The Place to Find All Things Churchill

Finest Hour 131


Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 49

I am a student in Taiwan doing a mock trial. The accusation is: “Is George Orwell guilty of misanthropy?” One of our witnesses is Winston Churchill. Do you know any information about how Churchill influenced Orwell? —Kenta Lin

Dear Kenta Lin:
First, enter “Orwell” into our website search engine. You will get five references, some of which may be of use. Second, I checked for Orwell references in the official biography, Winston S. Churchill, by Martin Gilbert, vol. VIII, published London: Heinemann, 1988. There is only one, on page 801:

“On February 19 [1953] Churchill’s doctor found him reading George Orwell’s 1984. ‘Have you read it, Charles?’ he asked. ‘Oh, you must. I’m reading it for a second time. It is a very remarkable book.'”
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Watching Churchill Take Command of History

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 47

IF YOU’VE SAVED YOUR COUNTRY, what do you do for an encore?

By David Reynolds

What are you writing now?'” asked a friend.

When I told him, he frowned: “I thought there was nothing more to say about Churchill.” His words made me think hard, but I decided there were unquestionably some new things to say about one of the most celebrated figures in modern history. And that’s why I wrote In Command of History.

First of all, my book exposes a neglected side of this multi-faceted man. Much has been written about Churchill the politician, from his earliest days as a fiery Liberal to the “Indian Summer” of his second premiership. We also know an enormous amount about Churchill the warrior and strategist, particularly during the two world wars; likewise about his prowess as an orator and his long career as a parliamentarian.
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Churchill in Parliament – Question Time

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 46

Edited By Paul H. Courtenay

CHURCHILL was a master of Parliamentary Questions, wherein friends and opponents tried to put him on the spot…and some of the issues from 1943 sound eerily familiar at the moment.

‘Not Due to Slothfulness

On 20 July 1943 a Member drew attention to a statement by the Prime Minister of Canada regarding the lack of recognition of the part played by Canadian troops in Sicilian operations.

WSC: “As I understand it, the point of the Canadian Prime Ministers remarks was that in the initial draft communique…reference was made only to ‘Allied’ Forces. On seeing this draft the Canadian authorities asked that at the earliest possible date reference should be made to the fact that Canadian Forces were taking part in the landing. Despite some possible security objections, this was at once agreed to by General Eisenhower….
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Woods Corner – The Doctor and the Soldier

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 45

Major Philip Carter RAMC, a military medical officer writes: “I would be grateful if you could help me tie down a Churchill quotation:

“The spectacle of a doctor in action among soldiers in equal danger with equal courage, saving lives where all others are taking them, allaying fear where all others are causing it, is one which must always seem glorious, whether to God or men.”

This fine quotation is from Churchill’s first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force 1897 (London: Longmans Green 1898), pages 46-47:
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Woods Corner – Remembering the SS City of Benares

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 45

Miracles on the Water: The Heroic Survivors of a WorldWar IIU-Boat Attack (paper-back), by Tom Nagorski. New York: Hyperion, $14.95, $9.92 from

While not qualifying for review in these pages, Miracles on the Water may be of interest to readers. It concerns the sinking of the British passenger liner City of Benares. Author Tom Nagorski tells us it is “in large part the story of the child evacuees who were traveling on board, and in particular how a handful of them were rescued. Winston Churchill, as you probably know, was deeply opposed to plans to evacuating children; he believed such programs would signal that Britain was losing its stomach for war.”

Nagorski, a senior producer at ABC’s World News Tonight and winner of three Emmy Awards, “scores a bull’s-eye” according to Publisher’s Weekly. The Benares, with 406 crew and passengers, was torpedoed by a German U-boat 630 miles out in the North Atlantic on 17 September 1940, in stormy waters. “Those who made it into lifeboats faced gale-force winds and icy waters-—a recipe for hypothermia. With the nearest help 300 miles away, the survivors faced long odds. Despite frequent heroism, many drowned or died of overexposure before the HMS Hurricane arrived and rescued 108 survivors. In its search, HMS Hurricane missed Lifeboat 12, and its passengers endured eight more harrowing days on the open sea before being rescued. In all, only thirteen of the ninety children survived. Nagorski, whose great-uncle was among the survivors, bases his narrative largely on eyewitness accounts.
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INSIDE THE JOURNALS – Industrial Chartwell

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 44

Abstract by Robert H. Courts

“Churchill’s Historical Factory” by David Reynolds. BBC History Magazine, April 2005.

Churchill’s literary output was truly astonishing: even while Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1920s, he managed to produce most of the five volumes in six parts of The World Crisis, a process that was repeated in the 1930s with Marlborough, the first drafts of his History of the English-Speaking Peoples, and again after the Second World War with his war memoirs.

