Why We Are At War

The Lion admits to thieving this comment from Common Dreams. Read the whole list, to the end. Then think of a question to ask yourself.

Republicans — These are the guys sending people to war:

  • Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage. [Had ‘other priorities’.]
  • Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
  • Tom Delay: did not serve.
  • Roy Blunt: did not serve.
  • Bill Frist: did not serve.
  • Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
  • Rick Santorum: did not serve.
  • Trent Lott: did not serve.
  • John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
  • Jeb Bush: did not serve.
  • Karl Rove: did not serve.
  • Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. “Bad knee.” The man who attacked Max Cleland’s patriotism.
  • Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
  • Vin Weber: did not serve.
  • Richard Perle: did not serve.
  • Douglas Feith: did not serve.
  • Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
  • Richard Shelby: did not serve.
  • Jon Kyl: did not serve.
  • Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
  • Christopher Cox: did not serve.
  • Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
  • Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
  • George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard; got assigned to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running for U.S. Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam, disappeared from duty.
  • B-1 Bob Dornan: Consciously enlisted after fighting was over in Korea.
  • Phil Gramm: did not serve.
  • John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
  • Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.
  • John M. McHugh: did not serve.
  • JC Watts: did not serve.
  • Jack Kemp: did not serve. “Knee problem,” although continued in NFL for 8 years.
  • Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.
  • Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
  • George Pataki: did not serve.
  • Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
  • John Engler: did not serve.
  • Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base.
  • Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies.

Pundits & Preachers:

  • Sean Hannity: did not serve.
  • Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a ‘pilonidal cyst.’)
  • Bill O’Reilly: did not serve.
  • Michael Savage: did not serve.
  • George Will: did not serve.
  • Chris Matthews: did not serve.
  • Paul Gigot: did not serve.
  • Bill Bennett: did not serve.
  • Pat Buchanan: did not serve. (Did oppose the war in Iraq)
  • Bill Kristol: did not serve.
  • Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
  • Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
  • Clarence Thomas: did not serve.
  • Ralph Reed: did not serve.
  • Michael Medved: did not serve.
  • Charlie Daniels: did not serve.
  • Ted Nugent: did not serve. (He only shoots at things that don’t shoot back.)
  • John Wayne: did not serve.
  • Gerald Mcraney: did not serve. Played a Vietnam Vet on 3 TV shows (Simon & Simon, Major Dad, and Promise Land)

Democrats:

  • Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
  • David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
  • Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
  • Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
  • Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
  • Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
  • John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, Purple Hearts.
  • Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
  • Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
  • Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53.
  • Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
  • Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
  • Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII; Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
  • Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier’s Medal.
  • Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
  • Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
  • Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
  • Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
  • Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
  • Chuck Robb: Vietnam
  • Howell Heflin: Silver Star
  • George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
  • Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received #311.
  • Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
  • Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
  • John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
  • Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.
  • John Murtha: Marines, Vietnam, Purple Heart, Bronze Star

The Lion is sure that one could find many Democrats who did not serve, but this list isn’t about any Democrats, or just any Republicans. It’s about the leaders in both parties, the people who have stood out, who have had influence.

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71 Responses

  1. Fantastic. I really wish I could print it out and give it to a man I know who thinks that Bush is the greatest thing since the Pope. Every time we talk politics or war, I am struck by the fact that the conservative hyperpatriot never served, but the atheist liberal did. Weird. But, as the list points out, not that strange.

    Good to have you back. You doing okay?

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  2. What, you gave the printer to the kid to carry off to college? You spent the printer money on scotch and cigars? 🙂

    I’m improving, but it’s slow and not much fun. I do think my brain is rising from the fog it’s been thrust into. Starting on BP med tomorrow. Which makes it official – I am no longer 20 years old.

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  3. What does GERALD MCRANEY have to do with any thing?
    He’s not in politics. He can’t send anyone to war.

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  4. Just to be clear, the Democrats are the guys sending people to war too, right?

    It amazes me that people can be influenced by some of the names that you list of the “pundits & preachers”, if this is the case, it is no wonder that this country is in such dire straits… sheep to slaughter.

    Just so you know, I can appreciate the “no longer 20 years old”, oh brudda, trust me it gets better!!

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  5. amanda –

    Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh can’t send anyone to war either, but they have enormous influence among conservatives and Republicans and can twist and distort the conversation. McRaney is a conservative Republican, a popular actor, and supports the war, so he does have influence. He’s more in the cast of John Wayne, war buff, who never served but pimped for war, rather than Jimmy Stewart, who quit acting to serve in the Army Air Force in World War II, flying bombing missions over Germany and ultimately rising to the rank of Brigadier General in the Air Force.

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  6. elf –

    Quite right, Democrats have voted for war bills, and frankly I think those who have supported the war as the truth has come out deserve condemnation. But on the other hand, it is Democrats who have argued against the war from the beginning (Kennedy, Byrd, et al), and Republicans who have consistently given Bush a blank check and refused any oversight of the war, despite one scandal and fraud after another by incompetent political operators. It’s Republicans who scream the loudest for war, with Iraq, with Iran, with countries to be named later. It’s Republicans who have given, and continue to fight to give, unlimited power to Bush. It’s Republicans who cry out for one hundred more years of war in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. It’s Republicans who think John Wayne was a real hero and won World War II and the Korean War and Vietnam. It’s Republicans who prefer to live in an adolescent fantasy about the world, one that seems not too far removed from the mentality of the Columbine killers.

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  7. @ Ric

    Actually this post has reminded about what my grandfather said about Churchill, he never served in a front line combat unit in his life but was in love with war, and like McCain was a a former POW and serial embellisher of the facts. He betrayed British soldiers time and time again, especially in the Middle East (Churchill’s folly). All these warmongering fantasists are Zionists.

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  8. How did Churchill get to be a POW?

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  9. He was a journalist embedded with the military during the Boer war, although he wasn’t a standard POW, he was a Churchill!

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  10. Great information. All those people who love the idea of war as long as it doesn’t involve them.

    As an aside, I was spurred by Steph’s comment to look up Churchill in Wikipedia.
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_Churchill)
    Wiki seems to think that he was indeed a frontline soldier plus a few other odd things (a determined atheist and the winner of a libel suit against someone who accused him of buggery.)

    Adopting the same “my grandfather said” style approach, I was brought up to believe that he was at one and the same time:
    (a) evil for firing on strikers in about 1920 and for being a Tory party stalwart
    (b) great for actually fighting Nazi Germany and leading the country through a desperate time
    (c) had a fantastic turn of phrase
    (d) was well-deservedly voted out of power as soon as the war was over, so that the people who’d been through the war could claim some social justice.

    This all seems reasonable to me but, then, handed-down family opinion isn’t evidence.:-)

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  11. Heather

    Your right my Grandfather’s opinion isn’t evidence, but he happens to be right. All of Churchill’s many biographers agree that he was journalist with a commission – no more, no less, now I’m sorry but a journalist isn’t a front line soldier.

    I agree he claimed to have served as a front line soldier in WW1, but that was after he was Home Secretary and First Lord of the Admiralty, and no historian takes that seriously. In fact, all of Churchill’s war dispatches have been rubbished by historians.

