“If we all pull together…and firmly grasp the larger hopes of humanity, then it may be that we shall move into a happier sunlit age, when all the little children who are now growing up in this tormented world may find themselves not the victors nor the vanquished in the fleeting triumphs of one country over another in the bloody turmoil of destructive war, but the heirs of all the treasures of the past and the masters of all the science, the abundance and the glories of tke future.”
WSC SPEAKING TO THE CONGRESS OF EUROPE, THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS, 7 MAY 1948
In our opinion the 21st Century begins a year from now on January 1st, 2001—but we seem to have been outvoted! Alas Churchill was too busy fighting Boers in December 1899, or lecturing in December 1900, to say anything of cosmic significance at the turn of the last century. Instead we offer the Quote of the Millennium. Perhaps it will apply to the one that’s coming, RML 5 NOV ’99
NEW YORK, OCTOBER 15TH— Not to be outdone by Time or the BBC, Cigar Aficionado, the glamour-encrusted magazine of cigars, placed Churchill atop its list of 100 “Cigar Smokers of the Twentieth Century.” The editors write: “Throughout his long life, Churchill nourished England with his battlefield bravery, political courage and prolific writing, and nourished himself with the best food, drink and cigars he could find. The man for whom the imposing Churchill cigar size is named smoked eight to ten cigars a day, primarily Cuban brands. Not even the necessity of wearing an oxygen mask for a high-altitude flight in a non-pressurized cabin could prevent Churchill from smoking. As the story goes, the Prime Minister requested that a special mask be created that would allow him to smoke while airborne…On another occasion, Churchill hosted a luncheon for King Ibn Sa’ud of Saudi Arabia, who did not allow smoking or drinking in his presence. Rather than submit to the King’s wishes, Churchill pointed out that ‘my rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them.’ The King was convinced….Favorite cigar: Romeo y Julieta.”
Finest Hour bundled its nine articles nominating Churchill for Person of the Century into booklets for the editorial board and sent them to Time’s managing editor. We received a handwritten reply:
Thank you for your kind letter. It was good to hear from The Churchill Center again. The articles will prove very useful as we make our decision. I know he was selected in 1950 as Person [sic] of the Half Century, and that is a factor. Alas, it is not dispositive.* History and perspective can change. But we are thinking and debating hard these days. -WALTER ISAACSON, MANAGING EDITOR
*Lawyers know what “dispositive” means but we had to search our 1894 Funk & Wagnall’s unabridged dictionary, which offered the following: “dispositive (a.): disposing, appertaining to disposition. Under “disposition” were six definitions: “(1) The act of arranging. (2) The state or avenue of arranging. (3) Mental tendency or inclination. (4) Natural organic tendency of things. (5) An architectural term. (6) A Scots Law term.” And on the web, Barbara found in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) : “Dispositive a. [Cf. F. dispositif] Disposing; tending to regulate; decretive. [Obs.] E.g.: ‘His dispositive wisdom and power.’ – Bates.”
It’s worrying that Time applies a 19th century word to our candidate for Person of the (20th) Century. We have no idea how the editors will vote. Our betting is with Chris Matthews of MSNBC/CNBC, also pro-Churchill, who thinks Time may avoid confronting the obvious and nominate “a construct of rhetoric,” like “the microchip.” We’ll soon know…
HENDON, LONDON, SEPTEMBER 15TH— The Few are getting fewer. Fifty-nine years after the Battle of Britain, barely 400 of the air crew who saved Britain from invasion remain alive. But The Few were more numerous than legend suggests. Nineteen veterans gathered at the RAF Museum here to celebrate publication of a book that detailed the lives of all 2917 pilots and other air crew who took part in the battle from July to October 1940.
There is a misconception, according to Kenneth Flynn, the book’s New Zealand author, that a handful of chaps in handlebar moustaches and silk scarves defeated the Luftwaffe. The Few, so named in a speech by Churchill, were many and varied, with American, Czech, Polish, French, Belgian and Commonwealth pilots as well as British.
Wing Commander Bob Doe, now 79, is the highest-scoring ace of the battle still alive, having downed 14 1/2 enemy aircraft (the half is accounted for by sharing a kill with another aircraft). He was himself shot down and still walks with a limp. Cdr. Doe retired from the RAF in 1966 because, he says, he was bored. He now runs a garage near Tunbridge Wells. Doe flew Hurricanes and Spitfires. “You didn’t fly the Spitfire; you sat in it and it became part of you,” he said. German pilots hated being downed by the Hurricane. “To them it was very infra dig. If they were going to be shot out of the sky it had to be by Spitfire, the aircraft they all admired.” Twice as many German aircraft were shot down by the slower and less glamorous Hurricane.
