Second World War

Books, Arts & Curiosities – The Wisdom of Winston

Finest Hour 176, Spring 2017

Page 50

Review by Angela Sugiyama

邵力競 (Shao Lijing) 亂世領袖 學: 邱吉爾二戰英雄記 (Leadership in an Age of Turbulence: the Heroic Legacy of Winston Churchill in World War II), Enrich Publishing and Hong Kong Economic Journal, 2015, 254 pages, HK$118. ISBN 978–9888292653


Western writers have long explored the unique legacy of Winston Churchill. Chinese writer Shao Lijing takes a reflective approach, arguing that only when politicians learn the art of politicking itself can effective leadership be established for upholding democracy.

Born in Shanghai, Shao was educated in Hong Kong and earned his Ph.D. at Oxford. Previously he wrote a series of articles called 十四年亂象回顧 (The Reflection on Fourteen-Year Frenzied Phenomena). These articles analyze in depth the issues involved in the governing of Hong Kong. Shao suggests that Hong Kong’s leadership should borrow Churchill’s knowledge of statecraft and adapt it to today’s rapidly-changing and more challenging world, that people need to ponder how the British Parliament kept running even during the most difficult times of the War, and that historians and government officials need to rethink in what way the post-war powers were reconstructed, how colonialism and nationalism evolve, and what challenges democracy is facing today.

To find lessons in the most effective methods for running a democratic government facing a mortal threat, Shao examines Churchill’s Memoirs of the Second World War. For Shao, to learn the lessons of war is to avoid the actuality of war. He argues that wars in the 1920s, economic and political, led to the Second World War. Future tragedies can result if people do not now reflect upon the causes of these earlier conflicts. Taking the surrender of Singapore as an example, Shao suggests that many politicians in Hong Kong need to learn from Churchill and not act like “事後孔 明 [the wise man after the event]” (85).

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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Churchill in Combat

Finest Hour 176, Spring 2017

Page 48

Review by Douglas S. Russell

Andrew Dewar Gibb, With Winston Churchill at the Front, Frontline Books, 2016, 256 pages, $39.95/£19.99. ISBN 978-1848324299


In the past few years renewed interest in Winston Churchill’s military career has been accompanied by publication of new books on his active service in Cuba in 1895, on the North-West Frontier of India in 1897, in Sudan in 1898, and in the Second Boer War, 1899– 1900. Frontline Books has done a signal service to Churchillians and military historians by returning to print an important contemporary account of Churchill’s frontline service in the Great War.

With Winston Churchill at the Front by “Captain X” (Andrew Dewar Gibb) was originally published in 1924 by Cowens & Gray, Ltd., as a small (3-1/4 by 6-3/8 inch) paperback priced at one shilling. Long out of print, first editions are now rare and priced in the hundreds of dollars. This reprint, however, is a handsome, hardcover book with a striking dust jacket. This is a welcome addition to the Churchill literature of an almost forgotten classic.

The new edition is much expanded from the original. There is a forward by Churchill’s great-grandson and ICS President Randolph Churchill and an introduction by Gibb’s son Nigel. Also included are excellent photographs and maps of “Plugstreet,” the area of the Western Front defended by the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers while under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Churchill from January through May 1916.

The current edition is divided into three parts. The first consists of four well-done essays written by John Grehan, a senior editor at Frontline Books. These set out Churchill’s army service in four earlier wars together with a capsule history of the Gallipoli Campaign, which led to his leaving the cabinet and rejoining the army to serve in France. Part II contains the original nine-chapter text written by Gibb. Part III provides a streamlined summary of Churchill’s political career from the time he left the front until he became prime minister. There is also a detailed “Visitor’s Guide to Plugstreet” for the modern traveller.

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Churchill, Roosevelt & Company Studies in Character and Statecraft

Finest Hour 176, Spring 2017

Page 39

New Release by Lewis E. Lehrman

The Wall Street Journal Featured Review
By Arthur Herman, Pulitzer Prize nominee for “Gandhi and Churchill”

“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 “Studies in Character and Statecraft”: Mr. Lehrman makes it clear that, in geopolitics, the two go together.”


Synthesizing an impressive variety of sources from memoirs and letters to histories and biographies, Lewis Lehrman explains how the Anglo-American alliance worked–and occasionally did not work–by presenting portraits and case studies of the men who worked the back channels and back rooms, the secretaries and under secretaries, ambassadors and ministers, responsible for carrying out Roosevelt’s and Churchill’s agendas while also pursuing their own and thwarting others’. Scrupulous in its research and fair in its judgments, Lehrman’s book reveals the personal diplomacy at the core of the Anglo-American alliance.

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THE 10TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON WORLD WAR II NOVEMBER 16-18, 2017 | NEW ORLEANS

Finest Hour 176, Spring 2017

Page 35

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Joining our featured speakers are hundreds of attendees who travel from all over the world to learn more about the event that shaped the 20th century. By emphasizing nonacademic presentations and encouraging presenters to be conversation leaders rather than lecturers, the Conference strives to connect with its audience through engaging discussions, questionand-answer sessions, book signings, and receptions throughout the weekend.