    So no, Churchill never served on the front line, as a soldier. But wiki isn’t evidence. 🙂

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  12. Steph, you are right that a journalist isnt a front line soldier (at least today), however at the end of the nineteenth century things were not always as clear cut.

    For example, Churchill was an officer in the 4th Queens Own Hussars (now the Queens Royal Hussars) and according to their regimental tradition he served at the front line. I am not old enough to remember this personally so I have no way of disproving their claims but it seems legitimate. The weight of evidence confirms he was commissioned so it is probable he also fought.

    As for fighting in WWI – well, again the Regimental records of the Royal Scots Fusiliers (now Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Bn Royal Regiment of Scotland) have him as a Colonel. In fact, their website says he made 36 forays across no mans land (http://rhf.org.uk/).

    I think, if historians are ignoring the records kept by the various regiments they are making a bit of a mistake.

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  13. TW

    The claims that he served in the front during WW1 — are you being serious?!!!

    No historian would ever accept that scandalous piece of war time propaganda as fact. He was the First Lord of the Admiralty before he served as a colonel in the Royal Scots Fusiliers for six months, in-between ministerial stints, after the Tories demanded he be sacked for the disastrous Gallipoli landings on the Dardanelles.

    36 forays across no mans land!!! Think about that, just think about that, the former Home Secretary and First Lord of the Admiralty, a colonel making 36 forays across no mans lands, how likely do you think that was?

    It was wartime propaganda! He was being accused of treachery at the time, did you know that?

    I repeat, Churchill was never a front line soldier, it was against regulations for a commissioned officer to be a reporter so he was given special disposition to be a war time propagandist with a commission. In every campaign Churchill served before 1900 he was working as a reporter and in none of those campaigns were there any written orders that show Churchill was anything other than a journalist with a commission.

    Ric, I’m sorry this is off-topic but I suppose it does has some similarities to Bush they both found ways to serve without having to actually fight. Churchill was known by his peers as a coward, now he is portrayed as wartime hero, Bush is going for the same image.

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  14. steph –

    Don’t worry about going off topic. I fired my enforcer for breaking into my cookie stash. 🙂

    One little teeny tiny bit of information that seems rarely to see the light of day about Bush – When he signed up for the Air National Guard, not only was he pushed to the head of the line because of his family connections, he checked off and signed a form stating that he would not serve overseas. That was during the Vietnam war. All the rest of that disgusting episode I’m sure you know about.

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  15. Ric

    No, I never knew that. Obviously regular soldiers didn’t get that choice.

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  16. I believe it was generally available in the Air Guard. That he would be rah-rah for the war, but cheat to get into the Guard and check off that he wouldn’t serve in the war zone marks him as a coward and a hypocrite, as well as the spoiled rich frat boy.

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  17. (Ric – sorry about this)

    Steph:

    The claims that he served in the front during WW1 — are you being serious?!!!

    Well, yes. As are the regimental records of the Royal Highland Fusiliers.

    No historian would ever accept that scandalous piece of war time propaganda as fact.

    Nonsense. Most historical records (for example, Wiki has a long list of citations for its claims and the MOD records are the normal starting point for historians) support this, so historians who don’t accept this are in serious danger of simply making up the history they want to have happened.

    It isn’t war time propaganda. It is actually a fact of the records of the regiment in question. If you take the trouble to check the Royal Scots archives and museums there are several citations and non-political military messages from Churchill serving with the Fusiliers. It may seem alien in this day and age but during the “great war” there were many politicians, heads of state etc who served with Infantry battalions.

    You are going out on a massive limb and making lots of very, very unsupported assertions. You have identified a few bits of truth and built some assumptions around them.

    Yes, it is indeed true Churchill was largely responsible for the monstrosity at Gallipoli, but how does that change anything? Are you asserting that the military records are all wrong? What do you have to back this up?

    It is interesting that you claim it was against regulations for officers to be reporters, do you have any proof that this was indeed in force at the time?

    When he was commisioned into the Queens Own Hussars, Churchill wasn’t a reporter and didn’t do any journalism; that came later around the time of Ladysmith. I dont doubt that Churchill was not a front line soldier at Ladysmith, however it is churlish to ignore his previous service.

    I dont for one second disagree that Churchill was “in love with war” and I wouldn’t want to try and paint an overly heroic picture of him. However, it serves no ones purpose to create a false image, good or bad. Churchill was a war mongering fool, he oversaw some horrific mistakes and, if it wasn’t for WWII, would have gone down in history as a horrible little man.

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  18. TW

    If you want to give me a lecture on good history don’t quote wiki: it’s a resource for the uneducated. When I was reading my doctorate in law, I was always taught to value primary evidence before secondary evidence – so do good historians.

    I said Churchill received special dispensation to serve as a reporter, this is an uncontested fact. Whereas you said that it was probable he served on the front line in a combat role. I’ve asked you for evidence of written orders prior to 1900 that support this. But you can’t provide any. This primary evidence should exist, if your claim is true.

    You point to an unsourced claim on the RHF website that “While in command, Lt. Col Churchill personally made 36 forays across no man’s land” – this comment is unauthored, undated, unsubstantiated secondary evidence, which might have come from one of Churchill’s drunken tales or ghost writers for all you know. And the appallingly poorly researched wiki article you quote, certainly doesn’t back up this claim. So where is the evidence?

    As I pointed out he was a Colonel for six months, in between ministerial stints, while in disgrace and hiding from rumors of treason charged for treason and still a serving MP. I’m sorry but that just doesn’t make him a front line soldier.

    You say that if it hadn’t been WW2 he “would have gone down in history as a horrible little man,” – actually if it wasn’t for post war propaganda he would have gone down as a corrupt and treacherous drunken poltroon, war criminal, who needlessly crippled Britain and lost the empire.

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  19. The penultimate paragraph corrected:

    As I pointed out he was a Colonel for six months, in between ministerial stints, while in disgrace and hiding from rumors of treason (and potentially charges of treason) and still a serving MP. I’m sorry but that just doesn’t make him a front line soldier.

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  20. Nonsense. Most historical records (for example, Wiki has a long list of citations for its claims and the MOD records are the normal starting point for historians) support this, so historians who don’t accept this are in serious danger of simply making up the history they want to have happened.

    This is a bare faced lie, the MoD didn’t even exist then. Actually you haven’t provided any evidence that supports your claims. Everyone from Jenkins to Churchill agrees with mine that he was a reporter. Also the military historian Michael Howard, says whilst Churchill was in the wilderness he was “found a battalion command on the Western Front,” but makes no mention of daring escapade into no-man’s land.

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  21. 🙂

    Ah ha, the re-enactment of the English Civil War!

    As long as there are no beheadings, neither of you need apologize. It’s instructive and interesting, especially for those of us who were brought up on the American myth of WC as a great man (naming no names, of course…)

    Please continue. Just be sure to wipe up the blood. 🙂

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  22. Steph, this is obviously a topic you feel strongly about and I suspect this may be clouding either your judgement or your reading of what I am writing. Either way, this is causing you to make some interesting fallacies.

