Finest Hour 158

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Churchill Proceedings – Why Rare Books Matter: The Teaching Potential of a Churchill Collection

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 58

By Patrick Scott

27th International Churchill Conference, Charleston, South Carolina, March 2011

Explanations first. I’m not a professional historian, not a theorist of politics and political leadership, not a military expert, not a specialist in rhetoric or media. So I am a little daunted to talk in this company about Winston Churchill, whose achievements deserve all of that expertise and more.

I am relieved to be speaking about something I like, know and care about—why rare books matter, and what they can do, and to tell you about a recent generous gift to this state’s flagship university, a hundred miles up the road in Columbia.

Libraries like ours at the University of South Carolina are built over time. We’ve been collecting books for over 200 years. We had the first freestanding college library building in America, and last year the Rare Books Department moved into a brand new building, the Hollings Special Collections Library. I won’t linger on this point, but we are proud of the collections and what we can now do with them.
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Churchill Fiction

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 57

By Michael McMenamin

Princess Elizabeth’s Spy, by Susan Elia MacNeal. Bantam, softbound, 385 pages, $15. Member price $12.
Portrayal ★★★Worth Reading ★★★

Orders from Berlin, by Simon Tolkien. Minotaur, hardbound, 320 pages, $26, Amazon $17.08, Kindle $12.99.
Portrayal ★★Worth Reading ★★★

Maggie Hope (Mr. Churchill’s Secretary) is back. And as Churchill growled to her in her earlier role, “We could use some hope in this office.” Maggie has now been recruited by MI-5 and is undergoing training in Scotland when this second adventure begins. Orders from Berlin by Simon Tolkien (grandson of J.R.R.) is similar to Maggie’s first adventure, in that it involves a Nazi plot to assassinate WSC.
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Book Reviews – Churchill’s Waterloo Revisited

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 56

By Christopher H. Streling

The Defence of the Dardanelles: From Bombards to Battleships, by Michael Forrest. Pen & Sword Books, hardbound, illus., 254 pp. $39.95. Member price $31.95.

Yet another book on the “damned Dardanelles” (to bowdlerize Admiral Fisher)? Yes, though this one is quite different from the existing accounts. Forrest argues that Churchill and the admirals should have known better than to try and force the waterway with ships alone—since British Intelligence had a pretty good idea how the Turks would resist. But rather than highlight politics or inter-service squabbles, this well-illustrated volume focuses on the development and effective use of the forts, batteries and minefields that stopped the Allied fleet cold in March 1915.  This was long before Allied landings on Gallipoli, and before Germans under the command of Gen. Liman von Sanders appeared on the battlefields.

Churchill crops up in several places in this narrative of the building, manning and eventual impact of what emrged as a highly effective Turkish system of coastal fortification. Forrest begins (briefly) with the castle-like forts built in the late 1600s, and carries the story through the Chanak crisis of 1922 that helped to bring down the Lloyd George government. The focus, however, is on the events of 1915.
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Book Reviews – A Rousing Good Picture Book

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 56

By Suzanne Sigman & Amy Cohn

War Dogs: Churchill and Rufus, by Kathryn Selbert. Charlesbridge, hardbound, color illus., 48 pp., $17.95, E-book $9.95.

At last there is a picture book about Churchill we can recommend unreservedly. It is billed for ages 7-10, but children as young as five should find this an intriguing and worthwhile story. The text features London, Churchill and Rufus, his beloved miniature poodle.

The action begins with the advent of war in 1939 and culminates with Churchill’s return to Chartwell in 1945. Along with the primary narrative, Churchill’s own words tell a parallel story: a Churchill quote appears on most double-page spreads. Together, these presentations paint a clear and insightful picture of Churchill’s wartime leadership. For example, every day Rufus visits “Winston’s secret office, hidden beneath the buildings of London. Messages chatter through typewriters, and candy-colored phones rattle and ring. News arrives from all corners of the globe.”
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Book Reviews – Catalogue of the Uncanny

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 55

Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman, by James C. Humes. Regnery, hardbound, 300 pp., $27.95, Kindle edition $14.99, audiobook $19.95. Member price $22.36.

