Churchill Loved His Uniforms

Having begun his adult life as a soldier, Churchill remained keen on uniforms for the remainder of his life and often wore them in the Second World War. He only wore uniforms he was entitled to and his ranks at that point were honorary.

 

Prime Minister Winston Churchill Crosses the River Rhine, Germany 1945
The Prime Minister Winston Churchill crosses the River Rhine to the east bank, south of Wesel, in an American Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (or Higgins boat) with Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke and US General William Simpson on 25 March 1945. (photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum).

Churchill is wearing the uniform of a Colonel of the 4th Hussars. He was made an honorary colonel of the regiment in 1941. This is the regiment Churchill joined when he passed out of Sandhurst in 1894 and first entered the army.  He entered as a second lieutenant. (Some accounts claim he entered as a cornet, the equivalent rank in the cavalry to 2nd Lieutenant but that rank had been abolished some years before during a series of reforms in the British Army).

 

An exceptionally handsome and slender nineteen-year-old 2nd Lieutenant Winston Churchill of the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars in 1895. (IWM)

Winston Churchill was the first Prime Minister of Great Britain to have served in combat and killed the enemy since the Duke of Wellington, who served as Prime Minister from 1828 to 1830.

 

THE VISIT OF THE PRIME MINISTER, WINSTON CHURCHILL TO CAEN, NORMANDY, 22 JULY 1944 (TR 2050) The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Winston Churchill, MP, with the Commander of the British 2nd Army, Lieutenant General Sir Miles Dempsey (right) and the Commander of the 21st Army Group, General Sir Bernard Montgomery. Copyright: © IWM.

Churchill is wearing one of his favorite uniforms, that of an Elder Brother of Trinity House. This organization, which recently celebrated its 500th anniversary, is responsible for harbour pilots in the UK and aids to navigation.

When he became First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911, Churchill was made an honorary elder brother of Trinity House, the Elder Brothers being the governing board of the organization.

At the beginning of World War One, Churchill was in France on behalf of the government and was wearing the uniform of an Elder Brother of Trinity House. One of the French officers asked a British officer with Churchill what the uniform signified. In mangled French, the British officer replied that Churchill was a member of the Trinity.

 

Churchill in uniform as honorary Air Commodore.

In 1939 Churchill was appointment by King George VI as an honorary Air Commodore. His wings were later granted as another by the Royal Air Force. Churchill had become a pilot before the Great War and was one of the first licensed airplane pilots in Great Britain.

 


Featured image:

Prime Minister, Mr Winston Churchill  (he is wearing the uniform of an Elder Brother of Trinity House).in conversation with two seated dockers. The conversation took place during Mr Churchill’s tour of the dock area of Liverpool in late September 1941. It was reported that the Prime Minister saw the two workmen having their dinner and, alluding to their well-filled plates, asked: ‘Are you managing to get plenty of food?’ ‘Aye Sir!, we are doing grand, thank you’, was the reply. (Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

Chamberlain Betrays Czechs & Countdown to War Begins

“You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.”
WInston Churchill to Chamberlain in 1938 on the munich agreement.
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“…a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing.”

Chamberlain (centre, hat, and umbrella in hands) walks with German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop (right) as the Prime Minister leaves for home after the Berchtesgaden meeting, 16 September 1938. On the left is Alexander von Dörnberg, German diplomat, and SS officer, Chief of Protocol Foreign Office of Nazi Germany. (German National Archive)

 

From left to right, Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano as they prepare to sign the Munich Agreement. German National Archive.

This agreement was then forced on the Czechs by Britain and France.

[Ciano was Mussolini’s son-in-law who later played in role in overthrowing him. There are several versions of how Ciano came to be shot. This is my favorite although apocryphal:  Hitler told Mussolini to have Ciano shot. Musso said Ciano was the father of his grandchildren. He could not have him shot. Hitler replied that Musso was not tough enough to be a dictator. “I will have him shot.” Shortly thereafter the SS in the Salo Republic shot Ciano.]

In the fall of 1938, Hitler had made a fool of Prime Minister Chamberlain through his sham negotiating in Berchtesgaden. The PM had returned to England after betraying the Czechs and forcing both them and the Skoda Works, the finest armament works in Europe, into the hands of a madman.

“I believe it is peace for our time.”

Commentary from the Imperial War Museum: “Neville Chamberlain holding the paper containing the resolution to commit to peaceful methods signed by both Hitler and himself on his return from Munich. He is showing the piece of paper to a crowd at Heston Aerodrome on 30 September 1938.

He said: “…the settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace.

This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine…

….(waves paper to the crowd – receiving loud cheers and “Hear Hears”). Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just like to read it to you …”.

Later that day he stood outside Number 10 Downing Street and again read from the document and concluded: ‘”My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.” (Photo and caption courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

Charles McCain: Except, of course, it wasn’t.

Hitler was hardly going to keep his word and anyone who had observed him for a time knew that. The Czechs had been betrayed by Chamberlain.

Said Chamberlain in a radio broadcast, “How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing.” 