September 15th was Battle of Britain Day, the date in 1940 when Churchill claimed 180 German aircraft shot down or disabled, the highest day’s total of the battle. “He exaggerated, of course,” said Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris, chairman of the Battle of Britain Fighter Pilots’ Association. “The real total was probably nearer 70. But so what? That’s war.” -Alan Hamilton in The Times, sent us by Alexander Justice, graduate student, UCLA
Readers of Finest Hour are no strangers to Churchill’s love of painting and his considerable skill with the brush. Now the International Churchill Society of the UK, in conjunction with the Association of Colleges, comprising 456 Colleges of Further Education in the United Kingdom, have agreed to run an annual painting competition. The Daily Telegraph has generously agreed to sponsor the competition initially for two years.The competition, to be launched in 2000, will be open to art students from all colleges in the UK. Each college can nominate one student who will have to produce an example of his or her work, which is required to be a landscape or a rural scene. A short list of twenty students will be selected who will then be asked to produce a landscape for the competition. A judging panel will then vote on the three best pictures. The first prize is £5000, the second prize £2500 and the third prize £1000. Further details are to be worked out with the Association of Colleges and The Daily Telegraph.
The Society is indebted to Earl Jellicoe, a Trustee of ICS UK, and the Hon. Celia Sandys, both of whom have played a considerable part in setting up this worthwhile competition. Further details will be published in due course. -Nigel Knocker, Chairman, ICS UK
LONDON, JULY 20TH— On behalf of all Canadian members, President Randy and Mrs. Solveig Barber presented an official Tilley Hat to our Patron, The Lady Soames, in a visit to her house in West London. A cordial invite to “elevenses” in her charming back garden gave us the opportunity to present the world famous headgear, recognized at once by our Patron. A special wide-brimmed model was chosen to help shield her from the South African sun. A few days later Lady Soames departed with her niece, Celia Sandys and other intrepids to retrace the great escape of her father during the Anglo-Boer War. (The story will appear
in our next issue. -Ed.) Lady Soames expressed delight and her sincere thanks to all ICS Canada members for their gift.
The recipient of a Churchill Center scholarship to help support his graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for World War II studies, George Tamblyn was eight years old when WW2 ended. The war and its aftermath made an indelible impression on him. As a schoolboy he was fascinated with aircraft, especially bombers. While in law school George also obtained a private pilot’s license and has flown many planes, his “apogee experience” being the piloting of a B-17 in 1998. He has also engaged in mock aerial dogfights using laser guns. George practiced business law for 30 years in Oregon and Washington, representing aerospace, computer hardware, real estate, sales, manufacturing and sales firms. With a partner, he took over a troubled manufacturing operation which had been an industry leader; through 1996 when he sold the company, it had been increasingly profitable every year since the takeover. He was also a candidate for Congress, running as a Democrat for Washington’s 8th District in 1992.
Perennial American presidential campaigner Pat Buchanan has had a lot of media coverage over his view of World War II: that it was a mistake to oppose Hitler by going to war over Poland when all Hitler wanted was to invade Russia.
We’ve been trying to resist being harnessed by the media-hyped controversy. They ring their little chimes and like Pavlov’s dogs we salivate. The most outrageous suggestions are usually made by people who are either running for something or have a book out. Unfortunately the average pundits don’t know enough to reply properly to Buchanan’s Hitler theories, so they fall back on the old reliable Evil Hitler line. This is not enough, for in terms of body counts, Stalin and Mao surpassed Hitler. Tony Blankly, who does know something about the subject, said: “Pat’s ideas make for a good academic debate, but they’re lousy politics.”
That academic debate was offered in endless depth in Finest Hour 79 through 82, when it was raised the last time by Prof. John Charmley, who has considerably superior intellectual credentials to Mr. Buchanan. You can find these on our website (check under “Opinion”), or buy the fun-filled, brilliantly illustrated issues themselves for $5 each from Churchill Stores c/o [email protected]
LONDON, OCTOBER 21ST— Churchill vetoed a request by Anthony Eden in March 1945 to give the French details of preparations for the atomic bomb, according to papers released to the Public Record Office. Eden argued that if the French were not let in on the plans at some stage, they would inevitably turn to the Russians and develop a nuclear device with them. The letter says that although the French should not be allowed to participate in the development immediately, “there is a very strong case for giving them an assurance that they will be admitted to some degree, at any rate, of participation as soon as security conditions permit [probably by the late summer and almost certainly before the end of the year].”
