The Place to Find All Things Churchill

Finest Hour 181

Books, Arts, & Curiosities – “A Bloody Awful Row”

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 48

Review by W. Mark Hamilton

Stephen Roskill, Admiral of the Fleet Earl Beatty: The Last Naval Hero— An Intimate Biography, Seaforth Publishing, 1980 (reprint, with a new introduction by Eric Grove, 2018), 430 pages, £16.99/$29.95. ISBN 978-1526706553

W. Mark Hamilton is author of The Nation and the Navy: Methods and Organization of British Naval Propaganda, 1889–1914 (1986).

Seaforth Publishing and British naval historian Eric Grove are to be congratulated for reprinting Stephen Roskill’s Admiral of the Fleet Earl Beatty. The timing is especially appropriate as the world observes the centennial of the First World War and the historic Battle of Jutland.

Grove’s new introduction is informative and interesting: he comments on recent scholarship since the original publication of Roskill’s biography in 1980 as well as on the contents of the book. He gives special attention to the controversy surrounding the Royal Navy’s substantial losses at Jutland and Roskill’s erroneous conclusion that the primary blame be accorded to defects in ship design, as opposed to the current scholarship ascribing the losses to poor handling of ammunition.

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RAF Centenary

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 50

By Robert Courts

Roberts Courts is Member of Parliament for Witney.

The Mall leading from Buckingham Palace to Admiralty Arch is alive with red, white, and blue. Union Jacks combined with sky-blue RAF ensigns hang from every lamppost. The centenary celebration of the first air force to become a fully independent branch of any nation’s military is underway in London.

On the roof terrace above the House of Commons, the first aircraft appear: a lumbering phalanx of Chinooks. Next come the big stars passing the London Eye and zipping around the Foreign Office and Treasury buildings. The audience audibly gasps at the music of nine Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffon engines powering the Lancaster, Spitfires, and Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

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Books, Arts, & Curiosities – The Wizard Still Beguiles

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 47

Review by Mark Klobas

Richard Wilkinson, Lloyd George: Statesman or Scoundrel, I. B. Tauris, 2018, 304 pages, £25/$45. ISBN 978–1780763897

Mark Klobas is Professor of History at Scottsdale Community College.

When he memorialized David Lloyd George before the House of Commons in March 1945, Winston Churchill paid tribute to the profound and enduring legacy of his friend’s extensive political career. “Most people are unconscious of how much their lives have been shaped by the laws for which Lloyd George was responsible,” he declared, adding that “[t]he stamps we lick, the roads we travel, the system of progressive taxation, the principal remedies that have so far been used against unemployment—all these to a very great extent were part not only of the mission but of the actual achievement of Lloyd George; and I am sure that as time passes his name will not only live but shine on account of the great, laborious, constructive work he did for the social and domestic life of our country.”

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Books, Arts, & Curiosities – A Friend in Need

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 46

Review by Richard A. McConnell

John von Heyking, Comprehensive Judgment and Absolute Selflessness: Winston Churchill on Politics as Friendship, St. Augustine’s Press, 2018, 200 pages, $27. ISBN 978–1587311604

Richard A. McConnell is Associate Professor in the Department of Army Tactics at the US Army Command and General Staff College.

Winston Churchill was a vigorous orator known for his expertise at arguing his point and implacably pursuing his goals. Yet he had the ability to pursue friendships with many of his political opponents. Today, when friendships across the aisle seem nonexistent, these two aspects of Churchill seem peculiarly paired. In Comprehensive Judgment, John von Heyking explores the notion that political statesmanship, although characterized by opposing viewpoints in conflict between political rivals, must include an aspect of friendship. In fact, one could argue that Churchill’s approach to politics simultaneously acknowledged the importance of the rules that govern society while also understanding that these rules were insufficient by themselves to create ordered governance. Friendship must augment rules for governing to be effective, von Heyking argues, and his achievement is to provide engaging descriptions of the philosophical foundations of such political fellowship in the context of the friendships of Winston Churchill.