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Signature Journeys – ADVERTISEMENT Presented by the Historians of The National WWII Museum

Finest Hour 176, Spring 2017

Page 06

By Jeremy Collins, Director of Conference & Travel Program Development
The National WWII Museum


As history tells it, dissuading Winston Churchill from participating in the D-Day landings required the efforts of several generals and King George VI himself. But nothing could stop the formidable leader from paying a personal visit to the Normandy beachhead just six days later, on June 12, 1944. The world was changing after all; Churchill needed to be there to see it for himself. Today, it is the children and grandchildren of the brave souls that fought World War II who visit these places. They go to remember, explore, engage, and reflect on the lessons learned, and to fulfill a duty to pass those insights along to future generations. While many organizations offer brief visits to sites where the war was fought and won, none provide such comprehensive, informed, and poignant journeys as The National WWII Museum.

Thanks to the efforts of Museum leaders, travelers with an interest in World War II have the opportunity to embark on thoughtfully planned Signature Journeys designed and led by esteemed WWII historians, best-selling authors, and curators of The National WWII Museum collection. Each journey explores a theme— such as war correspondents or the secret lives of spies—and features exclusive access to related behind-the-scenes settings and authentic local experiences.

By day, guests travel in the company of renowned historians and authors, talented tour managers, and local guides who bring the stories of each site to life in vivid detail. With exclusive access to archival materials from the Museum’s collection— including digital recordings of intimate interviews with veterans— travelers are able to relive the pivotal moments on the beaches and bridges and in the cities and villages where crucial battles took place, and where history-making decisions were made. Highlights of the journeys include special access to rarely seen sites, participation in VIP events, and opportunities to interact with people who were eyewitnesses to history.

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Famous Speeches – Audio Clips Listen to some of Churchill's most recognisable speeches

Here you can listen to Churchill’s recordings of many of his key speeches made over his long career. Some of these recordings are contemporary (recorded at the time), others were made by Churchill after the war, in 1949 at Chartwell, and issued by Decca in 1964

‘The printed page is not the correct medium for them, of course. To feel the shiver down one’s spine at Churchill’s words, only recordings will do. They alone can convey the growls, the strange pronunciation of the letter ‘s’, the sudden leonine roars, the cigar-and-brandy toned voice.’
Andrew Roberts, Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership

Action This Day! Churchill made things happen

Above all, in his management of the WWII, Churchill made things happen. He scribbled memoranda and despatched these with amazing frequency to his commanders in the field and stamped his red ‘Action this Day’ labels on documents, urging a speedy resolution. He demanded commitment and action alike from his colleagues and staff – just as he did from himself – and his constant prodding resulted in hundreds of different ideas and initiatives being pursued at any one time. Churchill famously employed the ‘Action This Day’ red stickers in response to a missive from four of his overworked code-breakers (including Alan Turing) in October 1941. When the under-resourced code-breakers at Bletchley Park asked for more help, Churchill wrote ‘Action this day! Make sure they have all they want on extreme priority and report to me that this has been done’. Throughout his life, Churchill made things happen. He was relentlessly driven and focussed; a workaholic, determined to fulfil his own destiny and to protect his country – and he did all he could to ensure all those round him followed him and made things happen too.

‘I like things to happen, and if they don’t happen I like to make them happen.’
Churchill, undated; as Richard Langworth explains in his Churchill: In His Own Words, Arthur Ponsonby quoted this phrase of Churchill’s in a letter to Eddie Marsh, explaining that Churchill said this ‘many years ago’.

The Churchill Family in War All of the Churchill children served during WWII

All the Churchills supported their father. The children, to varying degrees, served him – and their country – in the Second World War, too. Diana served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS), Sarah with the Photographic Interpretation Unit of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and Mary served in the armed forces in mixed anti-aircraft (AA) batteries with the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). Mary also attended the Quebec conference of 1943 as an aide to her father, while Sarah played a similar role at Teheran in 1943 and Yalta in 1945. Randolph served as an Intelligence Officer in the Middle East, was attached to the newly formed Special Air Service (SAS), and undertook missions in the Libyan desert and in Yugoslavia.

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The Famous Speeches: ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ Churchill made some of his most famous speeches during WWII

Churchill’s reputation as an orator is based principally on his speeches and broadcasts as Prime Minister during the summer of 1940 during a particularly vital point in the WWII when Britain was under the threat of invasion. You’ll probably know lots of famous phrases or quotes from these speeches: ‘We shall fight on the beaches’, ‘This was their finest hour’ and ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’. His most well-known and most quoted speeches are those known usually as ‘Blood, toil, tears and sweat’ (13 May), ‘We Shall Fight on the Beaches’ (4 June) and ‘This was their Finest Hour’ (18 June), all of which were delivered in the House of Commons, though Churchill also broadcast the ‘Finest Hour’ speech over the BBC. He only made a total of five broadcasts to the nation during this vital stage of the Second World War (19 May, 17 June, 18 June, 14 July, 11 September), but these speeches conveyed Churchill’s determination and commitment, and they gave his country confidence. Did Winston’s Words Win the War? Click here to learn more.

