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Finest Hour 160

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Savrola: The Original Preface

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 61

Bangalore, 24 May 1898

I have adopted this method of recording a few things that I have noticed, while I have been alive. I do not associate myself with the actions and opinions of my characters, some of whom[,] I fear, are very shocking people. Yet the moralist may console himself with the reflection, that the story ends, at least, in the triumph of comparative virtue.

Books are frequently written with an ulterior object; to plead some cause or to teach some great moral lesson. The object of these pages is only to amuse. like the perfect dinner they should be agreeable at the time and never cause a thought afterwards.

Originally the tale was intended to be pacific. An interruption in writing was caused by the war on the North West frontier of India. The scenes and experiences of that time may have invested the closing pages with a ruddier tinge; and my endeavours are now extended to pleasing varied tastes, philosophic or blood thirsty.
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Cohen Corner – THE BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SAVROLA – “Far and Away the Best Thing I Have Ever done” —WSC, 1897

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 58

By Ronald I Cohen

In the citation for Churchill’s 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature, Swedish novelist and poet Sigfrid Siwertz said that our author’s “political and literary achievements are of such magnitude that one is tempted to resort to portray him as a Caesar who also has the gift of Cicero’s pen.” The Swedish Academy had Churchill’s historical oeuvre in mind, not his works of fiction, of which there were only three. Of these Savrola was the only production of book-length.

In mid-career, Churchill seemed anxious to forget his early fling with novel writing. In 1929, a Toronto re- porter who had never heard of Savrola asked if he’d ever thought of writing fiction. “Not much,” WSC replied—“I wrote a novel once.” “What happened to it?” the reporter inquired, and recorded Churchill’s reply: “‘I don’t know,’ in the tone of voice people employ when they say ‘lost at sea.’”

Those whose only familiarity with Savrola comes from Churchill’s charming and humorous autobiography My Early Life may have been similarly misled. Alluding to his novel, published thirty years earlier Churchill wrote in self-reproach: “I have consistently urged my friends to abstain from reading it.”
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Curiosities – Peter Churchill: What’s in a Name?

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 56

By Madelin Terrazas

During the Second World War, Peter Morland Churchill, and his colleague in the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Odette Sansom, put his name to use with panache.

Odette Sansom became part of Britain’s clandestine war effort in 1942, after mistakenly addressing a letter to the War Office rather than the Admiralty. She was responding to an Admiralty plea for information on France, to help with raids and the eventual reinvasion of the continent. Enclosing some photographs of the country, she wrote that she was French and knew Boulogne. The War Office sent her material to SOE, and she was duly recruited as an agent.

After completing training, Odette (codename “Lise”) travelled in a small fishing boat to Cassis, where she met the local SOE organiser, Peter Churchill (code-name “Raoul”). Odette’s original mission was to cross Vichy France, joining a resistance group in Burgundy. But when Vichy was occupied by the Germans on 11 November 1942, she remained Peter’s courier in Cannes and later in St. Jorioz, near Annecy, in eastern France near the Swiss border.
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Education – Pentland Churchill Design Competition

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 54

By Allen Packwood


The afternoon of September 16th witnessed a remarkable occasion. Boris Johnson, the colourful and frequently controversial mayor of London, arrived on his bicycle at the Churchill War Rooms, stepped inside, and proceeded to announce the winners of the inaugural Pentland Churchill Design Competition.

The contest was the brainchild of Morice Mendoza, a trustee of The Churchill Centre (UK), who was keen to find a vehicle for getting today’s students to think about Sir Winston and what he means for their generation. The idea was taken up by fellow trustee Stephen Rubin and his team at The Pentland Group, a leading brand management and retail firm, including Chief Designer Katie Greenyer. Her brief challenged British art college students to “explore the extraordinary story of Churchill’s life and impact on the 20th century and articulate your vision of his continuing relevance to the contemporary scene” in an original work of art, design or fashion.

The Arts Thread website ( provided an excellent vehicle for reaching students. Out of 156 entries, eight finalists were selected. The finalists gathered with members of the Churchill family and press photographers to await the Mayor Johnson’s pronouncement. (He pointed out that he was not one of the judges and was simply delivering the verdict!)
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Education – How Churchill Helped Develop the Tank

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 50


When an eighth grade student at sartartia Middle School in Sugar Land, Texas, approached us with questions pertaining to his project, we did not anticipate how comprehensive it would be, and how illuminating the result, which we are now pleased to share with readers.

For National History Day, the annual academic program focused on historical research for 6th to 12th grade students, I chose to consider Winston Churchill and his efforts to implement the tank in World War I. The Churchill Centre website was of great assistance. I then wrote the editor of Finest Hour, who answered some questions and directed me to Marcus Frost here in Texas, who provided significant information and even loaned me books on the subject, which he consulted in his own article on Churchill and the Tank in Finest Hour 135.

