Finest Hour 157

Download This Issue

In this Issue

Churchill Proceedings – Britain and America: A Special and Essential Relationship

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 54

By Robert Worcester

28TH INTERNATIONAL CHURCHILL CONFERENCE, LONDON, ENGLAND, OCTOBER 2011


Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s The Honourable Louis Susman, in his first formal address after his appointment, told the Pilgrims Society in London: “In war and peace, in prosperity and in time of economic hardship, America has no better friend and no more dependable ally than the United Kingdom.”

And again:
“Our nations are deeply rooted in our enduring values of democracy, rule of law and tolerance; a shared history, culture and language, and a mutual ability and willingness to bring real diplomatic, financial and military assets to the table for joint action to promote and defend our common interests….While the United States of America—and this Ambassador—has many priorities, my principal priority will be to strengthen and nourish this Special Relationship, which is so critical to the United States.”

In a joint article on 24 May 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron pointed to the close relationship between our two countries, saying it is vital beyond Britain and America:
Read More >

Churchill Proceedings – Taking a Chance: Editing the Churchill-Roosevelt Correspondence

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 58

By Warren F. Kimball


In a moment you’ll know the rationale for the title of this piece, which I hope is enlightening, or at least amusing, on the trials of doing research in the pre-computer age. More importantly, I’d like you to consider two great men and the policies of their time, and how my interpretations and perspectives have or have not changed.

In the Beginning

It was Lloyd Gardner, my longtime friend and colleague at Rutgers, who told me, years later, that I took a huge chance in choosing to edit the Churchill-Roosevelt correspondence, rather than churning out a few monographs. During the twelve years it took me to find, catalog, copy and comment on all their exchanges, I wrote a book about the Morgenthau Plan, some articles about diplomatic history, a few book reviews, and a long review that was a little controversial. But none of those would have impressed deans or promotion committees, so I guess I did take a chance. It was just too fascinating to ignore.
Read More >

Churchill Proceedings – How Charles de Gaulle Saw the “Anglo-Saxon” Relationship

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 52

By Antoine Capet

28TH INTERNATIONAL CHURCHILL CONFERENCE, LONDON, ENGLAND, OCTOBER 2011


The complexities and ambiguities of the three-cornered special relationship between Britain, France and the United States were nothing new in 1940. Arguably they can be traced to the American War of Independence, when the King of France, no friend of liberty, supported the rebels with the obvious intention of being nasty to the King of England. The Lafayette mythology conceals unavowable motives, and the discrepancy between professions of altruistic friendship and the realpolitik of selfish national interests was always present after 1783. Its main manifestation before the period we consider here was the Paris Peace Conference in 1918-19, with two of the three countries having borne the brunt of the war, and one the greatest devastation of its national territory.

Churchill, Roosevelt and de Gaulle drew totally different conclusions from the proceedings of the Conference; its outcome, the Versailles Treaty of June 1919; and the failure of the United States Senate to ratify it in March 1920. Rightly or wrongly, Charles de Gaulle drew at least four important conclusions from the episode, and they remained ingrained in his mind until his death.
Read More >

MOMENTS IN TIME – Hohne, May 1956

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 50

By Bill Perlmutter


Growing up in the Forties I had three heroes: Franklin Roosevelt, Mayor la Guardia and Winston Churchill. I never thought that some day I would photograph WSC, let alone near the infamous Bergen Belsen concentration camp.

Churchill was in Germany on 9-13 May 1956 to receive the Charlemagne Prize, meet with Chancellor Adenauer, and visit British troops. Attached to the 2nd Armored division in Bad Kreutznach, I had been sent to Bergen Hohne to photograph our Army tanks practicing on a former Wehrmacht tank range. In May I was assigned by our division paper, Hell on Wheels. to photograph Churchill, who was in the area between Belsen and Hohne to visit the Fourth Queen’s Own Hussars, the celebrated regiment of which he was Colonel.
Read More >

About Books – “Stormy Petrel of Politics” – Dorothy Thompson’s Ode to Churchill

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 49

By Ronald I. Cohen


Reader Arthur Lee asks: “Was the Dorothy Thompson introduction in -the second American issue of Churchill’s A Roving Commission ever reprinted? “If not, it should be.”

