The Place to Find All Things Churchill

Finest Hour 115


Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 23


Make Maximum Use of the Time Fate Has Assigned You

In the late discussions about the “Person of the Century” observers noted the staggering list of achievements in different disciplines by this latter-day Renaissance man, Winston Churchill. One achievement, noted only in passing, helped make his record possible, yet was partly a matter of good fortune rather than talent: longevity.

In itself, longevity is nothing to brag about. Quite a few people these days are living into their nineties. What is at issue rather is fame: a concept debased in our media-saturated celebrity culture. Andy Warhol’s remark that everyone will get their fifteen minutes of fame is apposite; many a person much spoken about one day is unknown a year later.

Even among achievers, staying power is rare. Alexander and Caesar, Byron and Mozart—they made lasting impact but were soon gone. Rare is the person who can stay in the public eye for as much as two decades, whether it be an athlete like Babe Ruth or a general-diplomat-politician like Napoleon.

Think, then, of the achievement of Churchill, who was the subject of political cartoons for a period three times as long!
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Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 22


Readers too young cogently to remember Winston Churchill are far more numerous today than those of us who do. What can we teach them? Learn by imagining!

On May 10th, 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain. The appointment was a vindication of the wisdom he had demonstrated, almost alone, in opposition to the appeasement of Hitler.

On that same day the Germans attacked the Low Countries and France. Within two weeks France collapsed, and the British army was cornered at Dunkirk. It seemed to many that Germany had won the war. Churchill declared otherwise.

Powerful forces opposed him, even within his own cabinet. Lord Halifax wanted to broker the best peace Hitler would offer, cut Britain’s losses and avoid destruction. Halifax had actually contacted Swedish diplomats who were prepared to approach Hitler to learn his terms.

Realizing that once such contact with the Germans was made, the game would be truly over, Churchill fought to prevent that approach. In the end—with support from Chamberlain, whom he had treated well— Churchill prevailed. Five years later Germany was defeated. This is our history.
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Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 20

By Robert Courts

What Churchill Should Mean to People My Age

I am always asked why at my age I’ve become interested in Winston Churchill. People look at me with bemused indulgence when I talk about him, or whenever my enthusiasm surfaces, which it does often. How can such a young man be so interested in a historical figure—great, certainly, but as far removed from me, and as irrelevant, as King Henry V?

I cannot give a precise time when my interest took hold, or say precisely why it did. I can give a very good explanation of why Churchill’s life and legacy are of striking relevance and utility to young people today, if they take the trouble to learn about him.

My earliest contact with Churchill must have been 1980s World War II documentaries. I remember, through the veil of time, a gruff, defiant, vaguely angry man growling streams of liquid words that struck me more powerfully than anything I had ever heard. In school I wrote an admiring essay about Churchill and a kindly teacher lent me his copy of William Manchester’s The Last Lion. I devoured this weighty tome in days. My class was later presented with a copy of Churchill’s own paean to youth, My Early Life—for no other reason, I think, than because my teacher wanted us to read it. We certainly didn’t study it in any formal way. But reading that book at the age of fourteen set me off.
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Wit & Wisdom

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 19

Nothing for Me, But…

From South Africa, Louis Duvenage ([email protected]) writes: “I have been trying for a long time to obtain the text of the speech that WSC made to the U.S. Congress in which he said, ‘I have not come to ask you for money…for myself!’”

There is a question about the punch line. The quotation is from the second paragraph of Churchill’s third address to the U.S. Congress on 17 January 1952. According to some accounts, after he said, “I have not come here to ask you for money,” he paused and said, “…for myself…” and got a laugh. But we would need a tape of the speech to prove it, because it was edited out of the transcript.

Interesting sidelight: the New York PR firm handling Nelson Mandela’s speech to Congress some years ago asked us for a transcript of this speech. They explained that Mr. Mandela, a longtime admirer of Churchill, wanted this specific speech, not the much better known 1941 or 1943 Congress speeches. We gathered that he was interested in how Churchill had asked for money. The alleged punch line certainly must have amused him.
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“THE EARTH IS A GENEROUS MOTHER” – William Bourke Cockran: Churchill’s American Mentor

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 14

By Curt J. Zoller

When young Winston Churchill traveled to New York in 1895 on his way to Cuba, he was greeted by William Bourke Cockran1, a New York lawyer, U.S. congressman, friend of his mother’s and of his American relatives. Clara Jerome,2 Jennie’s sister, was married to Moreton Frewen, the peripatetic “Mortal Ruin” who would commit all those typos in the editing of Churchill’s first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force. For many years Frewen had been a friend of Cockran, who would grow to become one of Winston Churchill’s lifelong inspirations.

