DATELINES: FINEST HOUR 130, SPRING 2006
ST. PETERSBURG, FEBRUARY 1ST—The Russian Academy of Beaux-Arts created a bronze statue of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin to mark the 60th anniversary of the Yalta conference, which commenced on 4 February 1945. The statue is refreshingly unique, based on no known photograph. The Churchill statue is impressively lifelike.
BOOKS FOR LARRY
DALLAS, NOVEMBER 15TH— Parker Lee and Sheryl Hamlin responded to our appeal for Churchill books (November Chartwell Bulletin) to replace those lost by Cdr. Larry Kryske at his Mississippi home in Hurricane Katrina. Then Jay Piper weighed in with the offer of his entire Churchill library! “As a retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer I feel I must throw a line to Cdr. Kryske. I will be happy to donate my library to him.” We are so grateful for your great kindness!
Three generous CC members have helped replace a terrible loss. If anyone else lost books in the Katrina deluge, please contact the editor, and we will see what we can do!
HESP VOLUME V
LONDON, SEPTEMBER 6TH—Historian and member Andrew Roberts has taken on the daunting task of picking up where Churchill’s History of the English-Speaking Peoples left off, at the dawn of the 20th century, by publishing a fifth volume to add to Churchill’s four. It will trace the main events of the 20th century chronologically, with WSC a dominant figure.
But Roberts departs from the approach of the original: “Churchill told stories like King Alfred burning the cakes as though they were true,” he explained of a famous myth in Volume I. “He had a very broad minded view when it came to evidence, which I don’t think any historian would get away with today.
“Equally, I’m not going to adopt the grandiloquent style. He might have got a Nobel Prize in literature, but I don’t think you can get away with that kind of thing any longer.
“It’s not going to be a polemical book. I don’t think they can be sustained—it’s much easier to write a thousand words of polemic than a thousand pages. It’s not going to have any overt political bent.” But Roberts will be upbeat: “I think the English-speaking peoples did pretty well in the 20th century. The astonishing thing is that they ended the century as powerfully as they began it.”
John Charmley, author of the controversial but always interesting (FH 79-81) Churchill: The End of Glory, guesses that “Andrew Roberts will cock a snook at modern historians and go for Churchill’s old-fashioned view. We now have much more access to ‘history from below,’ but Churchill was an elitist and Andrew isn’t exactly known as a non-elitist. [Neither are you, John! —Ed.]
Churchill would have approved of Andrew’s audacity because he was audacious himself. I’d imagine Churchill at the centre of events in this book.” Audacity, that’s it!
DIDN’T HE SELL INSURANCE?
LONDON, FEBRUARY 10TH, 2005— Many teenagers think Winston Churchill was an insurance salesman because they have seen TV ads for the Churchill Insurance Company, reports Metro. Grandson Winston Churchill, speaking at the opening of the Churchill Museum, said, “Young people are completely ignorant about his role in World War II because history teaching is so poor in this country. I’m appalled how abysmal, for the most part, teaching is—it makes one want to despair. How many of the younger generation know that Britain was responsible for freedom in Europe today? How many know it was not Germany that declared war on Britain but Britain that declared war on the Nazis? How many know it was not Winston Churchill who declared war, but
BOOS FROM THE SATIATED
LONDON, NOVEMBER 2ND— Reacting to a Daily Express poll as to whether the new Churchill Museum is a good idea, S. Wright of Lincoln writes: “Quite frankly, I’ve had about as much as I can take of Churchill, Hitler and the Second World War. Hardly a week goes by without yet another television history show about the war. How many more times can historians and TV producers rake over the cold ashes of a conflict which ended sixty years ago? Perhaps young people are so ignorant about history because it is so omnipresent that they have closed their minds to it.”
THEY BOOED IN ’42, TOO
LONDON, JUNE 14TH— Correspondent Jimmy Moon, a veteran of the Eighth Army, explained to the Daily Mail why troops booed Churchill on 8 August 1942, when he stopped in North Africa on his trip to Moscow to meet Stalin: “We Desert Rats of 1940 vintage booed him as he drove past because we had just learned that he had sacked our commander, General Claude Auchinleck, one of the finest desert generals [who] on July 27th had won the first battle of El Alamein. [See ‘Churchill and the Western Desert Campaign,’ FH 128:18.] Churchill demanded that Auchinleck attack Rommel’s positions, but he refused, saying he had to make up his losses in men and equipment and would be ready by September. Churchill replaced him with General Gott, who was killed as he went to take up his post. WSC turned to the self-opinionated and abrasive Montgomery, who refused to attack until October 23rd, when he had assembled an army superior to the enemy, and even then he nearly lost.”
“DEAR MR. SHELMERDINE,
LONDON, JUNE 30TH— “My original ambition was to become a journalist and war correspondent, as was my father before me. Indeed, that is what I did for my first eight years after leaving University at Oxford and before entering Parliament in 1970. Yours sincerely, Winston S. Churchill.”
Clearly this is from the present Winston Churchill to Dominic Shelmerdine, who compiled My Original Ambition simply by writing
famous people and asking what they first aspired to be. Except that this letter is pictured in The Daily Record alongside a photo of Sir Winston.
YOU MISSED IT
LONDON, OCTOBER 21ST— Eleven Morpeth Mansions, the former London duplex of Winston Churchill (FH 127:8) sold for close to its £2 million asking price. Bill Roedy, vice chairman and president of MTV Networks International, bought the house, according to the seller, Peter Sheppard. [Mr. Roedy immediately announced that he was presenting the flat to ICS/UK. Just kidding, alas!]
