Finest Hour 163, Summer 2014
Quotation of the Season
The danger which threaten the tranquillity of the modern world come not from those powers that have become interdependent upon others…. They come from those powers which are more or less aloof from the general intercourse of mankind….” —WSC, HOUSE OF COMMONS, 8 MARCH 1905
BLADON, MAY 4TH— In the annual Holger Danske Clubben ceremony, Claus Grube, Danish Ambassador to Britain, laid a wreath in commemoration of the Danish Resistance and in thanks to Winston Churchill for Denmark’s liberation. The short service, organised and attended by local British Legion groups, gave thanks for “all those who served in the Resistance and other Forces…for the life and memory of Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, who led the free world in the fight for peace during the Second World War.”
Getting to Chartwell
WESTERHAM, MARCH 20TH— Chartwell opened today and through November 2nd, although the studio, exhibition room, gardens and estate are open throughout the year. Opening times are Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm, with the last house admission at 4:15 pm. Entry fees (house and gardens) are £12.50 adults, £6.25 children, £31.25 family. Visitors may opt for a small premium, “Gift Aid on Entry,” which is a donation. For the gardens and studio only, entry is £6.25 adults, £3.10 children and £15.60 family. There are no guided tours (although guides are present to help), but there is a reduced group rate of £10.70 adults for house and gardens. Telephone (01732) 868381.
By road, Chartwell is two miles south of Westerham on the A25, accessed by M25 junctions 5 and 6. We often receive queries about getting there by rail and bus: Sevenoaks Station is 6.5 miles away, Oxted Station 5.5 miles. Buses run only on Sundays and national holidays: from Sevenoaks, take bus Southlands 401. Alas, the Chartwell Explorer coach from London no longer runs.
Rail users tell us the best connection from London is out of Victoria Station using trains such as the Capital Coast Express, marked “to East Grinstead and calling at Oxted.” Though only a mile closer than Sevenoaks, Oxted is less congested, making for a cheaper taxi fare. Talk the cabbie into picking you up for the return drive to Oxted at a set time. The last person we heard from said the fare each way was around £12-15.
LONDON, APRIL 2ND— Churchill’s 1941 journey to the USA to meet Roosevelt for the First Washington Conference, code name Arcadia, has been featured in the top ten “iconic departures” of the last 100 years by the British public. This comes as Heathrow Airport announces the hundred most “iconic departures” from Britain to destinations abroad over the last century, by plane, train, boat or car. “Iconic” is a modern fad-word we shun here, but that is what they call the award.
LONDON, APRIL 18TH— Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, praised the marriage of Winston and Clementine Churchill. In criticising the “couple’s policy,” which can cost married Britons up to £7000 per year in taxes, he cites the Churchills as a model: “They were together for fiftysix years and remained deeply in love. [WSC] once said: ‘My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.’ He knew marriage was central to a happy life….My wife and I are fast catching up to Winston and Clementine, with nearly fifty-four years on the clock. We, too, need no convincing that marriage is the absolute heart of human love and the building block of society. In saying this, I am not condemning other forms of family life, but I am firmly convinced that marriage is the best and most stable of all.”
Sir Martin Honoured
HIGHGATE, LONDON, MAY 6TH— Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown opened a new library at Highgate School this morning in honour of world-renowned historian and TCC honorary member Sir Martin Gilbert. Mr. Brown paid tribute to Sir Martin, a former Highgate pupil, then unveiled a plaque bearing the historian’s name to be erected above the entrance to the new library. The Labour MP, who was prime minister in 2007-10, is the first former premier to visit the prestigious independent school, in North Road, Highgate, in its 449-year history.
—TIM LAMDEN, HAM & HIGH
1945 Plot Declassified
LONDON, FEBRUARY 28TH— A plot to murder Churchill by a radical group in Israel has been revealed in declassified secret documents. MI5 files show that Lehi or “the Stern Gang,” a right-wing group of Jewish extremists, planned to send agents to London to kill Churchill and members of his government. The group also targeted Labour’s Ernest Bevin, British foreign minister after World War II. Lehi was committed to forcing Britain out of Palestine where it had governorship.
The plot to assassinate Churchill was concocted by a Stern Gang leader named Eliyahu Bet-Zuri. It was uncovered after a member of the gang was arrested in April 1945. The group was also responsible for murdering one of Churchill’s close friends in Cairo in 1944: Lord Moyne, a Middle East minister. Bet-Zuri was hanged in 1945 for his role in the murder.
In 1946 the threat of Zionist terrorism to British interests was made starkly clear by the King David Hotel bombing, targeting the British administrative headquarters for Palestine. The attack, carried out by militant rightwingers, killed ninety-one people.