Churchill later wrote of “the strong impression which this remarkable man made upon my untutored mind. I have never seen his like, or in some respects his equal. With his enormous head, gleaming eyes, flexible countenance, he looked uncommonly like a portrait of Charles James Fox. It was not my fortune to hear any of his orations but his conversations, in point, in pith, in rotundity, in antithesis, and in comprehension, exceeded anything I have ever heard.”3

William Bourke Cockran was born on 28 February 1854 in County Sligo, Connaught Province, Ireland. The family name was derived from the old Irish Corcoran or O’Corcorain.4 Bourke’s father Martin owned a large farm and had other business interests. His mother, Harriet, was from a distinguished and well-to-do family, descendants of John Bourke of Cahirmayle, County Limerick, who had lost all his property during the reign of William III.
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Riddles, Mysteries, Enigmas

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 13

Visit to Hohne: Addendum

In this space last issue, a reader asked for the details of Churchill’s visit to Hohne, Germany in May 1956. Gregory Smith noted that the sources were not conclusive.

What happened was that Churchill flew to the RAF airfield at Celle on 18th May 1956 following visits to Aachen and Bonn; he then motored to Hohne where he spent twenty-four hours with the 4th Hussars, in which he had served as a young officer, and of which he had been Colonel since 1941. (See Bill Schulz’s letter on page 4.)

There was a dinner in the officers’ mess that night; the next day there was an inspection and parade followed by a big lunch party at which a number of local German dignitaries were among the guests. In the final volume of the official biography, photo no. 29 is stated to be “Churchill with British Officers at HQ Northern Army Group at Celle.” This is incorrect (and Celle was nowhere near that headquarters). What it actually shows is Churchill at Hohne, visiting the sergeants’ mess of the 4th Hussars during a break in the officers’ dinner. The Regimental Sergeant Major and Bandmaster are prominent, while two young officers are in the background, having probably escorted him from the officers’ mess.
Paul Courtenay
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Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 12


VAISHALI NAGAR, JAIPUR, MAY 10TH— In Finest Hour 110 (“Churchill and the Indians”) I mentioned my friendship with Chaudhary Daulat Ramji Saran, a senior former federal minister who in his youth had been a colleague of Gandhi: Although our views of Churchill were utterly opposed, we became good friends, and meet almost daily at an informal club gathering. Among this group are senior or retired government officials, teachers, scientists, military and police officers; he is the only politician, though a highly respected one.

Since Mr. Saran learned of my appreciation for Churchill he has tried hard to convince me that WSC was in fact a great enemy of India, and that my “Churchill and Freedom” lectures at schools around the country are nothing short of “brainwashing.” He has found my opinions unshakable, but our liking for each other has only grown. His typical greeting is, “Hello, how are you, Churchill?”

Recently he surprised me by appointing me secretary of a committee to mark the birth centenary of Chaudhary Charan Singh,* the first farmer to become Prime Minister of India. We organized seminars, processions and rallies. I didn’t intend to talk about Sir Winston on these occasions, but recently, when Mr. Saran referred to me as a poet and writer of “international standing,” I could not stop myself. After discussing the Centenary celebrations I picked up an international thread: “We Indians must know that we are not an isolated nation but part of a broad-based international community. Our lives are affected by distant events.
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Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 11

John Updike’s “Remember the Lusitania” in the July 1st New Yorker reminded us of what Churchill said during the 1897 Malakand expedition: Everybody was shot at without result:

“To what extent was Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, distracted from his duties in the U-boat war by his cherished, though ill-advised, campaign to seize the Dardanelles? He was off in Paris concluding an agreement on the use of the Italian Navy in the Mediterranean when the Lusitania sank.… Churchill’s commitment to the safety of noncombatant shipping was less than keen: three months before the sinking he wrote to the President of the Board of Trade that it was ‘most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores in the hope especially of embroiling the USA with Germany…For our part, we want the traffic—the more the better; if some of it gets into trouble, better still.’”

