In September, Churchill signed a contract with famed film producer Alexander Korda (The Third Man and hundreds of other films) to write a script on the reign of George V for the Silver Jubilee. Although technicalities prevented the project from coming to fruition, Churchill eventually realized most of the £10,000 he had anticipated. He also contracted to write a History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Keith Feiling, his research assistant, was instructed to prepare a rough scheme of chapters and a list of books to be read, ” . . . three of four first-rate authorities for each period. There is no question of research of any kind but of course we should base ourselves whenever possible upon the original sources.” Another research assistant began work on Volume III of Marlborough.
While the materials were being prepared, the Churchills took a holiday in Greece, the Middle East and Egypt on the yacht of their friend, Lord Moyne. They returned to Chartwell in mid-October. A BBC broadcast on the causes of war provided opportunity to speak out on the need to resist in Germany using “the most brutish methods of ancient barbarism” to terrorize its civilian population. The Foreign Office told Churchill it was doubtful that Hitler plotted a war of aggression.
Read More >
Death of the 9th Duke of Marlborough
Winston’s best friend, his cousin Sunny, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, died in June. It was the most traumatic event in Churchill’s life since the death of F.E. Smith, Lord Birkenhead, four years earlier. He sent the letters column of The Times a thousand-word letter of tribute.
The political issue was air power, with Churchill on one side of the Government’s policy and Labour on the other. While Lord Rothermere, even more extreme than Churchill, claimed that Germany would have 20,000 planes by the end of 1935, Desmond Morton advised Churchill that a more accurate figure was 500. By comparison, France would have 1650, the USSR 1500, Japan 1400, the USA 1100, and Britain 910. A Labour motion of censure against the Government’s policy of increasing its air power was defeated decisively. Churchill facetiously commented that “the Socialists wish us to remain disarmed but exceedingly abusive” about Germany.
He completed the manuscript of Volume II and began Volume III of Marlborough (Woods A40). Presaging a problem that would face his own biographers, he complained that “the fault is too many documents.”
Read More >
Many of Churchill’s friends and even some of his critics felt that respect for him was growing. Beaverbrook noted that “he has cut the rhetoric and gained dignity.” A major incident was to change this perception.
Word reached Churchill that Lord Derby and Sir Samuel Hoare had pressured the Manchester Chamber of Commerce not to speak against the India White Paper proposals on the cotton industry. The initial evidence presented to the House by Churchill resulted in an investigation by a Committee of Privileges. Although Government leaders dominated the Committee they resented the entire incident. Indeed, Hoare and Baldwin saw it as an attempt by Churchill to bring down the Government. The bitter Hoare even castigated Churchill personally and charged that Winston and his son “fight like cats with each other and chiefly agree on the prodigious amount of champagne that each of them drinks each night.”
The Committee voted unanimously that there had been no breach of privileges by Hoare and Derby. Churchill’s vehement attack on the Report in the House of Commons induced considerable hostility in the Conservative Party and both Clement Attlee of Labour and Churchill’s friend, Archibald Sinclair of the Liberals, welcomed the Report. All parties questioned his motives at the time. Evidence now indicates that while Churchill was correct in his charges, he was politically inept in his handling of the incident.
Read More >
Churchill’s major concerns, India and Europe, were linked in a speech which tied Baldwin’s Conservatives to MacDonald’s Labourites. “Well might Sir John Simon exclaim,” he said, “We are all Socialists now.’” The essence of his feelings on India was revealed in a review of Clive of India (Woods C228): “Now, in this period of exhaustion after so many triumphs, when our very right to reign and rule in the East is assailed by morbid subversives or featherheaded sentimentalists, it is refreshing and, indeed, inspiring to review our contact with the splendid vigour of our forbears.”
“…it is refreshing and, indeed, inspiring to review our contact with the splendid vigour of our forbears.”
In February, to derisive laughter, he defiantly told the Oxford University Conservative Association that Germany had been responsible for the Great War and warned that “…the hideous curse of war from the air has fallen on the world.” While critics accused him of contributing to anarchy and ruin, many were rallying to him on the European issue. Sir Maurice Hankey wrote him that “…we badly need some leadership on this subject just now and it is a better horse than India.”