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES
FRINTON, ESSEX, FEBRUARY 24TH— A professional graffiti artist has created a tribute to Churchill at Frinton railway station. David Nash spent four hours painting a massive mural of Sir Winston. He was commissioned to create the piece by “Frinton in Bloom,” as part of an ongoing bid to boost the image of the station. It is Nash’s second work for the station.
LONDON, MAY 20TH— Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent will portray Winston Churchill in an eight-part “West Wing”-style television series portraying, day by day, the events leading to World War II. Screenwriter Shawn Slovo has written a pilot episode and mapped other programmes for the asyet-untitled show. The programmes will show how Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain made Churchill First Lord of the Admiralty (the second time he held that post), and how he and Churchill (and other Ministers) clashed over wartime strategy. Behindthe-scenes deliberations between Churchill, top government officials, armed services departments and diplomats, and all the minutiae of taking Britain to war, will be explored. [We hope they won’t make more of this than is warranted. —Ed.]
Though clearly different from “The West Wing,” it will have that same sense of how decisions were thrashed out behind the scenes, and eventually, made public. It hasn’t been decided yet, but the series is likely to end with Churchill becoming Prime Minister. If approved by the BBC, filming is expected to begin late summer or early autumn. —BAZ BAMIGBOYE, MAIL ONLINE
Irish Troubles, 1943
DUBLIN, MAY 20TH— Churchill was “disproportionately obsessed” with the possibility of security leaks from Ireland as D-Day approached, said Professor Eunan O’Halpin at a D-Day Colloquium at Trinity College Dublin. He had to be reassured frequently that there was no danger. Churchill also chafed at the continuing presence of a German Embassy in Ireland, which he told Attlee was “an abominable state of things…Their [the Irish] conduct in this war will never be forgiven by the British nation unless it is amended before the end.” One useful amendment was Irish Army Captain Rickard Donovan, who became deputy director of the Combined Operations Division, charged with coordinating land, sea and air forces during the D-Day landings—about whom Dr. Steven O’Connor writes in a new book on Irish officers in the British Forces from 1922 to 1945.
The conference also heard from Brian Stewart, 92, who was part of the Black Watch who went ashore on D-Day +1. Stewart recalled that it was hard to see the sky for the number of aircraft and barrage balloons. “When you think of all those little things that could go wrong,” he said, “it is amazing that it worked.”
—RONAN MCGREEVEY IN THE IRISH TIMES
USS Winston S. Churchill
NORFOLK, MARCH 3RD— Past and present crew members, friends, and family were on hand as Cdr. Christine O’Connell of Houston assumed command of the 10,000-ton guided-missile destroyer from Cdr. Chris Stone of Duncanville, Texas. O’Connell, a 1996 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, had served as the ship’s executive officer for the last twenty months, and will command the ship for about eighteen months.
“Few crews are more dedicated or more accomplished than these extraordinary men and women,” said Cdr. Stone, who began his command in August 2012, just after the ship departed for its most recent nine-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. He led the ship through joint naval exercises and operations with Canada, Great Britain, Jordan, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, and made history by participating in the first U.S. Central Command joint counterpiracy exercise between the United States and Chinese navies.
Cdr. Stone is assuming the position of executive assistant to Director Surface Warfare (OPNAV N96) in Washington. USS Winston S. Churchill (Finest Hour 110) is the first U.S. warship to be named in honor of Sir Winston and the 16th named after a foreign national. The 13-year-old destroyer is preparing to certify for her upcoming deployment in 2015.
KILMARNOCK, SCOTLAND, APRIL 9TH— Johnnie Walker celebrated Britain’s Winston Churchill Day by creating a limited edition Red Label bottle and a commemorative Johnnie Walker whisky cocktail, the “Winston Walker.” Twenty bespoke bottles celebrated the man, with illustrations and quotes on the traditional square bottle. Churchill usually drank Johnnie Walker well diluted with water or soda. The Winston Walker is a blend of Johnnie Walker Red and soda, with British beer and a touch of marmalade. Exclusive to thebar.com, the ingredients are inspired by 1940s Britain.
The Winston Walker Recipe: 60ml Johnnie Walker Red Label, 40ml Spitfire beer, 15ml lemon juice, 10ml sugar syrup, 20ml soda, one tbsp marmalade, one cinnamon stick. (1) Fill a shaker with ice. (2) Using a jigger, measure Johnnie Walker Red Label, lemon juice, sugar syrup and marmalade into the shaker. (3) Shake until cold or until the surface of the cocktail shaker feels chilled. 4) Strain into a short glass. (5) Using a jigger, add beer and soda to the glass and stir thoroughly until well combined. (6) Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Spitfire, made in Kent, is labeled the “Battle of Britain beer,” but if you can’t find it try any hearty British ale; make ours Newcastle Brown.