Churchill is more celebrated for his prophecies which came true—the two World Wars, becoming prime minister, the Nazi and Soviet threats, guided missiles, nuclear bombs, even cell phones—rather than the prophecies that didn’t—Anglo-American condominium, a settlement with the Soviets and a truly united British Commonwealth, not to mention the invulnerability of France, Tobruk, Singapore, and the survival of capital ships in concentrated air attacks.

James Humes compiles Churchill’s many accurate predictions, probably more than WSC would have labeled as such. “I always avoid prophesying beforehand,” he said in 1943, “because it is much better policy to prophesy after the event has already taken place.”

Although there is nothing new here, Mr. Humes has thoroughly plumbed the literature to produce a comprehensive catalogue. Twenty-eight chapters are subdivided into six parts: World War I (predicted as early as WSC’s school years); Military Weaponry (aircraft and tanks); Domestic Affairs (the age of technology, a “middle way” between capitalism and socialism); the Totalitarian Age (foreseen as early as his 1900 novel Savrola); World War II (Bolsheviks, Fascists, Nazis, the certainty of victory, his loss of the election); and the Cold War (Iron Curtain, United Europe, collective security, the Soviet collapse). I don’t think any major prediction that came true is left out.
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Book Reviews – Winston’s Younger Stepfather

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 54

Monty Porch: A Charmed Life, by Roger Parsons. Self-published, soft- bound, illus., 48 pp., £8 ($12) from the author via Paypal or cheque. Email

Roger Parsons has done history a favor with a captivating biography of the Edwardian gentleman who sought fortune in the Empire, fell in love with a woman thirty years his senior, and became Winston Churchill’s second stepfather, three years younger than Churchill himself.

The second son of a prominent Glastonbury family, Montague Porch had no prospect of vast inheritance, but was educated at Oxford, made archeology digs in Sinai, and in 1908 joined the civil service as Third British Resident in Nigeria, building a grand home in Zaria City which has since become a landmark. He also served gallantly in the Boer War and World War I.

Porch met Lady Randolph in Rome in 1914. He was thirty-seven, she was sixty, but she still had the dazzle that had captivated Lord d’Abernon three decades earlier: “…a dark, lithe figure… radiant, translucent, intense. A diamond star in her hair, her favourite ornament—its lustre dimmed by the flashing glory of her eyes. More the panther than the woman in her look….”
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From Epics to Monographs – The Lion’s Roar – Highlights from Defender of the Realm

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 52

By Richard M. Langworth

From Reid’s and Manchester’s Majestic Last Lion to a modest biography of Lady Randolph’s third husband, a trio of new books shed light on obscure corners of the Churchill story

Finest Hour’s definitive review, by Warren F. Kimball, will appear next issue, but in answer to the many questions by readers, I distill here some of the passages that particularly impressed me, and perhaps our readers as well.

Preamble: The Depressive

On the psychoanalysis of Anthony Storr, originator of the “Black Dog” thesis, in his essay “The Man,” in A.J.P. Taylor, ed., Churchill: Four Faces and the Man (London: Allen Lane, 1969):
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Book Reviews – Real Life, Well Told for the Young

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 51

By Fred Glueckstein

Winston Churchill: The Story of the Great British States man (Real Lives Series), by Harriet Castor. A&C Black 2011. Softbound, illus., 128 pp. £5.99, Kindle edition $7.99.

At the age of twelve, Harriet Castor’s first book, Fat Puss and Friends, about a cat she befriended, was published by Penguin. Since then Castor, who was born in Cambridge, has written over forty fiction and non-fiction books for children and young adults. Her latest (not her first) Churchill effort is a well-written and attention-grabbing mini-biography.

