Finest Hour 139, Summer 2008
Quotation of the Season
“There is nothing improper in belligerents meeting to discuss their affairs even while actual battles are going on. All history abounds in precedents. All the time that Napoleon was fighting his desperate campaigns in France in 1814 the International Council, composed of his representatives and those of the allies, were in constant conference at Châtillon-sur-Seine.”
—WSC, HOUSE OF COMMONS, 25 FEBRUARY 1954
“THE FEW” UP FOR BID
LONDON, MAY 25TH— Pursuit of filthy lucre extends sadly to a typescript of Churchill’s famous speech paying homage to “The Few” (RAF fighter pilots) on 20 August 1940. According to Christie’s, the three-page typescript is “the only surviving draft of one of the great speeches of the 20th century,” and they estimate “£100,000 to £150,000.” Provenance appears to be the estate of Sir John Colville.
Allen Packwood of the Churchill Archives Centre at Cambridge explains that Christie’s claim is inaccurate: “We hold the complete set of Churchill’s final annotated speaking notes for his speech of 20 August 1940 (our reference: CHAR 9/141A). These comprise the final version of the address in the characteristic blank verse format that his office called ‘psalm form.’ We also hold a file of draft annotated typescripts for the speech, which show it evolving (CHAR 9/173B). It is clear that “the few” pages (excuse the pun) offered for auction at Christie’s were part of an early typescript version for which we have the remaining pages, including the page with the immortal line about the Battle of Britain pilots. We also have later reworked versions, again with annotations, for the part of the speech that is being sold.
“The documents here in the Archives Centre formerly belonged to the Chartwell Trust, set up during Churchill’s lifetime to look after his literary assets, and were prominently stamped in the 1960s. The fact that these few pages are not stamped suggests that they passed out of Churchill’s custody prior to the creation of the Trust, and were probably given by Churchill to Colville (it was not rare for Churchill to do this).
“Sadly, the Archives Centre is not in a position to bid at this sort of level. However, we would gladly offer a secure home to these documents should the new owner decide that they ought to be reunited with the rest of the text.”
“THE FEW” TWO-PIECE
LONDON, MARCH 27TH— To celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force on 1 April, a new RAF bikini, “part of the RAF Collection’s Spring range,” features “diamante roundels in the RAF colours” but little room for hanging medals. A spokeswoman for the RAF said: “The Collection will enable the next generation to own a piece of one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious brands. The bikini top retails at £20, while the bottoms are £15.” For better fit, apparently. The RAF bikini is the second of its type: last year’s had pink and blue roundels. The RAF adds: “By associating our brand marks, including the RAF logo, on high-end leisure products, we build up our image around the UK and globally…and, just as importantly, bring us to the attention of young people who are the next generation of RAF personnel.”
Finest Hour thought this was a spoof, but it’s true. The ostensible reason for this foray by a world famous air force into leisure apparel is to support RAF museums. Sounds pretty flimsy to us (pun intended).
In the selfsame website where we find pictures of the RAF bikini— suitably enough, The Sun (http://xrl.us/dda6y)—we read that the RAF Jaguar fighter-bomber is to be scrapped six months early to save defence money; crews were given a week’s notice to wrap up all missions. The loss of the Jaguars, only recently recipients of a multi-million pound upgrade, means an aircraft shortfall for over a year. Tory defence spokesman Gerald Howarth said: “It’s a waste of money because of its recent upgrade, and appalling manmanagement for the crews.” Look on the bright side, Gerald: they may not have Jaguars, but they have bikinis.
“Let’s see,” writes a Finest Hour reader: “Combat over the trenches, the desert war, the Battle of Britain, the desperate struggle for Malta, the nighttime bombing of Nazi Germany, Korea, Suez, the Falklands, Desert Storm…this is how we commemorate ninety years of commitment, bravery and sacrifice. Perhaps they mean to celebrate what we were fighting for.”
You mustn’t say that, you know. It’s so….insensitive. Hate to be prudes but our reaction is Biblical: “How are the mighty fallen and the weapons of war perished!” —II SAMUEL 1:27
LION’S ROAR INSTIGATOR
LONDON, JANUARY 13TH— Finest Hour readers are familiar with Sir Winston’s 80th birthday remark about the British people: “Their will was resolute and remorseless, and as it proved, unconquerable….It was a nation and race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.”
