"You ask what is my policy? It is to wage war by sea, land and air with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us"— Churchill
NEWS summary, October, 1922: Colonial Secretary Churchill in first class political sensation! Crisis develops through: wide post-war discontent in country; industrial, financial, business muddle; working-class restive, disgruntled; middle-class tired, disheartened; the wealthy burdened by fifteen-shillings-in-thepound insurance tax—“insurance against Bolshevism.” Discontent in country is climaxed by Tory revolt against Lloyd George’s Coalition government.
Sunday: Coalition ministers dining at Churchill’s house in Sussex Square get Tory pledge of support and decide to carry on Coalition government.
Item: Churchill’s administrative work in Iraq. Palestine, and in beginning negotiations for Irish settlement, is widely acclaimed as “brilliant,” “masterly,” “the crown of his career.” Parliamentary session is called “Churchill’s Session.” An instance: Against solid brass-hat opposition Churchill at Cairo substituted Air Force for Army in controlling Iraq, cutting the annual cost of British occu-
pation from forty million to below four million pounds.
Monday: Churchill is taken seriously ill.
Tuesday: Churchill in great pain; appendicitis.
Wednesday: Churchill rushed to nursing home for operation.
Thursday: Carlton Club meeting of die-hard Tories repudiates its Coalition members and will overthrow the government.
Fall of Lloyd George Coalition government drags Churchill down. Crucial election fight is faced by Churchill from lied in nursing home. Mrs. Churchill sets out for Dundee, alone, to carry on fateful struggle for Winston’s re-election.
November: Three weeks after operation, Churchill, against doctors’ orders, insists on travelling to Dundee, and from a chair struggles to address his constitutents, but is howled down.
Election result: Churchill defeated, and is out of Parliament for the first time since 1900.
Comment by Churchill: “In a twinkling of an eye, I found myself without an office, without a seat, without a parly, and without an appendix.”
At Cannes, and afterward at Chartwell Manor, his newly-acquired country house in Kent, Churchill, the political outcast, spent his days writing, painting, bricklaying.
Writing: First volumes of World Crisis. Royalties— £15,000.
Painting: “It would be a sad pity,” said Winston, “to shuffle or scramble along through one’s playtime with golf and bridge, pottering, loitering, shifting from one heel to the other . . . when there is a paint box ... I must say I like bright colors.” He found tire bright colors in the landscajres of Canada, where he painted in the Rocky Mountains; and on the French Riviera. His paintings, which are vigorous, well-planned, were exhibited in Paris in 1921, signed “Charles Morin.” They sold for thirty pounds apiece.
Bricklaying: When building a cottage and wall on his estate with the help of a tradesman, Winston unwittingly insulted good trades unionists by joining the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers as an adult apprentice. The General Secretary of the Union, George Hicks, who inducted the distinguished adult apprentice for a fee of five shillings paid by cheque (but never cashed), for this trifling with the dignity of organized labor, incurred the resentment of many in the trade Unions.
Comment : Mussolini; jou rnalist and playwright. II it 1er-, author and water-color painter, Churchill; journalist, author, painter in oils.
TN THE political two-party game the sides had changed at Westminster. Instead of the pre-Coalition sides of Conservatives versus Liberals with Labor on the sidelines, they were now Conservatives versus Labor, with Liberalism broken up and sadly scattered, some playing with the Conservatives, some with Labor, a few left on the lines but most of them departed for good. Churchill, wearing his own colors, tried to play with the Conservatives as an independent, but had to fight hard for a place on the team. Thus: Independent candidate for West Leicester, December, 1923—result, heavy defeat. Independent candidate for Abbey Division of Westminster, February', 1924—result, narrow defeat. Then, officially picked on the Conservative side once more as candidate for Epping, October, 1924— result, victory by majority of 10,000, and an end to the only two years of this century in which Mr. Churchill has not been a member of Parliament. That safe seat of Epping he still holds, “a resting-place,” he says, “which will last me. I hope, as long as I am concerned with mundane affairs.”
