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Bulletin #47 – May 2012

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Sir Winston’s Legacy Lives on in Calgary

Great-grandson Randolph Churchill follows Sir Winston’s footsteps on speaking tour of Canada.

By Licia Corbella

THE CALGARY HERALD, 4 May 2012—”In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.” — Sir Winston Churchill

British prime minister Winston Churchill, left, welcomes Canadian PM William Lyon Mackenzie King in London on Sept. 1, 1941From any other mortal, that quote would sound like a boast, but coming from the mouth and pen of arguably the greatest orator and leader of the 20th century it is, indeed, a wholesome and humble statement.

Many historians over the decades would agree that Churchill’s words — contained in the 50 books, 10,000 articles, and dozens upon dozens of moving speeches he wrote and delivered — were more than just wholesome, they were transformational, if not the very salvation of the free world at its most dangerous time.

On Tuesday, the British wartime prime minister’s great-grandson, Randolph Churchill III, will speak to the 46th annual banquet of the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Calgary, which was established to remember one of history’s greatest people, but also to nurture high school students to aspire to great oratory and leadership themselves.

Randolph, 47, who was born two days before his great-grandfather’s death on Jan. 24, 1965, says he will discuss the importance of inspirational leadership in a speech titled: Churchill, European Unity and Economic Turmoil, at the Ranchmen’s Club, 710 13th Avenue S.W.

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Chairman Laurence Geller Invested with CBE by HRH The Prince of Wales

The Churchill Centre’s Chairman receives CBE at Buckingham Palace for his lifetime of charitable work.

By Shia Kapos
Geller-CBE-Prince-of-WalesLaurence Geller at Buckingham Palace with HRH The Prince of Wales
CRAIN’S CHICAGO BUSINESS, 10 May 2012—Laurence Geller, CEO of Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc., was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) last week in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Prince Charles presented the honor, which recognizes Mr. Geller’s philanthropic work. He chairs the Churchill Centre, an organization that celebrates the life, lessons and relevance of Sir Winston Churchill.

Mr. Geller oversees the InterContinental and Fairmont hotels in Chicago, and has been giddy about the award since it was announced New Year’s Eve.

This wasn’t his first visit to the palace, he tells me.

Mr. Geller was there last year as part of a small delegation from the University of West London, where he is chancellor, a role in which he acts as a public face for the school. The university was receiving an award with several other universities, he says.

After that ceremony, there was a lunch where he sat at a table with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth.

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History Repeats: The Two Churchills

The two Churchills who defeated Hitler: TV historian David Starkey reveals how an ancestor inspired Winston to win the war.

By David Starkey

THE DAILY MAIL, 6 April 2012—Back in September 1932, a distinguished British visitor was spending a few days in the German city of Munich.

His name was Winston Churchill MP: one-time cabinet minister, now just a backbencher. So this was not an official trip, but nor was Winston simply a tourist.
Churchill’s ancestor John John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, depicted in 1702
He was in the city to carry out field research for the book he was writing: a biography of his ancestor, John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, Britain’s greatest general, whose famous victory over the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704 had taken place about 40 miles away, and whose influence on his famous descendant is the subject of my new three-part TV series.

In 1932 Germany was in turmoil, destabilised by the Great Depression. There were four million unemployed, and a new political party, the National Socialist Workers Party, was making rapid electoral strides. Its ‘Führer’, Adolf Hitler, was clearly the coming man of German politics. At his hotel, Winston was introduced to one of Hitler’s financial backers, a German-American art dealer with the memorable name of ‘Putzi’ Hanfstaengl. Putzi turned out to be good company.

‘He went to the piano and played and sang in such a remarkable style that we all enjoyed ourselves immensely,’ Winston later wrote. ‘He said that Herr Hitler came every day to the hotel at five o’clock, and would be very glad indeed to see me. I had no national prejudices against Hitler at this time. He had a perfect right to be a patriotic German if he chose.’ And so Putzi arranged a meeting between the two.

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1931: One Year, Two Auto Accidents that Could Have Changed the World

Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler were each in auto accidents in 1931. Either one of which could have changed the fate of the world.

