July 5, 2013

DESPATCH BOX: FINEST HOUR 128, AUTUMN 2005

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SPEECH-MAKING

Finest Hour 126 was particularly good. Not only did it contain Sir Martin Gilbert’s superb article on Gallipoli (Churchill is still blamed for this in Australia, as he is for Singapore); but also Betsy Foster’s article on Churchill’s maiden speech. Please be kind enough to pass the attached note to Ms. Foster. I am a retired Senator from Australia, and I have to admit that it was the best exposition I have ever seen on the art of Parliamentary oratory. —W. C. O’CHEE, BRISBANE

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To Betsy Foster: What impressed me most was that you understood the importance of sound in conveying emotion. I frequently use particular sounds because they move the audience in particular ways. I must admit that in all the time I spent in politics, I never encountered someone who understood these concepts so clearly. I think you have an outstanding future, and I urge you to continue in your interest of politics. In looking for your email address I stumbled over the fact you received a scholarship for your journalistic studies under the Ronald Reagan Future Leaders Scholarship programme. After Churchill, Reagan was the greatest communicator in the English language this century. I strongly urge you to obtain a copy of his collected letters, as they are truly outstanding.

CHURCHILL AND TURKEY

William Ives (FH 126) says Churchill had never seen the Dardanelles. But Peter de Mendelssohn in The Age of Churchill (London: Thames & Hudson; New York: Knopf, 1961) says the 1910 Mediterranean cruise on Baron de Forest’s yacht Honour stopped at Constantinople after (obviously) passing through the Dardanelles, while admitting that Churchill found “little of interest” in the Straits. WSC himself, in the last chapter of The World Crisis, vol. 1, mentions “…the summer of 1909 [when] I had visited Constantinople…” His date was off, but do these works not suggest WSC did actually see the Dardanelles? —JONATHAN HAYES, SEATTLE

Mr. Ives responds: Mr. Hayes quite tactfully, and I may say properly, calls into question my unqualified statement; and Martin Gilbert’s Churchill: A Life seems to confirm de Mendelssohn. But no one states that Churchill was actually on board de Forest’s yacht when it passed through the Dardanelles headed for Constantinople. Presumably he was, though it might have passed through the Straits at night.

More puzzling (and perhaps more significant) is why Churchill apparently neither wrote nor said anything anyone recorded about the Straits. One would have thought the centuries of rich history associated with them, their uncommon beauty, their well-recognized strategic importance—and the two great ancient forts dramatically facing each other across the narrows—would have inspired a suitably Churchillian comment. De Mendelssohn concurs, as Mr. Hayes notes, writing on pages 482-83: “This is all the more strange, since the political and military position of Turkey occupied [Churchill] intensely.”

Determining the extent of Churchill’s firsthand knowledge of the challenges the Dardanelles posed to an attacking battle fleet is not just in arid academic exercise, but could contribute substantially to our understanding of his motivations at the Admiralty in 1914-15.

On behalf of my colleague Mr. Sulutas and myself, I write to thank you warmly for your splendid editing of our contribution to Finest Hour 126. Our piece follows favourably on the accounts of the Dardanelles expeditions of 1910, and your careful editing has added to its clarity and interest. We are much indebted to you. —WILLIAM C. BRICE, DIDSBURY, MANCHESTER, UK

I share Mr. Brice’s pleasure and am thrilled with the quality, design, layout and contents. I am pleased that it was published on the occasion of the 90th year of the Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaign. You have opened for me a brand new horizon: the world of Winston Churchill. May I please bring this to your attention: the correct spelling of my name is “Sulutas.” —MEHMET ALI SULUTAS, YENlSEHlR, TURKEY

What a gorgeous magazine and so well presented. I like the common thread of Turkey running through the articles. May I disagree with one conclusion, in “Churchill and Turkey, 1943,” that “Churchill’s diplomacy did not meet with obvious success”? Even before the meeting with Inonii there was a secret body of British soldiers engaged in intelligence work, who later built airfields to protect Turkish cities, under “aid to Turkey.” Some of their fighter planes were crewed by British airmen. You can check their testimony and the summary. I suspect Churchill made sure that the neutrality of Turkey wasn’t strict. —CRAIG ENCER, BEESTON, NOTTINGHAM, UK 

 

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