My project took the form of several illustrated panels. The most challenging task was condensing the entire exhibit to 500 words, the maximum allowed by the rules. I quoted both Messrs. Langworth and Frost, without whose information, and the sources they provided, I could not have achieved this level of thoroughness and accuracy. I am grateful for all this assistance. The Churchill Centre really made this topic more interesting than I ever thought it would be. —W.S.
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Articles – Fisher and the Naval Revolution

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 49

Abstract By Antoine Capet


Christopher M. Bell, “On Standards and Scholarship: A Response to Nicholas Lambert,” in War in History 20:3, June 2013, pages 381-409.

This article examines Nicholas A. Lambert’s criticisms (“On Standards: A Reply to Christopher Bell, War in History 19, 2012) of Professor Bell’s article, “Sir John Fisher’s Naval Revolution Reconsidered: Winston Churchill at the Admiralty, 1911-1914” (War in History 18, 2011).
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Articles – WSC’s “Three Majestic Circles”

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 48

By Richard Davis: Author’s Abstract

“The Geometry of Churchill’s ‘Three Majestic Circles’: Keystone of British Foreign Policy or trompe l’œil?” in Mélanie Torrent and Claire Sanderson, eds., La puissance britannique en question: Diplomatie et politique étrangère au 20e siècle / Challenges to British Power Status: Foreign Policy and Diplomacy in the 20th Century. Series Enjeux internationaux, 25. Brussels: Peter Lang, 2013, 79-92.

“As I look out upon the future of our country in the changing scene of human destiny I feel the existence of three great circles among the free nations and democracies. I almost wish I had a blackboard. I would make a picture for you…. The first circle for us is naturally the British Commonwealth and Empire, with all that that comprises. Then there is also the English-speaking world in which we, Canada, and the other British Dominions and the United States play so important a part. And finally there is United Europe. These three majestic circles are co-existent and if they are linked together there is no force or combination which could overthrow them or even challenge them.
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Reviews – Winston & Me

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 48
Winston & Me, by Mark Woodburn. Valley Press, softbound, 320 pp., $12, Kindle edition $2.99. Portrayal ★★★ Worth Reading ★★★

Mark Woodburn’s first fiction, this is a coming-of-age novel about a young Scot who becomes Churchill’s batman in the trenches of Flanders in 1916. It features a large number of Churchill scenes and covers a period in his life which has rarely if ever, been treated in fiction. Woodburn offers an excellent portrayal of Churchill and those close to him, like Archie Sinclair and Eddie Marsh.
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Reviews – Churchill in Fiction

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 48

By Michael McMenamin

Novels are rated one to three stars on two questions: Is the portrayal of Churchill accurate? Is the book worth reading?

His Majesty’s Hope, by Susan Elia MacNeal. Bantam, softbound, 368 pp., $15, member price $12, Kindle edition $7.99. Portrayal★★★ Worth Reading★★★

Churchill is undergoing a renaissance as a literary character in new, well-written novels—so much so that readers will no longer be burdened with reviews of any novel with low ratings, except where we receive multiple inquiries from readers, as for example the late, unlamented Churchill’s Secret Agent (FH 153). We don’t want you to read bad novels just because Churchill is a character. That is not the case with these two quite different recent efforts.

His Majesty’s Hope is a mystery thriller set in England and Germany in the latter half of 1941, third in the Maggie Hope series. In the first, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary (FH 156), Maggie is hired as a Churchill stenographer and helps foil a Nazi plot to assassinate the King. In the second, Princess Elizabeth’s Spy (FH 158), Churchill sends Maggie to MI5, which places her as a tutor to Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in order to unmask a Nazi spy in the Royal household.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – National Security, 1940s-Style

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 47

By Warren F. Kimball

Conspiracy of One: Tyler Kent’s Secret Plot against FDR, Churchill and the Allied War Effort, by Peter Rand. Lyons Press, hardbound, illus., 272 pp. $26.95, Kindle $12.90, member price $21.60.

More years ago than I care to remember, I suggested to a bright undergraduate at Rutgers College that his Honors thesis was worth pursuing further. That began my longstanding fascination with the tale of Tyler Kent and his unauthorized, possibly illegal, copying of correspondence between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, along with some 1500 other pieces of classified material. The student (Bruce Bartlett, onetime economic adviser to George H.W. Bush, now a commentator on economic policies) and I churned out a piece, based on research in U.S. and British archives, outlining the details of the Tyler Kent episode.

For the most part, the “Kent Affair” became a throwaway line in diplomatic history textbooks. Even biographies of both Roosevelt and Churchill paid only cursory attention. Yet three books, now a fourth, followed. (None was written by us; none attracts much attention, nor alas did we.)*
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Those “Tribal Leaders” Again

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 46

By William John Shepherd

Churchill Versus Hitler: The War of Words, by Peter John. Bennion Kearny Limited, soft- bound, 354 pp., $17.99, Kindle edition $9.99.

Based upon three years of archival research Mr. John, an economist and former economic adviser to the British government, believes few feuds in history compare in scope to that of Churchill and Hitler. Much has been written comparing them, so saying something new is a challenge.

The two antagonists addressed diplomatic and military events before and during the Second World War in their speeches, writings and private conversations, often taunting each other with colorful and original epithets. Churchill called Hitler a “monstrous abortion of hatred and defeat” (179) and a ”blood-thirsty guttersnipe” (200). Hitler called Churchill an “undisciplined swine” (224) and “senile clown”(274). The author logically uses a chronological rather than thematic approach and early poses a thoughtful question: when did each first become aware of the other?