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Books, Arts, & Curiosities – Closing the Ring

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 42

Review by Raymond Callahan

Larry P. Arnn and Martin Gilbert, eds., The Churchill Documents, Volume 20, Normandy and Beyond: May–December 1944, Hillsdale College Press, 2018, 2576 pages, $60.  ISBN 978-0916308384

Raymond Callahan is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Delaware

This volume of the Churchill War Papers covers the climax of Britain’s war against Germany and its accelerating eclipse by an America whose war effort was peaking as an overstretched Britain began to decline. It shows Churchill fighting both to maintain Britain’s parity in the alliance and to preserve its power position in a postwar world beginning to take shape as the Nazi empire collapsed. It was a doomed endeavor but a remarkable rearguard action.

The assault on Western Europe (“Overlord”) was the key Anglo-American military operation of 1944. The cross-channel attack had been George Marshall’s obsession since American entry into the war. The British had, of course, known as long ago as the dark days of 1940 that someday they would have to re-enter continental Europe. But, more realistic than the Americans about both the fighting power of the Wehrmacht and the problems of amphibious warfare in the English Channel, the British had no intention of doing so until they had weighed the scale as heavily as possible in their favor. This is what the “Mediterranean Strategy” devised by Churchill and Chief of the Imperial General Staff Sir Alan Brooke (who, unlike Marshall, had faced the Wehrmacht in the field) was intended to do: engage the Germans where circumstances favored the allies, pull German strength from Western Europe (and Russia), erode it by steady attrition in battle, take Italy out of the war in the process, and, by opening the Mediterranean, relieve the strain on allied shipping.

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Books, Arts, & Curiosities – Exercice Agréable or Tantalizing Taste

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 44

Review by James W. Muller

Antoine Capet, Churchill: Le Dictionnaire, Perrin, 2018, 862 pages, €29. ISBN 978-2262065355

James W. Muller is Professor of Political Science at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and chairman of the ICS Board of Academic Advisers

In the eighteenth century, the French Société des Gens de Lettres, led by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert, compiled their famous encyclopedia, announced as a “Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts, et des métiers” and written to offer a conspectus of all human knowledge. Composed in the same ambitious spirit is this exceptional work by Antoine Capet, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, who was head of British studies at the University of Rouen until he retired in 2014. For the last decade he has been working on Churchill, and this dictionary is the fruit of his labor.

No one should suppose that he has simply compiled a long book full of explanatory entries related to Churchill and put them in alphabetical order. Churchill’s French biographer François Kersaudy points out in the foreword that Capet groups material into sixteen chapters by subject, many of them with further subdivisions, with entries listed chronologically. In My Early Life, Churchill recommends chronology as “the key to easy narrative,” and it serves Capet well.

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Action This Day – Summer 1893, 1918, 1943

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 40

By Michael McMenamin

125 Years Ago
Summer 1893 • Age 18
“I Had at Length Got In.”

Winston spent the summer of 1893 with his brother Jack on holiday in Switzerland. Shortly before leaving, he learned he had passed the Sandhurst entrance exam. He promptly sent a telegram to Lord Randolph telling him of this and, in Lucerne on 6 August, wrote a letter to him saying, “I was so glad to be able to send you good news last Thursday.”

Lord Randolph’s reply on 9 August did not reciprocate the enthusiasm. He expressed his “surprise at your tone of exultation over your inclusion in the Sandhurst list.” His father was primarily displeased that Winston’s score was not high enough to secure him a position in the infantry, only the cavalry. Thus, he complained, Winston had “imposed on me an extra charge of 200 pounds a year” to purchase and care for horses. “With all the advantages you had and all the abilities which you foolishly think yourself to possess & which some of your relations claim for you, with all the efforts that have been made to make your life easy & agreeable & your work neither oppressive nor distasteful, this is the grand result that you come up among the 2nd and 3rd rate class who are only good for commissions in a cavalry regiment.”

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Preparing for an Invasion of Britain… In Writing

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 38

By Ronald I. Cohen

Ronald I. Cohen MBE is author of A Bibliography of the Writings of Sir Winston Churchill, 3 vols.(2006).

An Ottawa Churchill Society member and good friend referred me to an online article he had spotted by Colin Marshall entitled “Winston Churchill’s List of Tips for Surviving a German Invasion: See the Never-Distributed Document (1940).” Given the apparent obscurity of the leaflet to which it refers (to judge by the title of Marshall’s article), my Churchillian friend wondered if I was aware of the document. I was indeed.

