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Churchill Honored in Iceland

Finest Hour contributor honored by private audience with the President of Iceland
By Árni Sigurðsson

Iceland PresidentMagnús Erlendsson with President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson

On September 20th the newly elected President of Iceland invited Mr. Magnús Erlendsson the author of an article in the last edition of Finest Hour (“Reykjavik Rendezvous” in FH 173) for a private audience at his official residence Bessastaðir. President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, who holds a doctorate in history, is a long standing friend of the Churchill Club of Iceland, having been both a frequent speaker and a guest at the club’s luncheons before taking office in July.

The President had requested this audience so he could accept a copy of the latest issue of Finest Hour and congratulate the author himself, 85-year-old retired businessman Mr. Magnús Erlendsson, who as a ten-year-old boy witnessed the visit by Winston Churchill to Iceland on August 16th, 1941. That vivid experience has stayed with him for more than seventy years feeding an insatiable appetite for history and Winston Churchill in particular. That was the seed for the Churchill Club of Iceland.

President Jóhannesson and Mr. Erlendsson had a  thirty-minute chat about this experience discussing the eye-witness account of the great man’s only visit to Iceland. Churchill was on his way back from the Atlantic Conference with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His visit was kept a secret, but the morning of his arrival the newspapers carried a story that something interesting might be happening at the Reykjavik harbour around 11 AM that might make it worthwhile for the public to be there and witness it.

So when Churchill stepped ashore, he was greeted by a great throng of onlookers who could not believe their own eyes. Mr. Erlendsson was among them and followed Churchill around starstruck and dazed by it all. For a boy of ten, it was the most exiting day of his life. Mr. Erlendsson recalled this experience for the President as he presented him with copies of Finest Hour.

As the audience drew to a close, the President excused himself stating that it so happened that his next audience would be with the newly appointed Ambassador of Great Britain, who was there to present his credentials: “Did we have an extra copy that he could give to the Ambassador?” We certainly did, and so he got an extra copy. Nothing beats a first impression, and a first impression does not get any better for the Churchill Club of Iceland than having the President of Iceland welcoming the British Ambassador to our country with a copy of an article about Winston Churchill’s visit to Iceland.

To read Mr. Erlendsson’s article, please CLCK HERE.

Árni Sigurðsson is the President of the Churchill Club of Iceland.

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