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Churchill in the News

One Man’s Drive Drew Churchill to Missouri

How was it that Winston Churchill came to give is historic “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri?

BY BRIAN BURNES

THE KANSAS CITY STAR, 7 March 2012—The president of Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., which then had approximately 300 students, already had displayed a gift for persuading big fish to come to his small pond: New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia had lectured there, as had FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
Winston Churchill in Fulton
But when McCluer asked his wife, Ida Belle, what she thought of inviting arguably the most recognizable face in world politics — British prime minister Winston Churchill — her first thought was to think him sarcastic.

“But I replied that we could dream,” she added.

As described in “Our Supreme Task: How Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech Defined the Cold War Alliance,” a sequence of fortuitous events, set in motion by McCluer, resulted in Churchill’s improbable appearance.

McCluer, writes Olathe author Philip White, wrote a five-paragraph invitation on Westminster stationery and brought it to Washington, where an old Westminster classmate, Harry Vaughan, served as Harry Truman’s military aide.

Vaughan found a five-minute window in Truman’s schedule and brought McCluer into the Oval Office.


Learn more about the “Iron Curtain” speech, including a video clip here


Truman read the letter and said “That might work. Wait a minute.” Truman then inscribed a personal note, saying he would introduce Churchill at Westminster.

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Churchill and “The Pod”

The Internet swarms with rumors (untrue) about Churchill’s pressurized pod.

By Chris H. Sterling for Finest Hour

In January 2012 a website (dvc.com) reported that “Churchill Used in-Flight Pod to Light up, Stay Alive“. Alas there is much less to this story than the fascinating headline implies.

Of the many technologies developed during World War II, few were as well-intentioned as a strange device designed to allow Winston Churchill to fly in comfort at high altitudes. Churchill’s doctor, Lord Moran, was concerned that if the Prime Minister flew above about 8000 feet, the lack of oxygen would be bad for his heart. Aircraft pressurization—something we take for granted today—was in its very early stages then. None of the aircraft in which Churchill flew before 1945 was pressurized—thus they generally flew below 8000 feet, save for momentary ventures higher to avoid mountains.1

Flying higher was not only be safer but more comfortable: there is less turbulence above, say, 20,000 feet. As much to the point, anti-aircraft guns of the period began to lose value as airplane altitudes increased. Thus the wizards at the Institute of Aviation Medicine (part of the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, west of London) sought a means of allowing the Prime Minister to fly at greater altitude.

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What Did Churchill Really Think About Ireland?

This month 100 years ago in Belfast Winston Churchill was attacked by a loyalist mob trying to stop him promoting Home Rule, but his vision was of an Ireland loyal to Britain

THE IRISH TIMES, Wednesday, 8 February 2012—Winston Churchill made his first public appearance in Ireland in 1878. In 1877 Disraeli had sent his family into a form of internal exile – the Duke of Marlborough was appointed viceroy in Dublin Castle and his son Randolph decided to act as his aide. Randolph’s wife Jenny – proud mother of cherubic Winston – painted his portrait and placed it on public display at a Dublin exhibition, to the joy of the local press.

He also learned his first political lesson. His nanny warned him against the dangers posed by the Fenians, reasonable advice as in 1882 republican assassins murdered Lord Frederick Cavendish, the incoming chief secretary, in the nearby Phoenix Park.

Churchill’s relationship to Ireland is encapsulated for many by a few famous phrases – his celebrated reference to the integrity of the quarrel of the dreary steeples in Fermanagh and Tyrone, and his sharp critique of de Valera and neutrality in the fight against Hitler. But what did Churchill really think about Ireland?

Churchill’s conversion from Conservatism to Liberalism owed everything to domestic social pressures in Britain and nothing to the Irish question. At the moment of conversion in April 1904 he signalled to the Liberals of northwest Manchester that he was not impressed by the great Gladstonian theme of Home Rule: “I remain of the opinion that a separate parliament for Ireland would be dangerous and impractical.”

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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.

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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.

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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.