I should note straightaway that, while it is designated by Marshall as “Churchill’s” list of tips, they were not initially drafted by him, although he certainly did comment on them and ultimately approved their substance—more on that following the issue of distribution.

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THE FULTON REPORT – “You Know How This Hits Me.” Mary Churchill’s MBE and FDR’s Death From the National Churchill Museum

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 36

By Tim Riley

Timothy Riley is Sandra L. and Monroe E. Trout Director and Chief Curator of the National Churchill Museum

On Tuesday, 10 April 1945, the Allied Forces and Winston Churchill had every reason to be confident that the end of the war was near. It was the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. It marked the day the American Ninth Army captured Hanover, the day Soviet forces entered central Vienna, and it was the day the 8th Air Force set a new single-day record by destroying 245 Luftwaffe aircraft. The road to Berlin was open and ultimate victory at hand.

Churchill’s spirits were high. The day before, the confident Prime Minister told the War Cabinet he hoped the victory celebration, when it ultimately arrived, should be called “VE Day.”1

10 April was also the day the London Gazette, the venerable journal of record of the British Government, published the news that “Junior Commander Mary Spencer Churchill of the Auxiliary Territorial Service” was awarded the MBE. Churchill’s youngest daughter would become a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of her military service.2

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The Queen’s Royal Hussars Today

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 34

By Capt. B. F. J. Spink

B. F. J. Spink is a captain in The Queen’s Royal Hussars. He represented the regiment at the 2016 International Churchill Conference in Washington, D.C.

Many men have spent their formative years in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, but very few have gone on to be as interlinked with the Regiment as Winston Churchill. Since his appointment in 1941 as the Colonel of the Regiment, he has dominated Regimental identity. This influence continued in The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars, as Churchill was asked to continue as the Colonel of the Regiment following the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars’ amalgamation with the 8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars. Even today, fifty-three years after Churchill’s death and twenty-five years after the amalgamation of The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars with The Queen’s Own Hussars to form The Queen’s Royal Hussars, Churchill’s ethos is still fundamental to what it means to be a soldier in The Queen’s Royal Hussars. He is such an intrinsic part of the fabric of the Regiment that we call ourselves “Churchill’s Own.”

Today The Queen’s Royal Hussars are one of three tank regiments in the British Army, equipped with the Challenger 2 main battle tank. As part of the 3rd (UK) Division, the United Kingdom’s war fighting division, the Regiment’s focus is developing readiness and inter-operability with our NATO allies.

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Coming of Age in Afghanistan: Reflections of a Young Officer in the Scots Guards

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 31

By Alexander Perkins

A great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill looks back on his own service in the British Army.

Alexander Perkins is a great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill. He served in the Scots Guards from 2007 to 2013.

More than five years ago, after serving seven years in the British Army with the Scots Guards, I called it a day and have since started a career in the commercial world. As much as I love what I do now, hardly a day goes by when I do not think back to my time in the army. When asked to write about my military service, I felt mixed emotions. It was a great experience—but not always a happy one. That said, I would not trade any of it away, because I feel those times have made me who I am today.

In January 2006, aged nineteen, I began my military career as an Officer Cadet at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst—the first of my great-grandfather Sir Winston Churchill’s descendants to attend his alma mater. Twelve months later, I was commissioned into the Scots Guards. What followed were six incredibly varied years. Over this time, I saw and did things that I could not have imagined at the start of the adventure. The highlights of my career were the two tours of duty I served in Afghanistan.

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The British Army in Normandy: Winning the War the Wrong Way

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 26

By Edward E. Gordon and David Ramsay

Edward E. Gordon and David Ramsay are co-authors of Divided on D-Day: How Conflicts and Rivalries Jeopardized the Allied Victory at Normandy (Prometheus Books, 2017).

The commander sighed. “Well, there it is: it won’t work but you must bloody well make it.”1 With these words Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, chief of the Imperial General Staff, instructed Lieutenant General Sir Frederick E. Morgan in 1943 to begin preparing a cross-channel invasion plan. From the first day of the war, America’s leaders were determined to confront and defeat the German army speedily by invading northwestern Europe. But because the British had recently been decisively defeated by German forces at Dunkirk as well as in Norway and Greece, Churchill and the British armed forces chiefs of staff were much more cautious. They still remembered the slaughter of an entire generation on the Western Front during the First World War.

