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Finest Hour 182

Books, Arts & Curiosities – Heavy Weather

Finest Hour 182, Fall 2018

Page 48

Review by Jane Flaherty

Pressure by David Haig premiered in Edinburgh in 2014 and played at the Ambassadors Theatre, London, through 1 September 2018.

Jane Flaherty teaches history at Texas A&M University.


Pressure brings to life the taut, dramatic days before the launch of Operation Overlord. At the Southwick House headquarters in Portsmouth, England, Allied Supreme Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower has assembled the Allies’ leading strategists to finalize plans for the cross-channel D-Day invasion. Included in the team are weather trackers led by American Colonel Irvin P. Krick and Scotsman Dr. James Stagg, portrayed with great intensity by the playwright himself David Haig. Keeping the group coordinated and Eisenhower focused during these tense days is Lieutenant Kay Summersby, Eisenhower’s driver, confidential assistant, and alleged paramour.

The play opens on Friday, 2 June 1944, with Stagg’s arrival at his spare room. Stagg complains to Summersby that he does not have all the “urgent” equipment he requested. “Everything, Dr. Stagg, is urgent,” she replies coolly in the most understated moment of the play. Indeed, “7,000 vessels, 160,000 ground troops, 200,000 naval personnel, 15 hospital ships, 8,000 doctors, and 4 airborne divisions” await Eisenhower’s signal to go, and Ike demands accurate forecasts from the team of meteorologists every four to six hours to fix the timing of the attack.

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Churchill’s New Audience | #Armistice100

Finest Hour 182, Fall 2018

Page 50

By Megan Spilker

Megan Spilker is Social Media Manager at the National World War I Museum and Memorial.


For the past four years, the centenary of the Great War, I have been managing social media content for the National World War I Museum of the United States in Kansas City, Missouri. The challenge of the job is holding the attention of more than 150,000 followers. The 24/7 business of reaching new audiences with bite-sized history works best when we combine pithy quotes with vibrant imagery in a steady flow of articles that keep our younger demographic engaged and interested in learning about an often-forgotten war and people like Churchill, who survived the experience and learned from it.

The complex legacy of soldier-statesman Winston Churchill during the First World War is not easy to share in 280 characters or less, but our collection shows snippets of his experience through objects and documents from the Royal Navy (which he oversaw in 1914–15) and photographs from the Royal Scots Fusiliers (with which he served in 1916). A clipping from The Sydney Mail in 1916, for instance, declares: Read More >

Books, Arts & Curiosities – Churchill as a Literary Character: WSC in Fiction

Finest Hour 182, Fall 2018

Page 48

Susan Elia MacNeil, The Prisoner in the Castle: A Maggie Hope Mystery, Bantam, 2018, 320 pages, $26. ISBN 978-0399593826 Portrayal *** Worth Reading ***

Michael McMenamin and his son Patrick are co-authors of the Winston Churchill Thrillers The DeValera Deception, The Parsifal Pursuit, The Gemini Agenda, The Berghof Betrayal, and The Silver Mosaic.


The Prisoner in the Castle is the eighth Maggie Hope Mystery. This one has Maggie a prisoner in a castle on a remote Scottish island where the government confines Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents who know too much. It is 12 November 1942 when the novel begins, and Maggie has been there since 22 June 1942. The book is vague as to what exactly Maggie knows, but it includes “The secret of Pas-de-Calais and Normandy and the invasion of occupied Europe.” Well, Maggie does not really know about Normandy because in June 1942 the selection of Normandy as the location for the invasion of Europe had not been made and was not to be made until late 1943 after the Tehran Conference.

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Books, Arts & Curiosities – News from MI5

Finest Hour 182, Fall 2018

Page 47

Review by David Stafford

Nigel West, Churchill’s Spy Files: MI5’s Top Secret Wartime Reports, The History Press, 2018, 464 pages, $35/£25. ISBN 978–0750985499

David Stafford is author of Churchill and Secret Service (1997), Roosevelt and Churchill: Men of Secrets (2000), and Mission Accomplished: SOE and Italy 1943–1945, the official history (2011).


In April 1943, as the North African campaign approached its climax in Tunisia, MI5, Britain’s Security Service, began sending monthly reports on its activities to the Prime Minister. Churchill and secret intelligence had been companions-in-arms for most of his political career. As Home Secretary before the First World War, he authorized the use of general warrants for the clandestine opening of the suspected mail and presided over the passing of a draconian Official Secrets Act. At the Admiralty in 1914 he created Room 40, its code breaking operation, and delighted in reading its reports. Since becoming prime minister in May 1940, he had regularly been receiving the products of its successor operation based at Bletchley Park. Its “Ultra” reports based on intercepts were delivered to him personally each day by Sir Stewart Menzies, head of the Secret Intelligence Service.

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From The Editor – Finest Hour 182 The Centenary of the Armistice

Finest Hour 182, Fall 2018

Page 04

By David Freeman, October 2018


“When all was over, Torture and Cannibalism were the only two expedients the civilized, scientific, Christian States had been able to deny themselves: and these were of doubtful utility.” Such was Winston Churchill’s grim verdict on the Great War. It also explains the euphoria he witnessed when the tragedy finally concluded on Armistice Day and the description of that scene he recorded in his memoirs, which we reproduce here.

One hundred years on, emotions have subsided, and it is possible to make sober reckonings of what was accomplished in and what lessons taken from the First World War. Andrew Roberts, whose Churchill biography is published this fall, traces the connections between Churchill’s experiences in 1914–1918 and his leadership in 1939–45. Allan Mallinson then deconstructs the myths about Churchill’s leadership in the First War and shows that the perceived mistakes were more often the deliberate misrepresentations of lesser men. Next, Matthew Seligmann reminds us that Churchill did not always get things right when directing the Royal Navy in 1914–15 but also shows that the reality is much more complex than the myth.

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The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.