A preview from Finest Hour 155

Winston_Churchill_steps_off_his_airplane_at_Gatow_Airport_in_Berlin_Germany_15July1945Churchill steps on his plane in Berlin, 15 July 1945 for the Potsdam Conference.NEW YORK, 2 April 2012—Churchill’s near-death accident when he was hit by a car in New York City in 1931 is well known, not least through his own writing about it. (“My New York Misadventure,” Finest Hour 136, Autumn 2007). Far less known is that Hitler was also nearly killed by a car the very same year, in Munich. On what slender threads the fate of nations turns!

Ed Smith, in his book Luck, quotes the late baron and racehorse owner John Scott-Ellis, whose red Fiat almost mowed down the future Führer in the Bavarian capital: “For a few seconds, perhaps, I held the history of Europe in my rather clumsy hands….[Hitler] was only shaken up, but had I killed him, it would have changed the history of the world.”

—Simon Kennedy in the San Francisco Chronicle

After the accident, Churchill asks his science advisor Prof Lindemann, “to calculate the precise force of the impact.” Follow this link to read Lindemann’s reply via telegram on 30 December 1931, which includes teasing about Churchill’s weight “cushioning the impact.”

From Finest Hour 154, Spring 2012

“Would the next two decades have been the same had the automobile that hit him killed Winston Churchill in 1931, and the bullet that missed him killed Franklin Roosevelt in 1933? Would Neville Chamberlain or Lord Halifax have rallied Britain in 1940? Would John Garner have produced the New Deal and the Four Freedoms? Suppose in addition that Lenin had died of typhus in Siberia in 1895, and Hitler had been killed on the western front in 1916? Would the 20th century have looked the same? Individuals do make a difference in history.”

—Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., 1995 International Churchill Conference, Boston

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British General Alan Brooke Made Secret Plans to Arm Vichy France in 1942

British general kept Winston Churchill and Free French leader Charles De Gaulle in the dark about a top secret plan to arm Vichy France, recently discovered documents reveal.

By Mike Thomson
BBC Radio 4

BBC NEWS, 19 March 2012—Both Churchill and De Gaulle had made clear their contempt for Marshall Petain’s regime, which controlled a large part of France thanks to a deal struck with Hitler.

Relations between Britain and France had been strained since July 1940, when Churchill, who was determined to stop French ships falling into German hands, ordered the Royal Navy to sink several French war ships off the coast of Algeria – 1,300 French sailors lost their lives in the action.

In retaliation, a furious Vichy not only broke off diplomatic relations with London but also bombed Gibraltar.

In December 1941, Winston Churchill made clear his distaste for the supposedly neutral Vichy regime and its often enthusiastic collaboration with Hitler.

“Here we were having been fighting the Vichy French… and here we are talking about arming their colleagues”

“The men of Vichy, they lay prostrate at the foot of the conqueror, they fawned upon him,” he said, in a speech to the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.

Later, Vichy voluntarily deported Jews to Germany.

Charles De Gaulle was equally contemptuous. Vichy’s leaders had accused him of being a traitor when he fled to London after the fall of France. At the time, Marshal Petain, a hero of World War I, was a more popular figure in France – many saw him as having shielded Vichy from the worst excesses of Hitler’s forces and saved the region from German occupation.

But neither man had anything to say about a secret meeting in London in December 1941 between a senior Vichy military officer and a member of the British General Staff. That, it seems, is because nobody told them.

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On the Bookshelves: “Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill”

Author Barry Singer talks about the making of his new book and his all Winston Churchill bookstore in New York City, Chartwell Booksellers.

As the proprietor of Chartwell Booksellers – my tiny Churchill-centric bookshop in New York City – for almost thirty years now, I have handled and, at least fleetingly, read just about every book ever written by and about Winston Churchill.

Certainly, it never occurred to me that I might have anything new to say on the subject. Then, one day, I found myself staring at a photograph of Churchill that I liked immensely – for the expression on his face, for the angle of the hat on his head, for the elegant splay of his manicured fingers and the curl of smoke from the cigar that those fingers clasped, for the lumpy, belted siren suit that Churchill slouched in, and the eyeglasses he’d haphazardly stuffed into a half-open breast pocket.

