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Finest Hour 162

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Arts: A Provenance-Rich Churchill Painting

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 64

By Richard C. Marsh

“The Cathedral, Hackwood Park,” 1930s, from the Estate of Mrs. T.S. Eliot

Widely admired for its brilliant use of light and color, “The Cathedral, Hackwood Park,” was sold as lot #379 at a Christie’s London auction on November 20th, 2013. The seller was the Estate of Valerie Eliot, widow of T.S. Eliot. The selling price including buyer’s premium was £362,500 ($584,350).

The provenance is impressive, extending beyond T.S. Eliot. Churchill painted this arboreal scene at Hackwood House, Hampshire, the home of his friend Lord Camrose after 1935. The house was earlier leased by Lord Curzon. Camrose, owner of The Daily Telegraph and a good friend of the Churchills, led the postwar drive to raise the money to purchase and endow Chartwell, so the Churchills could live out their lives there, whence it passed to the National Trust. “The Cathedral, Hackwood Park” was a gift from Churchill to Camrose, and remained in that family until sold by the estate of the Second Viscount Camrose at Christie’s in June 1999. Valerie Eliot, the purchaser, spent £41,100 including buyer’s premium, equivalent to $68,340 at the time.
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Churchill Proceedings – “Fearful Colonials” or Smart Ones? – Canada Between the British and American Empires

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 55


By Warren F. Kimball


Canadians valued their independence even while cherishing their special political relationship to Britain and the Empire. With Churchill’s Britain the major ally, Canada tended to be subsumed in Anglo-American negotiations over the conduct of the war, a pattern that alternately pleased and annoyed wartime Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King, who projected a world role for Canada as the most important member of the British Commonwealth. Because Canadians sought, within the clear limitations of their economic and military strength, to play a global role during and after the war, hemispheric organizations and structures [which FDR promoted] held no appeal.*

Churchill from 1939 through 1945 subordinated Canada to the Anglo-American alliance that, along with the Soviet Union, defeated Nazi Germany. In his wonderful way, Sir Winston blithely assumed—a dangerous act for leaders—that the Empire would support the mother country. He was wrong to a greater degree than he expected about the Indians and the Irish, but not about the Canadians.
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The Churchill Centre Twenty Years On

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 52

“We cannot undo the past, but we are bound to pass it in review in order to draw from it such lessons as may be applicable to the future.…”
—WSC, House of Commons, 16 April 1936

“The Four Pillars of The Churchill Centre are Publications, Education, Research and Media.”
—Laurence Geller, Chairman, 2007

The Churchill Centre was founded out of the old International Churchill Society at Boston on 26 October 1995 “to inspire leadership, statesmanship, vision and courage through the thoughts, words, works and deeds of Winston Spencer Churchill.” An endowment campaign was begun, through which members known as “Churchill Centre Associates” raised an investment endowment of over $1.3 million. We promised that they would forever be honored by this publication, and their names still appear on the inside front cover. Approaching our 20th anniversary, it seems appropriate to recall the Centre’s many accomplishments since that time and some of the people who have made them possible.

1. Publications: “Books in Association”

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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Real Reason for Dieppe?

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 51

By Terry Reardon

One Day in August, by David O’Keefe. Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 496 pages, $35.

Dieppe, in 1941—the largest amphibious raid since Gallipoli in 1915—was a disaster. Troops landed at wrong locations, defences were much heavier than anticipated, and an unexpected naval encounter alerted the defenders. On the beach, Allied troops were sitting ducks for Germans in the surrounding cliffs. Most of the invaders were Canadian: of 4963 Canadians engaged, only 2104 returned to England.

In a wholly new slant to the operation, Quebec professor David O’Keefe spent twenty years examining thousands of historical documents, some only recently released. He provides a thorough insight into British code-breaking at Bletchley and its successes in reading enemy messages. Alas these were from the three-rotor Enigma machine; by late 1941 the Germans had introduced a four-rotor Enigma which brought code-breaking to a halt. O’Keefe therefore contends that the major objective of the Dieppe raid was to steal code books, documents and equipment, known to be in the Dieppe headquarters, which would allow Bletchley Park to regain mastery of the Enigma messages.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – The Debate in the Air

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 50

By Christopher M. Bell

Churchill and his Airmen: Relationships, Intrigue and Policy Making 1914-1945, by Vincent Orange. Grub Street Publishing, 320 pages, $49.99, Kindle edition $10.98, member price $39.95.

Churchill’s relationships with the uniformed leaders of Britain’s three fighting services have always been controversial, although his frequent clashes with generals and admirals have tended to attract more attention than his periodic scrapes with airmen. The air marshals were certainly not exempt from Churchill’s displeasure, as shown here by Vincent Orange, a prolific writer on the Royal Air Force and biographer of leading air marshals. But smoother relations have not always meant less controversy.

