×

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz / : , - (by Erik Larson, 2020) -

/

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz /   :   ,      - (by Erik Larson, 2020) -

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz / : , - (by Erik Larson, 2020) -

. , , . , , . , . , - , . 1940-1941 . , . 45 . , , .

:
: 1 127
:
The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz / : , - (by Erik Larson, 2020) -
:
2020
:
Erik Larson
:
Erik Larson, John Lee
:
:
,
:
upper-intermediate
:
17:44:11
:
64 kbps
:
mp3, pdf, doc

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz / : , - :

.doc (Word) erik_larson_-_the_splendid_and_the_vile.doc [3.09 Mb] (c: 6) .
.pdf erik_larson_-_the_splendid_and_the_vile.pdf [5.32 Mb] (c: 5) .
audiobook (MP3) .


: The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

:

( , ).


A Note to Readers IT WAS ONLY WHEN I moved to Manhattan a few years ago that I came to understand, with sudden clarity, how different the experience of September 11, 2001, had been for New Yorkers than for those of us who watched the nightmare unfold at a distance. This was their home city under attack. Almost immediately I started thinking about London and the German aerial assault of 1940_41, and wondered how on earth anyone could have endured it: fifty-seven consecutive nights of bombing, followed by an intensifying series of nighttime raids over the next six months. In particular I thought about Winston Churchill: How did he withstand it? And his family and friends? What was it like for him to have his city bombed for nights on end and to know full well that these air raids, however horrific, were likely only a preamble to far worse, a German invasion from the sea and sky, with parachutists dropping into his garden, panzer tanks clanking through Trafalgar Square, and poison gas wafting over the beach where once he painted the sea? I decided to find out, and quickly came to realize that it is one thing to say _Carry on,_ quite another to do it. I focused on Churchill_s first year as prime minister, May 10, 1940, to May 10, 1941, which coincided with the German air campaign as it evolved from sporadic, seemingly aimless raids to a full-on assault against the city of London. The year ended on a weekend of Vonnegutian violence, when the quotidian and the fantastic converged to mark what proved to be the first great victory of the war. What follows is by no means a definitive account of Churchill_s life. Other authors have achieved that end, notably his indefatigable but alas not immortal biographer Martin Gilbert, whose eight-volume study should satisfy any craving for the last detail. Mine is a more intimate account that delves into how Churchill and his circle went about surviving on a daily basis: the dark moments and the light, the romantic entanglements and debacles, the sorrows and laughter, and the odd little episodes that reveal how life was really lived under Hitler_s tempest of steel. This was the year in which Churchill became Churchill, the cigar-smoking bulldog we all think we know, when he made his greatest speeches and showed the world what courage and leadership looked like. Although at times it may appear to be otherwise, this is a work of nonfiction. Anything between quotation marks comes from some form of historical document, be it a diary, letter, memoir, or other artifact; any reference to a gesture, gaze, or smile, or any other facial reaction, comes from an account by one who witnessed it. If some of what follows challenges what you have come to believe about Churchill and this era, may I just say that history is a lively abode, full of surprises. _ERIK LARSON MANHATTAN, 2020 Bleak Expectations NO ONE HAD ANY DOUBT that the bombers would come. Defense planning began well before the war, though the planners had no specific threat in mind. Europe was Europe. If past experience was any sort of guide, a war could break out anywhere, anytime. Britain_s military leaders saw the world through the lens of the empire_s experience in the previous war, the Great War, with its mass slaughter of soldiers and civilians alike and the first systematic air raids of history, conducted over England and Scotland using bombs dropped from German zeppelins. The first of these occurred on the night of January 19, 1915, and was followed by more than fifty others, during which giant dirigibles drifting quietly over the English landscape dropped 162 tons of bombs that killed 557 people. Since then, the bombs had grown bigger and deadlier, and more cunning, with time delays and modifications that made them shriek as they descended. One immense German bomb, a thirteen-foot, four-thousand-pounder named Satan, could destroy an entire city block. The aircraft that carried these bombs had grown larger as well, and faster, and flew higher, and were thus better able to evade home-front defenses. On November 10, 1932, Stanley Baldwin, then deputy prime minister, gave the House of Commons a forecast of what was to come: _I think it is well for the man in the street to realize that there is no power on earth that can protect him from being bombed. Whatever people may tell him, the bomber will always get through._ The only effective