Finest Hour 120, Autumn 2003
Q: “Your job is to sing when the guns are firing,” Churchill told the members of ENSA (officially “Entertainments National Service Association,” but colloquially christened “Every Night Something Awful. “) Do readers know of any other stories with a musical theme?
A: See Jill Kendall, “Churchill and Music,” Finest Hour 96. We would welcome further information.
Q: Did Churchill actually compliment Field Marshal Rommel?
A: Yes, redolent with his magnanimity and realism. From The Grand Alliance (Cassell), pp. 176-77:
“He was a splendid military gambler, dominating the problems of supply and scornful of opposition. At first the German High Command, having let him loose, were astonished by his successes, and were inclined to hold him back. His ardour and daring inflicted grievous disasters upon us, but he deserves the salute which I made him—and not without some reproaches from the public—in the Commons in January 1942, when I said of him, ‘We have a very daring and skilful opponent against us, and, may I say across the havoc of war, a great general.’
“He also deserves our respect because, although a loyal German soldier, he came to hate Hitler and all his works, and took part in the conspiracy of 1944 to rescue Germany by displacing the maniac and tyrant. For this he paid the forfeit of his life. In the sombre wars of modern democracy chivalry finds no place. Dull butcheries on a gigantic scale and mass effects overwhelm all detached sentiment. Still, I do not regret or retract the tribute I paid to Rommel, unfashionable though it was judged.”