Finest Hour 123, Summer 2004
Taiwan’s Top Churchillian
TAIPEI, MARCH 2ND— Hot on the heels of British opposition leader Michael Howard declaring his Churchill credentials (FH 122:12) comes Republic of China opposition leader Lien Chan, who ran for President of Taiwan with ad footage of a warship headed through choppy seas and images of Roosevelt and Churchill. Dressed in a sweater, reading in a book-filled study, 67-year-old Lien sought to picture himself as the helmsman who will lead Taiwan to a new, calmer relationship with the giant neighboring People’s Republic. His Nationalist (Kuomintang) Party has long supported China’s sacred goal of uniting the sides divided when Communists took over the mainland in 1949. It means a lot to Peking that Lien has never leaned toward independence for Taiwan, unlike President Chen, who has yet to commit himself to unification. On March 20th Lien lost, but has since filed several lawsuits seeking to nullify the results.
Please: It’s “Clemen-teen”!
There are certain points we try to make repeatedly because they are so often forgotten. A note from a member, asking about the correct pronunciation of Lady Churchill’s first name, prompts us to quote her daughter and our Patron:
“It is Clementeen, not ‘Clementyne.’ You cannot put this down to local custom or the song ‘My Darling Clementine.’ It is pronounced Clementeen for historical reasons which must be respected: my mother came from an old Scottish Jacobite family and Maria Clementina Sobieska (1702-35) was a Polish princess, the wife of (titular) King James VIII of Scotland and III of England—‘the old Pretender.’ She was the mother of Prince Charles Edward Stuart— ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie,’ the ‘young Pretender.’ And Clementina, or Clementine, has since then been a favorite name in Jacobite families. The Ogilvys, my mother’s maternal family, were disgraced and lost their lands and titles through their fidelity to the Stuart cause. So please try and encourage others to get it right.”
TORONTO, JUNE 6th— The Sixtieth Anniversary of D-Day saw a major commemoration event in Toronto City Hall Square, including a rededication of the Churchill Statue by Oscar Nemon, which had been unveiled in 1977 by Winston Churchill MP. As the surroundings had become run down, ICS Canada and the Toronto-based Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy (CSAPD) commenced a fund raising drive to improve the site. The goal was C$25,000 and C$28,000 was raised from members of the two societies, with donors from six Canadian provinces. Trees and park benches were installed as well as plaques detailing Churchill’s life and achievements in words and photographs. The plaques are temporary, as the City has to be satisfied that there are no copyright problems with the photographs; however it was most gratifying to see the reaction and interest they aroused from the general public.
The rededication commenced with a welcome from Dan Tisch, chairman of CSAPD, who spoke of his personal attachment, since his Father was a holocaust survivor. Toronto Mayor David Miller, who was born in England and came to Canada as a small boy, recounted his mother living in Dagenham, north-east London, during the war and experiencing the Blitz. He talked of Churchill’s full life as a soldier, journalist, author, politician, painter, bricklayer and inspiring orator: a true Renaissance man. Randy Barber, President of ICS Canada, thanked the Mayor and pointed out the pertinence of the anniversary of D-Day since, without Churchill, D-Day would not likely have occurred. The event ended with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and prolonged applause from the crowd. —TERRY REARDON
Prince of Wales Bell Preserved
MERSEYSIDE, UK, MAY 2003— The ship’s bell from HMS Prince of Wales, aboard which Churchill and Roosevelt held Sunday services during their Atlantic Charter meeting of August 1941, was presented to the Trustees of National Museums Liverpool by First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sir Alan West KCB DSC ADC. It was accepted by chairman of trustees David McDonnell.
The bell was discovered to be intact and accessible by diver Gavin Heyward in June 2002. Heyward reported the fact to the Ministry of Defence, and assisted the Royal Navy in its recovery two months later.
