mrs. Briggs, who came to the village when “there were still people who remembered the Churchills. One of her friends recalled being pushed in a pram that was said to have been left behind by the Churchill families in 1915.”
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Manalapan Estates, Florida: The Churchill Connection

Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 25


In Finest Hour 112:13, about “Churchill Way” at Manalapan Estates, near Palm Beach, Florida, mentioned its relationship to Churchill. Mr. William Benjamin, Mayor of Manalapan, who owns the property, provided us with the following information.

The Manalapan land originally surrounded “Casa Alva,” an estate built in 1936 by Consuelo Balsan, the former Consuelo Vanderbilt, first married Winston Churchill’s cousin, the Ninth Duke of Marlborough. They were divorced in 1921, after which she married Jacques Balsan CMG. She maintained ties with favorite Churchill relatives, prominently including Winston. He was a frequent visitor to her chateau, St. George’s Motel, near Dreux about fifty miles from Paris, in the 1920s and 1930s. Here WSC completed his last painting before the war.

Casa Alva was the Balsans’ Florida retreat, and the Churchills visited them there in 1946, coming over from the nearby Miami Beach estate of Col. Frank Clarke. Here they were resting while WSC worked on his “Iron Curtain” speech, parts of which, Mr. Benjamin believes, were drafted at what locals called the “Vanderbilt estate.”
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Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 20


As Churchill’s daughter, Mary Soames had the run of 10 Downing Street and helped arrange dinner with Stalin. She talks to Graham Turner about eighty rich and varied years.

“I don’t think I was necessarily intended,” said Mary Soames, Winston and Clementine Churchill’s .youngest daughter, “but I suppose I was the child of consolation. My parents were shattered when their third daughter, Marigold—who was only two and a half years old—died in 1921. It’s clear from letters my father wrote to my mother that, when I arrived the following year, he was delighted that the nursery had started again.”

The way in which Marigold died was to have a decisive influence on Lady Soames’s own life. “Mummy had left her in the charge of a French nursery governess, Mademoiselle Rose, while she went to stay with the Duke and Duchess of Westminster at their home in Cheshire. Marigold, who was known as “Duckadilly” in the family, developed a very sore throat but, even when she became really ill, the governess still waited a day or two before sending for my mother. By that time, there was nothing even a specialist could do for her.

“Mummy didn’t blame the governess in any way but, of course, the whole thing shook her deeply. It wasn’t only grief and loss. She knew she was going to have to be away a lot because of Father’s involvement in politics. So she decided she had to have someone of more stature to look after the remaining children—Diana, who was 12; Randolph, who was 10; and Sarah, who was almost eight.
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COVER STORY – “This Demi-Paradise”: Lullenden

Finest Hour 116, Autumn 2002

Page 18


Winston and. Clementine Churchill’s First Country Home

Lullenden is a heart-of-oak house with all the yeoman qualities of its most celebrated owner, Winston Churchill, who lived there from the spring of 1917 until November 1919. Unlike Chartwell, which Churchill bought in 1924, it is neither great nor particularly grand. But it is old, warm and welcoming.

When Churchill bought Lullenden, a Tudor manor set in 77 acres of south-east Surrey, with the help of his mother, he was 42 and fighting in the First World War. No longer ruler of The King’s Navy—he had resigned as First Lord of the Admiralty over the Gallipoli fiasco and the Dardanelles—he stormed off to command a battalion at the front. Chastened and widely vilified, “the escaped scapegoat” had no wish to stay in the cabinet, and hoped to find glory in uniform instead.

But having installed his wife and family in the country, by July 1917 he was back in government as Minister of Munitions—something of an irony as the point of buying Lullenden was to move his children away from the bombing raids on London.

Churchill’s wife Clementine helped entertain his important visitors at Lullenden. War or no war, she loved the gardens that enclosed the house and gave the family privacy. “On Saturday, I want you to take me to Crawley in the motor,” she instructed Churchill in July 1918, “to see Cheal’s Nursery Gardens. I want to buy some little rock plants to put in the chinks everywhere.”