In December, 1924, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin made him Chancellor of the Exchequer, and with that portfolio he achieved, at the age of fifty, the record of having held more British ministerial posts than any other statesman. The Chancellor’s robes which he wore for that occasion were those worn by his father before the rash act of “political suicide” that ended Lord Randolph’s so bright and brief career. For five uneasy years Winston stayed at the Treasury : no financier, yet effectively presiding over the financial policy of Britain and, therefore, indirectly, of the world.
In 1926, when England was paralyzed by the General Strike, Churchill argued once more, as at the time of Ulster’s threatened insurrection, that for any minority to force its sectional claims upon the nation under duress amounted to social blackmail and was a crime against Democracy. This he did through the columns of the British Gazette, which was in reality the Morning Post turned over to the government for the duration of the strike and edited by Churchill himself. It was one of the few four-page sheets published in those troubled days. The Morning Post had helped Winston to fame as a journalist thirty years earlier, and since then had been his fiercest critic. But now, sitting as chief in the editorial chair, he hugely enjoyed himself. No fusty blue-book stuff, but bright journalism—that was his editorial motto. He would have people read. They did. There was but small competition, of course, yet when the circulation rose from 232,CKX) on the first day, May 5, to 2,250,000 eight days later when the strike ended and the publication ceased, Winston’s editorial effort was described as “an amazing feat of journalistic enterprise and organization.” There were other comments. Mr. Lloyd George. “A first-class indiscretion clothed in the tawdry garb of thirdrate journalism.”
December, 13, 1931. Under the side-walk lamps and the bare wintry trees of Central Park, New York, the bored door porters of Fifth Avenue apartment blocks hear a sudden alarming shout and the high squeal of sharplybraked rubber tires. An excited Italian taxi driver jumps out of his cab and rushes round to help the guy just knocked down and injured.
The guy is a heavyish middle-aged gentleman who tries to make light of what has happened to him, but he is driven down across Madison Avenue to Lennox Hill Hospital.
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The housemen there are a little surprised that the stocky Englishman should insist on exonerating the taxi driver. “He could not possibly have avoided me. I carelessly stepped off the curb, forgetting this was New York, and not London with its lefthand drive.”
The gentleman gives his name as Churchill. Winston Churchill. Gee! Winston Churchill!
'Thereafter the telephone operator has a busy time informing people that the distinguished patient is suffering slight discomfort—it is that old trouble in the right shoulder—some cuts and bruises. Slight pleurisy. But making good progress.
Mr. Churchill, who had come to the U.SA. to lecture on "The Destiny of the English Speaking Peoples,” a series of forty-five lectures, is soon well enough to give them all but ten. His particular care to clear the taxi driver, Mario Constasino, of any blame or anxiety is written up in the papers, with photographs of Churchill and Constasino smiling and shaking hands. The tour is a great, success.
FROM 1931 to 1939 the voice of Churchill was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, warning of doom. He was not in the first National Government of Premier Ramsay MacDonald, but once more on the opposition benches, now as a sort of one-man party, deliberately ignored when not jeered and shouted down. England did not want to be told, and would not believe, that Germany and the world were heading yet again for that same “series of tremendous events.” No, no— not a ft ft1' time! Churchill insisted that they were.
When Japan, successfully flouting the League of Nations, in September 1931 seized Mukden and in February 1932 proclaimed Manchuria a puppet state; when in April 1932 Lance-corporal Adolf Hitler challenged the re-election of Marshal Hindenburg as President of the Reich; when in July Britain cancelled Germany’s war-reparations debt of three billion marks and pressed France to hasten disarmament—Churchill warned the nation, and they thought him crazed.
When in January 1933 Hitler was made Chancellor of the Reich; when 100,000 brown-shirted Nazi youth marched goosestepping into the Wilhelmsplatz cheering their Fuehrer while the young men of the Oxford Union were still resolved that “This house will in no circumstances fight for King and Country;” when from Berlin came reports of 8,000 suicides, and of 500,000 people torn from their homes and flung into concentration camps, and of wholesale liquidations and ruthless terrorism and torture practiced by German secret police — Churchill warned the nation, and few would heed.