‘It has been said words are the only things which last forever.’
Churchill, Press conference, Foreign Office, London (cited in Langworth, Churchill: In His Own Words), 10 June 1909

Churchill the Orator Winston Churchill is best known for his famous WWII speeches

This was their Finest Hour

Annotated typescript first draft of ‘Finest Hour’ speech and broadcast, 18 June 1940. Here you can see the marked-up typescript of the first draft of one of Churchill’s most famous speeches, with the most iconic phrase at the bottom of the page: ‘this was their finest hour’. © Churchill Archives Centre

Churchill is perhaps now best remembered for his powerful speeches and broadcasts, particularly those delivered during the Second World War – ‘a series of speeches that rank with the greatest in British history’ (Simon Jenkins, in A Short History of Britain, 2011). He used his great skill with the written word, and his dedication to rehearsing its delivery, to influence a national and an international audience. His speeches were carefully crafted both to raise morale at home and to act as political and diplomatic weapons abroad, sending messages of defiance to the enemy and calls to arms to allies. Learn more about Churchill’s development as a speaker, in an exhibition showcasing relevant documents from the Churchill Archives, here. And this review of the exhibition in the New York Times here.

‘I was very glad that Mr Attlee described my speeches in the war as expressing the will not only of Parliament but of the whole nation. Their will was resolute and remorseless and, as it proved, unconquerable. It fell to me to express it, and if I found the right words you must remember that I have always earned my living by my pen and by my tongue. It was a nation and race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.’
Churchill, Westminster Hall, London, 30 November 1954

In on the Action (in WWII) Confronting another world war

By the time Churchill was facing another World War, in 1939, he understood more readily that while risks had to be taken, a balance needed to be struck between caution and ‘over-daring’. As Prime Minister during WWII, he walked the narrow road between the ‘precipices’ on either side; he needed nerves of steel to keep Britain and the Allies on the path to victory.

‘Winston Churchill has emerged from the first five weeks of the war as the most inspiring figure in Great Britain … He has been condemned as a Russophobe and a Teutophobe, as an irresponsible genius, but even his old critics now seem to agree that he will make a great wartime leader.’
James Reston, New York Times, 8 October 1939

Coming Into Office Churchill becomes Prime Minister

Churchill leaving 10 Downing Street

Churchill leaving 10 Downing Street. © Baroness Spencer Churchill Papers

Chamberlain had resigned on 10 May 1940, the day that German forces attacked British and French ground forces and the day the ‘phoney war’ ended. With the only other contender, Lord Halifax, ruling himself out, Churchill’s appointment was inevitable and his time in the wilderness was over.

In the evening of 10 May, Churchill went to see King George VI at Buckingham Palace and became Prime Minister and Minister of Defence. He was under no illusions about the enormity of the task that lay ahead.

Churchill, as both Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, was in a powerful position, with full oversight of both the armed forces (all three of them; the Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force) and the government of the country. He was also the only cabinet minister who had held high office during the previous war, and was widely hailed as the necessary war leader. But he did not yet have the full confidence or leadership of his own conservative party, and there were many in government who were worried that he might prove rash and dangerous in his actions. He needed to prove himself.

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The US Enters the War On 7 December 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor

Back in August 1941, and the signature of the Atlantic Charter, Roosevelt hadn’t been ready or able to enter the war. But the situation changed dramatically on 7 December 1941.

Churchill was at Chequers (the Prime Minister’s official country residence) with the American Ambassador and Averell Harriman when news of the Japanese attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor came on the radio. Churchill immediately called the President to confirm the news and then on 8 December, Britain declared war on Japan.

The partial involvement of the US and the Pearl Harbor attack led Hitler to declare war on the US three days later. Did Churchill (and Roosevelt) know of the impending Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? Find out.

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The Soviet Union – The Other Ally

A more unexpected ally had already been found in the form of the Soviet Union: an uncomfortable ally, certainly, but Churchill couldn’t afford to be choosy and realized the necessity of the relationship. When Hitler invaded Russia on 22 June 1941, Germany had unwittingly played into the hands of the Allies. Churchill seized on the advantage. And so the ‘grand alliance’ – of ‘The Big Three’ – was established.

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The Munich Crisis

Not satisfied with only Austria, Hitler began demanding parts of Czechoslovakia, too. In September 1938, with war against Germany seeming increasingly likely, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew to Munich (according to a British Pathe newsreel, his first trip in an aeroplane), to meet the German leader. His aim of this ‘mission of peace’ was to secure a guarantee that there’d be no further German aggression.

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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.