CHURCHILL IN AUGUST
August was always a hot month for Winston Churchill, historically. Even his vacations burned bright.
In the heat of, and the heart of, this month we celebrate all that Winston Churchill accomplished in August.
In August, 1897, news reached Winston Churchill, as a 21-year-old subaltern stationed in Bangalore, India, that tribal revolts had broken out along India’s northwest border with Afghanistan. On the instant Churchill decided to pursue action there, and write about it, as a member of the Malakand Field Force being formed by Major General Sir Bindon Blood. Credentialed as a journalist in the employ of both the Daily Telegraph(at £5 per column), and the Allahabad Pioneer (for which Rudyard Kipling had once written), Churchill in Malakand soon found himself also pressed into service as an officer in command of cavalry troops, tangling with the fierce Pathan tribesmen up close, witnessing much bloodshed and meting out a little himself, often in hand-to-hand combat. The result, just a few months later, was his first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force, derived from his vivid firsthand reportage, and an instant best-seller..
On August 9, 1900, young Churchill made his first cigar purchase under his own name at his parents’ favorite London tobacconist, Robert Lewis’s emporium at 81 St. James’s Street. Churchill’s maiden order consisted of 50 Bock Giraldas (a small Havana cigar) and a box of the firm’s gold-tipped Alexandra Balkan cigarettes, for his mother, Lady Randolph Churchill.
Eight years later exactly, on August 9, 1909, Diana Churchill was born , Winston and Clementine’s second child, and first daughter.
Newly unemployed after the 1929 General Election defeat of PM Stanley Baldwin’s Conservative Party government ended his own five-year run as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Churchill embarked upon what would become his most storied vacation, departing England on August 3, 1929 for a three-month cross-country tour of North America. Traveling with his son Randolph, his brother Jack, and his nephew Johnny — Jack’s son — Churchill on holiday traversed the landscape glories of Northwest Canada, viewed from a special railway car provided by the Canadian Pacific Railroad; the tinsel of Hollywood, where he met Charlie Chaplin; and, finally, New York City, where, as fate would have it, he witnessed “Black Thursday,” the stock market’s collapse, firsthand, including the sight of a man leaping to his death just below Churchill’s window at the Savoy Plaza hotel.
On August 20, 1940, having endured the tribulations of the Battle of Britain for most of the month, Churchill, as Prime Minister, delivered perhaps his most iconic oratorical flourish of World War II in a victorious House of Commons address: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
One year later, beginning on August 9, through August 12, 1941, Churchill and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met secretly aboard the USS Augusta and the British battle cruiser HMS Prince of Wales off the coast of Newfoundland for an “Atlantic Conference” that yielded the so-called “Atlantic Charter” — a blueprint for the world after World War II and, later, the basis for the United Nations Charter. Although the ostensible purpose of this Atlantic Conference was to discuss general strategy for a war that America had not yet entered, Churchill’s over-arching goal was to make better friends with the President. This, he did.
We wish you a very hot August, historically, and a terrifically temperate one, weather-wise, and in all other ways.