Read More >
Duff Cooper wrote WSC his observations in Germany: “They are preparing for war with more general enthusiasm than a whole nation has ever before put into such preparation.” Churchill used public meetings, party conferences and Parliament to warn that “the philosophy of blood lust is being inculcated into their youth in a manner unparalleled since the days of barbarism.” He rejected the arguments of John Simon and Lloyd George that Germany was the offended and threatened power.
“You really are an amazing man.”
India was still of great concern. Churchill presented an argument that the proposed federal system would not satisfy extremists and that the Congress Party and Princes had little in common. He requested that the BBC allow him to speak on Indian constitutional changes but was informed that only persons nominated by party leaders were to be included. Naturally, he wasn’t.
Volume one of Marlborough (Woods A40) was published in October. Within a week it had sold 8500 copies and had helped WSC reduce a bank overdraft of £9500. In interviews and public addresses on the biography he credited Lord Rosebery and Arthur Balfour with inspiring him to write it. He was early intimidated by the judgments of Macauley but hoped that his study would help redress traditional interpretations.
He reviewed the two volumes of Lloyd George’s war memoirs for the Daily Mail and wrote “Julius Caesar” for a Strand series on Shakespeare’s Plays as Short Stories. (Woods C223), Stanley Baldwin wrote Churchill, admiring his prolificacy: “You really are an amazing man.”
“Further Indianization will ruin the great services without which India will fall back to the level of China,” Churchill said. An independent India would “darken the lives of the enormous mass of [its] people.” Indian politicians were “largely untried and provedly disloyal”; they should prove themselves in the provinces before demanding “responsible control of the stately Empire.” But WSC lost an attempt to reverse Tory policy on India at a major Conservative meeting. His principle opponents were Sir Samuel Hoare and Lord Derby, who worked to undermine his position by gaining the support of Lancashire cotton interests for the Government’s India policy.
Churchill also attacked the Government’s inability to cure unemployment, which he called “a cancer eating out the heart of the people.” He advocated monetary reform and admired the “resolute mental energy of President Roosevelt,” although he questioned FDR’s telling the world to balance its budget:
Read More >
“The House was enraged in an ugly mood towards Mr. Churchill,” declared the Daily Despatch, following WSC’s 14 March speech on Europe. Undaunted, he spoke again on 13 April:
“The rise of Germany . . . to anything like military equality with France, Poland or the small states, means a renewal of a general European war.” He was now consulting with Maj. Desmond Morton, who would later be an important source of information for WSC’s successful attacks on Government defense policies.
After declining to serve on the Parliamentary Committee on India, Churchill led a public crusade against the Government’s India policy, causing an open split with Baldwin. Almost all WSC’s former Cabinet colleagues and a majority within the party supported ‘S.B.’ But there was substance to WSC’s charges and the Government knew it.
Clementine rarely spoke out publicly on controversial matters but, at a Conservative Party Women’s Advisory Committee meeting in May, she supported a motion quite compatible with Winston’s point of view.
Read More >
The winter was mainly spent at Chartwell, but WSC did visit a French’ chateau as guest of the Duke of Westminster in January. With a “remarkable capacity for switching his mind at will from one capacity to another,” as Henry Pelling wrote, Churchill was simultaneously speaking, writing, and fighting major political battles on the issues of India and vigilance against a militant Germany.
Among numerous newspaper articles was a 12-part series in The News of the World entitled “The World’s Great Stories” retold by WSC (Woods C208). Churchill also wrote the Foreword to an upcoming biography of his late friend, Lord Birkenhead (Woods C213). He continued to work on Marlborough, frequently communicating with others about the work, primarily aides Fieling and Ashley and historian G. M. Trevelyan. Col. Pakenham helped with the military and technical aspects of Marlborough’s campaigns. Edward (Eddie) Marsh assisted in all of Churchill’s writings. Normally, Marsh performed the role of proofreader, but in The World’s Great Stories he prepared a precis of each plot as foundation for Churchill’s retelling.
Read More >