The April 2017 (#106) issue of the Churchill Bulletin: The monthly newsletter of The International Churchill Society has been released. It includes articles on 2017 International Churchill Conference, Jon Meacham’s delivery of the National Churchill Museum’s annual Enid and R. Crosby Kemper Lecture, Churchill Collectables: 1940 Lawton Figurals, and a review of Secrets of Churchill’s War Rooms. The newsletter is available here.
An article from ABC News describes the search for a “lost letter” that may prove that a Queensland soldier saved Winston Churchill’s life during the Boer War. Private Fergus McFadzen was serving in the 4th South Africa ‘Queensland Imperial Bushmen Contingent’ and was out foraging for hay when he spotted Churchill alone on the veld. McFadzen recalled that “we were a long way from the British lines, and from the direction Churchill was heading he would have missed the lot of us by miles, and either been shot by a Boer sniper or again taken prisoner.” The Australian private pulled Churchill onto his horse and “landed him back safely in the British camp.” The article is available here and a 1944 article on the story is here.
The article “It’s a Case of All or None: ‘Jacky’ Fisher’s Advice to Winston Churchill, 1911” by Simon Harley and published in The Mariner’s Mirror (102:2, May 2016) considers the relationship between Churchill as newly appointed First Lord of the Admiralty and Admiral Jacky Fisher, First Sea Lord from 1904 to 1910. Harley challenges the commonly held view that Churchill “adopted wholesale” Fisher’s advice about senior naval appointments by examining the surviving correspondence between the two for a two month period in late 1911. While conceding Churchill was in Fisher’s “thrall,” Harley finds that the new First Lord of the Admiralty did not “slavishly” follow the often erratic advice that was being offered. The journal’s website is here.
“A Great Turkish Policy: Winston Churchill, the Ottoman Empire and the Origins of the Dardanelles Campaign” by A. Warren Dockter (Aberystwyth University) was published in the latest issue of History (102: 349, January 2017). It provides an examination of Churchill’s role in Anglo-Ottoman relations in the years before 1914 as well as during and after the First World War, including how his views of the Ottomans impacted the planning of the Dardanelles campaign. Dockter, the author of Churchill and the Islamic World: Orientalism, Empire and Diplomacy in the Middle East, comments that his subject “reflected on the Ottoman empire and Turkey a great deal before the First World War even started and his positions were often complex and at times contradictory. Specifically the author comments that Churchill, who had worked for an Anglo-Ottoman alliance since 1911, based his controversial decision in 1914 to commandeer two battleships being built for Turkey by the British on his belief that “German diplomacy had already won Turkish affections.” Dockter concludes that “Churchill had a much more complex, if not sympathetic, relationship with the Ottoman empire than is typically understood.” The website for History is available here.
An article on the history of the “controversial” Royal Naval Division, “Churchill’s Improbable Army” by John A. Haymond, has been published in the Spring 2017 issue of MHQ: Quarterly Journal of Military History (29:3). On August 16, 1914 Winston Churchill, then-First Lord of the Admiralty, issued a directive for the creation of the division which would be composed of Royal Marine and Naval Reservists who had no training as soldiers. Critics though he was “aiming to create the equivalent of his personal army.” The article outlines the service of the division at Antwerp, Gallipoli, and the Western Front. The MHQ website is here.
On March 5, 1946 the then former-prime minister Winston Churchill delivered his famous “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Generally considered, both at the time and since, to be a controversial “saber-rattling call” for confrontation with the Soviets, the speech is reinterpreted in the article “Churchill’s ‘Iron Curtain’ Speech in Context: The Attempt to Achieve a ‘Good Understanding on All Points’ with Stalin’s Soviet Union” by Klaus Larres and published by The International History Review (published online 10 March 2017). Larres argues that the speech, which established Churchill as the “Cold Warrior par excellence,” has been “misunderstood.” Beyond the “bellicose” sections the speech had “a malleable and benign part” in which Churchill called for an “understanding” with the Soviets and a negotiated settlement of the issues between the Anglo-Americans and the Soviet Union. Rather than increase tensions the speech, officially titled The Sinews of Peace, was “meant to prevent the escalation of this conflict and avoid the dangerous clash between the world’s greatest powers that soon became known as the Cold War.” The International History Review website is here.