March 15, 2015

Finest Hour 160, Autumn 2013

Page 06

Quotation of the Season


Churchill Companion II

CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 15TH—The ultimate Churchill facts book sold out. It is now reprinted, with numerous corrections and more information. The new color cover, Richard Deane Taylor’s 1951 portrait, is laminated to protect from frequent use. The Companion is offered both square-bound ($9.95) and spiral-bound ($12.95). The spiral version lies flat at any page and is very handy for researchers.

Contents: 1873-1977 Timeline of events, Books by Churchill, Books about Churchill, Wartime Broadcasts, Pound-Dollar Values 1874-2014, Film and Television, election Results 1899-1959, Family Tree, Best Finest Hour Articles, Funeral Services, glossary of Parliamentary and Political Terms, governments, Sovereigns, Prime Ministers, Nobility, Decorations and Medals, Favorite Hotels, Military Commissions and Units, leading Churchill Myths, Offices Held by WSC, British Political Parties, Churchill’s Residences, Private and Parliamentary Secretaries, Summit Conferences in WW2, Thoroughbred Horses, Travel by Sea, Visits to North America, Travel in WW2, and Chartwell Visitor’s Book.        Corrections and additions, with the kind assistance of Ronald Cohen, include Mary Soames’s wedding date (1947, not 1946!), new entries for WSC’s first speech (1895), his first political speech (1897), and his three speeches to the U.S. Congress.

Here is a fountain of information you can’t find in any other single source, indispensable for knowing of Churchill’s life and times. stocks it for us, and proceeds support The Churchill Centre. Order now from If you can’t use Amazon, email the editor who will arrange for orders by check (cheque).

2024 International Churchill Conference

Join us for the 41st International Churchill Conference. London | October 2024

Stone Sober

LOS ANGELES, JULY 10TH— Keith Richards has turned seventy.  Asked by Men’s Journal how he got there after all those drugs, Richards replied: “With the smack, I knew: ‘I’ve got to stop now, or I’m going to go in for hard time.’ The cocaine I quit because I fell on my head! Actually, my body tells me when to stop…” (

MJ asked: was damage done? “I’ve never felt that it affected the way I played one way or another. [Neither did we.] It’s like Churchill said about alcohol, ‘I’ve taken a lot more out of alcohol than it’s ever taken out of me!’ I got something out of it.”

Louis Armstrong said, when asked to explain Jazz: “If you gotta ask, you just ain’t never gonna know.” But if you gotta ask, Keith Richards is a founder of the Rolling Stones. And he almost got the quotation right.

Lion’s Roar Preserved

CAMBRIDGE, JULY 3RD— Sir Winston’s gramophone record collection has been rediscovered after thirty years at the Churchill Archives, some records being original recordings of speeches Churchill gave that were not recorded elsewhere. Several were privately commissioned and some are the only surviving recordings of these speeches.

Archives Director Allen Packwood writes: “The press love the term ‘discovered.’ The truth is that Churchill’s record cabinet was transferred here from Chartwell thirty years ago so that it could be kept more safely. When our conservator, Sarah Lewery, and archivists Katharine Thomson and Natalie Adams, conducted a detailed audio survey of our holdings last year, and began digitising some of the records in the cabinet, we realised it contained more than music hall and marching bands.

“Some of the contents were rare (if not unique) recordings of WSC in full flow at private appearances. They begin in 1909 with a speech in support of Lloyd George’s ‘People’s Budget,’ and go right through to the 1950s, covering half a century of Churchill’s oratory, like his 1947 tribute to Al Smith, the former New York governor whom he privately supported for president in 1928. I do not think anyone here had appreciated that such non-commercial recordings could and would be made so easily.”

Here is another example: On 28 May 1952, Churchill spoke to the National Association of Her Majesty’s Tax Inspectors, saying: “I feel a great burden upon me at my age having seen so much and been through so much. Not that I cannot bear it in the ordinary physical sense, but I do see great perils hanging over the country. We have all got to fight together for the life of the nation….Our feeling is to some extent alleviated by the fact that we’re all in it together.”