This massive output, always accompanied by Churchill’s other interests and duties (including the journalistic output that was the staple of his financial life), was only made possible by the use of an intensive “historical factory.” This comprised a number of researchers who would help produce the books which were made up of the “three Ds”: dictation, documents and drafts. In other words, passages made up of Churchill’s dictation from his own memories, documents he had written at the time, and drafts prepared by the researchers.
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Glimpses – Encounters at Chartwell and Egypt

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 43


My father, Commander J.H. Owen RN, was Sir Winston Churchill’s naval adviser for his classic biography, Marlborough, His Life and Times, which was published in four volumes in Britain and six volumes in the USA between 1933 and 1938. Churchill also employed a young historian (Maurice Ashley) as an adviser, as well as an Oxford don who had a big part to play. This was Sir William Deakin, who distinguished himself in the Second World War, when he was chosen by Churchill to lead a mission to Tito, leader of the Yugoslav Communist Party, after Germany’s invasion of his country in 1941. (Seepage 17.)

My elder brother (who died aged 14) my twin sister and I were all brought up to admire Churchill and had no difficulty in doing so. When I was about nine my father drove us all from Chatham, where we lived, to Chartwell, where he had an appointment to discuss aspects of the book with the then-Mr. Churchill. We left him at Chartwell while my mother and we three children had a picnic lunch on a hill looking down on the property. From here we could see Churchill and my father pacing back and forth in his garden discussing the book.
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Forthcoming Works

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 42

Winston Churchill’s Imagination, by Paul Alkon
(Bucknell University Press, 2006).

Although Churchill is a 1953 Nobel laureate in literature, his famous speeches have overshadowed his other writing. FH contributor Paul Alkon concentrates on key works in modes other than political rhetoric to show how Churchill engages readers with those words and ideas that are hallmarks of his imagination. Chapters include his literary relationship with Lawrence of Arabia; his intense, little-known involvement with cinema in his essay on Charlie Chaplin; and as a script writer and consultant for Alexander Korda; his evocation of paintings as templates for narrative in his first history and his only novel; his imaginative engagement with science and science fiction; the depiction of time, duration, and alternative history in Marlborough; and Churchill’s last testament in the realm of imagination, The Dream. (FH 126:45).

Finest Hour has asked historian Ted Hutchinson, editor of the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (see p. 14), to continue this column in order to help us keep track of upcoming works.

Books, Arts & Curiosities – Worth Reading Despite the Howlers

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 41

By Daniel N. Myers

One Christmas in Washington: The Secret Meeting Between Roosevelt and Churchill that Changed the World, by David Bercuson & Holger Herwig, Woodstock & New York: The Overlook Press, 320 pp, illus., $29.95, member price $23.95.

Anyone who has read many books about Winston Churchill knows that they can be categorized by periods. There was the hagiographic era, during his lifetime and shortly thereafter; and the revisionist period of the 1990s. Now we are in what might be called the reality period. To paraphrase John Ramsden, we are now viewing Churchill “in the round,” i.e., warts and all, but with due respect and by placing the warts within the context of a life that was full of adventure and activism; and a character that never shrank from making hard decisions.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – All You Gould Ever Want to Know, Plus

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 40

By Curt Zoller

Bibliography of the Writings of Sir Winston Churchill, by Ronald I. Cohen. London: Continuum, 3 vols., 2184 pages, advance price $990, member price $800.

It has been over forty years since Frederick Woods’ Bibliography of the Works of Sir Winston Churchill was published and immediately recognized as the standard reference to the writings of Winston Spencer Churchill. After twenty-five years researching the material, Mr. Cohen has produced a three-volume opus which not only eclipses Woods, but establishes Cohen’s bibliography as the source. Woods, for example, listed about 150 works primarily by Churchill; Cohen lists over 300, although some of them strike me more as Churchill contributions than works primarily by him.

The cost of this new work will be the first comment made by most reviewers, but let me discuss this later. The three volumes cover not only the basic bibliographic material but extensive peripheral and associated information. Some students, collectors, researchers and scholars may react to its sheer vastness as Sherlock Holmes when Dr. Watson told him the earth was round. Holmes said he would try now to forget that because the mind was not an unlimited container, and he saw no need why he should retain such information.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Tragedies and Triumphs – Yalta Yarn Best Yet

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 39

By Richard M. Langworth

Churchill’s Triumph, by Michael Dobbs. London: Headline Publishing, 2005, 342 pages, $45, member price $36

The fourth and latest of Michael Dobbs’s Churchill series is his best yet: well grounded historically, with the depth of narration and brilliant character studies that have made his previous Churchill novels famous. “Dobbs is an author who can bring historical happenings so vitally back to life,” wrote Anthony Howard, “made all the more impressive by being historically accurate in every respect.”