That’s when it hit me. No-one had ever written a book about Churchill’s style: the grand, gracious, slightly musty, insouciantly original manner with which he had dressed, drunk, eaten, smoked, painted, holidayed and in every possible sense lived away from politics.

And so, a Churchill book – one more Churchill book – was born. It was written surprisingly quickly. So much had accumulated in my head about the man and his ways, the details just tumbled out, abetted by the vast paper trail in the Churchill Archives at Churchill College, Cambridge, and the possessions stashed in and about Chartwell, Churchill’s former home in Kent – the twin repositories for all that Churchill had saved over the years; which is to say, just about everything.

There were the voluminous bills for Churchill’s favorite champagne, Pol Roger, and his affectionate correspondence with the vineyard’s doyenne, Madame Odette Pol-Roger. There were the cigar bills from seemingly every tobacconist ever to have hung out a shingle in London over the last century. There were Churchill’s siren suits themselves – the all-purpose zip-up garments he had himself designed and had made to order (by Turnbull & Asser, no less) in a variety of fabrics, including one of russet red velvet.

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Lady Soames Interview on BBC Radio 4 (Listen)

In March of 1992, Lady Soames was interviewed for Desert Island Discs about her life and her famous father

Follow this link to listen to the interview and her favourite musical pieces.

The castaway in Desert Island Discs this edition is Lady Soames, historian and only surviving child of Winston Churchill. A distinguished author and now Chairman of the Board of the National Theatre, she spoke to Sue Lawley about her extraordinary life – recalling her blissful childhood spent at Chartwell, the family’s country home in the Kent countryside. She also be spoke about the many state visits she made with her father and her husband – and remembering a conversation she had with General de Gaulle, who gave her lots of good advice on the best places to walk dogs in Paris.

©BBC Radio 4 and Desert Island Discs

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Churchill’s 1942 Flying Bermuda Visit

Winston Churchill is the first world leader to make a trans-Atlantic joruney by air as he returns to the UK abord the “Berwick.”

BERNEWS, 10 March 2012—British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s return to the UK from Bermuda aboard Boeing flying boat in January, 1942 — the first transatlantic air trip by a world leader — fired the imaginations not only of his devoted countrymen but of the entire democratic world.

People reading of his long flight from Bermuda and safe landing at Plymouth in the United Kingdom chuckled with affectionate glee mixed with relief.

Churchill in the cockpit of the “Berwick”With transatlantic air travel still in its infancy, the British wartime leader’s impulsive decision to fly from Bermuda was viewed as a characteristically audacious — and potentially perilous — move. The Prime Minister had visited the island for a secret 24-hour stop-over and addressed the House of Assembly, expressing his gratitude to Bermuda for allowing the construction of US military bases the previous year.

He flew to Bermuda on January 15, 1942 from Virginia aboard the British Overseas Airline Corporation’s Boeing 314 flying boat “Berwick”. The British Prime Minister had been in Washington for several weeks after the sneak Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941 brought America into World War Two [1939-1945].

He had been conferring with ally President Franklin Roosevelt at the White House and had delivered one of his most famous wartime speeches — “the United States, united as never before, have drawn the sword for freedom and cast away the scabbard” — to a joint session of the US Congress.

Soon after the flight departed for Bermuda, the Prime Minister entered the “Berwick’s” cockpit smoking his trademark cigar, and Captain Kelly Rogers waived the rules and let him continue, even allowing him to strike a match when it went out.

He tried the controls of the huge craft, as Kelly Rogers whispered into the co-pilot’s ear, ordering him to apply corrections only if it looked as if the plane was getting out of the Prime Minister’s control.

Mr. Churchill was allowed to do a couple of slightly banked turns, and was photographed by one of the official cameramen.

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WWII Code Breaking Secrets Revealed at Berwick, Victoria, Canada (Listen)

The Churchill Foundation of Vancouver Island listens to Bletchley Park codebreaker tell of meeting Churchill and other wartime tales.

