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Summer 1934 (Age 59)

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.”

He received a gift of books from Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, living in exile in Holland. He reciprocated with a gift of Volume 1 of Marlborough.

On a trip to Europe, he traced the routes of Napoleon, and wrote his wife that “I really must try to write a Napoleon before I die,” but doubted whether he would have the time or strength.

He anticipated the writing he was doing would bring a yearly income of £16,000.

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