Their children, Diana, eight, Randolph, six, and three-year-old Sarah, were joined at Lullenden by their cousins, Johnnie and Peregrine, aged eight and three, the sons of Churchill’s brother, Jack, and his wife Goonie (known in the family as “the Jagoons”). Apparently, the five of them made such a noise that Churchill installed them in the barn—now a four-bedroom house—along with the family’s Scottish nanny, Isabelle, so that at weekends, when he returned from his ministerial duties, he could think great thoughts in the main house undisturbed.

To relax, he painted (at least three of his pictures of Lullenden have survived) and planted. In the wooded grounds, Churchill’s wild white cherry trees, white magnolias, crimson Japanese azaleas and blood-red Britannia rhododendrons (one of Clementine’s favourites) still give blazes of colour in season.

“Any weekends he was not in France, Winston spent at Lullenden, which was conveniently situated near the airfields of Penshurst and Godstone,” his daughter Mary Soames, born in 1922, recalled. Churchill clearly enjoyed them. “Dearest & best beloved,” he wrote to Clementine from Paris towards the end of the war, “let me know what plans you make for Lullenden next Sunday.”

The children went to school in the nearby village of Dormansland in a pony and trap. Here, at the age of five, Randolph discovered that his father was different from other fathers. “Will you be my chum?” Randolph asked another little boy. The child refused, explaining:

“Your father murdered my father.”

“What do you mean?”

“At the Dardanelles.”

But not all Randolph’s memories of Lullenden were so dark. He recalled playing a variant of hide-and-seek with his father in the wooded grounds, and remembered returning from school one day to find the gardener up a ladder nailing a Union Flag to a flagpole to celebrate the Armistice.

The heart of the nine-bedroom house is the great hall. A soaring, double-height room with a vaulted ceiling, it is lit by a wrought-iron electrolier suspended from a great oak tie-beam and warmed by a roaring fire set in the inglenook that, at eight feet wide, would roast half an ox. The date 1624 is cut into the massive oak bressummer, while the iron fire-back is dated 1582, further evidence of Lullenden’s Elizabethan origins.

Up the oak staircase is the 27-foot master bedroom where the Great Man slept. Double-aspect windows give views across the countryside, and to one side of the massive bed, a tiny Judas-window allows a glimpse down into the great hall.

In the postwar Government, Churchill was appointed Secretary of State for War and Air, dealing with, among other things, the demobilisation of nearly three and a half million soldiers. But in the midst of his turbulent public life, he suffered a great domestic blow. Isabelle, who had been the Churchills’ nanny for years, died suddenly in the flu epidemic of 1919. Later that year Winston and Clementine decided reluctantly to sell Lullenden.

“I feel very anxious about our private affairs,” wrote Clementine to her husband. “It’s clear we are far too much extended.” But it seems not to have been simply a question of money. Perhaps because of the chaotic life they led, between London and the country, France and England, Lullenden had become run down.

Their new head gardener had insisted on a major overhaul of the grounds, ploughing up some of the fields to sow corn and employing labourers for the heavy work. This energetic man moved the greenhouse with his own hands, telling Clementine that, without these changes, “the place will always be a dead weight of expense,” but that “afterwards it will certainly pay.”

With Churchill so busy elsewhere, Clementine had taken the gardener on without her husband seeing him first. While she admired the gardener’s “great decision and apparent knowledge,” she felt browbeaten. “If we sell Lullenden,” she told her husband, “we can pass this tyrant on with the place!” In the end, it came to a hard choice. “It’s no use going on in this moribund condition.” So, at the end of 1919, the Churchills sold Lullenden to their old friends, General Sir Ian and Lady Hamilton.

Today, Lullenden, one of the few small country estates to have survived intact, is for sale again. “The house is manageable,” says Gavin Selbie, a partner at Knight Frank’s Tunbridge Wells office, “but it’s also got the space. It offers an idyllic rural lifestyle, and for a family, Lullenden is magic.” 

Mr. Wilkes’s article appeared in The Daily Telegraph of 20 October 2001, and is reprinted by kind permission of The Telegraph Group Ltd. Other articles on Lullenden appear in FH48, 93, 103, and 110.

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