July 20, 2013




WASHINGTON, MARCH 15TH—John C. Hassett, presently in Suva, Fiji, has generously donated the oil portrait of Churchill in the uniform of RAF honorary air commodore, which appeared on both covers of Finest Hour 104, to The Churchill Centre. This dominating and lifelike image, flanked by the flags of our members’ nations, is the first thing one sees on entering our offices. We are deeply grateful. — DANIEL N. MYERS

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NEW YORK, JULY 18TH— In a retrospective on song writing, one of the brilliant lost arts of the previous century, John Derbyshire (National Review Online) recalled the genius of Cole Porter, who gave us “De-Lovely,” while reviewing Irwin Winkler’s new film biography of Porter by the same title. “This kind of smoky, jazzy, grown-up sophistication seems a world away now,” Derbyshire wrote. “On the evening following the drafting of the Atlantic Charter, Winston Churchill hosted a dinner party in honor of President Roosevelt aboard HMS Prince of Wales. At one point in the proceedings, the two fell into heated argument—not about the future of the world or the intentions of Stalin, but over whether the line “In Bangkok at twelve o’clock they foam at the mouth and run” comes at the end of the first refrain in Noel Coward’s song or the second. Hard to imagine any such exchange between present-day politicians. And those of the next generation will presumably have spent their formative years listening to gangster rap”

Roosevelt, Derbyshire adds, argued that the Bangkok line came after the second refrain, and he was right. When Churchill was told this, he muttered: “Britain can take it.”


NEW YORK, AUGUST 8TH— Nationally syndicated columnist and graduate Churchillian George F. Will unexpectedly revived the old canard about Churchill letting Coventry be bombed to protect his secret intelligence (see “Leading Churchill Myths,” FH #114): on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” repeating it in his own column four days later. Phillip Bobbitt, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote a corrective op-ed piece in the August 11th New York Times: “There was a time when societies at war were willing to trust their leaders to decide when, from a strategic point of view, information could be safely released. In a way, this trust was responsible for the famous Coventry legend….”

The Coventry myth even fails the common sense test. Like the tale of Churchill withholding knowledge of Pearl Harbor: what would have been accomplished by keeping the knowledge a secret? Would an alert to Coventry and other cities have tipped the Germans that Churchill was reading their codes? In the event, as FH pointed out, 119 RAF fighters were mustered to defend Coventry once the direction of the Luftwaffe bombers had become apparent.


LONDON, NOVEMBER 13TH—A memorial fountain to the fallen heroes of World War Is Royal Naval Division was returned to its rightful place in Horse Guards Parade today. The memorial was dedicated by WSC in 1925 to the 11,500 men who lost their lives since he founded the division in 1914. When war broke out again in 1939, the huge blocks of Portland stone were moved to make way for “The Citadel,” the communications centre of Churchill’s Admiralty. The stones were returned following a £250,000 public appeal.


LONDON, JUNE 5TH— Military historian John Lee and his wife Celia are writing an interesting book, The Churchill Brothers: Winston and Jack. The work will plough new ground by revealing the warm relationship between the two brothers, and give John Strange Spencer Churchill his place in history. Jack’s hitherto unseen Gallipoli diary will feature in a chapter on his military career.

Jack Churchill was a major in the Oxfordshire Hussars, and served alongside Winston in the Boer War, where he was wounded. He also served in the First World War, first on the Western Front, and then under General Sir Ian Hamilton at Gallipoli. He returned to France to complete his service, and was mentioned in dispatches. Jack died of heart failure in London in 1947, having been a steady companion to his brother during World War II.

John and Celia Lee are honorary research fellows of the University of Birmingham and members of the British Commission for Military History and the Gallipoli Association. Their previously published works include General Ian Hamilton 1853-1947: A Soldier’s Life (2000) and Jean, Lady Hamilton 1861-1941: A Soldier’s Wife (2001). They may be contacted by email at
[email protected].


LONDON, JUNE 5TH— Priceless silver belonging to Sir Winston’s brother Jack, which had been passed down to Jack’s son Peregrine, has been donated by Peregrine’s widow Yvonne to the National Army Museum, along with Jack’s full dress uniform and medals and the bullet that wounded him in the Boer War. Also included is a gold and diamond tie pin presented by the future King Edward VII when Jack was a student at Harrow; a silver cup Jack won for regimental horsemanship; and a silver tray for visitors’ calling cards. The collection is dominated by two silver wine goblets presented to Jack on his wedding from their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Connaught. The Duke, brother of Edward VII, was godfather to the present Duke of Kent. When Jack died he left the silver to his son Peregrine, who kept it hidden for over fifty years in a secret room at his country home in Hampshire. The door to the tiny room measured only two feet across, and was cleverly concealed behind a shelf of false books. Peregrine died in March 2002.


LONDON, APRIL 23RD—Back in 2002, the BBC commissioned a telephone poll of viewers to find the greatest Briton of all time. Sir Winston won, in a close heat with engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunei, product of a write-in campaign by Brunei University students (see Finest Hour 117:8).

The BBC made a six-figure profit from the premium-rate phone lines used for the vote, announcing that it would be spent on “a memorial” to the winner. A panel of BBC factotums and art critic Richard Cork were assigned to selecting the winning proposal from the submissions of six artists.

Nothing happened. This year it was reported that plans would be unveiled in February…but still nothing. “Things have moved on,” said a BBC spokesman when Spy magazine rang to find out. “We’re not in a position to release details.” Why is it taking so long? “We want to get it right. We hope to make an announcement shortly.”

