Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002
ORANGE, CALIF ., MAY 1ST-4TH— Curt Zoller represented The Churchill Center at the Margaret Thatcher Symposium on the Cold War, part of the University’s Center for Cold War Studies. The Churchill material he provided was exhibited in the University library throughout the event. Mr. Zoller’s collection included original Churchill letters, signed first editions, a letter from Mrs. Churchill to Sir William Nicholson on Churchill’s illness and recovery at Marrakesh, and World War II leaflets containing Churchill speeches. Curt also distributed Center material to interested parties. Copies of Finest Hour went fast. Randy Barber also provided material. “We had several inquiries concerning membership,” Curt reports. He was asked to give a talk on “Churchill, the First Cold War Prime Minister” which went over very well. The symposium was mainly panel sessions.
Part of the symposium was an exhibition entitled, “The Cold War Prime Ministers: Churchill to Thatcher.” The exhibit featured a timeline of each PM, with original photographs, letters, and rare books from the period.
After Mr. Zoller’s remarks on Churchill and the postwar international situation, Andrew Riley, a member of the Churchill Archives Centre and Archivist for Margaret Thatcher, spoke on “Building the Churchill and Thatcher Archives.” Christopher Collins, from Lincoln College, Oxford, who worked for Lady Thatcher as researcher and archivist on her two volume biography, spoke on “Archiving Politics in the Broadcasting Age.”
Chapman University was presenting its 2002 “Global Citizen Medal” to Lady Thatcher in absentia, and former Secretary of State James Baker spoke on her accomplishments: reducing the highest tax rate from 98% to 40%, following a radical program of privatization and deregulation, reforming the unions and strengthening the free market. Baker also touched on the Thatcher-Reagan relationship and Lady Thatcher’s early recognition of Gorbachev as someone with whom “we can do business.”
JUNE 8TH— On a roll, Curt Zoller was again the speaker at a Champagne brunch held today by Southern California Churchillians, who asked for an encore after his appearance at Chapman University.
Many historians identify the beginning of the Cold War with the failure of the Yalta Agreement. Mr. Zoller developed interesting themes which concluded that Churchill had actually been fighting the Cold Was since 1918. He quoted from Churchill’s writings and speeches to illustrated WSC’s continuing concerns about the Soviet Union and his attempt, after Stalin’s death, to reach a final understanding that would end the confrontation. Curt Zoller’s new Bibliography of Works Concerning Winston Spencer Churchill is due momentarily from M.E. Sharpe. (See “About Books.”)
LANSDOWNE, VA., MAY 4TH— Celia Sandys, granddaughter of Sir Winston and one of his newest biographers, discussed her grandfather’s love of horses and horseracing at a special event sponsored by Lansdowne Resort on behalf of The Churchill Center. Ticket buyers, who each provided a $25 contribution to the Center, received an autographed copy of Ms. Sandys’s book, Churchill Wanted Dead or Alive, and a photograph of Churchill on horseback.
Participants enjoyed a live broadcast of the Kentucky Derby, with Churchill Downs’s traditional beverage, mint juleps, and wines from Breaux Vineyards. Lansdowne Resort Executive Chef Konrad Meier prepared a tantalizing array of food to celebrate the 128th “Run for the Roses.”
The day began gloriously: sunny, calm, warm, and pleasant. But like the race itself it did not end up as anticipated. As race time approached, it became clear that neither the good weather nor the favorite, Harlan’s Holiday, were going to prevail. Still, the end was exciting and worth the wait, and The Churchill Center received a handsome donation of $850.
The extraordinary efforts of Jerry Dumont and his staff were a prelude to the International Conference at Lansdowne on September 19-22nd. We are grateful to Jerry as well as Governors John Plumpton, Nancy Canary and John Mather, who joined the festivities.
A particular thanks to Celia Sandys for her fine presentation. Celia not only spoke well but surrounded herself with the youngest guests, bringing them closer to the Churchill message: study history, learn leadership, practice responsibility. —Craig Horn
OAK BROOK, ILL., APRIL 19TH— The Winston S. Churchill Chicago Friends met tonight at the Wyndam Drake Hotel. Forty gathered to hear Churchill Center President John Plumpton speak on “Churchill and 9/11.”
