Finest Hour 135, Summer 2007
Around & About
Antoine Capet, Professor of British Civilization, University of Rouen, told us of “Torn Asunder,” by Ruaridh Nicollthe, an article on the Union of Britain in The Observer (London) on January 7th: “Churchill famously left Scots as a rearguard at Dunkirk because nobody would be too upset.” This is an example of mischief-making. The Prime Minister would have had no knowledge of which units were left on the beaches during the heroic evacuation at Dunkirk. That was decided by those on the spot. As it happens, the units which suffered most were those ordered to defend Calais to the last: the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and the Rifle Brigade. The word “famously” suggests that the reference was confused with St. Valéry—a long way southwest of Dunkirk. Here the 51st Highland Division, which had been behind the Somme and not involved in the evacuation, was obliged to surrender after a tough fight, having been cut off and surrounded on 12 June— eight days after the end of the Dunkirk operation. To say that the P.M. chose to sacrifice this Division is absurd. —PHC
Richard Littlejohn writes in the Daily Mail that Chancellor of the Exchequer and presumptive new Prime Minister Gordon Brown “has been comparing himself to Churchill (as well as Gandhi ). I look forward to his first prime ministerial broadcast. ‘We shall tax on the beaches, we shall tax on the landing grounds, we shall tax in the fields and in the streets…. Never in the field of human taxation, has so much been owed by so many….. I have nothing to offer but tax, tax and more tax.’”
Addendum to Warren Kimball’s “The Alcohol Quotient” (FH 134), from Sir Martin Gilbert, In Search of Churchill (1994, 226-27): In January 1942, as Japanese forces advanced into Burma, Anthony Eden reported Churchill’s desire to fly to India to meet with Indian leaders to work out a constitution for India after the war. Sir Alexander Cadogan called WSC’s plan “brilliantly imaginative and bold.” Eden told his private secretary, Oliver Harvey, that Churchill had “confessed that he did feel his heart a bit… he had tried to dance a little the other night but quickly lost his breath.” Harvey commented: “What a decision to take, and how gallant of the old boy himself. But his age and especially his way of life must begin to tell on him. He had a beer, three ports and three brandies for lunch today, and has done it for years.” In the event Churchill did not go to India, feeling he must be in London at a critical time.
Scott Johnson in “The Limits of Churchill’s Magnanimity,” http://powerlineblog.com/ May 19th, refers favorably to Finest Hour 101 regarding Churchill’s uncharacteristic remark about Stanley Baldwin in 1946 (“it would have been much better had he never lived”). Johnson provided a link to our website, which has produced at least one new member. He also included another Churchill quotation but it was not quite as stated, and did not apply to Baldwin: “As the man whose mother-in-law had died in Brazil replied, when asked how the remains should be disposed of, ‘Embalm, cremate and bury. Take no risks!’” This was actually from Churchill’s article, “Britain’s Deficiencies in Aircraft Manufacture,” Daily Telegraph, London, 28 April 1938, reprinted in Step by Step (London: Butterworth, 1939), 226.
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