Dorothy Thompson (1893-1961) was a prominent writer and broadcaster, referred to in her heyday as “the First Lady of American Journalism.” Her three husbands included the Nobel Prize winning novelist Sinclair Lewis. In 1939, Time
magazine named her the second most influential woman in America next to Eleanor Roosevelt.

In reissuing A Roving Commission (U.S. title of My Early Life) in 1939, it was therefore natural for Scribners to ask Dorothy Thompson to write a new introduction. The Second American issue had only two printings, and subsequent appearances of the title dropped the Thompson introduction; copies are today quite scarce, particularly in their distinctive original orange and blue dust jackets.

War had only just broken out between Britain and Germany when Thompson sat down to write, blithely ignoring the fact that American involvement in the war was hotly opposed by the bulk of U.S. opinion. Given the hour, her words were less in praise of Churchill’s masterful autobiography than of Churchill himself—brave words under the circumstances, but Scribners evidently made no attempt to tone them down. Her appraisal of Churchill is at once arresting and in some respects unique.

INTRODUCTION

A Roving Commission (U.S. title)

Second Issue, 1939, Cohen A91.5.a

It is not often that the First Lord of the Admiralty of any nation is also a writer of fine prose. Winston Churchill is one of the finest living writers of English prose. He is a stormy petrel of politics. For the past decade he has been the most pugnacious, eloquent, and scathing critic of British policy. He happens to have been right, and that is the reason he is again in the Cabinet at last.

Mr. Churchill is the kind of Englishman who cannot be classified according to his political ideas. He is too gifted and too brilliant to be disposed of by calling him a Tory—or by any other appellation. He believes with almost religious intensity that the English spirit in its finest manifestations is the world’s greatest hope for decency and freedom. He also, like Hitler, believes in the leadership principle, but unlike Hitler, he believes in noblesse oblige.

He is a doubtful democrat. His spirit is Aristotelian; he believes in aristocratic government on the wide basis of popular consent, and he would define an aristocrat as a man who is willing to take upon himself, with no thought of gain or fame, the responsibilities which the weaker shun.

He believes that leadership cannot and should not be forced. It must accrue to a man on the strength of his record. He must not usurp responsibility—the usurpation of power is gangsterism, in Mr. Churchill’s mind.

The British aristocratic tradition whereby only the oldest son inherits the lands and title has resulted in a great many younger sons who have had to use their wits—and England has profited from this. Winston Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill, the third son of the seventh Duke of Marlborough, became an eminent statesman. His son, although he belongs by birth to the English aristocracy, is not rich and has always had to earn his living. He has been a soldier, a journalist and a politician; he has been a perennial Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament, is Lord Rector and Chancellor of two universities, and he is now, for the second time, First Lord of the Admiralty. But always he has been a writer, and his works include journalism, political biography and some of our best modern history.

Of a scintillating and sometimes devastating intelligence, a political maverick, a viveur with a gusty love of life and an unmitigated passion for England, Mr. Churchill is one of the most colorful figures on the international scene. Although he is now sixty-five years old, he seems cast in the mold of youth and is younger than the generation who could be his sons.

It would be impossible to imagine England without him.
—DOROTHY THOMPSON
14 OCTOBER 1939


Mr. Cohen is Churchill’s leading bibliographer and founder of the Churchill Society of Ottawa.

Book Reviews – Premiers in Waiting

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 48

By William John Shepherd

Leaders of the Opposition: From Churchill to Cameron, ed. Timothy Heppel, hardbound, 288 pages, $95, Kindle edition $76.


The British Parliament has an opposition party with a shadow cabinet that serves as an alternate government should the ruling party resign or lose office. The effectiveness and changing role of postwar opposition leaders are examined in case studies by fifteen British political scholars headed by Timothy Heppell of the University of Leeds. Like all too many scholarly books, it is priced far too high.