Churchill then became more light-hearted, paying tribute to his audience. He said the country owed the tax inspectors a debt of gratitude for their help “in extracting more and more money from those who guilelessly voted us into office.” He joked about his last visit to the Association some twenty-five years earlier, when he was “only” Chancellor of the exchequer and Second lord of the Treasury, comparing this with his new positions as Prime Minister and First lord of the Treasury.

The record collection also includes a previously-unheard recording of a speech Churchill made to RAF personnel at the Biggin Hill Aerodrome in 1951. Recalling how he once crashed while taking flying lessons in the years leading up to the First World War, he said his dinner companion that night thought he looked like “a ghost.” Then he told the officers: “I suspect you’ve had many more exciting adventures than that.”

The collection includes a number of musical and comedy works, including Noel Coward’s “Don’t let’s Be Beastly to the Germans,” some military marching music (including the Scipio March), as well as songs by music hall acts such as a Churchill favourite, Sir Harry Lauder’s “Keep Right on to the end of the Road.”

Sarah Lewery, racing against time to digitise the objects before they deteriorate, says the recordings on disc “are possibly the only ones extant and their physical survival is precarious. They are mainly lacquer or instantaneous discs. The cellulose nitrate coating, in which the grooves are cut, degrades very quickly, even in archival conditions.” The rare old recordings have been rescued from oblivion in the nick of time.

From this unique collection historians will be able glean valuable insights into a titan of oratory—not just his words, but his unique musical delivery that came to reflect and embody the hopes of a nation.

Putting down Roots

Tel AVIV, MARCH 30TH 1921—Tremendous excitement! Winston Churchill, the British colonial secretary, was visiting Tel Aviv! To impress him, it was decided to plant a forest in the sands. Workers were sent off to the Sharona, Mikve Yisrael and Abu Kabir woods, where they chopped down trunks of cypresses and pines, and stuck them in the sands between the Council House and the home of Mayor Meir Dizengoff.

When the automobile with Churchill and Dizengoff approached, the large crowd was pushed back and in the process tipped over the trees, exposing their hewn trunks. Dizengoff paled, but Churchill roared with laughter and whispered to the mayor, “Mr. Dizengoff, they won’t work without roots…”

—From an article in ESRA magazine, brought to our attention by William Vogt through his 2011 Tel Aviv tour guide, Danny Cohen, of Odysseys Unlimited, Washington, D.C.

Harry Flood Byrd, Jr. 1914-2013

WINCHESTER, VA., JULY 31ST— In 1929 Winston Churchill was entertained at the governor’s mansion in Richmond. When he expressed a wish for English mustard, young Harry Byrd was dispatched to a grocery store while a furious Mrs. Byrd slowed the dinner to a crawl until he returned. As Churchill’s car drove off the next day, her son overheard her say to the governor, “Harry, don’t you ever invite that man back.” The Senator told us that story in 1991 at a Churchill conference in Richmond.

Former U.S. Senator Harry Byrd Jr., whose historic decision to become an independent in 1970 would decide political power in Virginia for more than two decades, died at his home, aged 98. His death signals the close of an era in which Virginia politics were the purview of diehard Democrats who countenanced closing public schools in the late 1950s rather than consent to court-ordered desegregation. Sen. Byrd outlived not only that period but its mindset.

The son and namesake of a former governor and his successor in the Senate, Sen. Byrd was a courtly Southerner who bolted from the Democrats but refused to become a Republican, saying: “I would rather be a free man than a captive senator.”

Silver-haired, blue-eyed and apple-cheeked, he was given to a firm handshake, a deliberate speaking style and a slightly reedy laugh. An advocate of fiscal frugality, he often said, “I bring good news from Washington: Congress is not in session.”

As a boy in Richmond during his father’s governorship (1926-30), Sen. Byrd was introduced to many people who would shape world affairs, and he could recall flying with Lindbergh in the Spirit of Saint Louis. His memories of WSC are published here in “Churchill Proceedings,” page 32.

even after leaving the Senate, Byrd occasionally reminded Virginians of his independence, showing no regard for party labels in assessing proposals or policies. In 2004 he endorsed a sales tax increase urged by Democratic governor Mark Warner to stabilize state support for schools, police and social services, offsetting losses from a rollback of other taxes.