In July 1934, he said: “As yet the fierce passion of the Nazis has no other outlet than upon Germans. But such men may easily plunge into a foreign venture oj catastrophic character to the whole Ivor Id.” And when in that same month he pressed for “a large vote to double our Air Force,” and said, “it may be a year or perhaps eighteen months till aerial attack on England,” he was again derided.
And when, four months later, in November 1934, he drew on the information he had secretly collected from inside Germany to show how German air strength was rapidly overtaking and passing that of Britain, and predicted that once in the lead Germany would never let England overtake her, and on the strength of these figures and arguments moved that “This House considers that in the present condition of the world, the strength of our national defenses is no longer adequate”— on that motion he was supported by five members out of six hundred in the House of Commons.
Shouting through cocktails or between sets at tennis, the complacent and the clever ones would make such comment as, “Poor old Winnie! Still fighting the Hun. A hopeless case of war fixation. Pathetic really!” And the ominous rhythms of approaching war steadily mounted on the Continent. And England’s social season proceeded untroubled: in London, the endless round of parties, receptions, dances; and the famous spring and early-summer pageant of sport—the Boat race, the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree, shooting at Bisley, racing at the Derby and Ascot, cricket at Lords, tennis at Wimbledon, the Royal Air Force Show at Hendon, high summer and beauty and fashion on the river at Royal Henley. And through the revelry one warning voice still was raised: “I, personally, have never been able to forget Europe. It hangs over my mind like a vulture.”
"Hardly a week passes now,” said Winston, “without some dark, sinister event marking the downward movement of Europe, or revealing the intense pressure at work beneath the surface.... A sense of indefinable anxiousness . . . broods over France. Hitler decrees the doubling in numbers and quality of the German army. Mussolini boasts that he has armed eight million Italians. Everywhere the manufacture of munitions proceeds apace and Science burrows its insulted head in the filth of murderous inventions. Only unarmed, unthinking Britain has the illusion of security.”
When in 1935 Mussolini attacked Abyssinia, when in March 1936 Hitler’s hordes marched into the Rhineland but promised not to fortify it, Churchill warned the nation that this was a “terrific danger to France, and not to France alone but to Belgium and Holland also.” He cried out that he foresaw' great danger of lightning attack, first through the Lowlands, and that then Northern, Eastern, Southern neighbors of Germany must be affected. And that neutrals friendly to us should then be forced to fall in line with their German masters.
“All signals are set for danger," he
cried. “The red lights flash through the
TEN in March 1936 Herr von Ribbentrop came to London and was dined and feted by Society; when Germany spoke soft words, offering nonaggression pacts and promising never again to use the submarine against merchant shipping, and offering to rejoin the League of Nations, Churchill still warned the nation: “There is an extraordinary
amount of Nazi propaganda in this country.” He said that its methods were to play on the goodwill of England, to lull suspicions and obscure the truth of w'hat was happening on the Continent. “Eight hundred millions sterling w-ere spent on armaments by Germany last year. Can anyone seriously believe that Hitler will hold back the blow till England is at last awake and ready? Must England always be too late?”
When in January 1937 Hitler guaranteed not to attack Belgium or Holland ; w'hen, in March 1937, King Leopold of Belgium accepted Hitler’s plighted word and denounced the British-Belgian-French defensive pact associated with his father’s name, Churchill once more warned the nation: “The change in Belgian policy
causes me. . . . grave misgivings.” And he advised the French now to draw their line of fortresses in equal strength behind the Franco-Belgian frontier to the sea.