Eden disclosed that he had discussed the issue with Sir John Anderson, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had agreed. He pointed out that the French had helped the British up to 1940 and had given early scientific aid to the Tube Alloys project (the British code name for developing the nuclear bomb). However, he went on to voice concerns about the more dangerous prospect of France’s linking up with the Russians: “The French have made it clear that, if we and the Americans do not in due course admit them to participation, they will have to turn to Russia. The very existence of two competitive blocs on Tube Alloys within the great powers could be a very serious matter in itself.”
Churchill took five days, to March 25th, to reject the proposal: “I certainly do not agree that this secret should be imparted to the French. My agreement with President Roosevelt in writing forbids either party to reveal to anyone else the secret…in all the circumstances our policy should be to keep the matter so far as we can control it in American and British hands and leave the French and Russians to do what they can.”
WSC added, “I have never made the slightest agreement with France or with any Frenchman. I shall certainly urge the President not to make or permit the slightest disclosure to France or Russia.”
The French later went on to develop their own nuclear deterrent, but did not test it until 1960.
LONDON, OCTOBER 17TH— Richard Langworth’s Connoisseur’s Guide to the Books of Sir Winston Churchill is to be reprinted in early 2000 by the Chrysalis Group, incorporating all addenda, corrigenda and discoveries since the first edition. Watch FH for announcement of availability.
COTO DE CAZA, JUNE 27TH— Churchill Center members and history aficionados met at the home of Loreen and Andrew Guilford for the second organizational meeting of California Churchillians, attended by several high-ranking Orange County judges. After dinner, guests made brief presentations on candidates for the “Person of the Century,” and a vote was taken which produced an interesting Top Ten list. Point scores were: Churchill 139, Franklin Roosevelt 126, Mahatma Gandhi 104, Eisenhower 76, “The American Taxpayer” 60, Eleanor Roosevelt 56, Margaret Thatcher 55, Henry Ford 54, Mother Teresa 52 and Ronald Reagan 46.
Extolling the virtues of candidate Churchill was left to Brooks Hoar, who hosted our first meeting a few months ago. Brooks made an interesting comparison between Churchill and Hitler, noting both were once veterans, painters, and writers, although the resemblance stopped there. Eisenhower was championed by David Sills, presiding justice of the County Court of Appeal. Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Kambestad talked about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, while Raymond Kann gave effective support for Margaret Thatcher. Andrew Guilford spoke of religious leaders, focusing on Mother Teresa. Curt Zoller, author of the “Churchill Trivia” column in Finest Hour, showed love of long-shots by arguing for Willem Einthoven. A humorous but effective slap shot for Wayne Gretzky was taken by Justice Bill Bedsworth, who noted that Churchill suffers from looking alternately like a bulldog or an infant!
Our budding California group, now named “The Churchillians,” met again for dinner at the Queen Mary in Long Beach on November 20th, where our guest was Professor of English Paul Alkon of the University of Southern California, a contributor to Finest Hour and our Marlborough Symposium in 1998. Dr. Alkon’s topic was “Churchill and his Literary Genius,” a subject well received by the multitude.
If you would like to assist in organizing further California events—and, eventually, a Churchill Conference there—please contact Curt Zoller, 21335 Amora Street, Mission Viejo CA 92692, telephone (714) 581-6834, e-mail zcurt @earthlink.net.
BOSTON, OCTOBER 12TH— Honorary Member Winston S. Churchill, on a book signing tour of the Eastern USA for The Great Republic, his new book of his grandfather’s writings on America, spoke tonight at the African Meeting House to a capacity crowd of Boston Athenasum and Churchill Center members. He was introduced by Richard Langworth, who borrowed the lines of Mark Twain when introducing Winston’s grandfather 99 years ago in New York City. (See review of The Great Republic in this issue.)
New England Churchillians meet periodically, but we lack an annual dinner to mark Churchill’s birthday. If you wish to help organize this or other meetings, please contact the editor, Finest Hour.
DOWNINGTOWN, NOVEMBER 6TH— Craig Horn, a Governor of The Churchill Center, spoke tonight about Churchill’s famous “what-if” published in our last issue, “If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg,” at a meeting of Pennsylvania Churchillians at their favorite pub, “No. 10 Downing Street.” Craig’s appreciation followed a cocktail hour and dinner. Members interested in future local events in eastern Pennsylvania should contact Richard Raffauf, 116 Hampshire Rd., Reading PA 19608, telephone (610) 777-1653 (e-mail iconsort @ptd.net) or Phyllis Ruoff, 39 West Greenhill Rd., Broomall PA 19008, telephone (610) 353-6447 (e-mail [email protected]).