    First off:

    If you want to give me a lecture on good history don’t quote wiki: it’s a resource for the uneducated.

    I wasn’t trying to give you a lecture on “good history” and I didn’t quote Wiki as a primary source so this is nothing more than an appeal to ridicule. I never even quoted Wiki, I actually said it had a long list of citations for its claims – that is a significant difference. Wiki is not, and doesn’t pretend to be a primary source but it is useful for collecting links to other sources. Also, as it is online it is certainly easier for me to point to a link on Wiki (which has its references properly cited) than saying “page 114 of my copy of the Encylopedia Brittanica says XYZ.” You may disagree and that certainly is your choice. However, I never quoted wiki so do not try to dismiss my comments on that basis alone. I will ignore the appeal to false authority – a doctorate in law gives no special insight into military history.

    I said Churchill received special dispensation to serve as a reporter, this is an uncontested fact. Whereas you said that it was probable he served on the front line in a combat role. I’ve asked you for evidence of written orders prior to 1900 that support this. But you can’t provide any. This primary evidence should exist, if your claim is true.

    Ok. This is a big old muddle of nonsense.

    You make a claim about an “uncontested fact” in a debate which contests at least part of that fact. From that point alone you can see it is not, despite your claim to be an authority on the matter, uncontested.

    More importantly, you are arguing about something which wasn’t said. Everyone has agreed (please re-read my post to check) that Churchill was a reporter at the time of Ladysmith. This is such a small portion of the period involved making your statment seem along the lines of saying he was a schoolboy therefore he couldn’t have been in the Admiralty… Now, if you want written evidence of his orders prior to 1900, they are actually available – however I have no idea where they are online. If you wish, the Regimental Museum of the Queens Own Hussars (In Warwick) has copies available for the public and it is only £4.90 to get in – well worth a visit. That is a primary source.

    Now at the time, the Hussars were reasonably operationally active and while it is possible Churchill totally avoided all combat or front line duties I would need to see some evidence to show this. All we have from you so far is an anecdote from your Grandfather.

    You point to an unsourced claim on the RHF website …

    It is not unsourced. This is from the Regiment themselves so it is like asking me what colour my socks are and when I reply saying it is “unsourced.” However, there are others who make this claim:

    Trevor Royal in “Royal Highland Fusiliers: A Concise History” refers to it as does John Buchan in “History of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, 1678-1918.”

    A search of the national archives is equally enlightening producing photographs of Churchill at Camblain L’Abbé and he was awarded the 1914-1915 Star for his military service (that in itself says nothing though). The BBC even mentions it (and mentions TE Lawrence military service is not recorded). The “uncontested” fact in this instance is that Churchill was in France, on the Western Front in 1915. Again, it is possible he avoided all combat action but I would hope you have some solid, reliable, sources to support that.

    This is a bare faced lie, the MoD didn’t even exist then.

    An interesting stance to take. It is not a “bare faced lie” but you are correct the MOD didnt exist. However, the Ministry of War no longer exists so guess who holds their records now..? Yes, they are with the MOD. The regimental histories, records and war diaries are held by (wait for it) the MOD (unless they have been loaned to other organisations). If you can find the Ministry of War we can ask them instead.

    Actually you haven’t provided any evidence that supports your claims.

    A lot more than you have. What evidence have you produced other than anecdote..?

    Everyone from Jenkins to Churchill agrees with mine that he was a reporter.

    This was never disputed. Neither is the fact he was once a school boy. Are you now claiming he avoided combat duties in France by being a reporter?

    Also the military historian Michael Howard, says whilst Churchill was in the wilderness he was “found a battalion command on the Western Front,” but makes no mention of daring escapade into no-man’s land.

    Does he mention Churchill breathed air or drank water? You are mistaking the ebb and flow of combat on the Western Front in 1915 with “daring escapades.”

    Actually I pretty much think that sums up part of the problem here.

    “36 forays in to no mans land” does not mean he was Rambo nor is he more (or less) of a hero than the other 650 men who would have gone with him. During the early parts of WWI the whole BEF were making hundreds of forays across no mans land. The scale of the early WWI conflict was (at the time, and even now) beyond belief. Despite Blackadder’s interpretation very, very few people who served in France at the time avoided combat service – certainly not a commanding officer of a line infantry Battalion.

    No one is asking you to think Churchill is great, good or worthy – I certainly dont.

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  23. TW

    Everything I’ve said is intelligent, verifiable and qualified, what you’ve said is none of those things. What’s more, you’ve been caught lying about your sources. There really is no point in trying to makes excuses, there are no MoD records from that period, so they can’t back up your argument, as you claimed.

    Also, this is a fact: eight months after being commissioned in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, Churchill was working for the Daily Graphic as a reporter in the Spanish-American civil war in Cuba. Incidentally, Britain wasn’t a protagonist in that war. I’ve given a source – Jenkins, and asked you to provide one historian or biographer of not that doesn’t. Unsurprisingly you couldn’t.

    I’ve also asked you for evidence of written orders prior to 1900 that support your claim that it was probable he served on the front line in a combat role because I’ve seen none. I’m open to be corrected on this but you couldn’t provide a source.

    I’ve asked you for evidence that Churchill made “36 forays in to no-mans land” – again, you haven’t provided me with any. The best you can do is quote Regimental myths and ignore all the facts that prove that this was just a PR stunt, including the fact that he was the former First Lord of the Admiralty – in the same war! – and only served six months.

    You’ve lost the argument but if you want to kid yourself you haven’t or your knowledge of Churchill compares to mine, go ahead. I’m done throwing peanuts at dishonest monkeys.

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  24. @ Ric

    When Churchill said “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it,” he was wrong, history has been kind to him because the American and British establishment expunged the truth. Churchill was jeered in London and so despised by the nation after the war that his political party were voted out of office. Churchill still had his reputation as a drunken poltroon, or “drunken bum” as FDR put it and warmongering incompetent. The Churchill legend was a post war creation.

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  25. @ TW

    An unsupported and vague claim in a regimental history doesn’t prove Churchill saw action on the front during the Great War. “No-man’s land” means whatever the Battalion commander wants it to mean. Nowhere in the regimental history does it say Churchill was shot at.

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  26. @ Steph

    While the 6th Battalion RHF were fighting in France, Churchill was on the hit and miss in London, taking part in the occasional parliamentary debate – some fucking battalion commander.

    He also resigned his commission in May 1916, just before the allied offensive.

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  27. @Ric

    Really interesting post mate. The New Labour are the same. In Blair’s government I don’t think their was any ex servicemen but they fought four wars.

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  28. (sorry to bring this up again but I’ve been away all week).

    Steph:

    Everything I’ve said is intelligent, verifiable and qualified, what you’ve said is none of those things.

    Hmm. I think one of us is living in an alternate dimension and reading different posts.

    What’s more, you’ve been caught lying about your sources.

    Where?

    There really is no point in trying to makes excuses, there are no MoD records from that period, so they can’t back up your argument, as you claimed.

    The Ministry of War records are held by the MOD. Lots have now been released to the public domain and you are welcome to go to the National Archives to verify this. Feel free to continue to bluster and accuse me of lying though.