John Harvey CBE, who died today, was the man who prompted this famous Churchill bon mot. From 1955 to 1966 he was Conservative MP for Walthamstow East, sandwiched between Churchill’s constituency of Woodford and Clement Attlee’s of Walthamsow West. Before entering Parliament, Harvey was Churchill’s constituency chairman in Woodford. At a constituency party before the Parliamentary celebrations (from which Churchill’s words above are taken), Harvey said: “I know, sir, that you don’t like people to say that you won the war. So I will not suggest it. I suggest you gave us the will to win.” This elicited the first appearance of Churchill’s “lion heart” response.
“MESS OF CENTURIES”
LONDON, FEBRUARY 1ST— “Moral failings” in Britain’s past mean pupils should not be taught patriotism, the Institute of Education declared today. The left-leaning institute polled forty-seven teachers and 299 secondary school students, 90 percent of whom agreed. “Patriotism excludes non-British pupils,” said one teacher…”in my experience [it] tends to be a white preserve [and] so divides groups along racial lines.” Another added: “Left to my own devices I wouldn’t dream of covering it….To me it sort of reeks of the old British Empire.”
They remind us of what Churchill said when Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee declared in 1951 that his government had had only six years to clean up “the mess of centuries.” Speaking in Woodford on 12 October 1951, WSC replied:
This is what the Prime Minister considers Britain and her Empire represented when in 1945 she emerged honoured and respected from one end of the world to the other by friend and foe alike after her most glorious victory for freedom. The mess of centuries— that was all we were. The remark is instructive because it reveals with painful clarity the Socialist point of view and sense of proportion. Nothing happened that was any good until they came into office. We may leave out the great struggles and achievements of the past— Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, Parliamentary institutions, Constitutional Monarchy, the building of our Empire—all these were part of ‘the mess of centuries’….But at last a giant and a Titan appeared to clear up ‘the mess of centuries.’ Alas, he cries, he has had only six years to do it in.
A fortnight after Churchill’s speech, Clement Attlee was replaced by Winston Churchill. Would that a similar transformation will find the Institute of Education replaced by an Institute of Common Sense.
WHY STUDY CHURCHILL?
We are often asked: “Why do you think it is important to promote Churchill’s legacy among young people?” There are many reasons, both simple and complex, not least of which is that Churchill is an exemplar of a statesman, says Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College and longtime CC academic collaborator: “Understanding his uphill battles through life is fascinating to young people who must carefully reflect on their own lives, both successes and failures, in order to reach their goals.
“I teach a seminar every year on Churchill. Mostly the students are seniors. Mostly they are among our best. I spend about 30 percent of the time teaching them what politics is and what statesmanship is. We turn to Churchill specifically after that. Churchill is used as an example of a thing everyone needs to understand, if they are to call themselves liberally educated. At the undergraduate level, such things should be the bulk of what is taught, in my opinion. That means one is not studying Churchill as a specialty, but rather as an example of something of general importance.”
PBS TELEVISION, JULY 21/28TH, AUGUST 4TH— Fifty years after she cruised the Mediterranean with her grandfather, Winston Churchill, as guests of Aristotle Onassis on his yacht, Christina, Celia Sandys relived her experience on PBS in three segments at 10 pm eastern time. In a documentary based on her book, Chasing Churchill, she is back on Christina in the Mediterranean. She also traces his footsteps in South Africa, Morocco, Cuba, Egypt, France, and the United States, now on television for the first time. (If, as we expect, you read this after the fact, check for re-runs.)
The daughter of Diana Churchill and British Cabinet Minister Duncan Sandys, Celia was twenty-one when her grandfather died in 1965. They had become close, and she accompanied him often on the many trips that filled his later years. They cried together as they watched the news reports of the assassination of President Kennedy. She held his hand as he was brought back to England in an ambulance plane after a leg fracture in the south of France. She was at his bedside as his life ebbed away on 24 January 1965.
Researching Chasing Churchill was a fascinating adventure which found her in Cuba lunching with Fidel Castro and interviewing Gregorio Fuentes, the fisherman of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. In South Africa, she met the children and grandchildren of those who captured, imprisoned and saved the life of WSC during the Anglo-Boer War. In Morocco, she met the son of Churchill’s friend, “the Black Panther.” In Egypt, she relived the camel race at the Pyramids in which Winston Churchill challenged Lawrence of Arabia. In France, she found herself once again in the luxurious surroundings of the Christina, full of memories of an extraordinary cruise where the guests, including WSC, watched Onassis and Maria Callas begin their legendary love affair.