And all the while in Britain, though there were those w'ho listened, there were more who turned aw'ay and saw salvation in appeasing words, in sympathy—the music of Bach, “Jesu joy of man’s desiring,” the Oxford Movement, moral rearmament. These were gleefully regard-
ed by the conspiring neo-pagans of Hitler’s Reich as instruments sapping the strength of Britain or her will for war. From hundreds of pulpits and by thousands of “practitioners” the doctrine was preached, “There is no evil in the world. Evil and pain and wickedness have no reality, unless we think them into reality. Our duty is to shut and seal our minds against all thoughts of evil, all that are ugly and of ill report.” Unwittingly by well-intentioned people the profound spiritual truths and values of Christianity were thus being misapplied and turned to instruments for weakening the still essential physical bulwarks of Christendom.
Yet when in February 1938, Hitler and Mussolini publicly insulted British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and demanded his removal from office; when in that same month Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain removed Anthony Eden from office; when in March, 1938, German troops invaded Austria; when Field Marshal Herman Goering pledged his word of honor for the territorial integrity of Czecho-Slovakia to be respected; when, following this immediately, German troops to the number of one and a half million, with tanks and guns and planes, massed on the borders of Czecho-Slovakia; when, after Munich, Neville Chamberlain brought back to Britain “peace in our time”—many unsealed their minds and looked at what was evil and of ill report and saw its terrible reality and power and turned at last to Churchill when once more he warned the nation; “It is necessary that the nation should realize the magnitude of the disaster into which we are being led. . . . The menace is not to the Czechs but to the cause of freedom and Democracy in every country. If peace is to be preserved ... it can only be by a combination of all the Powers whose convictions, and whose vital interests, are opposed to Nazi domination. A month ago it would have been possible. Now ...”
March 1939, in violation of the solemn pact of Munich, German troops marched into Czecho-Slovakia and enslaved its people.
And now the intellectuals and the common folk alike were calling out in Britain for Churchill, Churchill.
And Adolf Hitler solemnly declared,
“I have no further territorial demands to make in Europe.”
And Neville Chamberlain desperately tried to unify against aggression the victims next in line.
And Nazi troops in overwhelming force massed on the Polish border and marched into Poland.
Then, at last, at long, long last, Britain woke up. Britain was thoroughly aroused and shocked and scared and clamoring for Churchill—Churchill,Churchill, Churchill !
THE BLITZ had struck. Neville Chamberlain had paid heed to Britain’s clamor, and Churchill once more was at the Admiralty. There, in that second nadir hour for Britain, and for Europe and for Christian civilization in the world, Winston again was at his fateful post. The Blitz blasted the light of liberty from Poland and left behind the blackness of barbaric night—from which came rumors at first, then open blatant boasts, of fearful cruelties, fantastic in kind and scope, practiced in calculated, ceaseless, systematic Nazi effort to annihilate a nation. There followed, for eight months, the so-called “phony war.” In Germany the higher voltage of demonic energies for the Western Blitz was generj ated, and when generated it broke in sudden devastating storm again and Denmark was : enslaved, then Norway. . .
On this, the British House of Commons assailed Premier Neville Chamberlain with such violence as constituted his dismissal as war-leader of the nation. On i Friday, May 10, the Blitz struck at Belgium in spite of Hitler’s plighted promise, but as Churchill had forewarned, and that day | the King called Winston to the palace 1 and there charged him with the terrible
but sublime and glorious duty of piloting his country through the darkest and most dangerous passage of her history. And thus, after sixty-six eventful years, the seven-months child of Blenheim Palace had travelled to 10 Downing Street, to serve embattled Britain as Premier, and Christian civilization as foremost fighting champion of Democracy.
During that week end he chose his ministers (one of them Neville Chamberlain; another, Leo Amery, the “great Amery” of thesixth form whom Winston had pushed into the swimming pool at Harrow so many years ago; another, Sir Archibald Sin-
clair, who had sat with Winston talking endlessly in the dugout of Flanders) and on Monday, May 13, he told the Commons and the country through the Commons, the hard and bitter truth: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. . . You ask what is my policy, I will say, ‘It is to wage war by sea, land and air with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us. And to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.’ Our aim . . . in one word: Victory!”