    Also, this is a fact: eight months after being commissioned in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, Churchill was working for the Daily Graphic as a reporter in the Spanish-American civil war in Cuba.

    So what? Are you citing a war in 1898 to prove Churchill never saw action in WWII or is this to disprove his time at Ladysmith or is this to disprove his time with the Hussars?

    Critically, and this is a point you seem to ignore with your, erm, evidence. Saying Churchill was doing something else at a later date does not impact on what he was doing at the earlier date.

    Where have I said Churchill never worked as a journalist?

    I’ve given a source – Jenkins, and asked you to provide one historian or biographer of not that doesn’t. Unsurprisingly you couldn’t.

    Now this is funny. How many military historians do you want me to cite? I assume you don’t count Royal or Buchan as “historians of note” so can you tell me what your criteria for that are please? Does Lord Deedes or even the Royal Historical Society count?

    I’ve also asked you for evidence of written orders prior to 1900 that support your claim that it was probable he served on the front line in a combat role because I’ve seen none. I’m open to be corrected on this but you couldn’t provide a source.

    More comedy value. Thank you.

    Please, feel free to re-read any previous posts in this thread as I suspect you are missing something. When I pointed you to an online source which had over 30 citations you rubbished this, and when I point you to off line sources you rubbish this now. Am I right in thinking you are burying your head in the sand and refusing to listen to anything?

    I suspect you don’t even know what the point I was trying to make is.

    I’ve asked you for evidence that Churchill made “36 forays in to no-mans land” – again, you haven’t provided me with any. The best you can do is quote Regimental myths and ignore all the facts that prove that this was just a PR stunt, including the fact that he was the former First Lord of the Admiralty – in the same war! – and only served six months.

    Wow. Two things about this make me chuckle. First off, you dismiss anything resembling “evidence” from that period as a regimental myth but accept anecdotal information as gospel. I hope you are able to see the flaw there.

    Most comical, you have contradicted yourself and done so with a flourish that seems to imply it is a killing strike of your own.

    Well done.

    You’ve lost the argument but if you want to kid yourself you haven’t or your knowledge of Churchill compares to mine, go ahead. I’m done throwing peanuts at dishonest monkeys.

    Ah, the coup de grace. You don’t even know what I was trying to argue so claiming I have lost is nothing more than a childish attempt to come off on top. Your knowledge of Churchill may well be encyclopaedic but so far, in this short debate, you have shown nothing which looks like evidence and done nothing but resort to ad hominems, appeals to false authority, irrelevant conclusions and masses of equivocation.

    Rob – you make some interesting points, but you also fall foul of some of the same logical fallacies.

    An unsupported and vague claim in a regimental history doesn’t prove Churchill saw action on the front during the Great War.

    Very true. Shall we identify the “facts” available to us:
    1 – A shamed Churchill resigned from Government
    2 – Churchill became Commanding Officer of 6th Bn, Royal Scots Fusiliers.
    3 – 6 Royal Scots Fusiliers was part of 45 bde, 15 (Scottish) division – a division which saw very heavy action on the Western Front for pretty much the whole of WWI.
    4 – In WWI, Bn commanders were expected to advance with their troops.
    5 – During the run up to the first Somme Offensive, there were numerous small scale skirmishes along the front line as the battle ebbed and flowed.
    6 – 6 Royal Scots Fusiliers took battle casualties during the period Nov 1915 – Mar 1916.

    Now it is possible there are more points but these six will do us for now. Armed with this information, would the balance of probabilities lean towards Churchill being “In action” or not?

    If this was not a topic you were both emotionally tied to, would you demand the same level of evidence to contradict your opinions? What evidence is there of Churchill living it up in London while his Bn took casualties? Does leaving before the Somme offensive mean he never saw action?

    Rob, both you and Steph are arguing against things I have never said.

    “No-man’s land” means whatever the Battalion commander wants it to mean. Nowhere in the regimental history does it say Churchill was shot at.

    Well, everyone knows that the term is ambiguous – despite it having a clearly defined military meaning – so I don’t know what point you are trying to make here. Is being “shot at” the only measurement of a soldiers service or bravery? There are hundreds of soldiers who don’t have a mention in the regimental history of being shot at, does that mean they were never shot at?

    It seems that the point I was trying to make has become lost amongst the ad hominems, appeals and equivocations so I will try to restate it more clearly.

    There is no doubt that Churchill was a warmonger. There is no doubt that he was deeply unpopular following WWII and the country was glad to see the back of him. There is no doubt that he never won any gallantry medals or awards for bravery. I do not dispute any of these points.

    However, there is a difference between Churchill, and his military service, and the politicians of today. Comparing the two is, in itself, a fallacy.

    Trying to prove a point that all warmongering politicians are equally war dodging cowards is a bit problematical. Even if most are it doesn’t automatically follow that they all are. Demanding that every politician in history who was a “nasty piece of work” be equally in any respect is never going to survive scrutiny. While it is true that most people who served and survived WWI became vehemently anti-war, not all did. Just because Churchill did not become anti-war does not mean he never saw any service.

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  29. TW

    Stop lying, it’s boring. The Ministry of War records have never been referred to MoD records and they are held in the national archives not by the MoD. You’ve never consulted them. And battalion commanders weren’t expected to charge with their troops prior to the Somme.

    There is no record of Churchill leading a charge under enemy fire during the Great War. So he didn’t because there would have been mention of it. Churchill was also a proven coward: he resigned his commission to avoid taking part in a major offensive, and unlike the Royals, Churchill never knowingly spent a night in London during a Luftwaffe bombing raid, which is why he had a reputation as a “drunken poltroon”.

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  30. TW said

    When he was commisioned into the Queens Own Hussars, Churchill wasn’t a reporter and didn’t do any journalism; that came later around the time of Ladysmith. I dont doubt that Churchill was not a front line soldier at Ladysmith, however it is churlish to ignore his previous service.

    Steph said

    “Also, this is a fact: eight months after being commissioned in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, Churchill was working for the Daily Graphic as a reporter in the Spanish-American civil war in Cuba.”

    TW said

    So what? Are you citing a war in 1898 to prove Churchill never saw action in WWII or is this to disprove his time at Ladysmith or is this to disprove his time with the Hussars?

    It proves Steph is right and you are wrong and runs a horse and carts through your argument that Churchill wasn’t a correspondent before Ladysmith and saw active service. He avoided active service by going to Cuba.

    Now this is funny. How many military historians do you want me to cite? I assume you don’t count Royal or Buchan as “historians of note” so can you tell me what your criteria for that are please? Does Lord Deedes or even the Royal Historical Society count?

    They are not military historians of any note and you haven’t cited them as a source to prove that Churchill wasn’t working for the Daily Graphic eight months after being commissioned. He was, you were wrong, accept it.

    When I pointed you to an online source which had over 30 citations you rubbished this, and when I point you to off line sources you rubbish this now.

    You haven’t provided any citation that quotes written orders prior to 1900 that support Churchill served on the front line as more than a war correspondent.