Mr. Plumpton charged all present with the responsibility of carrying the Churchill message to our contemporaries and generations to come. Guests from other organizations included the president of the Britannia Club of Chicago and members of the English-Speaking Union. An excellent dinner was enjoyed along with spirited fraternity and conversation.
Many brought items from their collections, including a letter signed by WSC and a framed picture, “Trustees of the Empire,” featuring the King and Cabinet of 1916. The next meeting is scheduled for early December, and CC members will automatically receive notices. If you are interested in Chicago events please contact Susan and Philip Larson ([email protected]), 22 Scotdale Road, La Grange Park, Ill. 60526, telephone (708) 352-6825.
LONDON, OCTOBER 21ST— “What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to? What can it mean? What is the truth? Let me have a report at your convenience.” Thus WSC to his advisers, who produced a six-page UFO Report, hitherto denied by the Ministry of Defence but recently unearthed by UFO historians Andy Roberts and David Clarke. The “Working Party on Flying Saucers” was the idea of Sir Henry Tizard, WSC’s trusted scientific adviser during the war. The report played down the phenomenon and insisted there was no threat to Britain. But a few months later an order went out expressly banning all RAF personnel from discussing sightings with anyone not from the military.
LONDON, OCTOBER 13TH— A Daily Express analysis of recent photos of the Prime Minister concludes “similarity in body language” to Winston Churchill. “Take for instance the shot of him in an easy chair, hands gripping the arms, defiant in the face of the threat from terrorists….Although Mr. Blair plumps for a wave rather than a V-sign, the similarity in the confident smile and slightly raised arm is uncanny.” Former Keeper of the Churchill Archives Piers Brendon asks, “Is it accidental or intentional? I suspect it is a combination of the two.”
LONDON, NOVEMBER 22ND— Throughout World War II, the woman who stood between Churchill and Nazi intelligence was Ruth Ive, now 84, a shorthand typist whose task was to listen in on the PM’s telephone conversations and cut the line if he veered from the strict agenda. Her story was published at length in History Today, and copies are available from the editor.
In the underground War Rooms, a tiny alcove disguised as Churchill’s private WC was in fact the transatlantic telephone, which provided a crucial link with Roosevelt. Though a large scrambler was used, British intelligence rightly believed that German engineers would be able to tap into the signal. So Mrs. Ive “was told I should use my initiative and if I thought they were being indiscreet, I should cut them off at once. I was the censor.” Bombing location, officers’ names or troop morale were among the banned subjects.
The job wasn’t always easy—as when Mrs. Ive heard Churchill refer to someone called “Jughay.” He was referring to U.J., Uncle Joe (Stalin). “I probably should have broken the line, but by the time I worked out what he was saying it was too late.”
In March 1945 a German bomb landed near Holborn Circus. Churchill, deeply affected by the carnage, picked up the transatlantic telephone to speak to Eden, his foreign secretary, who was in Canada. Mrs. Ive was listening in.
“I thought, ‘My God, he’s going to talk about the bomb.’ I cut him off and picked up the telephone and rang through and said, ‘Sir, no mention of damage by enemy aircraft!’ He grunted. He knew me by that time.” But she had to cut him off a second time: “Sir, you can’t say that.” WSC rang off.
“He was going through one of his awful days of desolation,” Mrs. Ive recalls. “It was just such a dreadful incident, he wanted to tell Eden about it.” Deeply moved, she thought to herself, “When will this terrible war ever end?”
But she also knew that, in silencing Winston Churchill, she had done the right thing. After the war she learnt that, as feared, whatever was said on that line “ended up on Hitler’s desk the next morning.” But thanks in part to Mrs. Ive, it made no sense at all.
The Book, 1954
Ever wonder about the book which each member of the Commons signed for Churchill on his eightieth birthday? John Frost sent us the photo: green morocco inlaid with chocolate and pink (his horseracing colours), tooled in gilt. With the signatures is an illuminated address from the House, and symbolic representations of his many interests.