Castor’s interest in Churchill began in 2000, when she was commissioned to write a children’s book about famous British statesmen. Her Winston Churchill, in the Famous People series (2002),  allowed her to dig into the saga. “And I became enthralled, amazed, gob smacked [extremely surprised] by the man. All my suspicions evaporated. I was awed by his chutzpah, the foresight, the courage—not just his physical bravery (astonishing enough and demonstrated consistently, decade after decade, war after war), but by his mental toughness. I admired the humanity, the drive, the refusal to give up whatever the situation, the willingness to say what he thought, whatever the reaction it brought, his wit, his wonderful way with the English language, his sheer force of personality….”
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Book Reviews – To Charles, with Apologies

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 50

By Terry Reardon

Churchill and De Gaulle: The Greatest Allies, by Clifford Alain Stossel. Headcorn Instrumentation, softbound, illus., 340 pp. In and out of stock regularly, is available for as little as £6 from Amazon UK.

Self-publishing is quite acceptable, but a book should conform to normal standards. In this case there is no index and no notes; the reader has no reference information to judge the accuracy of the material.

Besides numerous spelling errors such as a Canadian premier (correctly shown as Mackenzie King, but also MacKenzie-King and MacKenzie King), there are many errors of fact. For instance, “the defeat of Dunkirk caused the unseating of Neville Chamberlain,” (Chamberlain resigned 10 May 1940, the Dunkirk evacuation began on 26 May). The Russo-German non-aggression pact was signed in August 1939, not January 1941. The islands St Pierre et Miquelon were occupied by the Free French on 24 December 1941, not prior to the Dakar attack of 23 September 1941.
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Book Reviews – Historical Damage Control

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 49

By Christopher H. Sterling

Churchill and Sea Power, by Christopher M. Bell. Oxford University Press, Hardbound, illus, 430 pp., $34.95. Member price $27.95. For more on this book visit

Ranging over events covering nearly half a century, this is an important addition to the -already vast literature on Churchill as a military leader. A historian at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Christopher Bell has published widely on naval history. His newest study provides a quite different view of Churchill’s role compared to the rather negative perception that for decades has dominated writing on the subject.

Stephen Roskill wrote the official Royal Navy multi-volume history, The War at Sea (1954-61), and followed that with his even more critical Churchill and the Admirals (1977). In both works, Roskill presented a severe view of Churchill’s role and impact, arguing that too often he overruled his senior naval advisers, sometimes with disastrous results (such as the bungled 1940 campaign in Norway and the loss of “Force Z” off Singapore late in 1941). Roskill’s Churchill is tempestuous and impatient for action, sometimes to the detriment of the Senior Service. Two other studies, Richard Hough’s Former Naval Person: Churchill and the Wars at Sea (1985), and, to a lesser degree, Peter Gretton’s Former Naval Person: Winston Churchill and the Royal Navy (1968), followed Roskill’s lead. So did many other more specialized studies, including books on the two world wars.
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Book Reviews – A Monument in Churchill Studies

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 48

By Richard M. Langworth

Churchill World Stamp Catalogue, by Celwyn, Patricia and Alison Ball. AJBukz Productions, softbound in full color, 218 pages, $89.95. Available online in two different bindings: perfect bound; spiral bound Member price $76.

One of the earliest members of The Churchill Centre, Celwyn Ball served from 1983 to the early 1990s as chairman of the International Churchill Society of Canada and, with his late wife Patricia, he attended many conferences in North America and England. In 2002 he received the Blenheim Award, an overdue recognition of his contributions to the memory of Sir Winston and to the Centre and Societies; but his masterwork was still to come.

Celwyn’s Churchill interest was kindled after he served with the British First Army during the campaign in North Africa. As an Intelligence sergeant in the Reconnaissance Corps, he helped protect Generals Dwight Eisenhower and Mark Clark. “General Clark was six and a half feet tall,” Celwyn remembers, “and we were told to ‘keep our holsters open’ to protect such an easy target, not to mention all the colonels and majors around him.” Modestly describing himself as a “lowly sergeant,” he sustained wounds that he never quite got over, like so many heroes of the Desert Armies. A welder, draftsman and engineer, his projects included design and development of new bridges, overhead cranes and large-scale mobile equipment. He emigrated to Canada in 1957.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Leslie Illingworth’s Portraits of Leadership

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 44

By Nicholas Hiley and Mark Bryant


Leslie Illingworth was born in Barry, Glamorgan, South Wales on 2 September 1902, the son of a Yorkshire surveyor who worked in the Engineers’ Department of Barry Docks. After attending St. Anthan church school, he won the first of a series of scholarships from his county grammar school. He joined the lithographic department of the Western Mail in Cardiff, “because my father used to golf with Sir Robert J. Webber, chief of the newspaper.”

