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Bulletin #39 – Sep 2011

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A Daughter’s Tale: The Memoir Of Winston And Clementine Churchill’s Youngest Child, by Lady Mary Soames. Part 1

From her private diaries, Winston Churchill’s daughter Lady Soames gives a vivid account of London society at war.

By Lady Soames

[Editors Note: The Daily Mail incorrectly refers to our Patron as “Lady Mary Soames,” when, as she herself has often pointed out, she is “Lady Soames,” having acquired the title by marriage rather than inheritance.]

THE DAILY MAIL, 3 September 2011—It was September 3, 1939. There was a blue summer sky with white clouds floating slowly by and I had made plans to ride with friends in the country.

At 11.15 came the brief statement by Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister. No reply had been received to Britain’s ultimatum that Hitler withdraw from Poland, he said, and, consequently, we were at war with Germany. I found it impossible to believe.

There must have been five or six of us there, subdued and moved by the announcement. Then we set off in a gallop.

This gesture of sheer theatre was the perfect touch – releasing tension and emotions. But I believe it marked the end of our world as we had known it.

During these early days of the war I divided my energies between helping with the major task of sewing blackout curtains and doing four-hour shifts as a telephonist at the ambulance headquarters in Westerham, near our home at Chartwell in Kent.

My father Winston Churchill had become First Lord of the Admiralty and it was planned, to my delight, that I should live in London with my parents. Just short of my 18th birthday, we moved into Admiralty House, between Whitehall and Horse Guards Parade.

I started as soon as possible at Queen’s College, Harley Street, joining a part-time course in English Literature, History and French. I also enrolled with the Red Cross making bandages: this was a severe test of my patriotism, as my natural aptitude with needle and thread is zero.

I much preferred my shifts at a Forces canteen at Victoria Station (except when one of my superiors took the unsporting view that I talked too much to the customers and planted me behind the steaming tea and coffee urns, from where I emerged rather crossly, and with my hairdo predictably ruined). I was unashamedly happy and excited by what I regarded as my first taste of ‘grown-up’ life – the badges of which were a telephone in my room and a latchkey.

‘It was now that my love and admiration for my father became enhanced by an element of heroworship. My affection became inextricably entwined with all the emotions I felt as a young, patriotic Englishwoman’

London social life was lively – theatres were full, there were plenty of nightclubs and often we would dine where we could dance. The Savoy, the Dorchester, the Cafe de Paris and Kettner’s were favourites.

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A Daughter’s Tale: The Memoir Of Winston And Clementine Churchill’s Youngest Child, by Lady Mary Soames. Part 2

From her private diaries, Lady Mary Soames recalls how she feared her father Winston Churchill would have a seizure after a row with her brother.

By Lady Soames

[Editors Note: The Daily Mail incorrectly refers to our Patron as “Lady Mary Soames,” when, as she herself has often pointed out, she is “Lady Soames,” having acquired the title by marriage rather than inheritance.]

THE DAILY MAIL, 10 September 2011—In Part 1, Lady Soames recalled dancing the night away in wartime London, listening spellbound to her father Winston Churchill’s speeches and witnessing his grief at his electoral defeat in 1945.

Here, in the second extract from her touching new book, she looks back on family traumas, narrow escapes and her unusual courtship…

My father Winston had fallen in love at once and forever with Chartwell Manor, which stands on a hilltop commanding the most sensational view to the south over the Weald of Kent.

Below, the hillside falls away to a lake, fed by a spring and alongside the valley ran a wide belt of beech woods.
Blushing bride: Mary accompanied by her father, Winston Churchill, on the day of her wedding to Christopher Soames in 1947

Blushing bride: Mary accompanied by her father, Winston Churchill, on the day of her wedding to Christopher Soames in 1947

I was nearly two years old when our family moved in and my first memory is snapshot-clear and must be from that summer of 1924.

I am lying in my big pram under the great yew tree on the lawn in front of the arcaded windows of the new dining room. Woken from my mid-morning siesta, I am greatly bored.

I am really too big now for the pram and start jiggling, and – securely held by my harness – manage to rock my ‘boat’.

