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Finest Hour 110

Books, Arts & Curiosities – Secretive Warriors

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 44

By Kirkus Reviews

Roosevelt and Churchill, Men of Secrets, by David Stafford. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 360 pp., illustrated. Published at $32.50, member price $27.

This is a behind-the-scenes analysis of the relationship between a president and a prime minister—”a powerful personal link that bridged the Atlantic and helped win the war.”

Stafford’s previous book, Churchill and Secret Service, begins and ends this engrossing story on a bronze bench on London’s New Bond Street—the lifesize sculpture of Roosevelt and Churchill unveiled in 1995 as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for V-E Day. Much in the same manner, the author attempts to capture this close but often contentious partnership between two leaders, both of whom “played an active and crucial part in waging secret war.”

Stafford argues convincingly that Churchill (who had a “fascination with cloak and dagger”) and Roosevelt (whose prewar background was in naval intelligence) forged through friendship “the most important intelligence alliance in history.” The story moves back and forth between the numerous meetings of the leaders (they spent more than 120 days in each other’s company during the war) and the clandestine field operations organized and executed by such celebrated intelligence agents as William (“Wild Bill”) Donovan of the American OSS and William Stephenson of British Security Coordination.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Rasor’s Edge

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 44

By Re-review by David Freeman

Winston S. Churchill, 18741965: A Comprehensive Historiography and Annotated Bibliography, by Eugene L. Rasor. Bibliographies of World Leaders, No. 6. Westport, CT, Greenwood Press, 706 pages, published at $115, member price $95.

Professor Rasor’s book (reviewed last issue by Christopher M. Bell, page 38) is most definitely not suited to the dealer and collector of books. Neither is it intended to be. This is a scholar’s tool, of the sort in which its publisher specializes. In this respect the book succeeds admirably. The bibliography may indeed be filled with errors, but it exists to support the historiographic survey that makes up the first, and by far the more important, half of the book. Each title in the bibliography is assigned a number which is used as a cross-reference in the historiography. Factual errors exist in both halves of the book, but these are not significant enough to detract from the fact that Rasor has produced an indispensable guide.

To begin with, Rasor identifies and provides contact information for all major archival institutions with holdings relevant to Churchillian research. No errors here, and even this experienced researcher is grateful to have this knowledge brought together for easy reference. But Rasor provides much more: He catalogues other bibliographies, in addition to guides, indexes, encyclopedias, and periodicals, which supply Churchill-related information. There is an entry for the Churchill Center website, and guides to virtually every significant political, military, royal and family personality with whom Churchill ever interacted.

The heart of the work considers Churchill’s career from a variety of thematic perspectives with chapters focusing on Churchill as a leader, politician, writer and artist as well as his role in major events such as the world wars and Russian or American relations. One chapter guides readers to books associated with major controversies. Another outlines areas for future research. Rasor even considers biographies of Churchill by listing titles in a spectrum format that ranges from the hagiographic to the malicious.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Applied Churchill

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 42

By Richard M. Langworth

The Churchill Factors: Creating Your Finest Hour, by Larry Kryske. Victoria, B.C.: Trafford, 2000. Trade paperback, 230 pp., published at $17.95. Member price $16

Winston Churchill said, “I was happy as a child with the toys in my nursery; I have been happier each day since I became a man.” With the sole exception of the Dardanelles episode, when his wife “thought he would die of grief,” Churchill was, as his daughter has said, “a supremely blessed and happy human being.”

There was no doubt about his happiness and, for the most part, his optimism. How blessed he was is a relative question. Churchill had no inherited wealth, no apparent academic proficiency. When he switched from a military career to politics, he found himself laboring to conquer a lisp, and on one early occasion lost his train of thought in the middle of a speech and had to sit down. What he did inherit was a taste for living like a grandee, but with no family money labored hard, particularly after he fell in love with a money pit named Chartwell.

Writing is not easy. It is almost always hard work, and most writers would rather face the dentist than get started on the next piece. Churchill was a self-starter, and his methods for getting one and one-half or two days out of one are well known.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Alanbrooke on Churchill:

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 42

“I thank God from the bottom of my heart for having been allowed to work for him for 4 1/2 long and momentous years…”

By Graham Robson

Alanbrooke, by David Fraser. London: HarperCollins 1982, paperback reprint 1997, 552 pages, £9.99

What a fascinating book this is! What a marker for military history; what an authoritative story of the way that Alan Brooke, in particular, and his top aides, kept British military strategy on the right path for so long. (I’d better make it clear he was Alan Brooke, later General Alan Brooke, finally Field Marshal Brooke, who chose the title of Lord Alanbrooke when raised to the peerage in 1945.)