Rumors had circulated that diving teams from Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur might visit the protected gravesite of Prince of Wales to recover the bell for an unnamed Japanese businessman, who wanted it for his Tokyo boardroom. Heyward was congratulated for his successful race against this possibility by the Prince of Wales survivors association.
HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were sunk by Japanese aircraft off Singapore shortly after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and the British and Dutch possessions in the East Indies in 1941. In his memoirs Winston Churchill, who didn’t expect the disaster, described their loss as one of his most profound shocks during World War II.
—VIC HUMPHRIES, CHURCHILL CENTRE AUSTRALIA
Here Stands “Rota”
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA., MARCH 3RD— The Lightner Museum at 75 King Street, in the former Alcazar Hotel, houses the accumulated treasures of the late Otto Lightner, the Chicago-based publisher of Hobbies magazine, whose own hobby was collecting other people’s collections. Among 20,000 items from hatpins to Tiffany glass and cigar bands is the stuffed lioness, “Rota,” from the Zoological Society of London. George Thomson of Pinner, Middlesex gave Rota to Churchill in 1941. WSC housed Rota at the Zoo on regular wartime rations. She birthed two cubs, “Monty” and “Ike.”
Gilbert on War Leadership
EDINBURGH, MAY 12TH— Sir Martin Gilbert, official biographer of Sir Winston Churchill, presented a lecture entitled “Churchill’s War Leadership: New Perspectives” at the Royal Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The lecture was part of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Second World War Studies Kintore Lecture Series on World War II. Dr Paul Addison spoke the thanks and Professor David Stafford was also a host at the proceedings.
Sir Martin’s lecture was, I presume, based on his ongoing research of Churchill’s World War II papers. The most interesting information for me was the fact that Churchill made the tough decisions, protecting his subordinates from undue criticism, as for example over the sinking of the French fleet in the Mediterranean after France’s 1940 surrender.
I travelled to Bedfordshire later that week to examine a Master’s thesis and stayed on for the weekend to visit some friends. They took me to Woburn Abbey and Bletchley Park, two places I hadn’t visited previously. Coincidentally, Bletchley (www. bletchleypark.org.uk) was commencing its celebrations of the 60th anniversary of D-Day. A new exhibition, “Pegasus Bridge,” commemorates the first objective achieved prior to the beach invasions. Sir Martin opened the new exhibition in the morning and then delivered a lecture on his new book, Churchill at War.
As always, Jack Darrah’s collection of Churchilliana is stunning in terms of its amount of materials and coordinated displays.
—DR DAVID GRANT, LECTURER IN LOGISTICS
SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT AND LANGUAGES
HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY EDINBURGH
Haunting Pub Crawl
DELRAY BEACH, FLA, MARCH 4TH— Gin isn’t the only spirit haunting the Blue Anchor, the Atlantic Avenue pub’s owner says. Lee Harrison, a former National Enquirer reporter, claims the ghost of a woman murdered by her jealous husband traveled with the 19th-century London pub when it was torn down and moved to Delray Beach in 1996: “Her footsteps and spine-chilling wails were often heard by employees after the pub closed for the night. And even today at its Delray Beach location, the haunting appears to continue.
“Built in 1865 by the William Younger Brewery, the Blue Anchor served up pints off London’s Chancery Lane until the owners tore it down in 1985. Winston Churchill used to stop in for a pint,* and two of Jack the Ripper’s victims spent their last nights drinking at the bar, according to the menu and the website.”
The former tabloid reporter said he remained skeptical when his employees said they had heard and seen strange things….Then the ghost smacked a sous-chef in the head with a stock pot.
The Travel Channel will promote Weird Travels as an autumn series in October, starting the week of Halloween, and will air it in prime time.