Now I try a back-and-forth movement: this is great fun, except the pram pitches forward on to its handle, and I slide down, held awkwardly suspended by my straps.

Suddenly, grown-ups clutching white table napkins are running towards me – a luncheon party was in progress and my plight had been observed: I am rescued, taken into the dining room, consoled and made much of. I think dining-room life is very agreeable and plan to join it as soon as may be.

There was a wide age gap between myself and older siblings: Sarah was nearly eight years old, Randolph 11 and Diana 13 when I appeared on the family scene. I found myself alternately in the roles of new cuddly toy and real little bore.

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ICS Canada – Autumn 2011 Newsletter

Chartwell Branch News – September 2011

Emery and Wendy Reves “La Pausa” For Sale for $56 million WORLD FOCUS

By Frank Shatz

According to The New York Times, the asking prize is $56 million and one of the potential buyers is said to be the Chanel Foundation.

La Pausa, a chateau of “sophisticated simplicity” was built on the French Riviera for Coco Chanel, the world-famous fashion designer, by her lover, the Duke of Westminster. Subsequently, in 1953, La Pausa had become the home of Emery and Wendy Reves.

With its spectacular views of Monte Carlo and the Mediterranean, five-acres of exotic gardens, pool, seven bedrooms and a vast reception hall, as well as its long and colorful history involving some of the world’s best known artists, musicians, writers and political personalities, as guests, La Pausa, is a unique property.

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In-Depth: From the Archives of Finest Hour. “Churchill and Family” by Mary Soames

On 19 February 1986, Lady Soames spoke to the North Texas Churchillians. The text of her talk was printed in Finest Hour 51 and again here in Finest Hour 140.

“Three Days in May” Actor Given Personal Tour of Churchill Archives

THE CAMBRIDGE NEWS, 7 September 2011—Actor Warren Clarke got a personal perspective on his latest role during a tour of the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge yesterday.

The Dalziel and Pascoe star is at Cambridge Arts Theatre this week, playing Winston Churchill in Three Days in May, a new political thriller about the critical period in May 1940 when Britain teetered on the brink of giving in to Hitler.

Yesterday, Clarke was joined by co-star Jeremy Clyde – who plays Lord Halifax – for a tour of the purpose-built archives centre at Churchill College, which houses around 3,000 boxes of Churchill’s letters and documents.

Treasures shown to the actors by the centre’s director, Allen Packwood, included original speeches, rare photos and papers from the War Cabinet.

Clarke told the News it was a challenge playing the man voted Greatest Briton: “It’s challenging because people know who he is.

“They have seen him, and can still see him in footage. They can hear and see him making speeches. It’s a challenge to get close to the man, but every role is a challenge and, if it’s not, you shouldn’t be doing it.

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Celebrating Seventy Years Since Secret “First Summit” in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland


By Tom O’Keefe

Seventy years ago in August 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States of America and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Britain met in secret on the waters of Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, near Ship Harbour. They reached an agreement on a document called the Atlantic Charter which would incorporate aims to guide the war and govern peace and later be the foundation for the United Nations. This week the people of Ship Harbour celebrated that event, with the assistance of national and international organizations in a manner to make the region proud of Ship Harbour’s efforts.

For a photo gallery from the event, follow this link.

Following ceremonies and a dinner in St. John’s the night before at CFS St. John’s that would feature the menu served to Roosevelt and Churchill, Phonse Griffiths was honoured with an Award of Merit by the International Churchill Society of Canada. Phonse Griffiths has for years being a leading promoter of the Atlantic Charter site in Ship Harbour.

Among those attending the dinner was the Lieutenant Governor and support groups who also gathered on Sunday August 14, at the Atlantic Charter Monument in Ship Harbour to celebrate the event in fine style. About two hundred people were in attendance including the entire company from HMCS Avalon. The ceremonies replicated the religious ceremonies that had been held seventy years before on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales, the ship on which Churchill had arrived. On stage were M.C. Cathy Griffiths, the Chair of the Atlantic Charter Foundation and the Hon. John Crosbie and Mrs. Crosbie, Minister of Justice Felix Collins, MP Scott Andrews, CFS St. John’s Base Commander Lawrence Trim, CPO and Base Chief Herman Harris, and Staff. Sgt. Major Dave Tipple of the RCMP. The religious ceremonies were conducted by Padre Lieut. Jack Barrett with hymns sung by Miss Amy Wilson. Support groups on hand included navy cadets, legionnaires, RCMP and military personnel and Harvey Mercer from the Argentia Management Authority.