From Christmas Day 1941 until Churchill was booted out by an ungrateful electorate in 1945, career soldier Alan Brooke was Chief of the Imperial General Staff. No other brass hat—not Monty, not Mountbatten, not Tedder, not even Eisenhower—could outrank him, and none could out-think him.

More than anyone else during World War II, the man Winston Churchill immediately nicknamed “Brookie” was the Prime Minister’s sheet anchor. Whenever die great man plunged off on another flight of strategic fancy or anodier romantic master plan, Brooke was there to haul him back into line. “Yes, Prime Minister, but….” must have been one of his frequent opening lines in a discussion.
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Immortal Words

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 48

The spirit of all our forces serving on salt water
has never been more strong and high than now.
The warrior heroes of the past may look down,
as Nelson’s monument looks down upon us now,
without any feeling that the island race has lost its daring,
or that the examples they set in bygone centuries
have faded as the generations
have succeeded one another.

It was not for nothing that Admiral Harwood,
as he instantly at full speed attacked an enemy
which might have sunk any one of his ships
by a single successful salvo from its far heavier guns,
flew Nelson’s immortal signal,
of which neither the new occasion,
nor the conduct of all ranks and ratings,
nor the final result were found unworthy.
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Ampersand – Leading Churchill Myths

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 47

Todd Ronnei ( asks us to compile and puncture the most common Churchill falsehoods, some of them galloping over the Internet. Todd offers the following (some of which we’ve tackled—see parentheses). We will hack away at this weed growth in this space in future editions. Will readers who know where to find this stuff in FH or elsewhere please help!

Personal: • Churchill was an abuser of alcohol. • His father died of syphilis (refuted FH 93 p. 23). • He had a learning disability/stutter/dyslexia/attention deficit disorder (refuted Churchill Proceedings 1996-97, p. 83). • He was a poor student in school (refuted FH 98, p. 28). • Alexander Fleming saved him from drowning as a boy (refuted FH 102 p. 47). • Jack Churchill was not Lord Randolph’s son (refuted FH 93 p. 25). • Winston’s American ancestors included Iroquois Indians and Mayflower passengers (refuted FH 104 p. 31).

Historical: • An actor read Churchill’s wartime speeches over the radio (refuted FH 92 p. 23). • Churchill (and FDR) knew of the impending Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor but did nothing so as to draw the United States into the war (refuted FH 101, p. 37). • WSC crushed striking Welsh miners by sending in troops (refuted FH 35 p. 8). • He opposed the India Bill out of hopelessly Victorian views of the Empire. • He had knowledge of the Holocaust during the war but did nothing about it (refuted FH 93 p. 33). • He let Coventry burn rather than reveal his knowledge of German codes (refuted, FH Al p. 10). 

Action This Day – Spring 1991, 1926, 1951

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 40


One hundred years ago:

Spring 1901 -Age 26

“Rising Political Star”

The Spring of 1901, William Manchester wrote, was when Churchill “established himself as a rising political star.” In the House in March, he spoke in support of the Government against an amendment seeking to appoint a Commission to enquire into the Army’s dismissal of Major-General Sir Henry Colville as Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar. Colville had been dismissed when official enquiries into his conduct in South Africa disclosed he had failed to attempt to relieve beleaguered British troops despite being in a position to do so. Colville refused to go quietly, and appealed to supporters in Parliament, claiming that he had not been criticized at the time in official dispatches.

Churchill came to the rescue of a government described by his son, Randolph, as “hard-pressed to resist” the amendment, helpfully explaining to the House that “those who have not themselves had any actual experience of war may have some difficulty in understanding” why Colville was not criticized at the time. The reason, Churchill continued, was that the military in wartime typically did not tell the truth: “I say that I have noticed in the last three wars in which we have been engaged a tendency among military officers…to hush everything up, to make everything look as fair as possible, to tell what is called the official truth….all the ugly facts are smoothed and varnished over, rotten reputations are propped up, and officers known as incapable are allowed to hang on and linger in their commands in the hope that at the end of the war they may be shunted into private life without a scandal.”
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Churchill Trivia

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 46


TEST your knowledge! Most questions can be answered in back issues of Churchill Center publications but it’s not really cricket to check. Twenty-four questions appear each issue, answers in the following issue. Categories are Contemporaries (C), Literary (L), Miscellaneous (M), Personal (P), Statesmanship (S) and War (W).