Finally in the United States, where Churchill’s mother was born and to which he felt closely connected, Celia met and interviewed a host of individuals with vivid memories. One was Harry Hopkins’ daughter who, at the age of seven, made friends with WSC at the White House during Christmas 1941, and Senator Harry Byrd, Jr. who has the oldest living memories of her grandfather. While staying at The Plaza in New York, Churchill is alleged to have repeated a phrase originated by his friend Lord Birkenhead: “I am a man of simple tastes; I am quite easily satisfied with the best of everything.” With that in mind, Celia is now planning a series of tours of Churchill venues in Morocco, South Africa, Egypt and on the Christina, in association with The Churchill Centre, where she serves on the Board of Trustees.
DOWN ON THE FARM
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y., MAY 23RD— A rare home movie recorded at a local farm will offer a look at a historic visit by Roosevelt and Churchill in June 1942. The color film was shot by Henry Morgenthau, Jr. at his 1500-acre Fishkill Farms. He was was FDR’s Secretary of the Treasury from 1934 to 1945. “It has never been seen by the public before,” says Morgenthau’s son Robert. The farm visit was what sparked the President’s appreciation for mint juleps, he added. At the time, the 22-year-old was on leave from the Navy. The home movies include film shot by young Morgenthau on the campaign trail when Roosevelt ran for Governor of New York, footage of the visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Hyde Park in 1939, and the 1932 Olympics.
At Hyde Park in June 1942, Churchill and Roosevelt agreed to give more immediate attention to a peripheral strategy (the invasion of North Africa and Italy) since a cross-channel invasion was then impractical, and agreed to share “as equal partners” the research needed for the development of an atomic bomb.
Viewers saw the 15-minute DVD, on a continuous loop, as part of a display at the Fishkill Farm store. Finest Hour readers interested in obtaining a copy should telephone Fishkill Farms at (845) 897-4377.
Morgenthau, Manhattan district attorney for more than three decades, said he had been aware of the home movies, but hadn’t seen them in years. His sister gave them to him, and he had them put on a DVD to celebrate the farm’s return to Morgenthau family management. Bob Clark, supervisory archivist at the Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, says there aren’t many examples of such home movies. “It was a new thing to do in the Thirties and Forties.”
—KEVIN LENIHAN, POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL
HARROW VERSE REVERSE
HARROW, DECEMBER 18TH, 1940— When Prime Minister Winston Churchill made his first visit to Harrow as an Old Boy, a new verse to the school song, “Stet Fortuna Domus,” was added in his honour:
Nor less we praise in darker days
The leader of our nation,
And CHURCHILL’S name shall win acclaim
From each new generation.
While in this fight to guard the Right
Our country you defend, Sir.
Here grim and gay we mean to stay,
And stick it to the end, Sir.”
It is broadly known that by his next visit, on 29 October 1941, Churchill had obtained the Headmaster’s permission to substitute the word “sterner” for “darker.” “Do not let us speak of darker days,” he told the boys; “let us rather speak of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days—the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”
What we had not realized until the above version came up recently was that Harrow itself rewrote the last four lines for the 1941 visit. By then, the Blitz with its theme of “grim and gay” had mainly ended, and it was likely thought better to express resolution for the long haul—so the last four lines were completely different.
Here for the record is the complete verse, as it has been sung at Harrow ever since:
Nor less we praise in sterner days
The leader of our nation,
And CHURCHILL’S name shall win acclaim
From each new generation.
For you have the power in danger’s hour,
Our freedom to defend, Sir!
Though long the fight, we know the right
Will triumph in the end, Sir!
The punctuation throughout, including the capitalized and uncapitalized “Right,” is from Harrow School Songs (Henley-on-Thames: Gresham Books, 1993 edition).
FICTION OR FACT?
Beginning with the next issue of Finest Hour, “Action This Day” columnist Michael McMenamin will offer a new department which will briefly review works of fiction, new and old, where Churchill appears as a fictional character. While records aren’t kept on this sort of thing, it is probably safe to say that Churchill appears as a fictional character as often if not more than any other historical figure. So for a novelist, “getting Churchill right” can be as important to preserving the accuracy of his memory as for a writer of non-fiction, often with a smaller audience. Next issue: mini-reviews of Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell, much of which takes place during the Cairo Conference of 1921; and Pearl Harbor, by Newt Gingrich and William Fortschen, which is set in the period 1934 to 1941. Churchill is a major supporting character in both novels.
GENERATIONAL CHAUVINISM 101
LONDON, APRIL 18TH— “Anybody repeating the bonkers mantra that Beijng 2008 will re-run the 1936 Nazi Olympics might reconsider some other racial views of that era, such as Winston Churchill’s considered opinion that ‘Chinks’ and ‘dirty baboos’ in the East needed a good thrashing with ‘the sjambok,’” announced The Times.