defense lay in offense, he said, _which means that you have to kill more women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves._ Britain_s civil defense experts, fearing a _knock-out blow,_ predicted that the first aerial attack on London would destroy much if not all of the city and kill two hundred thousand civilians. _It was widely believed that London would be reduced to rubble within minutes of war being declared,_ wrote one junior official. Raids would cause such terror among the survivors that millions would go insane. _London for several days will be one vast raving bedlam,_ wrote J.F.C. Fuller, a military theorist, in 1923. _The hospitals will be stormed, traffic will cease, the homeless will shriek for help, the city will be a pandemonium._ The Home Office estimated that if standard burial protocols were followed, casket makers would need twenty million square feet of _coffin wood,_ an amount impossible to supply. They would have to build their coffins from heavy cardboard or papier-m?ch?, or simply bury people in shrouds. _For mass burial,_ the Scottish Department of Health advised, _the most appropriate type of grave is the trench grave, dug deep enough to accommodate five layers of bodies._ Planners called for large pits to be excavated on the outskirts of London and other cities, the digging to be done with as much discretion as possible. Special training was to be provided to morticians to decontaminate the bodies and clothing of people killed by poison gas. When Britain declared war against Germany, on September 3, 1939, in response to Hitler_s invasion of Poland, the government prepared in earnest for the bombing and invasion that was sure to follow. The code name for signaling that invasion was imminent or underway was _Cromwell._ The Ministry of Information issued a special flyer, Beating the Invader, which went out to millions of homes. It was not calculated to reassure. _Where the enemy lands,_ it warned, __there will be most violent fighting._ It instructed readers to heed any government advisory to evacuate. _When the attack begins, it will be too late to go_.STAND FIRM._ Church belfries went silent throughout Britain. Their bells were now the designated alarm, to be rung only when _Cromwell_ was invoked and the invaders were on their way. If you heard bells, it meant that parachute troops had been sighted nearby. At this, the pamphlet instructed, _disable and hide your bicycle and destroy your maps._ If you owned a car: _Remove distributor head and leads and either empty the tank or remove the carburetor. If you don_t know how to do this, find out now from your nearest garage._ Towns and villages took down street signs and limited the sale of maps to people holding police-issued permits. Farmers left old cars and trucks in their fields as obstacles against gliders laden with soldiers. The government issued thirty-five million gas masks to civilians, who carried them to work and church, and kept them at their bedsides. London_s mailboxes received a special coating of yellow paint that changed color in the presence of poison gas. Strict blackout rules so darkened the streets of the city that it became nearly impossible to recognize a visitor at a train station after dark. On moonless nights, pedestrians stepped in front of cars and buses and walked into light stanchions and fell off curbs and tripped over sandbags. Suddenly everyone began paying attention to the phases of the moon. Bombers could attack by day, of course, but it was thought that after dark they would be able to find their targets only by moonlight. The full moon and its waxing and waning gibbous phases became known as the _bomber_s moon._ There was comfort in the fact that bombers and, more importantly, their fighter escorts would have to fly all the way from their bases in Germany, a distance so great as to sharply limit their reach and lethality. But this presumed that France, with its mighty army and Maginot Line and powerful navy, would stand firm and thereby hem in the Luftwaffe and block all German paths to invasion. French endurance was the cornerstone of British defensive strategy. That France might fall was beyond imagining. _The atmosphere is something more than anxiety,_ wrote Harold Nicolson, soon to become parliamentary secretary at the Ministry of Information, in his diary on May 7, 1940. _It is one of actual fear._ He and his wife, the writer Vita Sackville-West, agreed to commit suicide rather than be captured by German invaders. _There must be something quick and painless and portable,_ she wrote to him on May 28. _Oh my dear, my dearest, that we should come to this!