1129. Who was the “grocer” who became Churchill’s “shadow” in 1939? (C)

1130. What book did Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s biographer, write about his 30-year quest for data on his subject? (L)

1131. What is the name of the publisher who will put all the Churchill papers on microfilm? (M)

1132. Who was the artist who created the Churchill statue situated at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri? (P)

1133. In one of his early messages to Churchill (18th Jul ’41), Stalin urged Churchill to open a second front. He suggested two areas. One was in France. What was the other? (S)

1134. Which company built the USS Winston S. Churchill (W)

1135. When Churchill proposed, the young actress told him she “would not be able to cope with the great world of politics.” Who was she? (C)
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Riddles, Mysteries, Enigmas

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 39


Further to Lynda Presley’s request for a roster of Churchill cats in this space last issue, Lady Soames informs us that Number Ten had a resident cat when her father moved in as Prime Minister. A leftover from the Chamberlain administration, he was named “Munich Mouser.” His replacement was a black cat named “Smokey.” Next in succession came “Nelson,” whom we mentioned. At Chartwell, in addition to “Cat” and the three “Jocks,” there were two earlier inhabitants: “Tango,” a marmalade tom said to be Winston’s; and “Mickey,” a tabby cat. The last two are mentioned in the prologue to Volume II of William Manchester’s The Last Lion.

Q: Were Franklin Roosevelt and Churchill Related?

A: According to Cornelius Mann’s “Two Famous Descendants of John Cooke and Sarah Warren,” NY Genealogical and Biographical Record LXIII:3, July 1942, pp. 159-66, Churchill and Roosevelt were eighth cousins, once removed. More recent research has shown that WSC was not descended from their daughter, Elizabeth Cooke (second wife of Daniel Wilcox), but from Daniel Wilcox’s first wife. So it’s not true.

Q:I was reading Manchester’s 1995 introduction to the recent edition Early Life and saw with delight and admiration his reference to your research on Churchill’s relations with his mother. Has this been published?
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Eight Bells: Godspeed – The Sheet Anchor of Human Freedom

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 36

“Never imagine that such concepts as duty, honour, and love or country are outdated.”


Cdr. Franken, officers, members of the crew of the USS Winston S. Churchill, distinguished guests: I am sorry to disappoint you. I am not Tom Hanks who, I understand, was expected to be here to address you today. I cannot even claim to be Private Ryan’s kid brother. However I do happen to be the grandson, and have the great privilege of bearing the name, of the man in whose honour your ship is named. And I can tell you what a very proud day this is for me and all my family.

As you travel the globe, you bear my grandfather’s name, not only on your great ship, but also emblazoned on your uniforms. You will be amazed at the warmth of welcome it will bring you, not just when you visit Great Britain, as you will be doing this summer, but in so many parts of the world. You cannot imagine what the name Winston Churchill means to so many people, in so many lands—none more so than to those who lived in Europe during the Nazi Occupation.

By way of example, let me tell you that, ten years ago, I had the privilege of addressing a meeting in London to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1941, when the tens of thousands of Polish Jews, realizing what fate the Nazis intended for them, armed only with Molotov cocktails and whatever weapons they could lay their hands on, tried to defend themselves against several divisions of S.S. troops. After the meeting, one of the guests, a fine looking lady of about 60, came up to me and said, “I was a girl of just 12 years of age at the time of the Uprising. I want to tell you that every time your grandfather was speaking on BBC radio, we would listen to his every word.
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Seven Bells: Retrospective – “The Navy is Here!”

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 30


Graf Spee, Altmark, and the Battle of the River Plate


When Sir Winston Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty in September 1939, the Royal Navy faced the U-boat threat with confidence. It seemed unlikely that Germany would once again adopt a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, which would risk alienating neutral states and possibly bring the United States into the war on Britain’s side, as it had done in 1917. But even if Hitler proved willing to accept this danger, the Admiralty was certain that the combination of convoy and sonar would ensure the defeat of Germany’s still relatively small U-boat force. The threat from this quarter seemed manageable.

Surface ships were another matter. During World War I Germany’s large and powerful High Seas Fleet had remained concentrated in its home waters, posing a constant menace to the British Grand Fleet but failing to achieve significant strategic results. In 1939 the greatest threat to Britain’s maritime communications came from the dispersal of Germany’s small force of modern, powerful surface ships to prey on British shipping. As the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, noted, “Nothing would paralyse our supply system and seaborne trade so successfully as attack by surface raiders.”
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Six Bells: Principal Address – “As Light as Air, as Strong as Iron”

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 28


Burlee’s words remain as true today as they were 226 years ago

I think Sir Winston Churchill would be enjoying himself if he were here today. I hesitate to speak for the great man, especially when his daughter and grandson are here to correct me. But I am confident he would revel in this magnificent Anglo-American occasion. And I am sure he would be moved and delighted to have his name associated with this extraordinary ship. Mr Secretary, naming it for Sir Winston is a great tribute to his lasting memory, and it is a privilege for the people of the United Kingdom. So, I am going to risk being corrected later by the formidable Churchill family, to offer you three reasons why I think Sir Winston would be immensely proud of what we are doing here today.