The apartment, on the fifth and sixth floors overlooking Westminster Cathedral, is where Churchill met with MPs opposing Neville Chamberlain’s policy of avoiding a direct conflict with Hitler. The Churchills owned the premises during Winston’s 1930s “Wilderness Years,” when he was excluded from office. The flat measures 2,758 square feet with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and three interconnecting reception rooms. Mr. Sheppard, chairman of the Catholic Herald, a UK weekly, had owned the duplex for ten years and listed it in early 2005.
—TROY MCMULLEN, WALL STREET JOURNAL
FOOTSTEPS TO CHARTWELL
LONDON, APRIL 13TH— Beginning today, BBC4 ran an eight-part series, “In the Footsteps of Churchill,” written and presented by Richard Holmes, author of the accompanying book by the same title (reviewed, FH 128:37).
“History for me has always been as much about the heart as the head,” says Holmes. “I didn’t want to do just another survey of a life that is already well documented, but instead to get a feel for his time and, in particular, the places he visited.” Holmes took a comprehensive journey, beginning at the beginning at Blenheim Palace and ending at his favorite digs in the South of France.
“I followed Churchill from Spion Kop to Cairo and Ploegsteert to Yalta, but it was at Chartwell that I felt closest to him. He chose it partly for its location, in the quintessentially English Weald of Kent, but still comfortably close to London. Although it is neither a grand house nor a beautiful one, its setting is stunning, and sums up all that Churchill was fighting for in 1940. He dictated his books, and would then work on the proofs, standing at a specially designed desk in his first floor study [second floor in USA]. It is still there, and there were moments when I thought he was, too. If you are inclined to tread in just one of his footsteps, then let it be at Chartwell: I swear you can still catch a whiff of Havana.”
HRH INVOKES WSC
WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 2ND— HRH Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, spent the day with the President and First Lady, highlighted by a private lunch at the White House, a visit to a local school with Mrs. Bush, and a lavish dinner with music and dancing for 130 luminaries from politics, business, sports and the arts. Among their gifts to the First Family, the royal couple brought a set of Churchill’s Collected Essays. [Unsung heroes: were it not for our rediscovery of the remaining unbound sheets in the 1980s, this set would not have been available. —Ed.]
The President and the Prince exchanged toasts to the Anglo-American relationship. Bush noted how both countries faced fascism and communism in the 20th century and were fighting today against an “ideology of hatred and intolerance….The people of the United States draw great strength from having the United Kingdom as an ally,” he said. “Your courage and fortitude are an inspiration to people throughout the world.”
Charles quoted Churchill’s remark that the friendliness of Americans toward British travelers was “something to marvel at,” adding, “Well, nothing has changed, Mr. President,” as Camilla smiled. HRH also recalled World War II, the 2001 terrorist attacks, the London bombings and the recent death of civil rights icon Rosa Parks: “I need hardly say that so many people throughout the world look to the United States of America for a lead on the most crucial issues that face our planet and, indeed, the lives of our grandchildren. Truly, the burdens of the world rest on your shoulders.”
Among the dinner guests were former first lady Nancy Reagan, accompanied by television producer Merv Griffin; former NFL star Lynn Swann; newly installed Chief Justice John Roberts; and Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, the military coordinator in the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina.
—DARLENE SUPERVILLE, ASSOCIATED PRESS
TALLAHASSEE, NOVEMBER 7TH— Professor Bruce A. Thyer, of the College of Social Work, Florida State University, was curious as to why Churchill was named a Fellow of the Royal Society on 29 May 1941: “I thought the RS was primarily a scientific organization, and while WSC was tremendously broad in his interests, I am unaware of his direct contributions to science. Perhaps this was strictly their effort at honoring a great leader in wartime?”
Senior Editor Paul Courtenay responded, “Fellowship of the Royal Society is a highly prestigious achievement. In WSC’s case it was purely honorific (similar to an honorary degree from a university, but rarer).”
Professor Thyer next contacted the Royal Society itself, to see if there was a specific citation. According to Ross MacFarlane, assistant archivist (Fellows Papers), “Churchill was considered for election under Statute 12, which exists for people who, it is considered, “either have rendered conspicuous service to the cause of science, or are such that their election would be of signal benefit to the Society.”
May 1941 was a particularly depressing time. Perhaps the R.S. considered that it would be an opportunity to provide the Prime Minister with some good news.
THE CHURCHILL CONNECTION TO THE FERRY WINSTON CHURCHILL
COPENHAGEN, NOVEMBER 10TH— The writer from Ships Monthly (FH 128:42) overlooked two important facts about this beautiful ship. Lady Churchill named the ship while it was in Greenwich at the request of the company, DFDS (not DKDS), who wished to express “a grateful veneration for a man who gave himself to his country and to the whole free world.” Also, the ship
had a wonderful and unique bust of Churchill in the dining room. Photos attached are from a little book about the ship published in 1991. The ferry was sold for scrap in India two years ago, so it has probably now disappeared, alas. —René Højris
ERRATA, FH 128
Page 9: Contrary to our report, WSC did not visit McCormick’s estate Cantigny, and its “Hidden Room” is not named for him. His 1932 visit was cancelled because, still recuperating from his New York car accident, he stayed in Chicago. —Phil Larson
Page 14: Although Churchill did use some unnamed DC-3s, Ascalon was a prototype Avro York, the transport version of the Lancaster bomber. Also, his Liberator Commando, was preceded by one called Marco Polo; both were converted B-24s, designated C-87s. —Chris Sterling
Page 21: in the sidebar, the Field Marshal’s name is “Rundstedt.”
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