_ _ A CONFLUENCE OF UNANTICIPATED forces and circumstances finally did bring the bombers to London, foremost among them a singular event that occurred just before dusk on May 10, 1940, one of the loveliest evenings in one of the finest springs anyone could recall. Part One THE RISING THREAT MAY_JUNE CHAPTER 1 The Coroner Departs THE CARS SPED ALONG THE Mall, the broad boulevard that runs between Whitehall, seat of Britain_s government ministries, and Buckingham Palace, the 775-room home of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, its stone facade visible now at the far end of the roadway, dark with shadow. It was early evening, Friday, May 10. Everywhere bluebells and primroses bloomed. Delicate spring leaves misted the tops of trees. The pelicans in St. James_s Park basked in the warmth and the adoration of visitors, as their less exotic cousins, the swans, drifted with their usual stern lack of interest. The beauty of the day made a shocking contrast to all that had happened since dawn, when German forces stormed into Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg, using armor, dive-bombers, and parachute troops with overwhelming effect. In the rear of the first car sat Britain_s topmost naval official, the first lord of the Admiralty, Winston S. Churchill, sixty-five years old. He had held the same post once before, during the previous war, and had been appointed anew by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain when the current war was declared. In the second car was Churchill_s police guardian, Detective Inspector Walter Henry Thompson, of Scotland Yard_s Special Branch, responsible for keeping Churchill alive. Tall and lean, with an angular nose, Thompson was omnipresent, often visible in press photographs but rarely mentioned_a _dogsbody,_ in the parlance of the time, like so many others who made the government work: the myriad private and parliamentary secretaries and assistants and typists who constituted the Whitehall infantry. Unlike most, however, Thompson carried a pistol in the pocket of his overcoat at all times. Churchill had been summoned by the king. To Thompson, at least, the reason seemed obvious. _I drove behind the Old Man with indescribable pride,_ he wrote. Churchill entered the palace. King George was at this point forty-four years old and well into the fourth year of his reign. Knock-kneed, fish-lipped, with very large ears, and saddled with a significant stammer, he seemed fragile, especially in contrast with his visitor, who, though three inches shorter, had much greater width. The king was leery of Churchill. Churchill_s sympathy for Edward VIII, the king_s older brother, whose romance with American divorc?e Wallis Simpson sparked the abdication crisis of 1936, remained a point of abrasion between Churchill and the royal family. The king had also taken offense at Churchill_s prior criticism of Prime Minister Chamberlain over the Munich Agreement of 1938, which allowed Hitler to annex a portion of Czechoslovakia. The king harbored a general distrust of Churchill_s independence and shifting political loyalties. He asked Churchill to sit down and looked at him steadily for a while, in what Churchill later described as a searching and quizzical manner. The king said: _I suppose you don_t know why I have sent for you?_ _Sir, I simply couldn_t imagine why._ _ THERE HAD BEEN A rebellion in the House of Commons that left Chamberlain_s government tottering. It erupted in the context of a debate over the failure of a British attempt to evict German forces from Norway, which Germany had invaded a month earlier. Churchill, as first lord of the Admiralty, had been responsible for the naval component of the effort. Now it was the British who faced eviction, in the face of an unexpectedly ferocious German onslaught. The debacle sparked calls for a change of government. In the view of the rebels, Chamberlain, seventy-one, variously nicknamed _the Coroner_ and _the Old Umbrella,_ was not up to the task of managing a fast-expanding war. In a speech on May 7, one member of Parliament, Leopold Amery, directed a blistering denunciation at Chamberlain, borrowing words used by Oliver Cromwell in 1653: _You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing! Depart, I say, and let us have done with you! In the name of God, go!_ The House held a vote of confidence, by way of a _division,_ in which members line up in the lobby in two rows, for yes and no, and file past tellers, who record their votes. At first glance, the tally seemed a victory for Chamberlain_281 ayes to 200 nays_but in fact, compared to prior votes, it underscored how much political ground he had lost. Afterward, Chamberlain met with Churchill and told him that he planned to resign. Churchill, wishing to appear loyal, persuaded him otherwise. This heartened the king but prompted one rebel, appalled that Chamberlain might try to stay, to liken him to _a dirty old piece of chewing gum on the leg of a chair._ By Thursday, May 9, the forces opposing Chamberlain had deepened their resolve. As the day advanced, his departure seemed more and more certain, and two men rapidly emerged as the candidates most likely to replace him: his foreign secretary, Lord Halifax, and the first lord of the Admiralty, Churchill, whom much of the public adored. But then came Friday, May 10, and Hitler_s blitzkrieg assaults on the Low Countries. The news cast gloom throughout Whitehall, although for Chamberlain it also brought a flicker of renewed hope that he might retain his post. Surely the House would agree that with such momentous events in play, it was foolhardy to change governments. The rebels, however, made it clear that they would not serve under Chamberlain, and pushed for the appointment of Churchill. Chamberlain realized