Of the sixteen leaders herein, equally divided between Conservatives and Labourites, nine became prime minister. Three postwar premiers—Macmillan, Eden and Gordon Brown—are excluded because they succeeded colleagues and did not lead the Opposition. Also left out are John Major, who served only seven weeks as a caretaker after losing the 1997 election; current opposition leader Ed Miliband; and three acting leaders who served only briefly.
Read More >

Book Reviews – If Only

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 48

By David Freeman

Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War, by Frank Costigliola. Hardbound, illus., 544 pp., $35, Kindle edition $19.25.


An old argument in Cold War history holds that if only Truman had been nicer to Stalin at the end of World War II, the subsequent Cold War might have been avoided or mitigated. A professor of history at the University of Connecticut now takes up this thesis anew, arguing that the death of Franklin Roosevelt removed the one personality who could have reassured Stalin sufficiently to produce a more agreeable postwar world.

Following Roosevelt’s death during the closing days of the war in Europe, Harry Truman became responsible for American foreign policy. Lacking any knowledge or experience of dealing with the Soviet leader, he relied on the advice of American diplomats who had served in Moscow, such as Averell Harriman and George Kennan. After witnessing many of Stalin’s atrocities and betrayal of agreements, the State Department’s “Soviet experts” counseled stern confrontation with the Kremlin boss. According to Costigliola, the notoriously insecure Stalin mainly wanted to safeguard his country against another German invasion—playing “the Cold War card…was not his first choice.”

After being challenged by Truman, however, and with the slightly sympathetic Churchill removed from power by election, the Russian leader felt constrained to take the steps he believed necessary to safeguard his country. This meant the brutal occupation of east-central Europe and the development of the nuclear arms race.

Roosevelt, it is argued, would have looked past Stalin’s atrocities and the violation of some pledges in order to achieve the greater good of a less confrontational world. A comparable example that did come to pass was Richard Nixon’s decision to open a dialogue with Communist China despite the horrifying record of Mao Tse-tung.

That at least is the theory, but counterfactual speculation is not history. Costigliola’s argument can never be proven or disproven. Tellingly, it primarily finds support among those with highly favorable opinions of Roosevelt, and dances around the grey region between respect and idolatry. Even Harri-man appears to have repented of his role in the early Cold War and to have given credence to the theory, by saying if Roosevelt had lived things could well have been different, because, Harriman said, “Roosevelt could lead the world.”

Anthony Eden once stated flatly that “the deplorable turning point in the whole relationship of the Western Allies with the Soviet Union was caused directly by the death of Roosevelt.” But there are many problems with this idea, including the need of Eden and Harri-man to protect their reputations.

It does not follow that any new agreements made by Roosevelt and Stalin would have held any more than the wartime agreements already violated, or that the Soviet establishment necessarily would go along with everything the aging Stalin pledged. Churchill is criticized for promoting a postwar Anglo-American alliance that fed Stalin’s paranoia. What else was Churchill to do? Lend-Lease and Marshall Aid were not coming from Moscow. And in their absence, whither western Europe?

Costigliola emphasizes the personal element of diplomacy, an area in which Roosevelt was unsurpassed. Thus, the President’s cardinal error in this account seems to have been not taking better care of himself and alienating advisers who could take a broad view of Stalin. But how would FDR have coped with an opposition-controlled Congress after 1946? Could he have bent it to his will while Stalin achieved similar success with the Red Army and the Politburo? Certainly personalities matter in negotiations; but the powers behind those personalities matter more.

Book Reviews – Best Account, Worst Scenario

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 47

By Richard M. Langworth

If Britain Had Fallen, by Norman Longmate, 1972, 2012. Softbound, illus., 276 pages, £12.99 from Pen & Sword Books, http://xrl.us/bny6sz.

 


LONDON, 1940

“Churchill…drew his pistol and with great satisfaction, for it was a notoriously inaccurate weapon, shot dead the first German to reach the foot of the steps….A burst of bullets from a machine-carbine caught the Prime Minister full in the chest. He died instantly, his back to Downing Street, his face toward the enemy, his pistol still in his hand.”

