Finest Hour 129, Winter 2005-06
Quotation of the Season
“In the Middle East you have arid countries. In East Africa you have dripping countries. There is the greatest difficulty to get anything to grow on the one place, and the greatest difficulty to prevent things smothering and choking you by their hurried growth in the other. In the African Colonies you have a docile, tractable population, who only require to be well and wisely treated to develop great economic capacity and utility; whereas the regions of the Middle East are unduly stocked with peppery, pugnacious, proud politicians and theologians, who happen to be at the same time extremely well armed, and extremely hard up.”
Forty Years On
LONDON, JANUARY 31ST— On the fortieth anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral, a wreath was laid on the Thames, where his coffin was carried to the awaiting train to Bladon. The ceremony was made all the more poignant by the fact that the ring of poppies was placed from the deck of the original funeral ship, Havengore, by Sir Winston’s great-granddaughter Sophie Perkins, 16, and led the service from Tower Bridge.
“It’s a great honour to be able to lay this wreath,” said Miss Perkins, who is studying at Marlborough College in Wiltshire. “I am very proud to have this wonderful man as a great-grandfather.”
Havengore carried Sir Winston’s body on part of his last journey on 30 January 1965. Churchill, who died on January 24th, was laid to rest in the Oxfordshire village of Bladon following a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. While Churchill’s coffin lay in state at Westminster Hall, more than 320,000 members of the public queued for hours to pay their respects.
The Lord Mayor of London, Michael Savory, helped Sophie lay the wreath, and remembered the original scene: “I stood in the crowds in 1965 as the funeral procession passed by. Everything was silenced, even the horses’ hooves were specially muffled. The only sound was the occasional squealing of the wheels of the gun carriage that bore Sir Winston’s body.”
The ceremony marked the launch of a new role for Havengore. From September she is promoting the triumph of liberty by taking Churchill’s archive in facsimile form to eastern Europe. The ship is regrettably for sale, since the owner, Owen Palmer, must return soon to Australia. For information telephone (01634) 813057 or email [email protected]
THE FUNERAL COACH
INDUSTRY HILLS, CALIF., AUGUST 31ST— It is appropriate on this anniversary to note that the coach which took over the coffin from the Havengore in 1965 has also been carefully preserved. During a round of golf at Pacific Palms Resort with the marketing manager for the resort, I noticed the an old railway coach on the property. I found this to be very interesting and told her what a great piece of history it was.
As the accompanying sign states, this is the car in which Sir Winston Churchill was moved to his final resting place in 1965. Long before, this same coach was used to transport Edith Cavell to her resting place during World War I. Cavell was a British nurse who had been executed by the Germans as a spy.
When World War II began and scrap metal was needed, the old coach was slated for demolition; but Churchill, who had known and admired Edith Cavell, intervened to spare it. Later he expressed the wish to travel in it to his own grave. On 30 January 1965 this coach bearing his coffin was towed out of Waterloo Station to its destination at Bladon Churchyard, near Blenheim. Sir Winston had received his wish. The coach rests in what I have been told is a replica of St. Andrews Station.
—M. G. DIONNE
LONDON, AUGUST 5TH— Another series about WW2? What more is there to tell? Not quite an “epic untold story,” but Channel 4 cast newish light on well-known events through the prims of two men in charge. “Warlords” explores the relationship between Hitler and Stalin, from their marriage of convenience with the Nazi-Soviet pact to the invasion of Russia. The story is not so much about deliberate mind games as the good old-fashioned cock-up theory of history. Hitler didn’t fool Stalin into a false sense of security; Stalin fooled himself, convinced that a rational fellow like Hitler wouldn’t invade while he was still at war with Britain. But Stalin was a detail man, Hitler an irrational dreamer. The programme draws the characters nicely, using henchmen such as Goebbels and Khruschev…Khruschev? —RADIO TIMES
WILL WSC EVER BE RIGHT?
SAN FRANCISCO, 11 SEPTEMBER 1929— “The Arab and the Jew must and will learn to live together. The Arabs have nothing against the Jews. The Jews have developed the country, grown orchards and grain fields out of the desert, built schools and great buildings, constructed irrigation projects and water power houses, and have made Palestine a much better place in which to live than it was before they came a few years ago….The Arabs are much better off now than before the Jews came, and it will be a short time only before they realize it.”
—WSC PRESS CONFERENCE, BOHEMIAN CLUB. 1929. FROM ROBERT H. PILPEL, CHURCHILL IN AMERICA 1895-1961 (1976)
LOCAL CHAPTER REPORT ACTION THIS DAY AWARD
QUEBEC, OCTOBER 2ND— Congratulations to New England Churchillians, who have won the Action This Day Award for the second year in a row. They had two local fund raising activities, the most new members, and tied with Georgia, North Carolina and our allied friends in Vancouver for school and community programs. Joe Hern, their leader, gave Churchill presentations to large audiences in the Boston Community. Georgia, North Carolina and The Churchill Society of Vancouver Island also had community programs. New England tied with Desert Churchillians and Vancouver for the most member events. Desert came in second, and was the only Affiliate which raised funds for the Churchill Centre, in addition to its other activities.
In the past year Churchill Centre local organizations and allies held thirty-six member events for a total of 1451 attendees and brought in seventy new members. California Desert, California South, Georgia and North Carolina gained full affiliate status. Gary Garrison of Georgia, taught classes on Churchill at a senior center and Joe Hern of New England gave “magic lantern” presentations on WSC to community organizations. The Rt. Hon. Sir Winston S. Churchill Societies of Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary held essay contests or debates. The Other Club of Toronto, with the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy completed their three-year fund raising program to revivify the Toronto statue of Churchill (FH 128), adding large display boards in the city park. Most of the groups are currently distributing Celia Sandys’ Churchill to local and school libraries.
