March 28, 2015

Finest Hour 131, Summer 2006

Page 11

In recent years the Annual General Meeting of ICS (UK) has been held at a variety of Churchill sites, viz., Blenheim, Harrow, Chartwell, Churchill College (Cambridge), Bletchley Park and the Cabinet War Rooms; on 29 April 2006 the current year’s meeting was, for the first time, held at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. It was at the Royal Military College (as Sandhurst was known till 1939) that the young Churchill trained for his Army commission. He passed the entrance examination at the third attempt in 92nd place out of 102 and entered the RMC in September 1893. Here for the first time he really exerted himself, because he was studying subjects which greatly interested him; the result was that he graduated in December 1894 in 20th place out of 130 before being commissioned in 4th Queen’s Own Hussars early in 1895.

The meeting was held in the Indian Army Memorial Room, a fine setting for the purpose, and it was good to be able to welcome Bill Ives, Chuck Platt and Judy Kambestad from The Churchill Centre Board of Governors; also Joao Carlos Espada (President of ICS/Portugal)). Ninety-four members and guests attended.

After the formalities, followed by lunch in the Old College dining room, and before a short guided tour of the immediate area, the main event of the afternoon was an enthralling talk by Hugh Lunghi; he was one of WSC’s Russian interpreters at the Big Three meetings at Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam (as well as on visits to Stalin in Moscow), and is probably the sole survivor of those who attended all the plenary sessions at all three of these major historical events. Substantial extracts from the script of Hugh Lunghi’s remarks will be published in FH 132.


Following the 2004 International Churchill Conference, which ended at Potsdam, it was observed that, whereas the villas occupied by President Truman and Marshal Stalin each bore a plaque recording their residence for the Big Three meeting held there in July 1945, no such record had been placed at the villa occupied by Churchill (and his daughter Mary, who accompanied him as aide-de-camp). On 1-6 May 2006, some thirty-five members of ICS(UK) and The Churchill Centre, headed by Lady Soames, paid a memorable visit to Berlin, principally to dedicate a plaque marking her father’s stay at the Villa Urbig. The highlight was on 4 May when Lady Soames presented a plaque to the villa’s current owners. Lady Soames also met Frau Gerlicke, who was the daughter of the 1945 owner and—with her family—had been evicted by the Russians to house the delegation.

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The full week’s programme also included an introduction to the 1945 conference by Nigel Knocker, a glimpse of the postwar Cold War by Bill Ives, and a look at Allied espionage and intelligence operations in East Germany by Nigel Dunkley. Other events were a tour of the city, a visit to the Seelow Heights (where the battle for Berlin began) and visits to the Allied Museum at Charlottenburg, the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery and the 1945 conference venue at Schloss Cecilienhof. A further highlight was a dinner at which the principal guest was Dr. Helmut Kohl, former German chancellor and an avid Churchillian; Dr. Kohl spoke eloquently of his admiration and Lady Soames responded. A full report with illustrations will appear in FH 132.


We record with great regret the death on 1st May 2006 of ICS(UK) Committee member John Crookshank, who was a keen and knowledgeable Churchillian; he was a valuable member and handled the publicity for the 2004 conference; many members will remember him that year at Portsmouth and on the visit to the Ardennes. He was also a contributor to Finest Hour.


A unique tour of Sir Winston Churchill’s constituency was organized by ICS (UK) recently. Churchill represented Woodford as Member of Parliament from 1945 to 1964; from 1924 to 1945 it was part of the Epping constituency, which he also represented.

We began at the Sir James Hawkey Hall in Woodford, Essex. Its foundation stone was laid by Churchill in 1954, and it opened in his presence the following year. Sir James Hawkey, WSC’s longstanding friend, was chairman of the Constituency Association in Woodford for many years; he had been one of Churchill’s few supporters during the 1938 Munich crisis. Sir Winston subsequently attended a number of functions in the hall, and we viewed various memorabilia, photographs and a ship’s bell, all associated with former British naval vessels bearing the name Churchill; as well as a magnificent painting of the great man.

We then traveled to the Churchill statue on Woodford Green, sculpted by David McFall, which was unveiled by Lord Montgomery in 1959. We proceeded along roads used by Churchill in his election tours, past a number of buildings he visited. Our next stop was the West Essex Conservative Club, where Churchill first spoke in 1924. He was a regular visitor thereafter, particularly to the annual garden parties. Large crowds would attend to see him tour the stalls and hear him speak. In front of the Club is a bust of Churchill by the Italian sculptor Luigi Fironi.

We also visited the City of London Cemetery, where Sir Winston’s beloved nurse, Elizabeth Everest, was buried in 1895. Churchill and his brother Jack attended the funeral and they paid for the headstone.

Passing the Royal Wanstead School where Churchill attended a fete in 1957 and addressed thousands of people, we proceeded to the White House in Woodford Green, home of Sir Stuart Mallinson, with whom WSC stayed on his election visits. Sir Stuart was a great supporter of the Anglo-American alliance, and created in his grounds an arboretum with over 100 trees planted by world statesmen, ambassadors, military, religious and civic leaders.

The visit concluded with drinks and a buffet lunch at my home, where we enjoyed several of Sir Winston’s favourite dishes: cold ham mousse {FH 106), salads (FH 98) and Boodles Fool (FH 100). There was an opportunity to view some fifty items of local memorabilia, including Churchill letters, telegrams, photographs, Christmas cards, election addresses and posters.

Thanks to local members Norman and Sheila Creswell and Raymond and Hilary Warner for their help; and to my wife, Katy, for aid with catering, and as my fellow raconteur and photographer.

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