The novel centers around the 1945 Yalta Conference between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin—as seen in retrospect by Churchill and a fictitious protagonist, a Pole named Marion Nowak, who joins him on a 1963 cruise aboard the Onassis yacht Christina. They had first met at Yalta, where Nowak begged to be spirited out of Russia to search for his daughter in the ruins of Warsaw. WSC had left Yalta without him, but Nowak escaped with the help of WSCs valet Frank Sawyers—a sub-plot in itself. Now a servant aboard Christina, Nowak confronts Churchill with a gun, accusing WSC of selling out his country.
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Churchill’s Reputation: The State of the Debate

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 38

By Andrew Roberts

On 12 November, 1940, in praise of the recently deceased Neville Chamberlain, Churchill said: “History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days.”

What he was talking about—the practice of history—is what I would like to talk to you about today: how various writers have tried to affect Churchill’s reputation, including in the massive new medium of cyberspace.

It should be recognised that all history is to a certain extent revisionist: that is not necessarily a negative thing. Revising what has been thought by previous generations is what history is about. Churchill’s reputation has gone through several phases from the 1950s, when it was largely hagiographic, to the 1990s, when a new, aggressive, carping tone appeared.
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CHICAGO CONFERENCE PRELUDE – Winston S. Churchill and Robert R. McCormick

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 33

By Philip and Susan Larson

ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT GADFLY AND MAN OF THE CENTURY: The intriguing story of what two magnificoes had in common.

In researching Winston Churchill’s three visits to Chicago,1 we found evidence of his fascinating relationship with a local notable, Colonel Robert R. McCormick of the Chicago Tribune. Both were strong-willed and opinionated celebrities, whose strange bonding is a captivating story.

Churchill and McCormick both had famous ancestors. McCormick’s father was a cousin of Cyrus McCormick, whose reaper revolutionized American farming during the 19th century. Churchill’s forebear, John Churchill, was a military hero; WSC’s father had been a notable political personality in the 1880s.

Both were schooled in Britain, McCormick when his father served Ambassador Todd Lincoln (Abe’s son) and later represented the 1893 Chicago Exposition in London. Churchill went to Harrow and Sandhurst. Both their parents largely relied on servants to raise their children, remaining relatively aloof.2
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Wit and Wisdom – Churchill and the Free Market

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 29

Deputy Secretary of Commerce David Sampson asked us to track what Churchill said on this subject. Here are all instances of “free market” in 13 million words of Churchill writings and speeches. He had parallel things to say on private enterprise, etc.

1903: “The price of sugar in [other countries] meanwhile is kept up by rigid Protection. Every foreigner has to pay more for his sugar, and consequently he buys less, and the consuming power in those countries steadily declines….Now look at England, at the other side of the picture. England has done nothing in the meanwhile. She grows no sugar; she does not give bounties; she has made no observation or remark of any kind. In England sugar becomes cheap, extremely cheap; it becomes cheap in proportion as it gets higher in the countries where it is actually grown. The English people consumed every year (the ratio is altering now in consequence of recent legislation) three times as much per head as the people of France. On the basis of this cheap sugar, which is a benefit and a source of pleasure to great masses of people who use it, a whole range of secondary industries has sprung up—jam, biscuits, soda-water, even blacking, I am told, sweet-meats, preserved fruits, and pickles. We have become the world’s confectioners. Chocolat Menier is already made in London. The confectioners in other countries contemplate moving, and in some cases actually do move, their businesses into this great free market where the distribution of the good things of the earth is not distorted and twisted by the avarice and the folly of man.” —29 July 1903 (For Free Trade 102-03)
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Great Contemporaries – Eddie Marsh: A Profile

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 30

By David Freeman

“Eddie: You are very free with your commas, I always reduce them to a minimum: and use ‘and’ or an ‘or’ as a substitute not as an addition. Let us argue it out. W.”
“I look on myself as a bitter enemy of superfluous commas, and I think I could make a good case for any I have put in—but I won’t do it any more! E.”
“No do continue. I am adopting provisionally. But I want to argue with you. W.”
—Christopher Hassall, Edward Marsh (London: Longmans, 1949, 498)

When Edward Howard “Eddie” Marsh found himself invited to serve as private secretary to the newly-appointed Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies following a party given by Lady Granby on 14 December 1905, he felt intimidated. Despite a superb educational background (Westminster and a first in classics at Cambridge), Marsh doubted his ability to fulfill the expectations of the mercurial Winston Churchill. He was anxious about working for a younger man who—despite having had less formal education than himself—already possessed a growing reputation for brilliance. Seeking advice, Marsh called upon someone who knew Churchill well:
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The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.