The total scores for all the local groups far surpassed last year’s scores, which reflects their increased activities. Gary Garrison has been elected to the Board of Governors and is now Local Affairs Coordinator. Judy Kambestad has moved to Membership Development Coordinator. The Churchill Centre and its allies thank Judy for a job well done.
LOCAL NEWS: NOTICE TO READERS
We report all the news of events past and coming that we are sent to by local affiliates or the local affairs coordinator. However, local and national news is gradually being shifted out of Finest Hour, which has a three-month lead time, and into the Chartwell Bulletin, which takes much less time to produce and is a better vehicle for timely information. Recent Bulletins have been full of this news. The Bulletin appeared three times in 2005 and we hope it will soon appear between each issue of FH. For the very latest news of past and coming events, always consult our website, www.winstonchurchill.org, or contact your nearest affiliate from the list published in each issue of FH and the Bulletin.
CHURCHILLIANS IN OZ, 1991
VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA, SEPTEMBER 10TH— Member Neil Kenworthy writes: “In your a list of previous Churchill Conferences I was surprised to see that one was held in our capital city, Canberra, in 1991, and that it was addressed by the then-U.S. Ambassador to Australia and Nauru, Melvin Sembler. I’m puzzled that I can’t recall ever hearing of this event. Were you present, and who organized it?”
In 1991 we had about fifty members in Australia—widely scattered, of course, but mostly around Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and New South Wales. So, when we planned to visit Australia for our Fifth Churchill Tour, we named it as the “official” Churchill conference, and held an “alternate” event for stay-at-homes in Williamsburg, Virginia.
The tour was managed by Barbara Langworth and took up two weeks in October. We covered some 35,000 km, counting the flights from and to Los Angeles, which we think is the record mileage for our twelve Churchill Centre tours. Sixteen North Americans circled half the country, from Sydney to Adelaide, up to Alice Town on the famous “Ghan” train, on to Durban and Kakadu National Park, across the Gulf of Carpentaria to Cairns. In wine country at Hunter Valley, we enjoyed hogsheads of Pol Roger champagne and Wyndham Estates cabernet, thanks to the kindly intercession of our good friend Christian Pol-Roger in France. We then flew on to Canberra and Melbourne, winding up in Sydney.
The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia beautifully organized several meetings, as did Peter Jenkins in Victoria, our then-Australian representative, who is still a member. Peter’s painting of Winston Churchill adorns the cover of Finest Hour 73, which reported the events.
The actual conference comprised three events: dinner with Australian Churchill Fellows at the Memorial Trust in Sydney; the Embassy visit and a dinner at the Commonwealth Club, Canberra; and a party with Churchill Fellows at the Hotel Swanstead in Melbourne. At the U.S. Embassy, which in keeping with Canberra practice represents each nation’s architecture (its style is Colonial Virginian) we were welcomed by Melvin Sembler, now the American Ambassador to Italy. (He has the distinction of having been appointed to each of his posts by a different President Bush.) In 1991, he told us that the Embassy corner-stone had been laid on—ready for it?—7 December 1941! The then-Ambassador wired home on the 8th: “What do we do now?” The President or Secretary of State Hull replied: “Keep building the damn thing, lest the Aussies think we’re on the run!”
We had a grand time, traveling on the wonderful “Ghan,” riding camels, watching crocs in the Alligator River being dive-bombed by plumed birds in steamy Kakadu, drinking gallons of Fosters, eating widgety grubs (not me) on a tourist station, snorkeling the Barrier Reef and dining royally.
This proved the high point for a time of “ICS Australia,” and membership has bumped along ever since. The problem has always been the “two D’s”: Distances and the Dardanelles. (Yes, in Australia, they still remember the terrible losses of the ANZAC s in 1915, and Churchill comes in for his share of the blame.) Right now, Alfred James represents us in Australia, where we have many longtime members. Messrs. Kenworthy and James are in touch, along with our friends at the Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia. We hope for future activities soon in a great and friendly land. —RML
HOW MANY WORDS?
BOSTON, SEPTEMBER 10TH— Through the wonders of computer science (via Ian Langworth, Northeastern University), we can advise that the present corpus of works by and about Winston S. Churchill exceeds 50 million words (325 megabytes) including 13 million (80 megabytes) by WSC himself.
In terms of word count, Churchill’s top eight works are:
The Complete Speeches, 5,200,000
The Second World War, 1,600,000*
The Collected Essays, 860,000
The World Crisis, 824,000*
English-Speaking Peoples, 510,000*
Lord Randolph Churchill, 278,000
The River War, 200,000
*does not count appendices
This discovery immediately led Sir Martin Gilbert to ask Ian for word counts for the official biography. The total for the eight biographic volumes (including the first two by Randolph Churchill) is 3,111,090 words. The sixteen Companion or Document Volumes published to date add another 5,382,066, for a grand total of 8,391,156.
For lovers of statistics, but risking possible brain-death: six copies of all of the above can fit on one 25¢ compact disk. One copy would fill a mere 1/100,000th of the Northeastern University College of Computer Science system, which holds 11 terrabytes (11,000 gigabytes).
What would Sir Winston make of this? We know what his biographer thinks. Once accused of having told “only one-tenth of the story of Winston Churchill,” Sir Martin replied: “Really—that much?”