February 10, 2015

Churchill’s tireless role in his “endless moving picture” was evident even when he was on holiday. While staying as a guest at Sir Philip Sassoon’s luxurious coastal home, he would excuse himself for several hours to work on his war memoirs.

Aware of his propensity to work all the time, he wrote Clementine from the Duke of Westminster’s villa in March that he was enjoying painting and riding. “1 have not done a scrap of work. This is the first time such a thing has happened to me. I am evidently ‘growing up’ at last.”

The threat of Bolshevism remained his prime concern. In a speech at Sunderland he asked his audience: “Was there ever a more awful spectacle in the whole history of the world than is unfolded by the agony of Russia?” One of his fears was that Prime Minister David Lloyd George would concede too much to Russian interests at the Paris Peace Conference.

Frances Stevenson recorded the following exchange between Churchill and Lloyd George: “Winston still raving on the subject of the Bolsheviks, and ragging D [David] about the New World. ‘Don’t you make any mistake,’ he said to D. ‘You’re not going to get your new world. The old world is a good enough place for me, and there’s life in the old dog yet. It’s going to sit up and wag its tail.’

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“‘Winston,’ said the PM, ‘is the only remaining specimen of a real Tory.’

“‘Never mind,’ laughed Winston, ‘if you are going to include all parties, you will have me in your National Party.’

“‘Oh no!’ was D’s retort. ‘To be a party you must have at least one follower. You have none.”‘

On another occasion they had a more serious exchange which an observer recorded in his diary: ‘At the Cabinet this morning the PM gave Winston a dressing down about Russia. Winston had been complaining that we had no policy. This the PM described as ridiculous. Our policy was to try to scrap the results of the evil policy which Winston had persuaded the Cabinet to adopt. Winston was not only backing a wrong horse but a jibbing horse like Denikin.”

Churchill, unable to withstand the growing desire for peace and trade with Russia led by his own Prime Minister, wrote Lloyd George that “since the armistice my policy would have been ‘Peace with the German People, war on the Bolshevik tyranny.’ Willingly or unavoidably, you have followed something very near the reverse.” But Churchill’s support for the Russian General Denikin finally waned throughout the spring months.

While working on his own memoirs of the Great War, he also read the accounts of others. He commented to Clementine on Philip Gibbs’s Realities of War. “If it is monotonous in its tale of horror it is because war is full of inexhaustible horrors. We shall certainly never see the like again. The wars of the future will be civil and social wars, with a complete outfit of terrors of their own.”

Despite the opposition of Sinn Fein, the Government introduced a Home Rule Bill for Ireland in February. As violence grew in the Emerald Isle, Churchill urged restraint in dispatching regular British soldiers. He suggested a special force of former soldiers to back up the Royal Irish Constabulary.

As the Irish Home Rule Bill was being debated in June Churchill, writing in the illustrated Sunday Herald, called for tough measures against the murderers in Ireland while holding out hope for a real reconciliation with the Irish people.

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