LONDON, MARCH 14TH— The loss of Hugh Lunghi severs the last link with a participant in the Big Three conferences at Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam. Those who attended ICS (UK)’s annual general meeting at Sandhurst in 2006 will have heard the riveting talk by this genial man who was one of Churchill’s Russian interpreters at meetings with Stalin in all three conferences, as well as in Moscow. A wider audience will also remember Hugh’s appearance on a panel at the 2011 London conference. A transcript of his 2006 remarks can be found in Finest Hour 135, and is a precious record in the archives.
Hugh Lunghi grew up bilingual because his mother was half-Russian; he was at Oxford when World War II began and, after completing his studies, he joined the Army.
When the Soviet Union was attacked and became an ally, the British established a military mission in Moscow. Hugh was assigned to this outpost, whence his top-level existence began. At Yalta, it was Hugh Lunghi who personally informed the Russians of the Anglo-American agreement to their request to bomb Dresden. His description of eyeball-to-eyeball contacts with Stalin should be essential reading for anyone trying to write accurate history about the Soviet dictator. Hugh is an irreplaceable loss to all who met and admired him. Dead at 93. R.I.P.
—PAUL H. COURTENAY
Quiz to Website
Readers may wish to note that the “Churchill Quiz” Department has been transferred to our website, where it will continue to challenge erudite Churchillians. Our thanks to James Lancaster for his many installments herein, along with his predecessors, Curt Zoller and Barbara Langworth.
Jock VI at Chartwell
WESTERHAM, KENT, MARCH 10TH— A promise made to an aging Sir Winston was honoured when a kitten was given a home at Chartwell.
For his 88th birthday in 1962, Churchill was given a marmalade cat named Jock after one of his private secretaries, Sir John “Jock” Colville. The cat was so dear to Sir Winston that it was rumoured that meals would not start until Jock was at the table. Sir Winston and his family requested that after his death there should always be a marmalade cat named Jock, with a white bib and four white socks, resident at Chartwell. The National Trust, which was left the property in 1966, has always honoured the request and this month welcomed Jock VI, a seven-month-old rescue kitten.
Jock VI, or “Malley” as he was previously known, was rescued by Croydon Animal Samaritans before being adopted by Chartwell’s house and collections manager, Katherine Barnett. Trust officials said he takes afternoon naps, eats tuna and lounges on Persian rugs. Chartwell has a green cat-flap, approved by an historic buildings inspector.
“Jock VI has had a difficult start to his life, but as the saying goes, a cat will always land on its feet,” says Ms. Barnett. “I’m delighted with Jock. He’s a very caring, loving cat and I think our visitors will get lots of enjoyment from seeing him around the property for many years to come.”
Anna Nikolic, a trustee and senior fosterer with Croydon Animal Samaritans, said: “We’re delighted to have found such a loving home for Jock and know Katherine and the team at Chartwell will provide for all his needs.We hope to give all our rescue cats this happy-ever-after ending, and would encourage anyone looking for a family cat themselves to get in touch with us.”
The new cat’s predecessor, Jock V, left Chartwell when its owner, the former house and collections manager left. A Trust spokesman said: “The pair had such a close bond, they stayed together and are both now living in the Scottish countryside.”
—MATTHEW HOLEHOUSE, DAILY TELEGRAPH
Errata, FH 161
Page 5: We misquoted the Duke of Windsor’s unintended insult. The correct wording is: “…thank-you so much for sending me a copy of your latest book. I have put it on the shelf with all the others.” Reader Mark Epstein wondered if the writer was not the Duke of Gloucester, as stated by William Manchester (Last Lion, vol. 2) and Sarah Churchill (A Thread in the Tapestry). Our information comes from Lady Soames and Anthony Montague Browne. (The book, by the way, was one of the Marlborough volumes in the 1930s.)
On the evidence, we believe that the writer was the Duke of Windsor, not Gloucester. It is only fair, however, to quote the Duke’s rather more positive letter upon receipt of his copy of Churchill’s Arms and the Covenant in August 1938 (Churchill Papers 1/324): “It was unpacked and placed in a bookshelf, and it was only on taking it out to-day that I discovered you had, as usual, signed this copy for me. I therefore apologise sincerely for the delay in writing to thank you for the book, and assure you I shall lose no time in reading it.”
Page 49: We erroneously stated that Lady Diana Cooper’s cover story “Winston and Clementine” appeared in FH 87. It appeared in FH 83, Second Quarter, 1994, pages 10-13. A readable .pdf of this issue is posted in the Finest Hour section of our website, winstonchurchill.org.