Following the religious ceremony a talk was presented by Peter H. Russell the author of a new book “The First Summit and the Atlantic Charter.” (The book was available for sale at the celebration with all proceeds going to Atlantic Charter Foundation). Mr. Russell’s speech not only gave an outline of how the meeting was set up and what happened, but added some tidbits of information, such as while on the HMS Prince of Wales President Roosevelt made his longest walk since suffering polio 20 years before. He also reported that the British warship carrying Churchill had to circle around to avoid arriving half an hour early and about Churchill’s two visits on land at Joe’s Cove near the Memorial site. Professor Russell emphasized to those attending the importance of recording and preserving stories that had been handed down to local residents by their parents and grandparents.

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Winston Churchill’s “Toyshop”

Vale’s role designing WWII weapons for ‘Winston Churchill’s Toyshop’ – or how one man was arrested at gunpoint for throwing bazooka shells around

THE BUCKS HERALD, Tuesday 30 August 2011—A LONG Crendon man who was arrested as a child during the Second World War for playing around with bazooka shells is to give a talk on Bucks’ global contribution to weapons of mass destruction.

Between 1939 and 1945, just off the High Street in Whitchurch, weapons were designed and tested which eventually helped the allies win the Second World War.

Now years’ later Gordon Rogers, 79, who gives astronomy lectures to schools and societies, is planning to talk about what went on in the building which still stands today and is known as The Firs.

Mr Rogers has always been interested in explosives and made the front page of the Bucks Herald in 1944 when he was arrested at gun point, aged 12, for throwing bazooka shells in Aldbury with three friends.

Despite receiving an official warning he was not put off from playing with weapons and six months later was caught breaking into a storeroom in Whitchurch – later known as Winston Churchill’s Toy Shop.

Workers at the secret base came up with fuses which could be timed to wait days before detonating, depth charges to sink submarines and attempted to create bullet firing helmets.

One of the men who worked at the site used his research to help design the trigger for the Nagasaki atomic bomb which was detonated in 1945.

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Chartwell hosts Musical Salute to the Royal Air Force

X Factor finalist Tracy Solomon among the talent taking to the stage at the Westerham concert

By Jenna Pudelek, chief reporter

KENT NEWS, Friday, August 26, 2011 — Chartwell the country home of Sir Winston Churchill is set to host a tribute concert and aerial display to the Royal Air Force.

The Musical Salute to the Royal Air Force takes place in the tranquil gardens of the National Trust property in Westerham next weekend (September 3-4).

Audience members have been promised a “massively challenging and unique musical programme” played by the Central Band of the RAF.

The Spitfire Choir, which is made up of sixteen personnel, 50 Air Training Corps Cadets, the narration by the RAF’s Presentation Team, an opera singer, Fiona Howell, and a contemporary singer, X Factor finalist Tracy Solomon.

Aerial displays will be provided by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the RAF’s Chinook demonstration and, only on Saturday, The Blades Aerobatic Team.

Andy Pawsey, creative director and former RAF Squadron Leader, said: “Our events will always seek to combine different presentation elements with the highest production values. We want to tell stories, to engage with the spectators, we want to make them laugh and make them cry and leave with a little more knowledge of the work of our brave servicemen and women.”

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2012 Annual Research Paper Competition Announced

The Churchill Centre, thrice funded to lead NEH summer institutes for high school teachers, announces annual awards to American secondary school students. for research papers examining aspects of Winston Churchill’s life or works.

Three cash prizes ($1000, $500 and $250) and online publication await the winners. Any student whose paper meets the submission guidelines will receive a one-year membership to The Churchill Centre, including a subscription to The Centre’s quarterly journal, Finest Hour. Complete details, submission guidelines, resources for research, a chart of Churchill’s achievements, an essay “The British Parliamentary System in the Age of Churchill” and more may be found by following this link.

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