June 3, 2015

Finest Hour 101, Winter 1998-99

Page 12

Q: While watching the film “Young Winston, “I heard a reference to his brother that could someone give me a thumbnail sketch of him?

A: John Strange Spencer Churchill, 1880-1947, known as Jack, a stockbroker. Wounded in action in the Boer War, 1899. Married Lady Gwendeline Bertie (1884-1941), daughter of the 7th Earl of Abingdon, 1908. Major, Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars 1914-18. Served at Dunkirk, 1914; on Sir John French’s staff 1914-15; on Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton’s staff at Gallipoli, 1915; on General Birdwood’s staff 1916-18. Accompanied Winston on his lecture tour of North America, 1929, with WSC’s son Randolph and Jack’s son Johnny. His surviving son, Peregrine, is a vigorous octogenarian. The rumor that Jack was not Lord Randolph’s son, begun by biographer Ralph Martin, was put down when Martin lost a slander lawsuit, but occasionally still surfaces. Jack and Winston were very close; their descendants still are.

Q: Please identify Churchill’s London residences, and indicate with an asterisk (*) which carry the blue historical plaque.

A: 35A Great Cumberland Place (18741900, Lord and Lady Randolph’s); 105 Mount Street (1900-1905, his first bachelor flat); 12 Bolton Street (190509), the first house ever of his own); 33 Eccleston Square* (1909-13); 41 Cromwell Road (1915-?, shared with his brother Jack and their families); Sussex Square* (post-WWl); 12 Morpeth Mansions (1930s); 28 Hyde Park Gate* (1945-65).

National WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City

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Q: How many fictional works have been written in which Churchill figures prominently in the story?

A: There are several; one the most gripping to me is Brian Garfield’s The Paladin (NY: Simon & Schuster 1979, London: Macmillan 1980), said to be “fiction based on fact.” Its protagonist is Christopher Creighton, engaged by WSC at a very young age to act as WSC’s personal spy. Christopher has quite a war. He warns of Belgium’s plans to surrender in time to save the BEF at Dunkirk; blows up secret German U-Boat pens in Ireland; sabotages a friendly Dutch submarine and sends its crew to the bottom after it reports the Japanese battle fleet en route to Pearl Harbor (because Churchill doesn’t want to warn the Americans in order to get them into the war—an old, old saw). Back in London, Creighton finishes the job by murdering the only cypher clerk who has read the sub’s message—and she is his girlfriend! He engineers the assassination of Darlan, and tips the Nazis of the Dieppe taid to convince the Americans it’s too soon for a cross-channel invasion. Finally, when the invasion is on, he steers the Germans into reinforcing Calais over Normandy.

Fast-forward to the 1990s: someone named “Crichton” surfaced a few years ago claiming to have been just such a spy, relating much of the same stuff—was he the person who inspired Garfield? We’ve tried off and on to contact Brian Garfield, but he has eluded us. The book was reviewed FH 48, mentioned in Janet Daniels’s “Churchill as Fictional Character,” FH 79; both are available from Churchill Stores (contacts, p. 2).

Stores also sells The Boer Conspiracy, by John Woods ($10): how Sherlock Holmes foiled a plot against WSC’s life during the 1901 Oldham election—telated of course by an aged Dr. Watson in 1940. A great tead!

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