CLEVELAND, NOVEMBER 9TH— Carol Breckenridge spoke tonight at a meeting of Northern Ohio Churchillians at the Greenbrier Suite, 1300 Terminal Tower, following a sumptuous catered dinner. Her topic was “The Power of Art as Therapy in the Life of Winston Churchill,” a phenomenon Sir Winston was well equipped to demonstrate through his painting. This followed Michael McMenamin’s July 13th presentation, “The Golden Age of Churchill as a Writer.”
Michael has sent members a survey form soliciting views on different formats for future meetings: What if we did more informal discussion sessions instead of a steady diet of formal presentations? All you’d have to do in the latter case is select a topic, volunteer to lead the discussion, assign selected readings from libraries, and have opinions with the willingness to share them.
If you haven’t already responded to Michael’s question, or wish to assist in any way, please contact Alexis at Michael McMenamin’s office: Walter & Haverfield, 1300 Terminal Tower, Cleveland, OH 44113, telephone (216) 781-1212.
NOVEMBER 11TH— The Washington Society for Churchill, a Churchill Center Affiliate, has held three successful events this year: a March dinner meeting with Lady Soames and speaker David Jablonsky of the National War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania; a midsummer picnic at the home of Craig and Lorraine Horn; and an Armistice Day (November 11th) dinner followed by a lecture,”The Churchill Statue and his Honorary U.S. Citizenship,” Prof. John A. Ramsden, Washington DC. At the picnic, Dr. Max Owens of the Naval War College spoke about the Civil War portion of Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples, while Craig Horn discussed Churchill’s 1930 essay in counterfactual history, “If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg” (FH103).
The Society continues to offer its enamel pin, SEND FOR CHURCHILL. This reproduction of the 1951 British General Election campaign pin that saw Churchill’s Tories victorious and Churchill Prime Minister again is identical to the original. These quality pins are available for $10 postpaid by check or money order from the Washington Society for Churchill, c/o Dan Borinsky, 2080 Old Bridge Road #203, Lake Ridge VA 22192.
Ron Helgemo has left the area after a long and successful tenure as President of the Washington Society. In his place is Caroline Hartzler, 5956 Coopers Landing Court, Burke VA 22015, telephone (703) 503-9226. Contact Caroline if you can assist or sponsor events.
NOVEMBER 30TH— Following meetings in June and October, North Texas members ended 1999 with a Champagne soiree at the home of David and Barbara Willette. (David is relieving Nathan Hughes as chairman, after Nathan’s five years of faithful service.) The June 30th event, hosted by John and Marilyn Williams, was a program by Nathan and Selma Hughes of selected letters between WSC and his wife from Lady Soames’s book. On October 3rd the group enjoyed “The Challenge of Churchill,” a presentation at the University of Dallas by Dr. Charles Sullivan and Mr. Andrew Moran. They discussed the University’s “Churchill in England” program, which earned two scholarships from The Churchill Center.
For latest Dallas meeting plans, or to volunteer your assistance, please contact David Willette at (214) 750-6009.
NOVEMBER 30TH— One of the most successful meetings of the International Churchill Society of the UK occurred at the Cabinet War Rooms, where distinguished Britons gathered for book signings with members of the Churchill family including Lady Soames and Celia Sandys. The guest list, still incomplete at this writing, was to include former Prime Ministers Lady Thatcher and Sir Edward Heath. More about this event in our next issue.
IOLA, KANSAS— Several years ago a beautiful veterans memorial wall was erected here to commemorate 7000 local veterans of wars since 1812. In front of the wall is a plaza of flagstones commemorating local businesses, organizations and families. I purchased one of these and, as you can see, Churchill’s name is one of four individuals I chose to recognize.
Samuel Hubbard was my great-great-grandfather who came to America in 1857 to help make Kansas a free state. General Frederick Funston was a local Medal of Honor winner whose historic home I helped bring to the square. I founded Iola’s “Buster” Keaton festivals in honor of another local whose name you will recognize. I fell under the spell of Winston Churchill thirty-seven years ago at the age of fourteen, and through Finest Hour my appreciation of him has only grown. Criticism rather than compliments seem more common in this life; thus I want you all to know that I most certainly appreciate all that you have done and continue to do. -Clyde W. Toland
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