We checked our digital scans of Churchill’s books, articles, speeches and published papers and works about him. “Chinks” comes up twenty-one times, mostly in relation to chinks in walls, once in relation to the Chinese. “Baboos” has nine appearances, mostly in the words of Churchill’s father. The only quotation with both is not a direct Churchill quote. From Andrew Roberts’ Eminent Churchillians (1994), quoting contemporary journal columns by Lord Deedes and Robert Harris, 212-13:
Churchill’s adviser on intelligence matters, Major Desmond Morton, wrote that to Churchill “all Germans were Nazees, all Italians organ-grinders….en masse the Bedu is a dirty, cowardly cut-throat, with very primitive passions indeed and about as trustworthy as a King Cobra.” Furthermore, Negroes were “niggers” or “blackamoors,” Arabs were “worthless,” Chinese were “chinks” or “pigtails,” Indians were “baboos” (a contemptuous term for clerks), and South African black tribes were “Hottentots.” Not all Churchill’s racial characterizations were negative, however. He believed the Jews to be “the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world”
“Sjambok” (a rhino-hide whip commonly used on black miners in Southern Rhodesia during the early 1900s) comes up only three times, and only once in a Churchill quotation, by the Churchillophobe Clive Ponting in his book Churchill (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994. 690). Ponting’s footnote cites Christopher Thorne’s Allies of a Kind (1978), 60:
During a weekend at Chequers, the Governor of Burma, Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith, raised the possibility of self-government for some colonies but he found that Churchill would not listen. The Prime Minister’s response was to say, “What those people need is the sjambok” and to order the Governor to leave Chequers immediately.
So what The Times did was stitch together, from secondary sources, “chinks,” “baboos” and “sjambok,” to manufacture what will no doubt soon be all over the internet as a direct Churchill quotation.
There was no doubt that Churchill was a product of his time who occasionally (though apparently not a lot) used racial epithets. What is remarkable is the modern media’s belief that a century ago, Winston Churchill should have sounded like, well, Martin Luther King. They should consider what other Englishmen of his time were saying—Rudyard Kipling for example. Compared to him, our man sounded like Mahatma Gandhi.
COWES, ISLE OF WIGHT, AUGUST 18TH, 2004— The first meeting between Churchill’s parents is commemorated on a slate plaque here. They met during Cowes Week in 1873; their marriage two months later is remembered in the plaque, made of Cornish slate embedded in the pavement opposite Rosetta Cottage, Queen’s Road, now owned by the National Trust. It reads:
Rosetta Cottage lies the other side of the road and here, in Cowes Week, 1873, Lord Randolph Churchill first met and proposed to Jenny Jerome, eldest daughter of American Leonard Jerome, then proprietor [sic; he was an investor but never a proprietor] of The New York Times. Their marriage bore them their first son Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill 30th November 1874.
The plaque was placed through the efforts of Roberta Whipple, liason administrator for library and cultural of St. Pete Beach (sister city to Sandown, Isle of Wight). Noting there was no commemoration, Ms. Whipple contacted Councillor Heather Humby, then chairman of the Isle of Wight Council, got in touch with Councillor Geoff Banks at Cowes Town Council, and it was decided to put up a plaque in tribute. Cowes Town Council paid £500 towards the cost of the plaque and a donation came from the cultural affairs office at St, Pete Beach.
—MARTIN NEVILLE, ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY PRESS
L. ARTHUR KITZ, R.I.P.
HALIFAX, N.S., FEBRUARY 4TH— Mike Campbell reports that the bronze Churchill statue by Oscar Nemon, 1.5 tons and standing seven feet high, has been beautifully refurbished, and sends us the photograph at right. Mike, along with Terry Reardon of ICS Canada, provided the following extract from the obituary of the man who made it possible, who died today:
“One of Arthur Kitz’s most famous hurrahs was his championing of the fundraising effort to erect a seven-foot-tall Oscar Nemon bronze statue of Winston Churchill in front of Halifax Public Library on Spring Garden Road. The idea was hatched when Mr. Kitz and Henry (Hal) Jackman sat on the same board in the 1970s. Mr Jackman was keen to see statues of the British wartime leader erected in several Canadian cities and was prepared to prime the project with a personal donation. Mr. Kitz headed a committee that eventually raised more than $150,000. Mr. Jackman also funded the Oscar Nemon statue in Toronto City Hall Square, which is a copy of the statue in the House of Commons in Westminster.
—GLOBE AND MAIL
Leonard Kitz became the first Jewish mayor of Halifax in 1955; Mike Campbell’s mother was his personal secretary for many years. Kitz’s widow, Janet, is a Halifax historian.