    I suspect you don’t even know what the point I was trying to make is.

    You don’t have one.

    I’ve asked you for evidence that Churchill made “36 forays in to no-mans land” – again, you haven’t provided me with any. The best you can do is quote Regimental myths and ignore all the facts that prove that this was just a PR stunt, including the fact that he was the former First Lord of the Admiralty – in the same war! – and only served six months.

    Wow. Two things about this make me chuckle. First off, you dismiss anything resembling “evidence” from that period as a regimental myth but accept anecdotal information as gospel. I hope you are able to see the flaw there.

    You haven’t provided any evidence. What’s the primary source for your claim that Churchill made 36 frays into no mans land? You have one and you’ve never even read Royal or Buchan.

    He never once led a charge in the Great War.

    Your knowledge of Churchill may well be encyclopaedic but so far, in this short debate, you have shown nothing which looks like evidence and done nothing but resort to ad hominems, appeals to false authority, irrelevant conclusions and masses of equivocation.

    You have no grasp of historical research and you rate secondary sources above primary sources and you think good academic research is an appeal to false authority – priceless!

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  31. Rob – I am not going to labour this any further here. Neither you or Steph have actually bothered reading anything I have written and are so obsessed with your own world view that you appear to be deliberately misinterpreting what I have written. In light of this there is no milage in further debate here, it is just dragging out a long winded example of poor logic and very bad comprehension. Your last post here is so off the wall I am almost at a loss for where to begin.

    Some glaring fallacies you have stated though:

    I regularly consult with the Ministry of Defence and my day job has me looking through their archives on a regular basis.

    Your claim that Bn Cmdrs never charged with their men prior to the Somme is complete nonsense.

    Your obsession with thinking I am claiming Churchill was a great Battle Cheiftain is becoming comical. I am not claiming, nor have I ever tried, that he is a war hero. I am not claiming that he single handedly charged enemy machine gun positions. Despite this, neither of you can accept the simple fact that it is not a simple black and white situation.

    The last point I will make here a simple one. You (both) are so wrapped up in throwing ad hominems and equivocating that you miss the actual information you are trying to debate. The appeal to false authority I was referring to was not “good academic research” (which neither of you have produced here) but the claim that a Doctorate in Law was in any way relevant to the debate.

    Still, I am sure when you read this, you will read what ever words you want to think I have written. Feel free to argue about something else I haven’t said while you both ignore any of the points I raised.

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  32. […] on the wonderful Grumpy Lion blog there is a predictably excellent post which examines how most of the Hawks in the US government are, in fact, war dodging cowards while […]

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  33. I’m quite astounded that someone wouldn’t class the historical records of an Infantry battalion as a primary source. Anyone who doubts the veracity of such has obviously never served with the Infantry!

    How about a letter from Churchill to the Duke of Marlborough where he describes in part the conditions in which he was serving? Would the words of the man himself convince the doubters that he was indeed ‘shot at’?

    http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/churchill/wc-trans69.html

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  34. Ric

    There is a lot of similarity between Churchill and Bush, and both have their supporters who will stoop to any lengths of dishonesty, fraud and logical absurdity to try and prove they were something they weren’t.

    I said Churchill never served as a front line solider, I have been attacked for daring to state that, just like there are people who will attack anyone who dares to say that Bush (who is a better leader of America than Churchill was Britain) was a coward, who avoided being posted to the front line in a combat role. I have qoted undisputed primary evidence – Churchill’s dispatches in the Daily Graphic.

    Eight months after graduating from Sandhurst, to avoid active service, Churchill according to his own account and the biographer Roy Jenkins, was given permission to go to Cuba as an observer and journalist to report on the Spanish-American war. None of his biographers dispute this and no one would sensibly argue that being a front line journalist is the same thing as being a front line solider.

    As I also pointed out, in World War One, Churchill was a serving MP at the time he was supposed to be commanding a battalion on the western front, and there is no documentary evidence, including in the regimental records, that he saw service. Importantly, there is no evidence that he charged with his battalion or was shot at.

    Was Churchill a coward? He resigned his commission before the battle of the Somme in the full knowledge that there was a major Allied offensive – it was defintely considered cowardice at the time but just like Bush, who avoided going to Vietnam, if you could get out of it, you’d be mad not to. And just like Bush, Churchill had the connections to do so. He was only there, to restore his reputation, after disastrously botching the Dardanelles campaign.

    Is Bush another Churchill? Yes.

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  35. @ PA

    I’m astounded that anyone is so stupid as to not know the difference between contemporaneous regimental and war records and regimental PR. The regimental records prove that Churchill was nothing more than a reporter before 1900 and never took part in front line combat when he served as a battalion commander in the palace of Westminster.

    The letter that you quote, from a self confessed liar, doesn’t even say that he saw action or and doesn’t say tat he was shot at. What it does say is that he was observing artillery bombardments and that he was standing out of range. I’m sure he was in range on other occasions too but tat is not the same as being a front line soldier, Bush is in range when he lands in the Green zone.

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  36. Steph –

    Not arguing with you on WC. That’s the other guys psycho A, and TW. I’m just the innocent bystander… 🙂

    But I would make one small note – Churchill could at least speak and write English with grace and power, while our little Georgie has at best a passing acquaintance with the language, and none with the impartial uses of logic or critical reasoning. Makes me wonder if the booze WC used was of a better quality than the stuff GWB used to damage his brain. Or maybe it was the five keys of coke that did the damage.

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  37. Ric

    Churchill was once a great orator and an average writer, but he used an army of ghost writers and his famous war time speeches were actually made by an actor impersonating him – by evening he was too drunk to make a coherent speech, but unlike Bush, he lived in the age of radio not television. Churchill was also a good painter, he made a living as a forger.

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  38. Steph –

    Now he sounds like McCain. His guy, whose name escapes me at the moment, wrote his books for him and writes his speeches for him. But as soon as McBush goes off script, he sounds like a bumbling idiot. And still the press gives him a free pass.

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  39. TW

    I have cited primary evidence that backs up my claim that Churchill was a journalist not a font line soldier before 1900 and asked you to cite primary evidence that doesn’t, you haven’t and can’t.

    I have said there is no evidence that Churchill was engaged in front line combat during his six months as a Lt. Col. during 1915-16. You haven’t provided any evidence that he did.

    End of conversation. You’re comprehensively defeated.

    BTW, pointing out that you have blatantly lied to make a point during the debate isn’t an ad hominem, it is ad rem. If you studied rhetoric or logic, you’d know that.

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  40. Ric,

    Churchill was very much like that, he was an incompetent drunk. He ordered the dropping of anthrax on Germany.

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  41. Steph –

    I think we should drop Bushes on Iran. Along with some cluster-Cheneys.

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  42. Steph,

    You are talking absolute twaddle.

    Churchill saw action on the North West Frontier in 1897 and during the Sudan Campaign of 1898, where he took part in the last great cavalry charge of the British Army at the battle of Omdurman.

    Whatever you think of the man, to claim he did not see active service is a heinous slander.

