August 1, 2013

Finest Hour 125, Winter 2004-05

Page 4

Despatch Box

Note from Allied Power

2024 International Churchill Conference

Join us for the 41st International Churchill Conference. London | October 2024

I wanted to thank you individually and as an organization for everything you have done for the Churchill Archives Centre and me over the last few years. It is more than fair to say that the Library of Congress exhibition would never have taken off without the enthusiasm and backing of The Churchill Centre. So many of you have been extremely generous with your time in attending meetings and encouraging me to participate in your events—leaving aside the day you allowed me to move boxes in your office! You will be pleased to know that I have joined ICS (UK) in my personal capacity and will feel a full-scale participant at future meetings. Our two institutions have different but complementary aims and objectives, and I believe—as I hope you do—that we have proved that, where those aims overlap, we can work well together and achieve truly spectacular results.

More “From the Canon”

Finest Hour 123 reminds us of three great Churchillians—Ronald Reagan, William Manchester, Alistair Cooke— whom we have sadly lost in the last few months. Your quoting what Churchill wrote about Balfour also reminds us how good WSC was in writing obituary testaments—never an easy task. They also inspire me to ask if there is any chance of FH including more Churchill prose, as in days of yore. There is so much in the “Canon” which is there to be enjoyed by all readers, whether or not they have the full library.

For many years FH printed a series of “Immortal Words” on the back cover. These appear to end with issue 111. Since then, there have been only four examples of Churchillian prose, one in FH 112 (“You do your worst, and we will do our best”), two in FH 114 (“King George VI” and “A Silent Toast to William Willett”) and one in FH 119 (“Lawrence of Arabia”).

There are so many jewels in the canon which have not yet appeared, all of which would remind readers of Churchill’s ability to express the finest sentiments in magnificent prose.
(Twenty miles from Utah Beach, where General Lawton Collins’s 7 U.S. Corps landed on 6 June 1944.)

Editor’s Response: I’ve always thought Churchill’s obituaries of people like Balfour and Birkenhead give the lie to the common accusation that he cared nothing for other people. All one has to do is read Great Contemporaries to experience his singular appreciations of his colleagues and friends.

You make a very good point which we will try to heed. There is also the Churchill material published in FH 112 (really all over that issue), the new Question Time column by Paul Courtenay (every other issue), the “Wit and Wisdom” department, the new student column, and “Queen of the Seas” (FH 121). In these areas we have to be governed by the fact that all of his material has been published before—though we try to find obscure or relevant things when we can. And we don’t want to wear out our welcome with the present copyright holders, who have kindly granted standing permission to reprint from Sir Winston’s published works.

The back cover has often been pre-empted by material requiring color, including some full wrap color (113, 120, 122) and single-page artwork. Finest Hour 124 included his “Immortal Words” on the outbreak of war in 1939 (pages 46-47), and his amusing letter on rain runs in this issue. Please rest assured we will get in more whenever we can.

Mea Culpa: “Rota”

The editor committed a serious gender-blunder in Finest Hour 123, page 9. He is surprised at this late date (30 November) not to have heard about it from our usually alert readers. The famous lion given to Churchill by an admirer and housed at the London Zoo was indeed named “Rota”; but “she” was most definitely a “he,” and is the stuffed beast you will encounter if you should visit the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida.

Writing in The Hinge of Fate, Chapter XL, Churchill said “Rota” was “a male lion of fine quality, and in eight years became the father of many children” (including, I presume, the cubs “Monty” and “Ike”). To an assistant secretary WSC showed “a photograph of Rota with his mouth open, saying, ‘If there are any shortcomings in your work I shall send you to him. Meat is very short now.’ He took a serious view of this remark. He reported to the office that I was in a delirium.” —RML

A tribute, join us




Get the Churchill Bulletin delivered to your inbox once a month.