It is now widely accepted that Churchill tended to interfere too much with his professional advisers in wartime, but he is also sometimes criticised for not interfering enough—and especially for giving some of his airmen, most notably Hugh Trenchard and Arthur “Bomber” Harris, a relatively free hand. For many critics of Churchill’s leadership in the Second World War, his support for the Royal Air Force in general and the strategic bombing campaign in particular was a serious miscalculation.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Another “Operation Hope Not”

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 49

By David Freeman

Operation Unthinkable: The Third World War. British Plans to Attack the Soviet Empire 1945, by Jonathan Walker. History Press, 192 pages, $27.95, Kindle edition $13.99, member price $22.35.

As the Second World War in Europe wound down in the spring of 1945, Prime -Minister Churchill became deeply concerned by reports he received about the disappearance of Polish leaders and members of the Polish resistance under Soviet occupation. Grimly aware that defending Polish independence had been Britain’s stated purpose for declaring war in 1939, Churchill commissioned the Chiefs of Staff in April 1945 to draw up a most desperate scheme. The Chiefs of Staff duly commissioned a detailed plan from the Joint Planning Staff (JPS), which reported in May. Since no successful test of an atomic weapon had yet taken place, the operation outlined a large-scale conventional war that would attempt to secure a Polish nation free from Soviet control.

Although once a close-guarded secret, Britain’s plans for a possible war with the Soviet Union,  “Operation Unthinkable,” were long ago declassified. Jonathan Walker, though, is the first historian to give the subject a thorough going over, relating as he does the origins, details of and ultimate fate of the plan.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Churchill’s South Africa

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 48

Churchill’s South Africa: Travels During the Anglo-Boer War, by Chris Schoeman. Cape Town: Random House Struik/Zebra Press, 224 pages, $30. Kindle edition $8.79, member price $24.

English-born Chris Schoeman holds degrees in history from the University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa and Colorado State University, has written several books related to South Africa and the Anglo-Boer War, including Boer Boy: Memoirs of an Anglo-Boer War Youth (2010) and Brothers in Arms: Hollanders in the Anglo-Boer War (2012). The present work is a critical reevaluation of Churchill’s Anglo-Boer War activities in 1899-1900, constructed so as to measure Churchill’s written accounts against those of other contemporary participants from both sides of the conflict.

Churchill in his youth was a British cavalry officer who doubled as a war correspondent, reporting for newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph and Morning Post in the twilight of Queen Victoria’s reign. He also wrote books based upon his war despatches with the intent to win personal fame and fortune. His first two efforts, The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898) and The River War (1899), which chronicle British campaigns in India and the Sudan, as well as a novel of political intrigue, Savrola (1899), brought modest success. However, it was his adventures during the war in South Africa that projected him upon the world stage, particularly in launching his celebrated career in the British Parliament following the “Khaki Election” of 1900.
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Matters of Interpretation

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 47

By William John Shepherd

Churchill’s Bomb: How the United States Overtook Britain in the First Nuclear Arms Race, by Graham Farmelo. Basic Books, 576 pages, $29.99, Kindle $14.99, member price $24.

This book is a partial sequel to the author’s 2009 biography, Paul Dirac: Mystic of the Atom, a collective biography of the mostly-British protégés of pioneering Cambridge physicist Ernest Rutherford; their work in developing nuclear weapons with leaders like Churchill; and Britain’s relations over atomic matters with Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower. The earlier book could have been titled Churchill and the Scientists, like the BBC docu-drama Churchill and the Generals, depicting WSC’s adversarial relationships with his experts. In the Dirac, Churchill is quoted saying “scientists should be on tap, not on top” (320). Churchill’s Bomb puts the scientists “on top.”

Farmelo argues that Churchill the political leader lacked the foresight of Churchill the writer. While no academic, Churchill was a critical thinker who tried to keep abreast of technological advances. The statesman’s articles, “Shall We All Commit Suicide?” (1924) and “Fifty Years Hence” (1931), provocatively asked whether nuclear energy would provide vast new sources of energy, or gravely jeopardize humanity unless controlled through spiritual and moral development (43).
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Books, Arts & Curiosities – Medical History of the Supreme Survivor

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 46

By John H. Mather M. D.

Churchill: The Supreme Survivor, by A.W. Beasley. Mercer books, 216 pages, £20 from the publisher plus shipping; see

A. W. Beasley, a retired orthopedic surgeon in New Zealand with a keen interest in medical history and biography, fills a niche in Churchill studies with this record of Sir Winston’s medical conditions. The book reiterates much that is known, albeit scattered in various publications, but also adds fresh information from sources such as the Churchill Archives Centre. Stylistically the text is clear, with quotations in bold format, richly enhanced with many illustrations not previously seen in print.

Designed to attract a broad spectrum of readers, the book is notably free of medical jargon, and its review of medical practice in Churchill’s time is one of its qualities. Clear explanations in lay language address the significance of each medical problem and the efficacy of its treatment. Unfortunately the discussion of Churchill’s depression is misleading because it does not recognize it as a component of a likely mood disorder or a “cyclothymic personality,” as diagnosed by Sir Winston’s neurologist, Lord Brain.
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Inside the Journals

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 45

Abstracts by Antoine Capet


“British Conservative Opinion and the Problem of Germany after the First World War,” by Greg S. Parsons, International History Review 35/4 (2013) : 863-83.