Britain’s war leaders also harbored grave doubts about the battle readiness of US soldiers, believed that American generals lacked combat experience, and were skeptical about America’s ability to increase the production of war materials rapidly.

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“Rommel, What Else Matters but Beating Him?” Winston Churchill and the Change of Command in Cairo, August 1942

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 18

By Bradley Tolppanen

Bradley Tolppanen is author of Churchill in North America, 1929 (2014).

In the summer of 1942, after two years of fighting in the desert, British fortunes in North Africa reached their lowest ebb. Rommel and his German-Italian army inflicted a severe defeat on the Eighth Army at Gazala in May, captured Tobruk in June, and forced the British into a tumultuous retreat from Mersa Matruh deep into Egypt later that same month. With smoke billowing over Alexandria as the British burned their papers in the expectation of Rommel’s imminent arrival, the Afrikakorps reached the Alamein line. Under Sir Claude Auchinleck, the Middle East Commander-in-Chief who had sacked Neil Ritchie and taken personal command of the Eighth Army, the British halted the Axis advance in stiff fighting through the first week of July. Poorly coordinated counter-attacks through July, however, failed to dislodge Rommel. In a stalemate, the two exhausted armies paused to resupply, and both “settled down in acute discomfort plagued by flies, heat, desert sores, and all-pervading sand as they dug, wired, and mined their respective front lines.”1

As fighting petered out at Alamein, Prime Minister Winston Churchill grew increasingly concerned. He had watched the disastrous events of the summer unfold from both Washington, where he was in conference with the American president, and on his return to London. The surrender of Tobruk, which had withstood a siege in 1941, had been a particular blow. Now, with Rommel sixty miles from Alexandria, Churchill was little disposed to brook excuses. He would later exclaim, “Rommel, Rommel, Rommel, Rommel, what else matters but beating him?”2

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“My Dear Major Roosevelt” Churchill Assists Teddy’s Son

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 22

By Fred Glueckstein

In 1915, Kermit Roosevelt, the son of President Theodore Roosevelt, was appointed an honorary captain in the British Army. Roosevelt served under General Allenby in Palestine, saw active service in Mesopotamia with the Royal Field Artillery, and was awarded the Military Cross. In 1916, Roosevelt transferred to the US Army’s First Division and commanded an artillery battery from 1917 to 1918. When the Second World War began, Roosevelt once again sought to serve in the British military.

Fred Glueckstein is author of Churchill and Colonist II (2015) and a regular contributor to Finest Hour

When Kermit Roosevelt first arrived in London in the fall of 1939, it was believed that he would accept a position in the ministry of shipping, since he had been vice president until 1938 of the United States Lines and a friend of Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Like his celebrated father, however, Roosevelt, expressed a preference for action. In October, Roosevelt saw Churchill at the Admiralty and asked for his assistance in obtaining a regular commission in the British Army. With Churchill’s help, Roosevelt was commissioned as a major in the Middlesex Regiment, where he trained as a machine gun expert.

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The Great War and Different Memories: Churchill, Haig, and the Legacy of Blame

Finest Hour 181, Summer 2018

Page 14

By Mason W. Watson

Historians commonly represent Winston Churchill’s relationship with Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig as antagonistic. Churchill was one of the British government’s most outspoken proponents of an “eastern” strategy during the First World War, urging operations against the junior members of the Central Powers. Haig’s own views on strategy, on the other hand, were resolutely orthodox. A committed “westerner,” the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) believed that victory could only be achieved through offensives against the main force of the German army in France, and he was suspicious at best of any diversion of resources and manpower to subsidiary theaters.

Churchill and Haig’s disagreements over such fundamental issues made the two men obvious opponents in wartime debates as well as the controversies that persisted long after the war had ended. According to one historian, Churchill’s postwar publications “set many of the terms for the debates which would rage around Haig’s reputation for the rest of the twentieth century.”1 Churchill played a key role in perpetuating the misleading image of Haig as an inept “butcher” who sacrificed a generation of Britons in futile offensives like the Somme and Passchendaele.

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