August 26, 2013

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 04


GORT RETORT

In FH 104 Simon Riordan says Lord Gort “practically invented Blitzkrieg in 1918.” Gort was only a major when he won the VC in 1918, hardly in a position to exercise that much influence. Admitting native bias, I believe the Canadian Corps “invented” Blitzkrieg: first, led by General Byng, during the brilliant capture of Vimy Ridge in April 1917; second, in the breakthrough at Amiens in August 1918, when the Canadians under General Currie led the assault and the three-month follow-up ending with the capture of Mons on 11 November 1918. My father fought at Vimy, Passchendaele and Amiens, so I know something about these things.
DEREK LUKIN JOHNSTON, VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA

SINGAPORE SLING

I read with dismay some articles in your website regarding your “Personality of the Century” and the Singapore debacle. Churchill was apparently surprised when informed that Singapore had no landward defences; yet he read both the 1939 and 1940 British Chiefs of Staff Far Eastern Appreciations, which clearly stated that Britain could not defend the colony. A copy of the 1940 report was captured by the Japanese Navy; Churchill ordered that this intelligence disaster not be divulged to anyone, including Singapore’s military leaders. Why did Churchill insist on sending approximately 70,000 further troops to Singapore (post-8 December 1941) when he knew it was already lost? Only when such issues are openly discussed will we be able to evaluate Churchill’s true contribution to the allied war effort during WW2.
ALAN MATTHEWS, WREXHAM, NORTH WALES, UK

I should refer all enquiries on this subject to Arthur Marder’s Old Friends, New Enemies, all about the Royal Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy, Volume 1 (Oxford University Press 1981). Naval history of the twentieth century is full of queries as to Churchill’s actions and intentions.
PROF. BARRY GOUGH, WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY

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We would publish Mr. Matthews’s critique, provided it didn’t float unprovable conspiracy theories. But before making generalizations he needs a little more experience with our website. Try “Errors and Character Flaws,” including “believing that capital ships were safe from hostile aircraft.” Or, in “Churchill the Great?” in Finest Hour 104: “Opinion polls canvassed in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh do not provide much comfort: memories are exceptionally long in Belleek, Tonypandy and parts of Dundee.” Undoubtedly those memories include Welshmen like Mr. Matthews. But we are not sure they would all be shared by another Welshman, who both criticised and admired Churchill, David Lloyd George. -Ed.

COVER OFF//104

Churchill was entitled to wear an RAF uniform after his appointment in 1939 as an Honorary Air Commodore of No. 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron, an auxiliary or reserve unit. (The letter “A” on the uniform lapel is for “Auxiliary.”) The ribbons appear to be (L-R): Row 1: Order of the Companions of Honour, India Medal, Queen’s Sudan Medal, Queen’s South Africa Medal. Row 2: 1914-1915 star, War Medal (?), Victory Medal, 1939-1945 Star. Row 3: Africa Star, Italy Star, France and Germany Stars, Defence Medal. Row 4: George V Coronation Medal, George V Jubilee Medal, George VI Coronation Medal, Territorial Decoration. Row 5: Order of Military Merit (Spain), Cuban Campaign Medal (?), U. S. Distinguished Service Medal and Khedive’s Sudan Medal (?). Those with question marks are indistinct.
HON. DOUGLAS S. RUSSELL, IOWA CITY, IOWA, USA

DUMPING DE GAULLE

One wonders why the press made such a fuss over this episode (Datelines, FH 105) since the matter is referred to not only by Churchill in Volume IV of his Second World War (Chapter XLIV) but by Eden’s memoirs, The Reckoning, Chapter VIII, published in 1965: “The Prime Minister had been for nearly a fortnight in Washington and subject, of course, to repeated American denunciation of the Free French leader. He now telegraphed suggesting that his colleagues should urgently consider whether de Gaulle should not now be eliminated as a political force.” Diary, 23rd May 1943: “Cabinet at 9pm re de Gaulle and Winston’s proposal to break with him now. Everyone against and very brave about it in his absence. Attlee and I replied to the Prime Minister immediately after the meeting.” A lengthy telegram is then quoted.
PAUL H. COURTENAY, ANDOVER, HANTS., UK