he had no choice but to resign. He urged Lord Halifax to take the job. Halifax seemed more stable than Churchill, less likely to lead Britain into some new catastrophe. Within Whitehall, Churchill was acknowledged to be a brilliant orator, albeit deemed by many to lack good judgment. Halifax himself referred to him as a _rogue elephant._ But Halifax, who doubted his own ability to lead in a time of war, did not want the job. He made this duly clear when an emissary dispatched to attempt to change his mind found that he had gone to the dentist. It remained for the king to decide. He first summoned Chamberlain. _I accepted his resignation,_ the king wrote in his diary, _and told him how grossly unfairly I thought he had been treated, and that I was terribly sorry that all this controversy had happened._ The two men talked about successors. _I, of course, suggested Halifax,_ the king wrote. He considered Halifax _the obvious man._ But now Chamberlain surprised him: He recommended Churchill. The king wrote, _I sent for Winston and asked him to form a Government. This he accepted and told me he had not thought this was the reason for my having sent for him__though Churchill, according to the king_s account, did happen to have handy the names of a few men he was considering for his own cabinet. _ THE CARS CARRYING CHURCHILL and Inspector Thompson returned to Admiralty House, the seat of naval command in London and, for the time being, Churchill_s home. The two men left their cars. As always, Thompson kept one hand in his overcoat pocket for quick access to his pistol. Sentries holding rifles with fixed bayonets stood watch, as did other soldiers armed with Lewis light machine guns, sheltered by sandbags. On the adjacent green of St. James_s Park, the long barrels of anti-aircraft guns jutted upward at stalagmitic angles. Churchill turned to Thompson. _You know why I_ve been to Buckingham Palace,_ he said. Thompson did, and congratulated him, but added that he wished the appointment had come sooner, and in better times, because of the immensity of the task that lay ahead. _God alone knows how great it is,_ Churchill said. The two men shook hands, as solemn as mourners at a funeral. _All I hope is that it is not too late,_ Churchill said. _I am very much afraid that it is. But we can only do our best, and give the rest of what we have_whatever there may be left to us._ These were sober words, although inwardly, Churchill was elated. He had lived his entire life for this moment. That it had come at such a dark time did not matter. If anything, it made his appointment all the more exquisite. In the fading light, Inspector Thompson saw tears begin to slip down Churchill_s cheeks. Thompson, too, found himself near tears. _ LATE THAT NIGHT CHURCHILL lay in bed, alive with a thrilling sense of challenge and opportunity. _In my long political experience,_ he wrote, _I had held most of the great offices of State, but I readily admit that the post which had now fallen to me was the one I liked the best._ Coveting power for power_s sake was a _base_ pursuit, he wrote, adding, _But power in a national crisis, when a man believes he knows what orders should be given, is a blessing._ He felt great relief. _At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial_.Although impatient for the morning I slept soundly and had no need for cheering dreams. Facts are better than dreams._ Despite the doubts he had expressed to Inspector Thompson, Churchill brought to No. 10 Downing Street a naked confidence that under his leadership Britain would win the war, even though any objective appraisal would have said he did not have a chance. Churchill knew that his challenge now was to make everyone else believe it, too_his countrymen, his commanders, his cabinet ministers, and, most importantly, the American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. From the very start, Churchill understood a fundamental truth about the war: that he could not win it without the eventual participation of the United States. Left to itself, he believed, Britain could endure and hold Germany at bay, but only the industrial might and manpower of America would ensure the final eradication of Hitler and National Socialism. What made this all the more daunting was that Churchill had to achieve these ends quickly, before Hitler focused his full attention on England and unleashed his air force, the Luftwaffe, which British intelligence believed to be vastly superior to the Royal Air Force. _ IN THE MIDST OF THIS, Churchill had to cope with all manner of other challenges. An immense personal debt payment was due at the end of the month, one he did not have the money to pay. His only son, Randolph, likewise was awash in debt, persistently demonstrating a gift not just for spending money but also for losing it gambling, at which his ineptitude was legendary; he also drank too much and had a propensity, once drunk, for making scenes and thereby posing what his mother, Clementine (pronounced Clementeen), saw as a continual risk that one day he would cause irrevocable embarrassment to the family. Churchill also had to deal with blackout rules and strict rationing and the mounting intrusion of officials