Churchill in the News

March 5, 1946 | Winston Churchill Warns of Soviet “Iron Curtain”

Remembering the anniversary of one of Churchill’s famous post-war speeches. 

By The Learning Network

THE NEW YORK TIMES, 5 March 2012—On March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill delivered his famous “Iron Curtain” speech, officially titled “Sinews of Peace,” at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. After being introduced by President Harry Truman, Churchill, the former prime minister of Britain and now the opposition leader, warned of the threat posed by the Soviet Union, a World War II ally of Britain and the United States.Winston S. Churchill

The New York Times reported that “Mr. Churchill painted a dark picture of post-war Europe, on which ‘an iron curtain has descended across the Continent’ from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic.”

“He strongly intimated a parallel between the present position of the Soviet Union with that of Germany in 1935,” wrote The Times. “His words, he continued, were not offered in the belief that war with the Soviet Union was inevitable or imminent. He expressed the view that Russia does not desire war, but cautioned that Moscow does desire the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of its power and policies.”

Churchill called on the United States to form a “fraternal association” with Britain. He said that the United States stood at the “pinnacle of world power” and must take responsibility to ensure peace in the world.

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Photograph of Churchill to go up for auction in Dorchester

THE DORSET ECHO, 6 February 2012—A previously unseen photograph of Winston Churchill on a horse following his daring escape form a prison camp during the Boer War is up for auction at Duke’s in Dorchester.
Previously unseen photograph of Churchill following his daring escape from a prison camp
Sitting astride his grey mount in 1899, the 26-year-old future Prime Minister is shown wearing a suit and tie and has on a wide-brimmed hat.

He has a notably slim figure after his ’60 hours of misery’ trying to find his way back to British lines.

He had gone to South Africa in 1898 as a newspaper war correspondent and was captured in November the following year.

He was part of a scouting expedition on an armoured train when it was attacked.

Churchill’s heroics led to speculation that he would receive the Victoria Cross.

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Sir Winston Churchill’s Belongings on Show at Chartwell

Personal items of Sir Winston Churchill have gone on public display for the first time at his former home in Kent.

BBC NEWS, 1 February 2012—A passport used when he was Prime Minister is among the items on show at Chartwell near Westerham.
The display includes a passport used by Churchill
The National Trust, which runs the museum, said the 40 items were being shown in the UK for the first time.

Also on display are a dictation machine he used for his speeches, a silver paint box and a hairbrush. Many of the items had been in storage.

Churchill lived in Chartwell for more than 40 years, from 1922 until his death in 1965.

‘Evocative object’
The museum opened a year later, in 1966, and is comprised of two rooms.

Also on display are a diamond-encrusted sword given to Churchill by King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, a leather travelling globe and a dog bowl belonging to his pet Rufus.

Many of the items were put into storage when Lady Churchill handed Chartwell to the National Trust.

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Winston is (Almost) Back

A preview from an upcoming edition of Finest Hour

by Elliot S. Berke

WASHINGTON, DECEMBER 19TH— The House of Representatives adopted a resolution, HR 497, calling for the installation of a bust of Winston Churchill in the Capitol building. The resolution was adopted on suspension, a legislative technique which limits debate on non-controversial issues but requires either a voice vote or a two-thirds recorded vote (the resolution passed on voice). No Senate action was required, because each side of the Capitol chooses its artwork.

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New Exhibition Of Winston Churchill Paintings Reveals Relationship With Famous Moroccan Artist

THE HUFFINGTON POST, UK EDITION, 19 January 2012—Winston Churchill, Britain’s finest wartime leader, one of history’s greatest orators – and a dab hand with a paint brush – is the subject of a unique new art exhibition opening in London this week.

Churchill famously used painting as a relief from depression – or the ‘black dog’ as he called it – and nowhere inspired him more than the dusty souks and winding Atlas mountains of Marrakech, Morocco.

Meetings in Marrakech: the paintings of Hassan El Glaoui and Winston Churchill features nine paintings of the city by Churchill, along with 15 works by Hassan El Glaouim, the revered Moroccan painter who owes his career to meeting Churchill as a young Berber tribesman in 1943.

During a visit to the country, Churchill happened upon some paintings by the young El Glaoui, who belongs to one of the oldest Berber families in Morocco. He was so impressed he found the young artist’s father and convinced him to let his son follow his talents – despite art being seen as an unworthy pursuit for a tribesman.

El Glaoui went on to become one of most celebrated Moroccan painters of modern times, whose work is among the most sought after – and expensive – contemporary North African art in the world.

