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Despatch Box

Finest Hour 129, Winter 2005-06

Page 4

Despatch Box


The cover of Finest Hour 127 is a monstrosity. The aircraft at extreme right is presumably a Hurricane—86% of our aircraft were initially Hurricanes—but it is given the Spitfire’s elliptical wings! The other two aircraft have a portly profile, four guns instead of eight, and appear to be powered by six-cylinder engines instead of twelves. The cockpit of the aircraft at lower left is given four panels on the exposed side, and resembles neither a Spitfire nor a Hurricane, having no visible radiator at all. Ugh! There are literally thousands of photos of those aircraft. Might not the artist have seen one of them? Admittedly most of those who flew them are dead. But not all! I continue to enjoy Finest Hour.

Editor’s response: My dear Anthony, Sorry about the cover. You flew ‘em, you should know! Artists take liberties. I must say how hard it is to get good color artwork for our covers. It is the one part of FH that lives “from mouth to hand.” I am never more than two numbers away from running out! Lady Soames and Minnie Churchill have saved me numerous times with good things from their own collections; or WSC’s paintings. I am glad you continue to enjoy FH. With all good wishes to Shelagh. Yours ever, RML.


On reading “Sassoon Revisited” in FH 126 I am reminded of another WWI poem by him, after he became disillusioned, “The General” (1917)

“Good-morning; good-morning!” the General said.
When we met him last week on our way up the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of them dead,
And cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
“He’s a cheery old card,” grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.
But he did for them both with his plan of attack


In “Why was Churchill so forgiving of the Germans?” (FH 115:28-31, also on our website) Lloyd Robertson writes that in the House in 1946, Churchill advised against judging “vast categories of Germans” as “potentially guilty,” and above all against condemning the “ordinary people” of Germany. When ordinary people are subjected to cruelty, he allegedly said, “there are great numbers… who will succumb…”

I searched for this quotation thoroughly, including Hansard. WSC made two speeches mentioning resistance to Nazis in 1946 and neither included this quotation, nor were these sentiments expressed. This is an example of the many cases in which, for political reasons, false impressions of wartime Germany are being created.

Editor’s response: I can advise where Mr. Robertson found that quotation. Do the speeches you checked include the one of 12 November 1946? Three references, all identical, contain the words Robertson quoted: Churchill, The Sinews of Peace (1948, p.233); Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill, vol. VIII (1988, p. 284); Rhodes James, ed., Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches 1897-1963, (1974, p. 7402). Assuming this speech is one of those you checked, it is remarkable (but hardly the exceptional) that Hansard failed to record all of his words. Whether he said these exact words in the Commons, or added them to his book, does not alter his attitude toward the defeated Germans—which was clear in scores of examples and incidents.


May I suggest an issue of FH concentrating on the Churchill-de Gaulle relationship? Keep up the good work.

Editor’s response: The standard work on the subject is François Kersaudy’s Churchill and de Gaulle (London: Collins, 1981; New York: Athenaeum, 1982), a balanced and powerful examination. We will be on the lookout for anything new and unique that might come to us; reader recommendations are welcome. —Ed.

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