First, like so many British heroes, Churchill knew a thing or two about the Navy. He twice led the Royal Navy as First Lord of the Admiralty: from 1911 to 1915, and again in 1939-40. So he had an eye for a good ship. Before the First World War he championed the technological generation shift from coal to oil power. He wanted fast, powerful battleships. There can be no doubt that he would approve of the breathtaking technological achievement of the Arleigh Burke class of destroyer. The USS Winston S. Churchill is a powerful ship. Its capabilities for land attack warfare and air defence are amongst the best in the world.

Second, Winston Churchill knew the importance of marshalling military strength and determination in the cause of freedom. He himself saw action as a young officer in Africa and India. Almost half a century later Churchill led the British people in the most complete wartime mobilisation in our history. Long before other people woke to the danger in 1930s Europe, Churchill was urging the nation to prepare, if freedom were to be defended. As he said in the bleak days of February 1941, “Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.” He would understand the strength of purpose with which the U.S. Navy is today equipping itself to defend freedom in a new century.
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Five Bells: The Churchills – a Naval History

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 26


The Winston S. Churchill Has Interesting Forebears

The first vessel unequivocally named (with his permission) for Churchill was the cutter Winston Churchill, built by Percy Coverdale at Battery Point, Hobart, and launched in 1942. During World War II the sailboat served as a lighthouse tender off southern Tasmania. She competed in the first Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in 1945 and in many subsequent races carrying sloop, cutter or yawl rigs, until she foundered with the loss of three lives off the east coast of Australia in 1998. (See Finest Hour 99, p. 47; 100, p. 6; 101, p. 7.)

The first ship named with Winston Churchill “firmly in mind” was HMS Chequers, a “C” Class destroyer. This nomination was made in 1944 by the First Lord of the Admiralty, A. V. Alexander, Chequers being the official residence of the Prime Minister.

Why not HMS Churchill?. Alexander had to circumvent a contemporary custom which was to allow a decent interval to elapse between the death of any naval worthy and the naming of a ship after him. This precluded the Prime Minister’s name, as well as “Chartwell,” which would have been too closely identified with him.
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Four Bells: Her Namesake Speaks

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 21

“The spectacle which the naval armaments of Christendom afford at the present time will no doubt excite the curiosity and the wonder of future generations.”
—Commons, 18 March 1912

“I have always thought that the union of these two great forces [the British and American navies], not for purposes of aggression or narrow selfish interests, but in an honourable cause, constitutes what I may call the sheet-anchor of human freedom and progress.”
—Cambridge, 19 May 1939

“The ultimate strategy of the navy consists in basing contented sailors upon prosperous and healthy homes from which the children, generation after generation, can return to the ships which their fathers have taught them to honour.”
—WSC, Commons, 26 March 1913

“Kindly explain the reasons which debar individuals in certain branches from rising by merit to commissioned rank? If a cook may rise, or a steward, why not an ordnance rating? If a telegraphist may rise, why not a painter? Apparently there is no difficulty about painters rising in Germany!”
—The Gathering Storm, 1948
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Three Bells: En Route – At Sea

Finest Hour 110, Spring 2001

Page 21


“The warrior heroes of the past may look down without any feeling that the examples they set in bygone centuries have faded.” —WSC, 1948

The Winston S. Churchill, billed by the Navy as “the most sophisticated, capable combatant ever built,” is the only active U.S. warship named after a foreign national, and the only one with an officer from Britain’s Royal Navy permanently on board—a nod to the ship’s name and a strengthening of the special bond between the steadfast Atlantic allies.

The first British officer assigned to the new destroyer is the ship’s navigator, Lt. Angus Essenhigh, 27-year-old son of First Sea Lord Sir Nigel Essenhigh, professional head of the Royal Navy.

Born in Portsmouth, England, Angus Essenhigh joined the Royal Navy when he was 18. “It is very exciting for me to join this ship,” Essenhigh said during the Winston S. Churchill’s recent maiden voyage from New England, where she was built, to Norfolk, Virginia, her new home port. This writer was invited to join the ship from New York City to Norfolk, to experience what life on board is like for the vessel’s crew of 350.

Essenhigh guided Winston S. Churchill to her berth in Norfolk, taking time from his bridge duties to say that the naming of the ship after one of Britain’s greatest heroes is “a clever choice by the Americans.” Churchill held dual citizenship in both countries after 1963, when President Kennedy gave him honorary U.S. citizenship, Essenhigh said. “He was a great transatlantic statesman. It is a very apt name for this ship.”
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