“I often realise that without that fateful meeting with Winston Churchill in 1943 my parent’s attitude to me painting might have prevented me enjoying such a wonderful and fulfilling life as an artist,” said El Glaoui.

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Saving War Horses

A preview from “Datelines” in the upcoming Finest Hour 153.

LONDON, 31 December 2011— In a well-researched article in the Mail on Sunday, Chris Hastings latches onto current interest in the new Spielberg film “War Horse” with the story of how Churchill intervened to save tens of thousands of stranded war horses in Europe after World War I. The story is characteristic of WSC and his love of animals:

“British military chiefs were heavily dependent on horsepower to carry men, supplies and artillery, and spent more than £36 million during the war to buy up 1.1 million horses from Britain, Canada and the United States. War Office documents found in the National Archives at Kew show that tens of thousands of the animals were at risk of disease, hunger and even death at the hands of French and Belgian butchers because bungling officials couldn’t get them home when hostilities drew to a close.

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Story of Churchill Namesake in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

USS Winston S. Churchill
, and previous naval ships bearing that name, is not the only namesake to have carried a heroic crew, as revealed by the story of the 15-metre sloop Winston Churchill, which sank during the Sydney to Hobart race in 1998. Her crew survived, and are part of a new film by Graham McNeice on Australians who defied a narrow brush with death. Editor Finest Hour

A new show reveals some incredible stories of survival.

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 5 January 2012—WERE it not for modesty, filmmaker Graham McNeice could well be a subject in his own documentary series about individuals surviving brushes with death.
McNeice’s close call came when he was driving cabs in his 20s. A passenger in the back seat held a gun to his head and demanded cash.

He remembers precisely when and where it happened and that the fare was 87¢.

”I could see smoke but there was no smoke and I remember seeing my mother looking down at me as if I was in a grave,” McNeice says on the phone from Sydney, recalling the experience.

The man also wanted McNeice’s wallet and became increasingly agitated when he said he didn’t have one (”I don’t carry one ever since having it knocked off at the Dapto dogs when I was 19,” he says).

Bizarrely, as we see in I Survived … Stories of Australians, the intruder who sexually assaulted, abducted and robbed Tammy Potter at knifepoint was similarly put out upon discovering at an ATM the small amount of cash available in her account.

I Survived … Stories of Australians is based on a similar US concept where people who have faced near certain death recount their stories to the camera in sobering, matter-of-fact and often forensic detail.

They are filmed in close-up against a dark background.

There are no re-enactments, no cutaways to a nodding and sympathetic interviewer, nor prodding questions to milk extra drama – not that it’s needed – from the narrative.

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Driving Ms. Nancy

MODBURY, DEVON, JANUARY 1ST— The Daily Mail reports restoration of a 1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost “once used by Sir Winston Churchill” by Devon restorer Charlie Tope: “The vintage motor is said to have served the former British Prime Minister when he used it to give driving lessons to the first female MP, Lady Astor, on a Kent estate.” Really.

Churchill, a notoriously impatient and scary driver, mainly stopped driving himself in the 1920s, when he was last seen navigating London streets in a lowly Wolseley. The idea of Churchill in this big Rolls, teaching technique to Nancy Astor (with whom he barely shared a civil word), strains the imagination, but conjures amusing images.

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Churchill Bust to be Placed in U.S. House

By Pete Kasperowicz

THE HILL, 18 December 2011—House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has introduced a resolution calling for a bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to be placed in the U.S. Capitol, and the House is expected to approve the resolution on Monday.

If passed, the resolution would once again return Churchill to a prime spot in the nation’s capitol. President Obama in 2009 famously returned a bust of Churchill that was in the White House back to Britain, sparking complaints that Obama seemed to be diminishing the primacy of the U.S.-British relationship.

Boehner’s resolution notes that Dec. 26 is the 70th anniversary of Churchill’s joint speech to Congress, and that Churchill was made an honorary citizen of the United States in 1963 and given the Congressional Gold Medal in 1969.

“[T]he United Kingdom remains and will forever be an important and irreplaceable ally to the United States,” the resolution reads.

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Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill Speak at the White House Tree Lighting 1941 (Listen)

Listen to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill speak at the White House tree lighting ceremony on Christmas Eve 1941, just 17 days after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Winston Churchill was visiting Washington, D.C. upon the US declaration of war on The Empire of Japan on the 8th December and on Germany on 11th of December.

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BBC Radio 4’s Kirsty Young Interviews Robert Hardy

Listen in to to BBC Radio 4’s Kirsty Young interviewing the “Dean of Churchill Actors” Robert Hardy.