“Later that afternoon with the Germans already in Trafalgar Square and advancing down Whitehall to take their position in the rear, the enemy unit advancing across St. James’s Park made their final charge. Several of those in the Downing Street position were already dead…and at last the Bren ceased its chatter, its last magazine emptied. Churchill reluctantly abandoned the machine-gun, drew his pistol and with great satisfaction, for it was a notoriously inaccurate weapon, shot dead the first German to reach the foot of the steps.
Read More >

Churchilliana – One-offs: Jessie Borthwick’s Bust and a Unique Marquetry Plaque

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 46

By Ian Morrison


In 1940, a Churchill bust sculpted by Jessie Borthwick and made of Parian Ware china was widely marketed, but I think I own the original. Whereas the commercial busts are finished china, my 10-inch-high example is plaster and bears Borthwick’s signature, as well as the date of July 1940. Unlike the china versions, the plinth does not carry the inscription “Winston Spencer-Churchill.”

I acquired the bust in 1976. It was originally in the office of a Lincolns Inn Fields firm of solicitors, and when the firm closed my father, who was managing clerk, was allowed to save the bust from the rubbish skip.

It is almost identical to the Parian china version which was reproduced in 1940, but with subtle differences; it has wear suggesting that a cast was made from it for the china busts. I believe it This piece is however a plaque—but it may be one of a kind.
Read More >

Books, Arts & Curiosities – The Long and short of Churchill Biographies

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 44

By David Freeman


Since 1905, when Alexander MacCallum Scott produced his account of an exciting 30-year-old Liberal MP named Winston Churchill, biographies of Britain’s greatest statesman have proliferated. One bibliographer cataloged twenty-six biographies published in Churchill’s lifetime; another, thirty-six between Churchill’s death in 1965 and the end of the 20th century. And that is just counting the ones written in English.

The 21st century has seen no diminution. Churchill loved a good race and might appreciate the steady efforts made by his chroniclers to overtake major historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Napoleon Bonaparte in the multiple-biography sweepstakes. But where should readers begin?

I am often asked to recommend a good Churchill biography. Before answering, I consider the potential reader’s background and ask questions about what sort of book is sought. More information is required than simply whether the reader seeks an introductory work or a serious academic study. Probably the most important question has to do with length.
Read More >

Action This Day – Winter 1887-88, 1912-13, 1937-38, 1962-63

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 42

By Michael McMenamin


125 YEARS AGO

Winter 1887-88 • Age 13

“I don’t want to go at all.”

With their parents in Russia, Winston and his brother Jack spent Christmas at 2 Connaught Place with their nanny, Mrs. Everest, and were visited by their Aunt Leonie and Uncle Jack (later Shane) Leslie. In the evening, they went to the Leslies’ home on Stratford Place and played games. Winston had been invited by his grandmother, the Duchess of Marlborough, to spend a week with her at Blenheim over the holiday, but Winston wrote his mother on Boxing Day, “I don’t want to go at all.” His Aunt Leonie obliged him and sent a telegram to Blenheim saying Winston would not be coming.

Leonie’s short telegram apparently arrived just after the Duchess had written her son, Lord Randolph: “I have asked Winston to come to stay a week with me. I would be responsible for him. He wrote me such a nice little letter & I never see him.” After reading Leonie’s telegram she continued: “Just got a Tel from Leonie that Winston is not to be allowed to come & see me! I feel much aggrieved & shall trouble no more about my Gd-Children. I should have thought I was able to take care of him as [well as] Leonie and Clara.”
Read More >

MEMORIES OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE – WAAF Driver Irene Kaye

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 41

By Lesley Lewis

Ms. Lewis, who lives in Australia, seeks anyone who knew of her mother. She may be contacted by email: lesleylewis54 @yahoo.com.au.


My mother, Irene Constance Kaye (1923-2012), and her sister Eileen, were daughters of a Scarborough, Yorkshire barrister. They made valuable contributions to the war effort, though they remained silent to the end. This was typical of many who served: they never wished to make much of their contributions. I have only a few memories that they shared.