AMAZON SALES FIGURES

Regarding (“Around & About,” FH 105, p. 9), Amazon.com informs me that their numbers represent a best seller list: “The calculation is based on Amazon.com sales and is updated regularly. The top 10,000 best sellers are updated each hour to reflect sales over the preceding 24 hours. The next 100,000 are updated daily. The rest of the list is updated monthly, based on several different factors.” So a rank of 6000 means a book is their 6000th best selling title. Thus The Great Republic was 394 when released but is now 8705. But since there are at least a million books in print, Churchill’s numbers are holding up well. When Jim Overmeyer checked, River War ranked 65,717th, History of the English-Speaking Peoples 38,459th, My Early Life 16,726th and The Second World War 6425th.
SUZANNE SIGMAN, MILTON, MASS., USA

PERSONALITY OF THE CENTURY- OUR READERS WRITE

In the context of the recent World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, it should not be forgotten that Free Trade was so much the fibre of Churchill’s political make-up that he crossed the floor over that principle 95 years ago. The European Community, which has come to be such an economic powerhouse, was strongly advocated by Churchill at Zurich in 1946 and consistently thereafter. Let us not forget that his second volume of postwar speeches is entitled Europe Unite. Those are world impact positions of far greater international moment than the New Deal. While not perfect (and which rival for Person of the Century is?), Churchill’s mark on this century is unequalled and irreplaceable. It is unlikely that any of us will live to see his equal in the century to come.
RONALD I. COHEN, OTTAWA, ONT, CANADA

The principal motivation of the Politically Correct types in control of the universities and the media is that human beings are lost and hopeless victims of an irrational chaos against which the human spirit is powerless. Such a view cannot be laid at Einstein’s door, but his conception of the vastness of the cosmos and the seeming irrationality of its laws, when translated by the PC crowd, probably justifies for them the pessimism that underlies their view of the universe—hence their choice of Einstein. Contrast the PC-view of Mankind with the self-motivated, positive, up-and-at-’em spirit of Churchill, and you can comprehend how the doom-and-gloom crowd couldn’t possibly have picked someone like Churchill. He was simply too grandly human to qualify for Time’s award.
LEONARD WINSTON, VIA INTERNET

Time says Einstein, and time may ultimately agree. But history will conclude with clarity and finality that Winston Churchill had the greatest impact on political and military outcomes during the entire 20th and much of the 21st century. You know this as well or better than anyone…
JOHN C. HASSETT, BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF., USA

Einstein was brilliant and made great strides in theoretical physics but this was based on the previous work of many others as he in turn provided the basis for the further work of others. As with Newton and his Calculus, there were others in a position to take up the threads of development Liebnitz made an independent major contribution to calculus using a different notation. The development of mathematics and physics would have been the same had there been no Newton; the timing may have been altered by a decade or two. Had there been no Einstein, the world would be the same, give or take a year, or decade, or two.

Churchill’s worldwide political influence could be said to start in 1911 with his appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty and endure until his resignation as Prime Minister in 1955- His literary life for which he received his Nobel Prize started with the Malakand Field Force published in 1898 and ended with his epilogue to the abridged edition of The Second World War published in 1959. Not even Roosevelt can claim anywhere near this record.

In 1914 the Royal Navy would almost certainly have been less well prepared for the Great War. The war might indeed have been “lost in an afternoon” on the North Sea. In 1940, with Halifax or another as Prime Minister, further appeasement or some sort of accommodation with Axis powers was quite possible. He did not do it alone as he himself acknowledged. “The nation had the lion’s heart. I had the luck to give the roar.” Without Churchill the world would be a very different place.

When the Twentieth Century really ends on 31 December 2000, we hope that the editors of Time will have used the ensuing twelve months learning the lessons provided by this dummy run and name the real Person of the Century.
NEIL COATES, ROSE BAY, TAS., AUSTRALIA

While I was disappointed to hear of the selection of Einstein, I was even more disappointed to hear Time’s rationale that politics has only temporary impact, while science is forever. With this kind of logic driving the train, I can see how they made this gross error.
STEVE WALKER, NORMAN, OKLA., USA

Obviously the editors of Time took a safe path, ignoring the fact that Sir Winston was crucial to the continuance of the life we currently enjoy. In fact, were it not for him, there might not even be a Time magazine today. Given the middle-of-the-road “politics” required for keeping magazine subscribers, I should not have expected a different outcome. The day after I heard the Time announcement I received Finest Hour 104. For a few seconds I was taken in by the cover. This was display of cleverness that I think Sir Winston himself probably would have enjoyed. In any case, I liked it. My compliments to whoever came up with the idea.
DALE WEBER, ROCHESTER, MICH., USA

Where would we be if not for him
Instead of giving in to tyranny
Never surrender was his ralling cry
Stopping Hitler with his words
Till America joined his cause
Our world would be a different place had he
Not stood up to the Nazi beast
BILL CRANFORD, PERKASIE, PA., USA

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