BBC RADIO 4, November 2011—Kirsty Young’s castaway is the actor Robert Hardy.

He became a household name as the vet Siegfried Farnon in the hit TV series All Creatures Great and Small and, to a younger generation, he is the Minister of Magic in the Harry Potter films. But the role he is best known for is Winston Churchill – he won a Bafta for his performance in Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years. He believes actors are born rather than made and his own ambitions crystallised when, as a very young boy, he was a page boy at a wedding: “I walked down the aisle with my head held high and as I went, every eye was turned towards me and something inside me said, “That’s it, get every eye on you”.

BBC Producer: Leanne Buckle.

Con. Paul Ryan Speaks About America’s “Churchillian Moment”

The leadership of Winston Churchill continues to resonate with a wide variety of American political leaders. (See Obama Quotes Churchill and Shakespeare in “Churchill in the News” on our website, May 2011.)

Recently, Con. Paul Ryan (R- WI), Chair of the House Budget Committee, received a Churchill Award for Statesmanship at the annual Churchill Dinner of The Claremont Institute, a leading policy research organization based in Claremont, CA. In 1990, Claremont’s first Churchill Award was given to the late Cong. Jack Kemp, a longtime Board Member and supporter of The Churchill Centre.


On the topic of America’s “Churchillian Moment”, Ryan spoke about America’s fiscal and budgetary challenges and quoted Churchill’s first budget speech as Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding surtaxes. The Congressman noted Churchill’s devotion to telling the British people the truth about the country’s military preparedness during the 1930’s and described America’s current fiscal imbalance as our “gathering storm.” He cited Churchill’s observation that “There are two ways in which a gigantic debt may be spread over new decades and future generations……The right way would be to make the utmost provision for amortization which prudence allows.”

According to Cong. Ryan, Americans “need to take new inspiration from Churchill the leader, who saw what was at stake in the choices the people of his country had to make.” Ryan expressed his belief that the United States is experiencing “our own ‘Churchillian moment’ – threatened, not by foreign aggression, but by a titanic fiscal imbalance that has the potential to crush America’s prosperity and diminish its capacity to lead the world.”

Ryan concluded his address by citing Churchill’s words to the Royal Society of St. George in April 1933:

“Let it be said of us, as Churchill said of his people in their most difficult hour: ‘We ought to rejoice at the responsibilities with which destiny has honored us… and be proud that we are guardians of our country in an age when her life is at stake.'”

Read the full text of Ryan’s keynote address here.

“Three Days in May” Reviewed for Finest Hour by Alllen Packwood

By Allen Packwood

Mr. Packwood is Director of the Churchill Archives Centre and Executive Director of The Churchill Centre UK.

Three days in May, by Ben Brown. A stage play starring Warren Clarke as Churchill and Robert Demeger as Neville Chamberlain. Staged in Cambridge during September and October, and is now running in London at the Trafalgar Studios Theater.

There is no doubting the enthusiasm of both Warren Clarke (Churchill) and Jeremy Clyde (Halifax) for their roles in the play “Three Days in London,” which opened at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. The two experienced actors visited the Archives Centre and responded knowledgably to being shown some of the original documents from 1940, including the diaries of Jock Colville and Leo Amery and some of Churchill’s speech notes.

The play is about the debates in the War Cabinet between 26 and 28 May 1940, at which Lord Halifax proposed using Mussolini (then still neutral) to explore peace terms with Nazi Germany. It is ground well covered by John Lukacs in his book “Five Days in London, May 1940” though interestingly John is not credited in the programme. Playwright Ben Brown has certainly drawn dialogue from contemporary sources, and has his characters quoting extensively from the Cabinet minutes and the texts of Churchill’s speeches. But, of course, he has also used his imagination to fill in the gaps and speculate on the nature of the conversations between the principal protagonists, chiefly Churchill, Chamberlain and Halifax with supporting roles by Attlee and Greenwood.

The transition from real to imaginary does not always make for smooth dialogue, and, until the second half, the play felt a bit like a series of tableaux, lacking a sustained driving narrative and momentum. The need to give background information also leads to some unlikely and unrealistic conversation, not least between Churchill and Chamberlain about their respective views in the 1930s.

I did like the decision to use Jock Colville, one of Churchill’s private secretaries and the chronicler of these events through his diary, as the narrator. His role in ushering the others in and out of the Prime Minister’s presence helps ease the transition between scenes. Warren Clarke’s Churchill is all bulldog, glowering and angry. He does convey a man of conviction under pressure.