There is no definitive answer, but John makes a convincing argument that Hitler must surely have known of Churchill soon after the latter became First Sea Lord in 1911, given the budding tension and wide reportage of the Anglo-German naval rivalry. Hitler first came to prominence in the English speaking world via The Times, which reported on his failed “Beer Hall Putsch” of 1923 and his subsequent trial.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Churchill in the Great War: The BBC Gets it Right

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 44

By Paul H. Courtenay

Churchill’s First World War. A ninety-minute BBC Television production, aired 30 July 2013.

This new BBC programme (with no commercial breaks) kept interest high for its duration. A well-known historian, Professor Gary Sheffield, led the presentation, which, as the title reveals, dealt with Churchill’s activities during the Great War. Interestingly, nearly all the academics who were invited to speak were largely unknown to Churchillians, so one or two new angles on the story had their opportunities.

With occasional references to Churchill’s earlier and later life experiences (it was good to see Chartwell’s House & Collections Manager Alice Martin), the story really began with Churchill’s time as First Lord of the Admiralty (1911-15), and how he ensured that the Royal Navy was fully prepared by the outbreak of war in 1914. Next came Antwerp, which was accurately covered; Churchill’s offer to remain there as the commanding general was described with some scorn, as it was by the prime minister at the time—in fact, as notable historians have mentioned, the few days gained by his personal leadership undoubtedly reduced the risk of the Channel ports being overrun. This achievement could have been more charitably appreciated, both then and now.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Turn up the Air Conditioning

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 45

By Erica L. Chenoweth

Winston Churchill, CEO: 25 Lessons for Bold Business Leaders, by Alan Axelrod. Sterling, hardbound, illus., 288 pp., $22.95.

Publishers print thousands of “business books,” shove them into stores or websites, and expect readers who are too busy to read to snatch them up. The genre’s raison d’être is the premise that it is good to learn from the experience of others. Alas, the result, as stated by management consultant Dave Logan, is that “95% go on one of two lists: ‘if you don’t know this already, you should be working at the DMV’ (Department of Motor Vehicles). And, ‘if you do these things, your company will become the DMV.’” All due respect to the DMV, but Alan Axelrod’s book is no exception.

Axelrod holds a doctorate in English literature and once published fourteen books in one year. Authors with outputs like that cannot be expected to be expert on Churchill o r business, so his book provides little insight into either. CEO could be read like a synopsis of Churchill’s life by an enthusiastic author who has spent limited time with Churchill’s writings and biographies.
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Action This Day – Autumn 1888, 1913, 1938, 1963

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 42

By Michael McMenamin


Autumn 1888 • Age 14

“It spoils my afternoon”

Six of Winston’s nine letters to his parents this season contained pleas to visit him at Harrow. His father never did; his mother came once. Writing in anticipation of her visit he said: “try and come early because it spoils my afternoon to wait at the Railway Station.” Next he wrote: “Would you let me have a line to say by what train you could come? Do let me know because it is rather ‘stale’ waiting.” On 26 October, the day before her arrival, he again wrote: “Will you come tomorrow morning as early as possible. Do come, you can take me out to luncheon & we can be very happy. I have a lot to tell you but as I am expecting you tomorrow I shall wait.”

Winston wrote to his father on the 28th, the day after his mother’s visit, and told him of the “grand Sham fight” between the Harrow Rifle Corps and Cambridge, which his mother had witnessed. “I am going to learn 1000 lines of Shakespeare this term for the Prize,” Winston added. “I hope I shall get it.” In the event he did not, but he put a positive spin on his effort. “I lost the Shakespeare Prize for the Lower School by 27 marks,” he wrote his mother the next day. “I was rather astonished as I beat some twenty boys who were much older than I.” He did not tell his father until November: “I came out 4th for the Lower School among some 25 boys— some of whom were not less than 7 forms above me. I got 100 marks & the boy who got the prize got 127.”
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Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 41

By Peter Pooley

Nineteen sixty-four was Churchill’s last year as a Member of Parliament. He attended infrequently, but he usually was there when his son-in-law, Christopher Soames, was scheduled to speak. I was then a junior member of Soames’s private office in the Ministry of Agriculture. One of my charges was to prepare Parliamentary work. I prepared the dossier for Parliamentary Questions, and after rehearsing my minister would sit in the official box while the drama of Question Time unfolded. On these occasions the grand old man would toddle in, supported physically by a couple of younger Members, and take his privileged seat on the front bench below the gangway. Formally there are no reserved seats, but traditionally this seat is the preserve of former Prime Ministers, and no one else would dare to sit there.

For a giant of history, I remember being surprised at how small he was. Of course he had shrunk with age, but at the time I judged him to be below average height, perhaps five feet six. He was still a colossus as a statesman and I noticed how, as he stood at the bar of the House and made his bow, the buzz of conversation was stilled, and all eyes were turned on Sir Winston. The experience was dazzling and memorable for a 27-year-old civil servant.
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