Olive Bailey, centre, speaks with Edna Steel, left, and Lil Sotheran at Berwick HouseNinety one year old Olive Bailey, a former Bletchley Park codebreaker, gave a delightful presentation on a Wednesday this April in Victoria, B.C.

She was delightfully entertaining and very informative, sharing many personal anecdotes from her war years. Not only did Olive provide insights into the secret activities at Bletchley Park but she provided personal details that helped to place WW2 Great Britain into a much more personal context related from her own experiences. 

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From the Archives of Finest Hour: History Lives at Ditchley and Bletchley

Two historic properties which played key, but very different, roles are open to the public.

Chartwell Branch News – May 2012

Toronto Gathers for Annual International Churchill Society Dinner

Former Churchill Centre Chairman John Plumpton speaks on “Churchill and the Great Dominion.”


TORONTO, 10 May 2012—The annual dinner of International Churchill Society Canada (ICSC) was held in the historic Albany Club in Toronto again this year with a packed house of 130 members and guests.

The head table was “piped in” and ICSC Chairman Randy Barber rewarded the piper with a dram of a dark liquid upon arrival.
Churchill-in-Canada-1954Canadian Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, British Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Eden, and Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs Lester Pearson at Rockcliffe Airport, Ottawa, Canada, 29 Jun 1954
The Chairman gave his report on upcoming activities, principally this year’s Conference in partnership with the Churchill Centre, being held in the Royal York Hotel from October 11th to 13th. He advised that the conference title is “Churchill’s North America: The States and Canada, From Foe to Friend.” The sessions will commence with the “testy” period between the two countries; the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. From that point the two North American countries realized a steadily improving relationship, culminating with a partnership in two world wars, and being each other’s chief trading partners.

Lee Pollock, the Executive Director, of The Churchill Centre, gave a brief report on the Centre’s activities, with the exiting announcement of the intent to have a “National Churchill Library and Center” at the George Washington University in Washington D.C.

Randy moved the Toast to the Queen and Terry Reardon followed with the Toast to Sir Winston.

Mr. Reardon stated that on the 72nd anniversary of the day that Churchill became Prime Minister it was appropriate to give an overdue accolade to Lord Halifax who was offered the position of P.M. by Neville Chamberlain and King George VI, but turned it down, as he knew that Churchill was much more suited to run the country in time of war.

Randy Barber then introduced John Plumpton, former Chairman of the Churchill Centre, as the keynote speaker. In his introduction Randy noted that in the days when he joined ICSC John was established in the role of mentor.

John’s talk was on “Churchill and the Great Dominion,” which was the way that Churchill described Canada. Churchill’s long relationship with Mackenzie King was assessed; having started poorly with the future Canadian Prime Minister having a dim view of Churchill drinking champagne at 11 o’clock in the morning.

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Members Gather in Philadelphia for Chapter Dinner with Dr. John Maurer

Philadelphia Chapter rebounds as Naval War College Professor captures the attention of the crowd at the Union League Club.


By Earl Baker

On May 2, 2012, the Philadelphia Chapter of The Churchill Centre hosted a dinner attended by sixty Churchillians from Pennsylvania and neighboring states. The dinner and lecture were held in the Lincoln Memorial Room of the Union League in Philadelphia. It was an auspicious, revitalizing event for the chapter and the topic was one that drew a crowd.

The honored guest and featured speaker for the evening was Dr. John Maurer, Chairman of the Strategy Department of the U.S. Naval War College (USNWC) in Newport, RI. Dr. Maurer, a devoted Churchillian, teaches an elective course at USNWC on Churchill and leadership. The subject of the evening’s talk was “Churchill, Roosevelt and the Road to Pearl Harbor.” The talk along with slide presentation captured the attention of the evening’s guests and was followed by a lively question and answer question session.

Lee Pollock, national Churchill Centre Executive Director, attended, as did Honorary British Consul Oliver Franklin, Jack Templeton, Bob Toll and Alan Miller. They along with Earl Baker, Bernie Wojciechowski, Colleen Sheehan and Colin Hanna formed the host committee for the event. Long time Churchillian Roger Deakin of the Connecticut Chapter also attended.

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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.