Though Colville claims at the outset that even Churchill wobbled, it is not at all clear that Clarke’s Churchill does wobble. He grudgingly allows Halifax to draft a memorandum, which he then opposes. Perhaps there was a bit too much anger, maybe at the expense of some of the energy and charisma that must also have been there. Jeremy Clyde’s Halifax was superb: aristocratic, reserved, and unable to comprehend Churchill’s desire to fight when there might be an alternative, however unpalatable. Yet if Churchill was too hard, Chamberlain seemed too soft. It was difficult to reconcile this portrayal of a nice and reasonable and essentially ordinary man with the hard-edged politician who dominated British politics in the late Thirties, and who remained a powerful force and Leader of the Conservative Party.

“Three Days in May” has great moments and some wonderful dialogue (how could it not). It captures the claustrophobia of Whitehall and the sense of impending disaster, as Belgium falls and France teeters on the brink. It reminded me of the importance of those days, but it did not quite convince me. Did Halifax try and blackmail Churchill? Did Churchill blackmail Chamberlain? If so, one suspects they did it far more subtly than is conveyed here. But I suspect Sir Winston would be the first to acknowledge the difference between theatre and history.

John Plumpton Reviews “A Daughter’s Tale” for Finest Hour

Thriving in the Shade a Great Oak

By John Plumpton

A Daughter’s Tale: The Memoir of Winston and Clementine Churchill’s Youngest Child, by Mary Soames. Doubleday, hardbound, illus. 416 pages, £25, Amazon UK £15.59. To be published by Random House, USA in May 2012, 352 pages, $28, Kindle edition $13.99.

Mr. Plumpton is a former president of The Churchill Centre and has contributed to Finest Hour for thirty years. An enthusiastic sailor, he named his first boat Enchantress, after Churchill’s pre-World War I Admiralty yacht.

It may be apocryphal, but Randolph Churchill is said to regretted the difficulty of acorns surviving in the shade of a great oak. That’s true sometimes, but not always. In some cases, acorns thrive, and fall not far from the parent. One such example is Mary Churchill, now The Lady Soames, Patron of The Churchill Centre, whose personal story is wonderfully told in her long-awaited autobiography—and what a tale it is.

Author of five previous books on her family, Lady Soames recounts the rapid-fire events of her first twenty-five years, culminating in her marriage to Christopher Soames in 1947. She was born at the same time as her father made an offer to purchase Chartwell Manor, a house she has treasured all of her life. This book brings Chartwell alive as a home better than any guidebook.

She opens with a poignant account of the sad death in 1921 of Marigold Churchill, the beloved “Duckadilly.” A year later Mary arrived: “Perhaps I was, for my parents, the child of consolation.” We meet Maryott White (“Cousin Moppet” or “Nana”), Clementine’s cousin and Mary’s godmother, nanny/governess and lifelong friend. With her parents often in London and abroad, “Nana in all matters ruled my existence—always loving and always there.”

Prior to going to school, Nana introduced the precocious young child to the joys of the literature: a passion that has remained throughout her life. Reading aloud by Nana began at tea-time and continued through an extended (intentionally) preparation for bed. Lady Soames recalls being enthralled the Beatrix Potter books, Black Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Treasure Island, Uncle Tom’s Cabin: a cornucopia of children’s classics. She was one of the first to be spellbound by her father’s renderings of Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome. A still treasured possession is a gift from her sister Sarah, “a lovely green leather- bound copy of The Oxford Book of English Verse, much faded now”). Her love of literature expanded to the theatre, and there is a litany of the great plays of the 1930s and 1940s that she enjoyed with friends and family.

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BBC Radio 4: Being Winston

By Andy Walker
BBC 4 Today Programme

BBC.COM, Friday 4 November 2011—Richard Burton and Albert Finney are among the actors Warren Clarke will be emulating when he plays Winston Churchill in a new West End production, Three Days in May, but what is it like to take on the role of Britain’s wartime leader.

“I’m a devotee of the man. I think he’s the greatest Englishman probably who ever lived.” So says the actor Robert Hardy, who has played Winston Churchill on no fewer than seven occasions.

Initially Hardy, who had met Churchill while playing in Hamlet with Richard Burton, thought it “an absurd and inappropriate idea” to accept the role.

But after “several very good lunches” with the producer Richard Broke he was, he recalls, “over-persuaded” to take the part.

The result was a magisterial piece of television. In eight hour-long episodes, Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years, detailed Churchill’s time on the back benches during the late 1920s and 30s, chronicling his dire warnings about the twin dangers of Hitler and appeasement.

Hardy’s charismatic performance was the centrepiece of a narrative that was at once detailed, dramatic and didactic.

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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.