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Finest HourFinest Hour

Finest Hour

Summer 2019

Winston Churchill was one of the greatest statesmen in world history – widely revered, sometime reviled and universally recognized for his tenacious leadership. Finest Hour, the Journal of Winston Churchill, is the flagship publication of The Churchill Centre. Each quarterly issue is packed with expert analysis and insightful discussion from prominent authors, historians, and journalists on all aspects of Churchill’s life and times. Finest Hour dispels the myths, explores the rousing speeches, and reviews the most interesting books, all thoughtfully written, thoroughly researched, and presented by a team of experts. Your digital Finest Hour subscription also includes membership in The Churchill Centre. As part of your digital membership you receive full access to all of our premium website content, a free subscription to the monthly email newsletter of Winston Churchill, Chartwell Bulletin, discounts to Churchill sites in Britain, and invitations to special events.

Land:
United States
Språk:
English
Utgiver:
The Churchill Centre
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I DENNE UTGAVEN

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from the editor

Churchill and the RAF This issue completes a triptych that we started two years ago about Winston Churchill’s relationship with the armed forces. We began with the Royal Navy, the “senior service,” in 2017 and continued with the British Army last year. Now we examine Churchill’s association with the Royal Air Force, and we are honored to have Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon introduce this issue. Churchill was one of the first major office holders in any nation to recognize the importance of air power. As First Lord of the Admiralty before the First World War, he routinely inspected the Fleet for which he was responsible and to this end had an airplane custom built for his use. Fred Glueckstein tells the little-known story of the “Sopwith Churchill.” Between the two world…

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letters

Finest Hour 183 LONDON—I read with great interest Fred Glueckstein’s excellent article “Watching Winston: Churchill and His Personal Bodyguards” in FH 183. Inspector Walter Thompson was my great uncle, and he left me 700 pages of his secret notes as well as his literary estate when he died. He was a fascinating character and would enchant us every weekend with stories of his time as a Special Branch Officer. I used Walter’s papers to write Beside the Bulldog for Apollo Publishing in 2003. This book contains less than 1% of Walter’s fantastic life with Churchill; for instance, there were thirteen assassination attempts on Churchill’s life during Walter’s service—some of these facts have still not been made public. More recently, I have written Walter’s compelling story into a TV drama series and…

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a letter from the air chief marshal

Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon served in the Royal Air Force for forty years, culminating with his time as Chief of the Air Staff in 1992–97. His career started in 1957, when he entered the Royal Air Force College Cranwell. Thereafter he served a tour as a flying instructor with the Fleet Air Arm, tours as a fighter pilot in the United Kingdom and overseas, posts in NATO, and headed the two RAF Commands in the UK before leading the service through the major military draw-downs at the end of the Cold War. Since retiring from the RAF, he has been a business consultant and a leader of many charities, including President of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust. He has written on defence and associated matters for the…

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the sopwith churchill: the first lord‘s custom-built, 1914, two-seat rnas biplane

October 1913 On the 29th Mr. Winston Churchill, flying with the late Captain Lushington, R.M.A., took control of the aeroplane himself during the greater part of an hour’s flight, thus becoming the first Cabinet Minister of any nation to pilot an aeroplane.1 The most successful British fighter of the First World War, the Camel was built by the Sopwith Aviation Company. The highly maneuverable Sopwith Camel was a biplane, a fixed-wing aircraft with two main wings stacked one above the other. It proved far superior to all German types of dogfighters until the introduction of the Fokker D. VII in 1918. Altogether, Sopwith built 5,490 Camels. The plane’s top speed was 118 miles (189 kilometers) per hour, and it had a ceiling of 24,000 feet (7,300 meters). The Camel was credited…

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churchill, air power, and arming for armageddon

Winston Churchill was an air power enthusiast. He saw early on that aircraft were transforming the international balance of power and the strategic environment. Command of the air would become a requirement to provide for the security of Great Britain and its empire, just as naval mastery had been in earlier times. As First Lord of the Admiralty before and at the outbreak of the Great War, he championed the development of Britain’s air strength. During the war, Churchill led the Ministry of Munitions, presiding over the manufacture of aircraft and weapons for the Royal Air Force (RAF). After the war, he served as Air Minister. Churchill would write: “Thus it happens to have fallen to my lot to have witnessed, and to some extent shaped in its initial phases,…

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endnotes

1. Winston S. Churchill, Thoughts and Adventures (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1932), p. 181. 2. Diary entry, 4–6 September 1918, Riddell Diaries, Ad. Ms. 62982, British Library, ff. 55–66. Churchill would write about this flight in “In the Air,” Thoughts and Adventures, pp. 187–88. 3. Stephen Broadberry and Peter Howlett, “The United Kingdom during World War I: Business as Usual?” in Stephen Broadberry and Mark Harrison, eds., The Economics of World War I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 212. 4. Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill, vol. IV, The Stricken World (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975), p. 44. 5. Churchill speech in Parliament, 13 April 1933, Robert Rhodes James, ed., Winston Churchill: His Complete Speeches, vol. V (New York: Chelsea House, 1974), pp. 5260–66. 6. Adam Tooze, The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the…

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