Whilst working afternoons for the Western Mail, Illingworth attended the Cardiff School of Art, where he had won another scholarship. Attending with him was Ronald Niebour, another cartoonist who would be his colleague later on Daily Mail and Punch, but they lost touch when Niebour went into the Merchant Navy. He was publishing cartoons in the Football Express, and continued to draw sporting cartoons for the Western Mail, while attending Cardiff Art School, as well as deputising for the paper’s political cartoonist, the ailing J.M. Staniforth.
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Action This Day – Spring 1888, 1913, 1937-38, 1963

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 42

By Michael McMenamin


Spring 1888 • Age 13

“It is awfully jolly.”

Winston entered Harrow School in April 1888, and on 20 April wrote his mother, “I like everything immensely.” But some things never change and in the same letter he added, “I am afraid I shall want more money.” The next day wrote: “Please send the money as soon as possible you promised me I should not be different to others.”

Military training was part of the Harrow curriculum and he particularly enjoyed this, telling his father in a June 3rd letter, “I am getting on very successfully in the corps especially in the Shooting. We use the full sized Martini-Henry rifle and cartridges, the same as the Army. The rifles kick a good deal, it is awfully jolly.”
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Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 41

Cita Stelzer on WSC and Franklin Roosevelt’s Food and Drink

In an amusing talk about her book, Dinner with Churchill (video at Cita Stelzer explains how Churchill used his wit and wisdom to deal with President Roosevelt’s cuisine and drinks without appearing to disapprove.

Churchill, she says, liked “simple food exquisitely prepared,” most of it by his famous cook, Georgina Landemare; while Roosevelt constantly lambasted the quality of White House food, prepared by his chef Mrs. Nesbitt, himself adding to the ordeal with his own weird tastes— and by preparing simply the worst martinis in the world. From Mrs. Stelzer’s book (reviewed FH 153: 46):

“The first White House dinner at which Churchill had an opportunity to deploy his combination of charm and the careful planning he had done during his transatlantic voyages was at a ‘semiformal’ dinner on the day he arrived, 22 December 1941….” Mrs. Nesbitt did not cater to English tastes, and particularly those of WSC, “serving a cream soup, much disliked by Churchill, followed by kedgeree and grilled tomatoes and raspberry Mary Anne [which] may have made Churchill long for some home cooking.”
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CHURCHILL, LEADERSHIP AND THE WAR (7) – The Leader’s Personal Qualities

Finest Hour 158, Spring 2013

Page 39

By Col. John McKay

From an address to the First Company, Brigade of Midshipmen, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, 12 March 2012

“Tolstoy argues that Napoleon was not a cause but a product; he emerged as the dominant figure in response to the need. Like Churchill, Napoleon did not bring about the situation in which he became supreme, but when it had occured, it posed a problem to which he was the most appropriate answer.”

In 1940 Britain’s new prime minister found himself decorating a shy young battle hero. “You feel very humble in my presence, don’t you?” Churchill allegedly said. “Yes sir,” the lad answered. “Then perhaps you can imagine,” WSC replied, “how humble and awkward I feel in yours.”1

Churchill was perhaps thinking of his own experiences at that soldier’s age, when he had fought on the Northwest Frontier of what is now Pakistan; had accompanied Kitchener in the reconquest of the Sudan, including one of the last great cavalry charges in history; and had escaped captivity of the Boers in South Africa and returned to their capital in the vanguard of the victorious British occupying forces.
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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.