Eileen was a radio operator who spoke rarely about the war, but she did mention “talking” aircrews back home over the English Channel after bombing raids. Irene found herself in a unique circumstance. For a time she served as Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s second RAF driver. She was the WAAF corporal who drove him, often wearing his “boiler suit,” from London to the Air Ministry or airfields like Biggin Hill, usually in the evening through blacked-out streets, navigating by the dim light of blinkered headlamps.
Read More >

MEMORIES OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE – Marriage of Convenience: Churchill and “Bomber” Harris

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 38

By Christopher H. Sterling

Controversy forever surrounds the Allied strategic bombing of Germany, during most of which Sir Arthur Harris headed the Royal Air Force Bomber Command. From early 1942 to war’s end, Harris worked closely with Churchill, who found in him “a kindred spirit, a man who ‘would not flag or fail,’ someone who would fight the war to a finish, however hard the road to victory, however high the cost. [After 1945] Churchill found it advisable to distance himself from a man whose wartime actions, however justified and officially approved at the time, were becoming contentious.”1 The full story of their relationship is more complex than that.


While Churchill rarely mentioned Sir Arthur Harris in his postwar memoirs,2 the Bomber Command leader had served the prime minister’s goals and strategies at least as much as the more widely praised Field Marshal Montgomery. Britain’s few winning British commanders in the long years before D-Day provided the sharp end of the country’s resolve to see the war through, and Bomber Command carried that role, at fearsome cost, for three and one-half years.

Right Man, Right Place

Arthur Travers Harris (1892-1984), a Royal Flying Corps and RAF officer since 1915,3 took command of 5 Group’s bombers in 1939, becoming an air marshal when he was promoted to head Bomber Command in February 1942. He was knighted shortly thereafter. Harris’s driving dedication to the bombing effort (he scarcely took a day off for the duration of the war) endeared him to an often-beleaguered Churchill. To his friends he was “Bert”; to the flying crews who seldom saw him in person, it was “Butch” or “Butcher”; while he was often the “Chief Bomber” to the prime minister4 and simply “Bomber Harris” to the usually admiring press.
Read More >

Churchill as Bricklayer

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 34

By Fred Glueckstein

“…200 bricks and 2000 words a day” —WSC to Stanley Baldwin, 1928


In January 1952, Winston S. Churchill arrived in New York Harbor aboard the Queen Mary on a visit to the eastern United States. Dorothy McCardle, society reporter of The Washington Post, recorded a story told by members of the staff accompanying the Prime Minister from New York to Washington. In a delightful piece dated 13 January 1952, McCardle humorously wrote that the man Americans knew as the bulldog leader of World War II had acquired a new title for his current visit to America: “bricklayer.”

Those travelling with Churchill had related that the day before he left for the United States, he had been asked to lay a foundation stone in Bristol, where he was Chancellor of the University. WSC picked up a silver trowel provided for the occasion and looked at the foundation stone. To the surprise of everyone he laid the trowel aside and said, “The stone isn’t level.” McCardle wrote: “Red-faced officials produced measuring instruments and in a second discovered that Winnie was right. Solemnly, they adjusted the stone, and then Winnie the bricklayer nodded his approval, took up the silver trowel, and smoothed the cement.”1
Read More >

Winston Churchill on France and the French

Finest Hour 157, Winter 2012-13

Page 31

“All my life I have been grateful for the contribution France has made to the culture and glory of Europe, and above all for the sense of personal liberty and the rights of man which has radiated from the soul of France….Show me a moment when I swerved from this conception, and you will show me a moment when I have been wrong”
—WSC, 1944


Cherbourg, July 1944: In an iconic photo published in Newsweek, a French dock worker lights Churchill’s cigar. Alongside the PM is Major General Cecil Moore, U.S. Army, Chief Engineer, European Theatre of Operations. Churchill was making his second visit to France since D-Day, chiefly to meet with Montgomery prior to the second phase of OVERLORD. He visited Utah Beach and the main British landing point at Arromanches, where he examined one of his own ideas, the Mulberry Harbour; and inspected a captured, unfinished flying bomb launching site, now safely in the Allies’ hands. (Imperial War Museum)

Editor’s note: Quotations without references are from speeches in the House of Commons (Hansard).
Read More >

Join Now

Join NowPlease join with us to help preserve the memory of Winston Churchill and continue to explore how his life, experiences and leadership are ever-more relevant in today’s chaotic world. BENEFITS >BECOME A MEMBER >

WinstonChurchill.org

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.