Finest Hour 177


Finest Hour 177, Summer 2017

Page 60

The International Churchill Society is pleased to announce the 34th International Churchill Conference, “Churchill as International Statesman.” The Conference will be held at the historic Essex House hotel in New York City on October 10–12, 2017. This will be the first-ever International Churchill Conference held in New York, the city that Churchill first visited in 1895 and where he suffered his 1931 “misadventure”—being run over by a car on 5th Avenue. The history of the world hung in the balance just blocks from where we shall meet this autumn.

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Painting as a Pastime Roses for Vivien

Finest Hour 177, Summer 2017

Page 58

The estate of film legend Vivien Leigh (below left) will go under the hammer this summer at Sotheby’s in London. The auction brings to light a little known but exceptionally fine painting by Winston Churchill (below right), which he presented as a gift to his favorite actress.

Depicting roses from the garden at Chartwell displayed in a glass vase, the still life may have been done in the 1930s and given to Leigh in the late 40s or early 50s. The actress treasured it so much that she hung it on the wall opposite her bed. In her own words: “Whenever I feel particularly low or depressed I look at those three rosebuds. The thought and the friendship in the painting is such a great encouragement to me…and I have the determination to go on.”

Leigh’s friendship with Churchill ran deeper than many people knew, as attested to by a 1957 letter in which Churchill secretly promised to donate money to the St James’ Theatre, which the actress was trying to save at the time. And it seems Churchill himself inspired Leigh to take up painting, after he gave her an inscribed copy of his book Painting as a Pastime. Both the letter and book are included in the sale.

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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Dirty Tricks

Finest Hour 177, Summer 2017

Page 57

Review by Leon J. Waszak

Giles Milton, Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat, Picador, 2017, 368 pages, $28.00. ISBN 978–1250119025

At the start of his book, Giles Milton, a renown British journalist and author, appropriately quotes from the famous Second World War film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp: “Clive, my dear fellow, this is not a gentleman’s war. This is a life-and-death struggle. You are fighting for your very existence against the most devilish idea ever created by a human brain—Nazism. And if you lose there won’t be a return match next year, perhaps not even for a hundred years!”

Morality aside, fighting a war to a successful conclusion against a determined enemy such as Nazi Germany, was never going to be anything but a difficult and dirty business. Sometimes it required extraordinary means to achieve the ends desired, but one always remained cognizant of the enemy’s capacity to do worse. In the final analysis, the parameters of the conflict, in terms of morality, had already been breached by Hitler’s legions, as they cut a path of destruction and genocide through Europe. Winston Churchill recognized that war’s tactics involved more than moving a few division markers across the maps within the Cabinet War Rooms. He understood that to bring Hitler to heel he needed to use whatever offbeat methods and tactics could be invented (or dreamed up) to achieve this end; hence the so-called “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.”

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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Man of Many Faces

Finest Hour 177, Summer 2017

Page 55

Review by Peter Murray

Jonathan Black, Winston Churchill in British Art, 1900 to the Present Day: The Titan with Many Faces, Bloomsbury, 2017,287 pages, £25.
ISBN 978–1472592392

Even in the twenty-first century, Winston Churchill remains a dominant figure in the political realm, a benchmark against which any budding leader of the Conservative Party must first measure up, before hurtling into the fray that is the House of Commons. But Churchill also had a sensitive side to his character. He was a keen artist, painting landscapes invested with light and colour, and forming close friendships with other artists, including Walter Sickert and Oscar Nemon. Politics, painting, and sculpture often intersected in Churchill’s life. He took lessons from the Chicago-born artist Hazel Lavery, and had his portrait painted by her husband, the hugely successful Irish artist John Lavery. Painted in 1915, Lavery’s portrait of Churchill (Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin) is one of the artist’s best works. Bleak and uncompromising, it shows a young man, full of ambition but weighed down by the responsibilities he faced as First Lord of the Admiralty—a position from which he resigned in May of that year, as a result of the disastrous Dardanelles campaign.

Lavery’s portrait is one of the first illustrations in a handsome book by Jonathan Black, Winston Churchill in British Art, 1900 to the Present Day, which documents the many representations of the British leader created both during and after his lifetime. Friendship with Hazel and John Lavery remained important to Churchill throughout the 1920’s; they played a key role in providing a communications link between the British and Irish sides during the negotiations that led to the founding of the Irish Free State—so much so that a portrait of Hazel by her husband John adorned Irish banknotes for much of the twentieth century. The 1915 Churchill portrait was followed a year later by one painted by another successful Irish artist in London, William Orpen, and commissioned by Lord Rothermere.