Chamberlain (left) and Hitler leave the Bad Godesberg meeting, 23 September 1938. German National Archive)

Czechs had been supplying steel of the highest quality to the Royal Navy

Yet many in Great Britain did know something about Czechoslovakia including this most critical fact: the Czechs had been supplying steel of the highest quality to the Royal Navy, steel of the quality required for warships no longer cast in sufficient amounts in Great Britain. *

The Admiralty knew this. Men of industry and finance knew. Chamberlain and the cabinet knew–but persisted in lying to the people of Great Britain as well as deluding themselves. They continued to live in what Aristophanes referred to as “Cloud-cuckoo-land”

*(Source: “Engage the Enemy More Closely: the Royal Navy in te Second World War” by Correlli Barnett)

Lord Halifax revealed as guilty of high treason–tried to negotiate peace with the Nazis without disclosure to war cabinet.

Neville Chamberlain, Benito Mussolini, Lord Halifax, and Count Ciano at an opera in Rome, Jan 1939

Daily Telegraph of London, 2008:

“Lord Halifax, Britain’s Foreign Secretary at the outbreak of the Second World War, secretly met with an Old Etonian who tried to broker a peace deal with the Nazis, according to newly-declassified security files.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2650832/Lord-Halifax-tried-to-negotiate-peace-with-the-Nazis.html

Charles McCain: A sordid spectacle. History has rightly judged  Chamberlain harshly along with his crony, the leading appeaser of Hitler next to Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary, the arch-schemer, Lord Halifax. Documents released in last 10 years prove Halifax committed treason by carrying on peace negotiations through dubious second parties without informing the war cabinet.

In November of 1937, while Lord President of the Council (a cabinet position), Halifax paid a private visit to Herman Goering, the obese kleptomaniac and drug addled C-in-C of the Luftwaffe. Since Halifax was a member of the Cabinet, the Germans thought of this as an “unofficial” official visit. This was done with Prime Minister Chamberlain’s knowledge and approval.

Lord Halifax with Hermann Göring at Schorfheide, Germany, 20 November 1937 (German National Archive)

Although Halifax was not then Foreign Secretary, he informed Adolf Hitler and “the evil gang who work your wicked will” * that the British government did not oppose Nazi Germany’s stated policy to incorporate Austria, half of Czechoslovakia and several former Imperial German provinces of Poland into the Third Reich.  However, the honourable gentleman, Lord Halifax, loftily said this must be done peacefully.

(*Churchill in a speech during World War Two describing Hitler’s murderous and evil myrmidons.

Lord Halifax with Hitler on 19 November 1937

This interference in foreign affairs by Chamberlain and his trusted fellow appeaser, the noble Lord Halifax, led to the resignation of Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden. Would Halifax take the position? Certainly, if the Prime Minister asked him then naturally it would be his duty to accept the position which he did.

A deeply religious man was Halifax. Hence, a good man said his acolytes. Not one to dirty his hands with common politics or common people. (As a peer of the realm, he was a member of the House of Lords). There were few among the elite who attended divine service on a more frequent basis then Lord Halifax. Presumably, God was on his side, it was said.  Many who knew him referred to him behind his back as the “Holy Fox.”  It wasn’t a compliment.

CHURCHILL STATES THE TRUTH

Only a few both saw and were willing to state the truth. One of those was Winston Churchill, roundly condemned for what he said in Parliament after Chamberlain returned from Munich waving the piece of paper signed by Hitler which meant “peace in our time.”

Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain reviewing German troops during Chamberlain’s visit to sign the Munich Agreement.

Winston Churchill on chamberlain’s capitulation in Munich to Hitler, house of commons, 5 October 1938.

I will, therefore, begin by saying the most unpopular and most unwelcome thing. I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which must nevertheless be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat, and that France has suffered even more than we have.

The utmost my right hon. friend the Prime Minister… has been able to gain for Czechoslovakia in the matters which were in dispute has been that the German dictator, instead of snatching the victuals from the table, has been content to have them served to him course by course…”

He was heckled by other Conservative members of Parliament during this speech. Churchill’s judgment on Chamberlain after the signing of the Munich agreement:  “You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.”

Chamberlain having a sincere handshake with Adolf Hitler.

You can read Churchill’s entire speech to Parliament on the Munich agreement here:       winstonchurchill.org/resources/speeches/the-munich-agreement

 

3 September 1939, Great Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany for attacking Poland, whose territorial integrity had been hastily guaranteed by those two countries. After the craven conduct of the British on Austria and Czechoslovakia, Hitler was stunned. He turned to his vacuous Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, who had assured him the British and the French would do nothing, and said, “now what?”

Ribbentrop was an opportunistic, immoral, evil toad of man along with being stupid. At the Nuremberg Tribunal, an American interrogator asked him several questions about German foreign policy during the Third Reich. Ribbentrop said he did not know the answers. Are you telling me, the American interrogator said, that as Foreign Minister of Nazi Germany you did not know what the foreign policy was? “I am sorry but I must say ‘yes'” (As in ‘yes he did not know). him on four counts: crimes against peace, deliberately planning a war of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity

He was rightfully convicted of crimes against peace, deliberately planning a war of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and hanged 16 October 1946.