    Tom

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  43. Churchill did come under fire….”To his delight, he came under fire for the first time on his twenty-first birthday” Russell, Douglas S. (1995-10-28). Lt. Churchill: 4th Queen’s Own Hussars.

    similarly, when he was posted to India on an operation against the Pushtu’s in malakand.

    Although he was a correspondent saying that he did not ever take part in fornt line activities is not supported. Taking his fighting role in Malakand into account, where he fought and was relieved by the 35th sieks.

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  44. Steph, I’m afraid that Churchill did serve at the front in WW1. He went out as a Major in the Oxfordshire Hussars. However, when he arrived, the GOC of the British Expeditionary Force, Sir John French rather incredibly (see Martin Gilbert, Churchill, A Life) suggested that he should take command of a Brigade as a Brigadier-General.

    Churchill – wisely – asked to be given some experience at the front before taking on a brigade and was sent to command 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

    Being shelled counts as seeing operational service – unless you believe that all those US and British soldiers who were hit with artillery fire while serving in second-line roles as having gained their operational service medals under false pretences.

    You may not believe it, your grandfather might not have believed it, but the evidence – we’re talking in the National Archives battalion war diaries at WO 95/1772 as one starting point – gives clear, unequivocal evidence that Churchill was battalion commander at the front. No serious, professional military historian – I cite Richard Holmes, Gary Sheffield, John Keegan and Martin Gudmunsson amongst here – would accept that Churchill did not see active service at the Front in the First World War. Martin Gilbert – who you may see as partial as Churchill’s biographer – would also disagree with your contention.

    You (and Rob) may loathe Churchill and think that he has been grossly over-rated, but there is a great deal of primary source material (Jenkins is a secondary source, by the way) which demonstrates that Churchill saw service at the front. I have not studied 6RSF’s war diaries in any detail, (and if reading them in day-to-day detail would be surprised if as a battalion commander he’d gone out on 36 trench raids, since this was not something you’d expect of any regimental CO), but they do show he was in France in an active role. He did participate in one or two parliamentary debates – one which coincided with his being on leave and another which he attended with the support of General Haig, who wanted him to speak in favour of conscription. You can find all of this in Chapter 16 of Gilbert’s ‘Churchill: A Life’ as but one ‘for example’ of a source that is regarded as credible.

    Also, you will find that Jenkins refers to Churchill’s service in France. Jenkins does not regard this as being some sort of disreputable PR exercise.

    No military historian (and since I lecture on the subject at University, I suppose I am one) would accept that Churchill did not see active service in World War 1. Being on active service in the front line is much more than charging enemy machine gun posts or even being shot at (the War Diaries give clear and unequivocal evidence that Churchill was present when 6RSF were shelled on more than one occasion).

    You may loathe Churchill and think him over-rated, but the claim that he was a war-dodging coward cannot be sustained unless you are prepared to take a wildly conspiracy-theory based approach to a whole series of contemporary official records, personal memoirs in the Imperial War Museum and published and oral recollections of those who served with Churchill in 1915-1916.

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  45. Whoops – a couple of apologies for imprecision needed

    1. The historian is Bruce Gudmundsson. As well as missing the ‘n’ from his name, I managed to merge him with another WW1 historian of note, Martin Samuels. The sentence should read ‘amongst others’, not ‘amongst here’

    2. The sentence ‘unless you believe that all those US and British soldiers who were hit with artillery fire while serving in second-line roles as having gained their operational service medals under false pretences’ shouldn’t have the words ‘as having’ in the middle because I edited the sentence incorrectly. Sorry if that caused any confusion to readers.

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  46. “Churchill was jeered in London and so despised by the nation after the war that his political party were voted out of office.”…and reelected in 1949.

    By the way if you knew anything at all, you’d know that the failure in Gallipoli was down to Turkish competence rather than Allied incompetence. The Turks were very brave and very well led.

    Ric You are what is known a ‘willfully ignorant’.

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  47. k –

    At least I pay attention to who I’m arguing with, and if you would do the same you would see that I am not involved in the argument over Churchill, that it is being carried on by readers. In fact I believe that somewhere in that morass of word and argument I mention that I am not qualified in the matter of Churchill’s history, nor do I take sides in it.

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  48. Crikey! I never knew Churchill ordered the dropping of Anthrax on Germany, I mean what a rotter. This false statement typifies the approach of some on here. It did however ring a bell with me so I reached for a book I read years ago, ‘A higher form of killing’ by Pazman and Harris. This book mentions briefly that the British military did consider developing the use of Anthrax as a weapon. Had ww2 dragged into 1946, the plan was to bomb German cities with Anthrax. However it never left the planning stage, the war eneded in 1945 and no such order was issued. A simple lie.

    A Higher Form of Killing (Dark Shadows) (Paperback)
    by Robert Harris (Author), Jeremy Paxman (Author)

    Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd; New Ed edition (21 Feb 2002)
    Language English
    ISBN-10: 0099441594
    ISBN-13: 978-0099441595

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  49. “By the way if you knew anything at all, you’d know that the failure in Gallipoli was down to Turkish competence rather than Allied incompetence. The Turks were very brave and very well led.”

    Additionally Winston favoured a naval solution to the problem of Turkish fortification along the Dardanelles (the clue is that he was First Lord of the Admiralty) rather than the ill-fated amphibious assaults.

    Having re-read the attempts to justify the position that Churchill was not a ‘front-line’ soldier I find the repeated assertion that he was a ‘Journalist with a commission’. This is remarkably wrong-headed. Churchill’s dispatch writing grew out of the necessity to supplement his subaltern’s salary; being a junior cavalry officer at the turn of the century was a dashed expensive business: and far from being an attempt to dodge war service, was initially a means to see some action during a lull in British Military activity, hence his coverage of the Cuban insurgency.

    Indeed, his choice of supplementary occupation necessitated that the young Churchill was not only on the front-line, but in the very heart of the action, otherwise his dispatches would not be printed and he would not be paid. Both in Malakand and the Sudan the same pattern is repeated: Churchill pulls every trick in the book to get himself attached to units that will be in the thick of it. These are patently not the actions of a war-dodger.

    Tom

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  50. “The next thing that happened was curious. From the group round Mr. Winston Churchill a little man in dark clothes was seen stealing along the side of the building. He stuck close to the wall, a revolver in his hand. He was a detective officer, and he was the first man to approach the blazing house. When he got to the door he put out his arm and pushed it gingerly. Then he quickly retreated. Other men with revolvers were seen to creep round from the other side and go to the side exit from the buildings. They were there ready to meet a possible rushing out of the murderers.”
    [url=http://century.guardian.co.uk/1910-1919/Story/0,,126417,00.html]Guardian report on the Sidney Street siege.[/url]

    Wednesday January 4, 1911

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  51. “The next thing that happened was curious. From the group round Mr. Winston Churchill a little man in dark clothes was seen stealing along the side of the building. He stuck close to the wall, a revolver in his hand. He was a detective officer, and he was the first man to approach the blazing house. When he got to the door he put out his arm and pushed it gingerly. Then he quickly retreated. Other men with revolvers were seen to creep round from the other side and go to the side exit from the buildings. They were there ready to meet a possible rushing out of the murderers.”

