July 4, 2013




Professor Warren Kimball related this account to us at the Churchill Centre and Roosevelt Institute Hyde Park conference in June (Chartwell Bulletin 13). Since it includes another alcohol reference (per his article, “Like Goldfish in a Bowl,” FH 135: 31), we reproduce it here.

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The source is a book we highly recommend for an understanding of the “real Roosevelt”: Geoffrey C. Ward (ed.), Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995), pages 229-30.

Margaret “Daisy” Suckley (pronounced “Sou-kly”) was one of FDR’s most trusted and intimate confidants from the early 1930s to his death. In this passage she describes a luncheon on 14 August 1943, at Mrs. Roosevelt’s cottage Val Kill, with the President, the Prime Minister, Mary Churchill, Harry Hopkins and others…

“Mr. C. ate 1 & 1/2 [hot dogs] and had a special little ice pail for his scotch. He is a strange looking man. Fat & round, his clothes bunched up on him. Practically no hair on his head, he wore a huge 10-gallon hat….[Later they went to the swimming pool.] Mrs. R came & made a dive and a splash or two. The P.M. decided to go in, too. In a pair of shorts, he looked exactly like a kewpie. He made a good dive in, soon came out, wrapped a large wool blanket around himself & sat down to talk to FDR.”

“Right,” adds Warren Kimball, “a scotch-drinking kewpie doll. Or to paraphrase Franklin Roosevelt: Some kewpie; some doll!” —WFK/RML


Dear Mr. Harper, It was a pleasure meeting you at the Churchill seminar in Seattle last year. Thank you very much for sharing with me your study of the Dunkirk evacuation and the part played by “The Little Ships,” which I was most interested to see. Here is a postscript:

Some ten years ago I gave lunch in Brussels to an elderly friend, Andre de Staercke (the former Belgian Ambassador to NATO), who has sadly since died. As a young man in his early twenties, he was Private Secretary to the Prince Regent of Belgium, living in exile in war-torn London.

After the liberation of Belgium in the summer of 1944, Andre accompanied my grandfather in a military transport to Belgium. As they flew over Dunkirk, the Prime Minister ordered the pilot to descend to 1000 feet and circle over the harbour and the beaches. According to de Staerke, my grandfather got down on his knees in front of one of the portholes to study the network of trenches dug by the British defenders in 1940. Then he turned back to Andre and said: “I shall never understand why the German Army did not finish the British Army at Dunkirk.”

Andre de Staercke replied: “We have the German General [von Runstedt?] in the bag in Brussels—you can ask him when we get there!” De Staercke went on to tell me: “The question was put to the German commander on the Prime Minister’s behalf and his reply spoke volumes for the different mentality of the Germans and the British. The General replied: “I had no orders!” Even the most senior commanders were terrified of Hitler, and didn’t dare act without specific orders from the Fuehrer.

I am copying this, for their information, to Sir Martin Gilbert; Richard Langworth and Dan Myers of The Churchill Centre, and to Allen Packwood of the Churchill Archives Centre at Cambridge. •—WINSTON S. CHURCHILL 


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