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Books, Arts & Curiosities – In the Company of Giants

Finest Hour 177, Summer 2017

Page 53

Review by Manfred Weidhorn

Lewis E. Lehrman, Churchill, Roosevelt & Company, Stackpole Books, 2017, 472 pages, $29.95. 978-0811718981

The roles in the Second World War of the leaders of the two English-speaking nations, Churchill and Roosevelt, have inevitably been much studied. But even proponents of the Great Man theory of history must acknowledge that the successful outcome of the war was made possible by a cast of supporting players—advisers, emissaries, military leaders, industrialists, as well as experts in numerous fields, not to speak of the many soldiers. These secondary characters make brief appearances in the histories of the war and the biographies of the leaders. It is the goal of Lewis E. Lehrman’s book to bring them into the foreground and provide character sketches of them. It is good to have the more important of these men presented in detail, including their physical infirmities, as these affected their meetings and deliberations.

Having read widely, Lehrman often quotes various sources at key junctures. This book therefore provides a helpful digest of the scholarly literature in this field. It usually does not quote from primary sources—diaries, memoranda, letters, interviews—and therefore has no startling new information. Nor does it aim to do so; Lehrman confines himself to offering a compendium of received wisdom about the personages discussed.

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Books Arts & Curiosities – A Matter of Pride

Finest Hour 177, Summer 2017

Page 52

Review by John Campbell

David Owen, Cabinet’s Finest Hour: The Hidden Agenda of May 1940, Haus Publishing, 2016, 276 pages, £18.99.
ISBN 978–1910376553

It has become quite a trend for senior British politicians in their retirement to turn to writing history. Following the example of Roy Jenkins, Cabinet veterans Douglas Hurd, William Hague, Roy Hattersley, and others have produced books of some distinction. Some years ago David Owen— Foreign Secretary for two years in the 1970s, but a neurologist before entering politics—brought his medical training to bear in an interesting and original book entitled In Sickness and in Power examining the effect of ill health, usually covered up, on heads of government over the past hundred years, ranging from Churchill and Roosevelt through Anthony Eden and John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush and Tony Blair. In the last two cases he diagnosed, in relation to the Iraq war, a condition he called “Hubris Syndrome,” which he has been trying to popularise ever since. His latest book, disguised as history, is in reality a renewal of his indictment of Blair by means of a clumsily-constructed revisiting of the discussion of possible peace terms in Churchill’s War Cabinet in May 1940.

The ostensible starting-point of the book is that Churchill, in writing his history of the war, glossed over these discussions by asserting that “the supreme question of whether we should fight on alone never found a place on the War Cabinet agenda.” Though literally true, this was, as has long been recognised, seriously misleading, since the six-man War Cabinet did in fact, over nine meetings in three days between 26 and 28 May, wrestle with the question of how to respond to the proposal of Paul Reynaud, the French Prime Minister, to ask Mussolini to broker some sort of peace settlement before France collapsed, leaving Hitler free to launch the invasion of Britain. Churchill was determined not to be dragged down any such slippery slope but to fight on alone; but his position as a new Prime Minister widely mistrusted by much of his own Conservative party was precarious. Lord Halifax, as Foreign Secretary, was still anxious to explore every possible Read More >

Churchill, Roosevelt & Company Studies in Character and Statecraft

Finest Hour 177, Summer 2017

Page 47

Important New Work by National Humanities Medal Recipient Lewis E. Lehrman

“Lewis E. Lehrman’s arresting and deeply researched study of the Anglo-American alliance during the Second World War brilliantly establishes how Roosevelt and Churchill … found and relied on the right people …. Rich in historical immediacy, Churchill, Roosevelt & Company demonstrates how generals, diplomats, spies, businessmen, economists, and other key figures served the needs of both Prime Minister and President in their unyielding defense of democratic government.”
– Prof. Richard Carwardine, Rhodes Professor of American History at Oxford University

“Lewis E. Lehrman demonstrates an almost uncanny feel for all the senior personalities around Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Second World War; he understands their characters, viewpoints, and motives … coupled with an impressively objective judiciousness ….[the book is] well researched, well-written, and profoundly thoughtful …”
– Prof. Andrew Roberts, King’s College, London, author of Masters and Commanders and Storm of War.