This iconic photograph of Churchill was taken by famed photographer Yousuf Karsh on 30 December 1941 immediately after a speech Churchill had given to the Canadian Parliament. This photo came to represent Great Britain’s defiance of the Nazis.

On 10 May 1940, Germany attacked France who surrendered within six weeks. On that same day, 10 May 1940, two days after Chamberlain had suffered a humiliating defeat in Parliament, his majority dropping from 280 votes to 80 in a vote of confidence, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain and led the British Empire to victory over the Nazis.

His speeches as Prime Minister rang with defiance against the Nazis and continue to inspire those who value individual freedom.

“He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle to steady his fellow countrymen and hearten those Europeans upon whom the long dark night of tyranny had descended.” 

Edward R. Murrow on Churchill in 1954.

 

Baldwin Eviscerated by Churchill

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Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill meets women war workers at Georgetown’s filling works near Glasgow during a visit on 9 October 1918. Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.

“…they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent…”

 

Stanley_Baldwin_resize

The incompetent Stanley Baldwin in the 1920s. He served as Prime Minister of Great Britain on three occasions: 1923 to 1924, 1924 to 1929 and 1935 to 1937. 

Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was a wealthy man, quite out of his depth, entirely out of touch with his times, and possessed of a foolish rigidity of thought which ill-prepared Great Britain for the coming war. His nickname, “the Vicar” will give you an idea of how he was seen. (And it was a compliment). Worse, his personal and his campaign slogan was ‘Safety First.’  This actually meant, ‘don’t do anything which might rock the boat’ which was manifested by his not doing anything.

Baldwin still saw England as a nation of small villages, inspired by the narrow values and philosophies of small villages. He did not understand and could not understand the threat Hitler and other totalitarian states were to Great Britain and the British Empire.

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Winston Churchill in full cry on the campaign trail during a speech in Uxbridge, Middlesex, during the general election campaign on 27 June 1945. (photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum).

On 12 November 1936, in a debate in the House of Commons over what Winston Churchill believed was a far-too-casual and much-too-small initial rebuilding of the armed forces of the Crown, he excoriated Baldwin and his cabinet for their timidity and indecision about rearmament.
“The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence has argued as usual against a Ministry of Supply. The arguments which he used were weighty, and even ponderous… But then my right hon. friend went on somewhat surprisingly to say, ‘The decision is not final’. It would be reviewed again in a few weeks. What will you know in a few weeks about this matter that you do not know now, that you ought not to have known a year ago, and have not been told any time in the last six months?….
The First Lord of the Admiralty in his speech the other night went even farther. He said, ‘We are always reviewing the position. Everything, he assured us is entirely fluid. I am sure that that is true. Anyone can see what the position is.

The Government simply cannot make up their minds, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.”

 

churchill from NPR

Churchill speaking during the General Election campaign of 1945 which took place after the surrender of Nazi Germany on 8 May 1945.

Churchill,_uniform resize

21 year old Winston Spencer Churchill of the 4th Queens Hussars. 1895

One of the reasons so many of Churchill’s speeches are remembered is he rarely spoke off the cuff. He always carefully prepared his remarks, usually spending hours and hours of labor upon the drafts.  He dictated his speeches to a secretary then revised then over and over before delivering them.

A fascinating article about Churchill’s speeches can be found here:

www.winstonchurchill.org/his-speeches-how-churchill-did-it

 

Churchill Halts Cat Deserting Royal Navy

Atlantic Conference August 1941: Prime Minister Churchill restrains ‘Blackie’ the cat, the mascot of HMS Prince of Wales, from joining the USS McDougal, an American destroyer, while the ship’s company stand to attention during the playing of the National Anthem.

(photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

cats aboard heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins circa 1918

the following is from US Naval Institute

“Sailors and cats have a special relationship that dates back thousands of years. It is likely that the ancient Egyptians were the first seafarers to realize the true value of having cats as shipmates. In addition to offering sailors much needed companionship on long voyages, cats provided protection by ridding ships of vermin. Without the presence of cats, a crew might find their ship overrun with rats and mice that would eat into the provisions, chew through ropes and spread disease. The more superstitious sailors believed that cats protected them by bringing good luck. It was also common for crews to adopt cats from the foreign lands they visited to serve as souvenirs as well as reminders of their pets at home.”    text in quotes from:

 https://www.usni.org/news-and-features/cats-and-the-sea-services

Tiddles, the ship’s cat of HMS VICTORIOUS, at his favourite station on the after capstan, where he can play with the bell-rope. Tiddles now serving on board HMS VICTORIOUS as Captain’s cat, has spent his whole life on board aircraft carriers. Born on the high seas on board HMS ARGUS he has 30,000 miles to his credit.

Photo by Lt. C.H. Parnall, Royal Navy official photographer, courtesy of the  Imperial War Museum.

Sir Winston Churchill in his uniform as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The Lord Warden and Admiral of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle was once one of the most powerful officials in the Kingdom. The office dates to the 12th Century.

This holder of this office was responsible for the defense of five critical ports in southeast England. Once an important office, it is now an honorary appointment.

http://cinqueports.org/lord-warden-officials/