We hope this “memorial” has a longer life than the late lamented “scholarships” developed with “a portion of the proceeds” from the 1974 Collected Works (see Finest Hour 57, Autumn 1987).


LAIE, HAWAII, JUNE 25TH— Master steel guitarist Tau Moe, who traveled the world with his family performing Hawaiian music for international figures including Churchill, Hitler, Onassis, Gandhi and King Farouk, died today at 95.

Moe helped at least 150 Jewish musicians escape Nazi Germany and Austria by having them impersonate groupies, relatives and stagehands. Moe hid Jewish friends, wearing his colorful stage costumes, in his car trunk (boot).

Moe joined the group “Madame Riviere’s Hawaiians” as a teenager. He and his wife, Rose Kaohu, later branched out on their own, recording eight albums. The couple and their two children—a son born in Japan and a daughter in India—performed together in venues across North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.


LONDON, APRIL 9TH— Albert Finney, who received a Bafta and an Emmy for playing a plausible Churchill in the television drama “The Gathering Storm” (FH 115, Summer 2002), is planning to play WSC again. Finney will star in a new film based on Churchill’s leadership after WW2 began. “Hugh Whitemore is doing the script again and he’s done a third draft, which I’m reading,” Finney says. “There’s talk of doing it this autumn.”


LONDON, JANUARY 1ST— The Parliament Square monument to Winston Churchill had to be changed because the face looked too much like Mussolini, according to previously classified government papers released this year to the National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office).

On 25 April 1972 the appeal organizer of the Churchill Statue Committee reported on the work of sculptor Ivor Roberts-Jones: “The head is undoubtedly like Churchill but perhaps not quite right…the cheeks, eyes, forehead and top of the head require improvement. I told Mr. Roberts-Jones that above the eyes I thought I was looking at Mussolini.” The artist promised to “remove the dome of the head, which would bring about a lowering of the forehead, which he would then line slightly.”

The statue, which remains controversial to this day, was never liked by Lady Churchill, though she was persuaded to unveil it on 1 November 1973. The maquette of an of an alternative sculpture, portraying Sir Winston in his Garter robes, appeared on the cover of Finest Hour 86, Summer 1995, and is now in the collection of a Chicago member.


OCTOBER, 2004— Writing in the October letters column of Military History, Maj. Gen. Erbon Wise (ret.) said that Churchill dropped in on his USAAF unit, supporting a P-47 fighter group, on a hastily built dirt airstrip not far from Utah Beach shortly after D-Day:

“Suddenly a small British airplane, accompanied by two Super-marine Spitfires, came barreling onto the strip and taxied up to me. I could see that its occupant was having difficulty with the door, so I went over and pulled it open. Out came a big cigar, followed by the British Prime Minister. His only words were, ‘Take me to the front lines.’ 

“The only vehicle in sight was my bicycle, and I confess that the absurd thought of how I might fit him onto the handlebars crossed my mind. Fortunately a Jeep appeared nearby, and I ran over, commandeered it, and gave Mr. Churchill a brief ride to the ‘front lines.’ After a few minutes of ‘participating’ he was satisfied and ordered a return to his plane. No one in our units knew of his coming. I wondered if even his aides were aware of the trip.

“I read recently in his diary that on that day Mr. Churchill ‘visited with Americans on the beachhead.’ I was the only American he visited and with whom he spoke at the Carentan airstrip.”

To the editor, Military History: We read with interest Maj. Gen. Wise’s letter about Churchill appearing in a small aircraft on Utah Beach some time after D-Day. What date, exactly, was this? How could Churchill have traveled without his usual retinue of “aides’? Did he ever do so? The story sounds distinctly intriguing. Can General Wise be asked what he means by Churchill’s “diary”? (The editor forwarded our query to the general; no reply to date.) 


Although we regularly publish lists of those who support our annual Heritage Fund, and special fundraisers like the Liberty Award dinner for Tommy Franks (FH 123), we are sometimes derelict in acknowledging those members who every year renew their membership at the highest level, Fellow of The Churchill Centre, by writing a check for $1000. Most of these names will be well known to many who work for the cause, and most of them also appear among the CC Associates and many other donor lists. We are deeply grateful to you all.

Ronald D. Abramson, Washington DC
Nancy H. Canary, Lakewood OH
Arthur G. Carty, Bonita Springs FL
Ricardo G. Cedillo, San Antonio TX
Dr. Jeffrey T. DeHaan, Texarkana TX
Jane Fraser, Sea Island GA
Marcus Frost, Mexia TX
The Hon. Don Gaetz, Niceville FL
Leo Hindery, Jr., New York NY
Jessica M. Knapp, Los Angeles CA
Mr. & Mrs. Richard Leahy, Norwell MA
Michael T. McMenamin, Cleveland OH
Michael W. Michelson, Menlo Park CA
Charles S. Northern III, Birmingham AL
Mr. & Mrs. Ray Orban, Quincy IL
Charles D. Platt, Greenwood Village CO
Michael J. Scully, Lincolnshire IL
Dr. Richard R. Streiff, Gainesville FL
Dr. Peter T. Suzuki, Elkhorn NE
Matthew B. Wills, Colorado Springs CO
Jason P. Wise, Stamford CT


SEASIDE, CALIF., AUGUST 19TH— Marvin Nicely, active in The Churchill Centre and ICS for twenty years, died today of a massive stroke. He had been suffering from heart ailments for several years. Marvin played instrumental roles in early California activities and helped significantly with the 1990 conference in San Francisco. In the 1990s he was also a Churchill book dealer, and amassed notable collections of Canadian editions from his frequent visits to Canada. Marvin will be missed by his many friends in The Churchill Centre, who extend their deepest sympathy to his family. 


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