—MEGHAN MEYER, PALM BEACH POST
*Editor’s Note: Readers should know it is highly unlikely that Churchill “stopped in for a pint” at the Blue Anchor or any other pub. Beer wasn’t his tipple, and he never carried any money, so it would have to be for unpaid drinks—unless they were fond enough to shoot him a drink of whiskey. —RML
HAVANA, FEBRUARY 26TH— Sir Winston was honored at Cuba’s annual cigar festival. Jenny Churchill, a great-granddaughter of the late prime minister, smoked a cigar herself Wednesday night during a dinner in his honor, and gave a bronze bust of WSC to another man well-known in the world of cigar smokers, tobacco grower Alejandro Robaina.
Churchill’s love of cigars was so well-known that after a visit to one of Cuba’s factories, the old and respected Romeo y Julieta cigar company named a cigar shape in his honor. The “Churchill” has since become a staple of the cigar world.
One of the most important anticommunist leaders of the 20th century, Churchill was the most prominent user of the term “Iron Curtain,” in a speech to describe the rise of communism in Europe.
Hundreds of foreigners were in town for the cigar festival, paying $1200 each for the five-day program, which included visits to tobacco fields and factories, and a final “Cigar Dinner” attended by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
Chartwell Tourism Award
FOLKESTONE, KENT, FEBRUARY 5TH— Just over a year after Sir Winston achieved national acclaim as the greatest Briton of all time, National Trust staff at Chartwell are celebrating the news that his much-loved home near Westerham has won its own prestigious award.
At Kent Tourism Alliance’s Awards for Excellence ceremony, held at a gala dinner here, it was announced that Chartwell had been voted Kent Tourist Attraction of the Year for 2004. A delighted property manager Carole Kenwright said: “This is wonderful news for the whole team and it’s especially gratifying for Chartwell to stand out for recognition in a county which boasts such world-acclaimed attractions as Canterbury Cathedral, Leeds Castle, Port Lympne and others. So many people—staff, volunteers and visitors—contribute to the success of Chartwell, and here is evidence that we are all keeping alive the memory of Sir Winston.
“We work hard to understand our visitors’ needs and expectations and to give them the best possible experience when they come here, and it’s very gratifying to know that we have achieved this…we look forward to welcoming back old friends as well as introducing new visitors to this beautiful and inspiring property.”
The house and garden at Chartwell reopened in March. The car park is open every day throughout the year (except Christmas Day) from 8.30 a.m. until dusk to give access to countryside walks. Further Information: Judith Seaward, Visitor Services and Marketing Manager, Chartwell 01732 868381: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
WASHINGTON, APRIL 27TH— Amidst rejoicing over record-breaking support for our May 21st Liberty Award benefit dinner for General Tommy Franks arrived the following two letters:
(1) “If you insist on including left wing people [the writer circled the name Dick Durbin wherever it appeared] in your events, you will lose me as a member. Stop doing it or I will say goodbye.”
(2) “I will be unable to attend the May 21st dinner or to contribute financially. I disagree with the war and any awards for its conduct. I am a war veteran and wish Gen. Franks would have refused to invade Iraq on moral grounds. We should not reward such behavior.”
As examples of un-Churchillian thinking these letters are hard to beat. Stop and think: Clearly we could not possibly please both of them—except by doing nothing. That Senator Durbin, an outspoken critic of Iraq policy, cochaired an event honoring the general who conducted the initial action—for achieving success with hardy any civilian casualties—speaks volumes for the Senator. What an example of 20-20 hindsight to say that General Franks should have “refused to invade Iraq on moral grounds” at a time when 90% of the country approved of it! I too am a veteran. When did we ever refuse an order “on moral grounds”?
That Dick Durbin and Jack Kemp, whose political views are oceans apart, jointly endorsed an event honoring an acknowledged hero, matches the political example Churchill himself set: “I refuse to choose as between Republicans and Democrats,” he said. “I want the lot.” So do we. There will be more such collegiality in our future.RML
Seeking to buy an original oil painting by Sir Winston Churchill. Please email Eric Cohler at email@example.com, or telephone (917) 731-2425.
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