Harry Byrd was a Navy veteran of World War II, serving in the Pacific. He attended Virginia Military Institute and the University of Virginia. In 1941 he married Gretchen Thomson, one-time queen of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, which he helped organize. Mrs. Byrd died in 1989. Senator Byrd leaves three children, nine grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.

—Condensed from Jeff Schapiro’s column in the August 1st Richmond Times-Despatch. Read the full article at

UNESCO Awards Archives

TAMWORTH, STAFFORDSHIRE, JULY 9TH— The Cambridge Archives, which holds the papers of Sir Winston Churchill and lady Thatcher, is celebrating the inclusion of its core collection on the UK National Register of Documentary Heritage, linked to the United Nations educational, Social and Cultural Organization. At a ceremony today at Tamworth Town Hall, staff from the Archives were presented with a UNESCO award.

The Churchill Archive, housing the personal papers of Sir Winston Churchill, contains over one million items, including originals of his best- known phrases and speeches. It has been recognised by UNESCO as part of its Memory of the World Programme.  The collection will now appear on the UK National Register, highlighting its importance to the heritage of Britain. Churchill is joined this year by ten other British collections of note, including Alfred Hitchcock’s silent movies and The Domesday Book.

“Churchill’s words continue to resonate.” said Sir David Wallace, Master of Churchill College, home to the Churchill Archives Centre. “The notes for his great speeches, the drafts for his many books, and his rich correspondence are the raw material for the study and understanding of his legacy. It has to be right that they are now included on the National Register of our Documentary Heritage.”

UNESCO’s UK Register follows the larger, International Register of Documentary Heritage established in 1997. This list contains many types of globally important documentaries, from ancient clay inscriptions and writings on papyrus to modern digital sound recordings. UK entries to the list include the 1916 film The Battle of the Somme and Magna Carta.

“We hope [the] announcement will encourage people to discover these items and collections, as well as some of the other great documentary heritage near them,” said David Dawson, chairman of the UK Memory of the World Committee. For further information on accessing the archives, visit

Myth of the Blitz

LONDON, APRIL 1994—“The Myth of the Blitz…rested upon the assumed invincibility of an island race distinguished by good humour, understatement and the ability to pluck victory from the jaws of defeat by team work, improvisation and muddling through. In fact, in many ways, the Blitz was not like that. Sixty-thousand people were conscientious objectors; a quarter of London’s population fled to the country; Churchill and the Royal Family were booed while touring the aftermath of air-raids; Britain was not bombed into classless democracy.”

This is not about a new book, but is the publisher’s blurb for Angus Calder’s The Myth of the Blitz two decades ago. Calder proved conclusively that Britain failed to end its class system despite the best efforts of the Nazis, and that there were 60,000 conscientious objectors. A similar treatment was in Peter Stansky’s The First Day of the Blitz in 2008. As reputable historians, Calder and Stansky then described, using the same sources, just how resilient the British people really were.

We’d just like to point that out, in view of a new book making the same points, which some consider to be new. (Around & About, page 5.)


In Finest Hour 150, page 9, we reported a letter to The New Yorker by a reader who quoted Churchill as saying, “the Aryan stock is bound to triumph.” We stated that the “Aryan stock” quotation did not appear in Churchill’s canon. I have since found the quote in Churchill’s 1901 interview with Gustavus Ohlinger at Michigan University, published in FH 159: 34. My view of this remark is in my introduction to the interview on page 31: “Modern critics would of course bemoan the reference to triumph by ‘Aryan stock’; but that was the way Englishmen thought in 1901. It was left to Hitler to give Aryans a bad name.” —RML

In Finest Hour 159, page 20, I stated that Winston Churchill became Hon. Colonel of the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars in 1953. But Churchill himself (same issue, page 21) wrote on 13 July 1944, “…I am now Hon. Colonel.” evidently he achieved this honour well before 1953—or 1951 as some sources state. —PHC

A tribute, join us




Get the Churchill Bulletin delivered to your inbox once a month.