Numerous historians have recorded that the Dardanelles campaign was not so much ill-advised as ill-managed; and it does not seem to have occurred to Mr. Updike that RMS Lusitania was not “noncombatant shipping.” We are left with an indiscreet remark in a private letter—testifying mainly to Churchill’s curious determination to win wars—which letter Mr. Updike wouldn’t even know about, had the Churchill family kept the papers locked up. We could do with more of Churchill’s indiscretion and determination at the moment. —EDITOR
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Datelines – Errata, FH 114

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 10


Not only have you misspelled Harold Nicolson’s name in “Who Really Put Churchill in Office?,” but you fail to mention that he became a member of the Watching Committee (see HN’s Diaries and Letters, vol. 2, 1939-1945, bottom of page 72). But these are trifling flaws noted by a persnickety old man of 89 who is always delighted when a new number comes in the mail and 114 was one of the best ever.


The correct name of the patriotic Army song (page 12) is Rodger Young with a “d.” We used to sing the song many years ago, and I remember it well.

In “Rodger Young,” you left out a verse:
“Caught in ambush lay a company of riflemen
Hand grenades against machine guns in the gloom
Fought in Ambush till this one of twenty riflemen
Volunteered, volunteered to meet his doom.”
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Datelines – Local & National

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 08


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.”
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Datelines – Cover: Last Portrait from Life

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 07

Bernard Hailstone (1910-1987) was known for his portraits of royalty, the military, musicians and personalities of stage and screen; less well known, but among his best work, are his paintings of the Blitz, during which he served as a fireman. An official artist to the wartime Ministry of Transport, he recorded the life of the Atlantic and Mediterranean convoys. In 1944 he was sent to South East Asia Command to paint Lord Mountbatten and members of his staff. Much of his work hangs in the Imperial War Museum. Generous and warm-hearted, Hailstone was very good company, and never so happy as when dining in the Chelsea Arts Club. His elder brother Harold was a well known Punch artist and illustrator.

This is the second Hailstone portrait to adorn a FH cover, the first being a 1955 work on issue 47 in Spring 1985. At that time we thought it was the last painting of Churchill from life; but this 1957 work came later.

This fine oil is offered by Artware Fine Art (, 18 La Gare, 51 Surrey Row, London SE1 OBZ. Please contact Greg PageTurner, tel. (44+207) 921-9704, fax (44+207) 921-9709 or email to: [email protected]

Please mention Finest Hour.


Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 05


“It is quite certain that what is going on now in Palestine is doing us a great deal of harm in every way. Whatever view is taken by the partisans of the Jews or the partisans of the Arabs

Getting to Chartwell

WESTERHAM, KENT, APRIL 1ST— Chartwell opened today, and we began to receive queries about getting there other than by car (a challenge to the meek or faint hearted), and whether the Chartwell Explorer coach from London still runs.

By road, Chartwell is two miles south of Westerham on the A25, accessed by M25 junctions 5 and 6. By rail and bus: Sevenoaks station 6 1/2 miles; Oxted station 5 1/2 miles; Metrobus 246 from Bromley station to Edenbridge passes the gates. And yes, the Chartwell Explorer still runs, only £3 for unlimited travel for the day, a pot of tea included in the fare! Special all inclusive coach and entry tickets are available from London and Kent stations. The Explorer calls at Chartwell, Emmetts Garden and Quebec House (when open). Please call (0345) 696996 for further details. For a timetable call (01732) 450305.
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Despatch Box

Finest Hour 115, Summer 2002

Page 04


If national anthems are of recurring interest (FH 111, 114), consider The Flag, the Poet and the Song by Irwin Molotsky (Penguin). While not a big fan of the American anthem, he presents a readable story of a high point in the War of 1812, the creation and preservation of the flag, the inspiration for creating the anthem, and something about the author, Francis Scott Key, who was a lawyer, and apparently a good one.

In FH 114, correcting Mr. Hitchens, you indicated that Germany was the first country intentionally to bomb a civilian population. Didn’t the Japanese do it to China in the 1930s?


I do like what you said about Peregrine in FH 114: “He had a burning loyalty to the truth.” He started to write a book about his father Jack, including his diary about the Dardanelles. He did a lot of writing about his Uncle Winston to “de-bunk” modern theories. He was very annoyed about Lord Jenkins repeating the illegitimacy canard about his father, started by Ralph Martin. He always said, “I will write truth, not fancy.” He admired his uncle enormously but as you say in a balanced way. I hope somebody we know may carry on his book.
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The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.