March 28, 2015

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 04


Congratulations on the cover of FH 129. It is exquisite. This is a beautiful picture of our Patron at an important historical milestone. It is among the most attractive and memorable covers I have seen on any issue, and my collection now goes back fifteen years to #67.


My article, “Wartime Questions to Postwar Answers” {FH 129) really has a nice look to it. I cannot overstate my appreciation to FH for printing my work all these years since 1986. I set up the original title, “Wartime Answers to Postwar Questions,” as a kind of riddle in itself: “Answers” had to be supplied during war about what are usually called “War termination questions.” In print it’s reversed, which is amusing. We can see the new headline as word play, appropriate to the “riddle.” And, if we prefer, we may read the words as suggesting a continuum, as if a fuller sentence would read “From Wartime Questions to Postwar Answers: Churchill moves towards war termination.”

I’m a happy guy. What a great ten years I’ve had, engrossed in this deep reading, book collecting, and writing—much of it for FH.

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I enjoyed Robert Courts’ RAF article in FH 127. A long time ago I met an old man who told me about flying out the RAF base near Chingford in 1940. I really didn’t comprehend the full meaning until he said he had made 250 sorties from June to September—about five flights a day, all of them in combat conditions. Modestly he remarked that he was surprised he had survived. He went on to become an actuary with the Home Office. I guess that after the Battle of Britain, the quiet life appealed to him. A few hundred fighter pilots faced a superior foe, flying mission after mission, day after day, literally the last line of defense. These young men, whose average age was no more than 22, saved Britain, and the world, for a better day.

THE CATS (FH 127:18)

Nelson did not originate at Number Ten; he was a black kitten who came to us at Admiralty House in 1939, and when we moved to Downing Street he moved with us. The resident in Downing Street (not a personal pet of the Chamberlains) was Munich Mouser, who was dispossessed. Smokey was a grey cat who resided at Number Ten Annexe. At Chartwell, Orange Cat Tango, aka Mr. Cat, was originally Mary’s cat, but was seduced from the nursery by upstairs life. He died at Chartwell and Jock Colville gave us Jock I. Then there was Jock II, and the rest supplied by the National Trust.


In my article titled “The Statesman John Kennedy Admired Most” (FH 129), I discussed President Kennedy proclaiming Sir Winston the first honorary citizen of the United States by Act of Congress on 9 April 1963. Recently, I ran across the letter Churchill wrote to President Kennedy accepting the honor, in Memorial Addresses in the Congress of the United States and Tributes in Eulogy of Sir Winston Churchill Washington: GPO, 1965). Readers may enjoy recalling this elegant letter, which you tell me was composed by Sir Anthony Montague Browne, who certainly knew WSC’s sentiments.

Mr. President,
I have been informed by [British Ambassador to the United States] Mr. David Bruce that it is your intention to sign a Bill conferring upon me Honorary Citizenship of the United States.

I have received many kindnesses from the United States, but the honour which you now accord me is without parallel. I accept it with deep gratitude and affection.

I am also most sensible of the warm-hearted action of the individual States who accorded me the great compliment of their own honorary citizenships as a prelude to this Act of Congress.

It is a remarkable comment on our affairs that the former Prime Minister of a great sovereign state should thus be received as an honorary citizen of another. I say “great sovereign state” with design and emphasis, for I reject the view that Britain and the Commonwealth should now be relegated to a tame and minor role in the world. Our past is the key to our future, which I firmly trust and believe will be no less fertile and glorious. Let no man underrate our energies, our potentialities and our abiding power for good.

I am, as you know, half American by blood, and the story of my association with that mighty and benevolent nation goes back nearly ninety years to the day of my Father’s marriage. In this century of storm and tragedy I contemplate with high satisfaction the constant factor of the interwoven and upward progress of our peoples. Our comradeship and our brotherhood in war were unexampled. We stood together, and because of that fact the free world now stands. Nor has our partnership any exclusive nature: the Atlantic community is a dream that can well be fulfilled to the detriment of none and to the enduring benefit and honour of the great democracies.

Mr. President, your action illuminates the theme of unity of the English-speaking peoples, to which I have devoted a large part of my life. I would ask you to accept yourself, and to convey to both Houses of Congress, and through them to the American people, my solemn and heart-felt thanks for this unique distinction, which will always be proudly remembered by my descendants. —Winston S. Churchill

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