    Guardian report on the Sidney Street siege
    Wednesday January 4, 1911

    http://century.guardian.co.uk/1910-1919/Story/0,,126417,00.html

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  52. “Another interval, and then suddenly all the watchers seemed to take courage. We saw the Guards who had been firing into the house all day come out on the pavement and stand in a line pointing their rifles at the house. Then they moved the fire engine a bit nearer, and half a dozen firemen brought up a tall red ladder and placed it against the top window. Just about this time the roof fell in, and the street was strewn with burning timbers. A plucky fireman walked up to the gaping ground floor window and turned a stream of water into it. We half expected to see him drop, but as he did not everybody at last felt that there was no more danger, and people began to move up opposite the house. But Mr. Churchill came near before anyone felt sure whether the murderers were dead or alive.”

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  53. Ric
    Sorry, you’re right I wasn’t used to the format here.

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  54. Rob – April 19, 2008 at 1:23 am
    “Churchill never knowingly spent a night in London during a Luftwaffe bombing raid, ….”
    And Churchill knew about these raids in advance did he?
    Actually, Churchill was supposed to use the official Cabinet War rooms in Dollis Hill, but chose instead to set up a bunker in Whitehall which you can still visit today.

    Also:
    http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/Page183.asp

    By October 1940, the intense bombing period known as the Blitz began. On 14 October, a huge bomb fell on Treasury Green near Downing Street, damaging the Number 10 kitchen and state rooms and killing three civil servants doing Home Guard duty.

    Churchill was dining in the Garden Rooms when the air raid began. He recalled:

    “We were dining in the garden-room of Number 10 when the usual night raid began. The steel shutters had been closed. Several loud explosions occurred around us at no great distance, and presently a bomb fell, perhaps a hundred yards away, on the Horse Guards Parade, making a great deal of noise.

    “Suddenly I had a provincial impulse. The kitchen in Number 10 Downing Street is lofty and spacious, and looks out through a large plate-glass window about 25 feet high. The butler and parlourmaid continued to serve the dinner with complete detachment, but I became acutely aware of this big window. I got up abruptly, went into the kitchen, told the butler to put the dinner on the hot plate in the dining-room, and ordered the cook and the other servants into the shelter, such as it was.

    “I had been seated again at the table only about three minutes when a really loud crash, close at hand, and a violent shock showed that the house had been struck. My detective came into the room and said much damage had been done. The kitchen, the pantry and the offices on the Treasury were shattered.”

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  55. BTW My version of history says that Churchill had to be ordered by George VI not to accompany the troops on D Day. Perhaps someone with better access can post a credible source. This thread will remain on the web and there are plenty of people out there who might benefit.

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  56. k –

    Sorry, you’re right I wasn’t used to the format here.

    That’s okay. I’m beyond reproach in any event (part of a Lionesque territorial arrogance). By the time you read this my agents will have deducted the price of a nice steak dinner from your bank account and we’ll call it even.

    🙂

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  57. Most of the comments that have come via the British Army Rumor Service website here are irrelevant, but are typically pro Churchill bullshit.

    Churchill was a war correspondent throughout his military career before 1900 – a reporter with a commission, who routinely chose not to serve with is regiment. This is beyond dispute.

    There are only two points in debate:

    1) as well as being a reporter, was Churchill given written orders to attack the enemy?

    Malakand was mentioned – Churchill was a reporter in Malakand and in keeping with this role was assigned to reconnaissance, he was not as far as I’m aware ordered to engage the enemy.

    I have asked for primary evidence, other than from the self confessed liar himself, no one has provided any. So in the absence of any evidence that he was, I’m saying he wasn’t but remain open to challenge on that.

    2) Was Churchill personally involved in combat in WWI?

    And again, no one has presented any account of primary evidence, other than from Churchill, that he saw any action in that war, which is hardly surprising since he was a battalion commander and actually resigned his commission, to avoid the allied offensive.

    So any comment that doesn’t specifically address either of these two questions and provide a primary source that can be verified, just isn’t relevent and in no way disproves what I have said.

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  58. The same tired old arguments re-hashed in direct opposition to historical fact.

    ‘Churchill was a war correspondent throughout his military career before 1900 – a reporter with a commission, who routinely chose not to serve with is regiment’

    A regiment that spent most of the 1890s safely ensconced in Bombay. Churchill could quite happily have spent his military career sipping pink gins and playing polo, yet he pushed constantly to be attached to combat units in the Empire’s trouble-spots.

    ‘Churchill was a reporter in Malakand and in keeping with this role was assigned to reconnaissance’

    So recce is now not ‘front-line’ active service? Someone better confront the HCav, QRL and the rest: they’ve clearly been masquerading as teeth arms for the past century. Thank God you noticed.

    Your arguments show a totally flawed understanding not only of Churchill but of the whole British Army. Unlike the list of prominent Republicans that kicked off this whole discussion he served, he lead and he encountered the horrors of war first hand. Take a look at the work he did after the First World War with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The only comparison that can be made between Churchill and the war-dodging shaved chimp in the White House is they both have 23 pairs of chromosomes.

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  59. Tom

    Churchill was a journalist at the time he was tasked with reconnaissance in Malakand, before 1900, he was always a journalist with a commission or just a journalist, never just a soldier. The fact that he chose not to be with his regiment, means he wasn’t an ordinary officer given ordinary duties. So unless he had orders to attack the enemy, he wasn’t serving in a combat role in my view (I’ve made that very clear throughout the argument that was my view).

    I’ve asked for evidence that he was given orders to attack (I’m open to the possibilty that I’m wrong) but you just haven’t provided any. So instead of running from that and being petulant, churlish and accusatory because I’ve made a salient point that neither you or the Churchill fan club like, perhaps you could address that point with credible evidence which proves that I’m wrong – if not, I remain open to correction but in the absence of evidence of the positive, I go to the logical default position of asserting the negative… which isn’t a flawed argument!

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  60. So, so far you’ve decided that Churchill’s recconnaisance work on the North West Frontier and his time spent in the trenches were not ‘serving in a combat role’ because he did not recieve (as far as we know) orders to directly engage the enemy. Seems a damn silly argument to me, but I’ll go along with it. One word: Omdurman.

    Churchill, attached to the 21st Lancers charged the Dervish line. He was ordered to do this, though in the heat of battle General Kitchener thoughtlessly issued the command verbally. The fact that he was not commanded explicitly to take part in this action is proof only that the ridiculous distinction between Churchill, an officer who wrote in his spae time for the London Press, and the other officers of the Expeditionary Force did not exist.

    Somehow, I expect you will claim that this also doesn’t count. How charging 2,500 Dervishes, an act that led to the deaths of 70 officers and men of the Lancers, an act for which three Victoria Crosses were awarded, does not constitute what you have termed as ‘front line combat’ I cannot fathom, but it will no doubt be delightfully post modern.