This work examines British Tory attitudes towards the Weimar Republic through the lens of several issues from the 1918 Armistice to the 1923 Ruhr Crisis. A curious feature of British Conservative opinion at that time was its consistent hostility towards the new democratic German state. To be sure, Britain had fought a long and costly war with Germany, and passions had not cooled. Though from late 1918, the German government was committed to democratic principles Britain claimed to favour, many Tories doubted that the change was genuine or stable. During its formative years the Weimar Republic faced challenges that would have tested any nation. Political and economic conditions within Germany undermined the new government’s prospects; yet many Tories refused to consider these challenges. Ironically, the attitudes of British Conservatives added to the difficulties Weimar Germany faced in dealing with the postwar world.  
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History Detectives – When Churchill Kissed the Blarney Stone

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 42

By Fred Glueckstein

“Mr. Churchill is a dangerous public man, according to all the traditions, for the learned lexicographers state that he who kisses the Blarney Stone is endowed with the power ‘to blarney,’ and ‘to blarney,’ they say, is to humbug with wheedling talk so as to gain a desired end….”
Washington Post, 28 July 1912

On a visit to Blarney Castle near Cork, Ireland, my wife and I were surprised to see a humorous cartoon plaque depicting Churchill and comic actor Oliver Hardy. It shows them squeezed together on the steps of the castle tower, ascending to reach the legendary Blarney Stone. It reads in part:

“You will learn more of the story of the stone as you pass the Castle Chamber. Take care as you mount the winding stairs and, if you think the way is narrow, consider the two who went before you….Eloquence is not just a gift for the sylph-like.”1
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Action This Day – Spring 1889, 1914, 1939, 1964

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 40

By Michael McMenamin


Spring 1889 • Age 14

“I like to have you all to myself”

J.E.C. Welldon, Winston’s Harrow head master, wrote to Lord —Randolph in April to advise that he would be taking Winston into his own house during the next term “He has some great gifts, and is, I think, making progress in his work.” Welldon encouraged Lord and Lady Randolph to visit the school in May or June: “You would have, if nothing else, at least the opportunity of seeing what Winston’s school life is like.”

Winston continued constantly and fruitlessly to importune his parents to visit. In June he wrote to his mother: “Do do come down tomorrow. I would be disappointed if you did not come. I am looking forward to tomorrow tremendously.”
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“In Harmonious Relation with the Great Verities”

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 39



His Royal Highness began by declaring “how deeply touched, honoured, and, at this point, humbled” he felt by the Award, and by describing the Oscar Nemon bust with which he had been presented as, “without doubt one of the best sixty-fifth birthday presents I could have been given.”

“The extraordinary thing about getting older,” he continued, “is that suddenly you are presented with a chance to reminisce. Most of our lives when younger consist of sitting listening to older people.” As an historian he had been particularly fascinated in hearing them and asking questions.

His fond memories of Sir Winston go back to seeing him when Churchill had come to visit The Queen at Clarence House “when I was very small….I remember him vividly in the hall, with a large cigar, when he was putting on his coat and hat to go out.” He also remembered Churchill at Balmoral in the early Fifties. The tradition then was for the netting of very small trout, each year in August in Loch Muick, and everyone would take part. Sir Winston was sitting on a boulder with Lady Churchill; he picked up an enormous log and declared that he was “waiting for the Loch Muick monster”! A cine film taken by HM The Queen had reminded him of this, and of how annoying he must have been to Sir Winston at the age of five.
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“Making the Impossible Possible”

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 38

By Sir John Major


The Sir Winston Churchill Award is a tough measure. Sir Winston is probably—some would say certainly— the greatest Englishman in our long history. Great not just because of his achievements, but because of his capacity to hold his course when, as almost a lone voice, he was criticised, only to be proved right in the end.

Our recipient tonight has, over the years, faced his own criticism, his own setbacks, yet held firm to his own beliefs. That is the first of many reasons he is worthy of this award.

Let me touch on some of the qualities that make me say that. First, I think that he and Sir Winston are driven by the same sense of obligation and public duty. Churchill served in Parliament for over sixty years, and held most of the principal Offices of State. His record may never be equalled.
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Wit and Wisdom – TRUE MEN—AND WOMEN

Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014

Page 37

Mr. Jaap Engelsman in Amsterdam writes: “Since at least 1951 Churchill is said to have called Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands ‘the only true man in the Dutch government,’ or words to that effect. Can you track this quote to a reliable source?”

The only place on the Internet where we could find it is a Dutch war history site: We searched the online Churchill Archive but there are no hits for the phrase or key parts of it—frustrating because we suspect he felt that way on occasion during the war.

Churchill did have deep regard for Prime Minister Gerbrandy of the exiled Dutch government (whom he referred to as “Mr. Cherry Brandy”). Although, after the German invasion, the departure of the Queen and government was controversial in Holland, Churchill approved, since it meant Holland and her territories remained in the fight. He had hoped the French government would do the same. Gerbrandy regularly sent Churchill bottles of the fine Dutch gin “Jenever.”
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