“Lewis Lehrman’s Churchill, Roosevelt & Company offers a detailed look at the special relationship, especially during World War II, when Anglo-American cooperation achieved its most impressive results and faced its most formidable challenges. The book is packed with fascinating detail and illuminates not only the past but the challenges of the present day. The subtitle is Read More >

Winston Is Back! Churchill’s Second Stint as First Lord of the Admiralty Reconsidered

Finest Hour 177, Summer 2017

Page 32

By Eric Grove

After announcing the declaration of war on 3 September 1939, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain appointed Winston Churchill First Lord of the Admiralty. This had been the position held by Churchill when the First World War began a quarter of a century earlier. In 1914 Churchill took a typically proactive role, drafting signals and having a problematical relationship with his First Sea Lord, the professional head of the Royal Navy, Lord Fisher. This culminated in a very public clash over the Dardanelles campaign in 1915 and marked a major reverse in Churchill’s career.

As Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1920s, Churchill fought a campaign against the Admiralty’s shipbuilding plans. He seemed much more interested in the Royal Air Force than the Royal Navy when he adopted rearmament as a cause in the 1930s. Only late in the decade did Lord Chatfield, the First Sea Lord masterminding naval rearmament, mobilise Churchill to the navy’s cause by granting him access to secrets and obtaining his support for a successful campaign to bring the Fleet Air Arm under full naval control. Given this somewhat chequered record, the signal “Winston is back!”—often believed but not proven to have been sent out to the fleet in 1939— would have been as much a warning to senior officers as a morale booster for the younger generation.

A Privilege and Honour

Churchill was visibly moved by his return to the Admiralty. Third Sea Lord Bruce Fraser remembered: “As he took the First Lord’s chair in the famous Board Room, Churchill was filled with emotion. To a few words of welcome from the First Sea Lord [Sir Dudley Pound], he replied by saying what a privilege and honour it was to be again in that chair, that there were many difficulties together we would overcome. He surveyed critically each of us in turn and then, adding he would see us all later on, he adjourned the meeting, ‘Gentlemen,’ he said, ‘to your tasks and duties.’”1

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Finest Hour 177, Summer 2017

Page 06

Tweet: @ChurchillCentre

No Rush!

TORONTO—While the hugely successful play The Audience and equally successful TV Series The Crown deserve praise, both conclude that Winston Churchill delayed the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II to take pressure from the forces which were endeavouring to force him to resign—on the basis that a change of Prime Minister during the period from accession to coronation would not be acceptable.

In the productions, Queen Elizabeth points out to Churchill that the coronation of her father King George VI took place just six months after he acceded to the throne. What should have been pointed out, however, was that arrangements for the coronation had commenced some nine months before, for the intended crowning of King Edward VIII.

To illustrate that the timing from accession to coronation of Queen Elizabeth was in line with previous monarchs:

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From The Editor – Churchill and the Royal Navy

Finest Hour 177, Summer 2017

Page 04

By David Freeman, July 2017

A professional army officer by training, Winston Churchill became forever linked with the Royal Navy as a result of his service as First Lord of the Admiralty in the early months of both world wars. This service Churchill himself immortalized in his many Second World War messages to President Roosevelt, where the Prime Minister referred to himself as a “Former Naval Person.”

When the guns of August sounded in 1914, Churchill had already been on the job at the Admiralty for three years. During the pre-war years, he had to contend with what was known as the “New Navalism,” which W. Mark Hamilton shows was a commitment to the principles of Alfred Thayer Mahan: developing and maintaining powerful modern navies. But Churchill also found time to improve the pay and working conditions of the common sailor, as Matthew S. Seligmann shows.

When the First World War began, Churchill was all for action. Not content to sit behind a desk in London, he went to Belgium in the opening weeks of the war and wound up organizing Antwerp’s defenses. Barry Gough explains the heavy criticism that followed. Undaunted, Churchill cast around for offensive operations off Germany’s northwest coast. Stephen McLaughlin demonstrates how this effort ultimately led to a campaign much further afield at the Dardanelles. With respect to that climacteric, Christopher M. Bell has carefully studied the historical record and finds that Churchill did run so far ahead of his professional advisers as his critics found it politically expedient to claim.

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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.