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  61. I’ve given you an instance in Sidney Street in London 1911 where Churchill commanded a gun battery against an armed gang. The incident was captured on newsreel film. You can purchase a copy of it here.
    http://hwj.oxfordjournals.org/
    Even your favourite source Wikipedia describes the moment where a bullet passes through Winston’s top hat. It hardly supports your argument that he avoided combat now does it?

    By the way I’m not a member of ARRSE. I am a civilian. For reasons of maintaining my sanity in the Socialist paradise where I now live, I do lurk there. I admit that I did follow them here. [Waves to Arrsers]

    I’m rather bemused by your argument that on a matter of British regimental history we can ignore what they say as they are just military personnel.

    I’m also not entirely convinced that since you’ve decided that Churchill was a liar, we have to ignore any account given by him. I was under the impression that he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1953 for his history of WWII. I apologize in advance if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing that your grandfather’s account didn’t meet with quite the same widespread critical acclaim.

    As far as not being a front line soldier if you are only doing reconnaissance…snort…I’ll leave it to the military boys to explain it to you, but I think you’ll find that these days that’s a role which is often assigned to Special Forces.

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  62. “So unless he had orders to attack the enemy, he wasn’t serving in a combat role in my view (I’ve made that very clear throughout the argument that was my view).”

    Steph,

    Your “view” is an opinion.

    Orders, written or otherwise, “to attack” are not the sole arbiter of what constitutes ‘being in action.’

    So: You and your grand-daddy are not fans of WSC. Neither am I for that matter but I fear that your dislike is bordering on obsessional and irrational.

    The hole is deep enough, time to stop digging.

    Oh and citing FDR as a character reference is a bit rich given that both WSC and FDR were as flawed as each other, albeit it different ways.

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  63. Tom

    Lets find some common ground on Omdurman. We both agree, that Churchill was secondment to the 21st Lancers, and that they charged the Dervish line, and it was the last meaningful charge in British military history, etc., etc.

    But let me ask you a couple of questions, how many months was our roving reporter Churchill embedded with the 21st Lancers and how long was he in the Sudan?

    I think this is pretty important because you argue that

    the ridiculous distinction between Churchill, an officer who wrote in his [sic]spae time for the London Press, and the other officers of the Expeditionary Force did not exist.

    Other officers didn’t come and go as they pleased, they didn’t choose their assignments, they didn’t write the approved history of the Sudanese Campaign and they spent more than a few months in a post before moving on to the next assignment. So there was a very clear distinction between Churchill and other officers in the Expeditionary Force.

    He went to the Sudan as a reporter for the Morning Post, on secondment to the 21st Lancers at his own request and against the wishes of his CO ( Kitchener didn’t want him). He returned to London a month after Omdurman to write his two volume book, “The River War”, (1899) whilst still a serving officer.

    And as far as I’m aware, Kitchener didn’t give the order to the 21st Lancers to charge, they saw what they thought were 400 Dervishes and charged them before they realised there were 2.500 of them, not that it matters. Churchill wasn’t seconded to the 21st Lancers in a military capacity – he wasn’t wanted or there long enough – he was seconded as a journalist and propagandist.

    I’m also pretty sure we both agree that embedded war correspondents aren’t soldiers and that was what he was: a journalist with a commission, and Churchill must have been one of the most successful British war correspondents of the 1890s – he made £10,000 out of writing and lectures by 1901.

    I going to leave it there.

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  64. As far as not being a front line soldier if you are only doing reconnaissance

    I never said that. What I said was

    Churchill was a reporter in Malakand and in keeping with this role was assigned to reconnaissance, he was not as far as I’m aware ordered to engage the enemy.

    And if I didn’t respond to you’re point about Sidney Street Siege, it is because it’s not remotely relevant. Churchill was the Home Secretary at the time and it was a police operation, which he took charge of and was criticised by the Prime Minister for doing so.

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  65. “And if I didn’t respond to you’re point about Sidney Street Siege, it is because it’s not remotely relevant. Churchill was the Home Secretary at the time and it was a police operation, which he took charge of and was criticised by the Prime Minister for doing so.”

    It does blow to shreds your assertion that Churchill was a coward who avoided combat though. It’s an indication of his character and supports the arguments put to you by others. If you can’t see the relevance it’s because you don’t want to. You’ve got motion picture film of Churchill being shot at when he could have been sat in a cosy office in Whitehall, and you’re still jabbering. It’s what is known as “Alligator Management’ : Up to your eyes in water and still got your mouth open.

    I also think you’re confusing modern ’embedded journalists’ and nineteenth century ‘war correspondants’.

    If you want to discuss draft dodging shyster cowards, let’s talk about Bill Clinton.

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  66. K

    It doesn’t blow shreds in my argument that he avoided combat because it wasn’t combat, and I haven’t actually accused him of cowardice. I said he had a reputation for it. Cowardice isn’t something that can be proved or disproved because it’s a subjective and speculative, but you could make a far more compelling case against Churchill’s reputation for cowardice by pointing out that he was an intrepid front line war reporter and I certainly don’t think it was cowardice to avoid the Somme; I think it would have been better if the entire British army had done a Churchill and gone home before the Battle of Somme.

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  67. Steph, you have been caught out here already. Could you comment further on your claim that Churchill ordered Germany to be bombed with Anthrax? I have provided a reference that disputes this claim. Your arguments are rather silly I fear.

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  68. “I think it would have been better if the entire British army had done a Churchill and gone home before the Battle of Somme.”

    Suppose that depends on whether you want to suspend democratic rule in the UK and France and just hand it over to a militaristic autocrat?

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  69. James

    Robert Harris said on Newsnight 01 May 1981 that Churchill intended to (and I quote) “drench the Ruhr with anthrax”. He was referring to the order Churchill gave in July 1944 to the Chief of Staffs that the case for dropping Anthrax and mustard gas on Germany be “comprehensively examined” (which there is record of). The plan was shelved because the Chief of Staffs resisted but the order was given.

    You’ve made a mug of yourself because Steph is comprehensively right.

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  70. Nonsense, firstly Robert Harris is the author of the source I quoted have you read ‘a higher form of killing’? The UK assessed that they could have been capable of dropping weaponised anthrax in 1946 not before. I do not know what Harris said on Newsnight but I certainly know what he wrote. No order was given to the RAF to bomb Germany with either Anthrax or mustard that is a fact. With regards to the dropping of Mustard on Germany earlier in the war, WC had asked for this issue to be looked at, i.e. examined as a possible course of action. Again however he never actually issued an order that mustard be dropped. The situation is simple, if you say to me ‘James could we do X Y Z?’ and I then examine that proposal that does not mean of course you have actually ordered me to carry out X Y Z does it. A slightly patronising way of making my point Rob I admit but correct. It underlies the approach taken by Steph as she has not actually examined the context to her claims; claims which I fear are clouded in emotional rhetoric. I can recall a good speech given by Brian Walden on Churchill. He described Churchill as a ‘deeply flawed individual but a hero nonetheless for the way he stood up to Hitler. I agree with Walden’s assessment.

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  71. […] of the reality of war who are calling for the most horrific measures. This brings up a point that Grumpy Lion blogged about a couple of months ago – the biggest verbal “hawks” tend to be those people who […]

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