seeking to keep him safe from assassination_as well as, not least, the everlasting offense of the army of workmen dispatched to buttress 10 Downing Street and the rest of Whitehall against aerial attack, with their endless hammering, which more than any other single irritant had the capacity to drive him to the point of fury. Except maybe whistling. His hatred of whistling, he once said, was the only thing he had in common with Hitler. It was more than merely an obsession. _It sets up an almost psychiatric disturbance in him_immense, immediate, and irrational,_ wrote Inspector Thompson. Once, while walking together to 10 Downing Street, Thompson and the new prime minister encountered a newsboy, maybe thirteen years old, heading in their direction, _hands in pockets, newspapers under his arms, whistling loudly and cheerfully,_ Thompson recalled. As the boy came closer, Churchill_s anger soared. He hunched his shoulders and stalked over to the boy. _Stop that whistling,_ he snarled. The boy, utterly unruffled, replied, _Why should I?_ _Because I don_t like it and it_s a horrible noise._ The boy moved on, then turned and shouted, _Well, you can shut your ears, can_t you?_ The boy kept walking. Churchill was for the moment stunned. Anger flushed his face. But one of Churchill_s great strengths was perspective, which gave him the ability to place discrete events into boxes, so that bad humor could in a heartbeat turn to mirth. As Churchill and Thompson continued walking, Thompson saw Churchill begin to smile. Under his breath, Churchill repeated the boy_s rejoinder: _You can shut your ears, can_t you?_ And laughed out loud. _ CHURCHILL BENT AT ONCE to his new summons, heartening many, but confirming for others their most dire concerns. CHAPTER 2 A Night at the Savoy MARY CHURCHILL, SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD, awoke that morning, May 10, to the grim news from Europe. The details were terrifying in themselves, but it was the juxtaposition between how Mary had spent her night and what had happened across the English Channel that made it all the more shocking. Mary was the youngest of Churchill_s four children; a fifth child, a daughter named Marigold, the family_s beloved _Duckadilly,_ had died of septicemia in August 1921, at two years and nine months of age. Both parents were present at her death, a moment that drew from Clementine, as Churchill later told Mary, _a succession of wild shrieks, like an animal in mortal pain._ Mary_s eldest sister, Diana, thirty, was married to Duncan Sandys (pronounced Sands), who served as Churchill_s _special liaison_ to Air Raid Precautions (ARP), the civil defense division of the Home Office. They had three children. The second sister, Sarah, twenty-five, so stubborn that as a child she was nicknamed _Mule,_ was an actress who, to Churchill_s displeasure, had married an Austrian entertainer named Vic Oliver, sixteen years her senior and twice married before he met her. They had no children. The fourth child was Randolph, nearly twenty-nine, who a year earlier had married Pamela Digby, now twenty years old and pregnant with their first child. Mary was pretty, buoyant, and spirited, described by one observer as _very effervescent._ She approached the world with the unabashed enthusiasm of a spring lamb, a guilelessness that a young American visitor, Kathy Harriman, found cloying. _She_s a very intelligent girl,_ Harriman wrote, _but so naive that it hurts. She says such frank things; then people laugh at her, make fun of her, and being super-sensitive, she takes it all to heart._ At her birth, Mary_s mother, Clementine, had nicknamed her _Mary the mouse._ While Hitler had been inflicting death and trauma on untold millions in the Low Countries, Mary had been out with friends having the time of her life. The evening began with a dinner party for her close friend Judy_Judith Venetia Montagu_a cousin, also seventeen, daughter of the late Edwin Samuel Montagu, former secretary of state for India, and his wife, Venetia Stanley. Theirs had been a marriage steeped in drama and speculation: Venetia married Montagu after carrying on a three-year affair with former prime minister H. H. Asquith, thirty-five years her senior. Whether Venetia and Asquith had ever had a physical relationship remained for all but them an unresolved question, although if word volume alone were a measure of romantic intensity, Asquith was a man lost irreclaimably to love. Over the three years of their affair he wrote at least 560 letters to Venetia, composing some during cabinet meetings, a penchant Churchill called _England_s greatest security risk._ Her surprise engagement to Montagu crushed Asquith. _No hell could be so bad,_ he wrote. A number of other young men and women also attended Judy Montagu_s dinner, all members of London_s bright set, the offspring of Britain_s gentry, who dined and danced and drank champagne at the city_s popular nightclubs. The war did not put an end to their revelry, though it injected a somber note. Many of the men had joined some branch of the military services, the RAF being perhaps the most romantic, or were ensconced in military schools like Sandhurst and Pirbright. Some had fought in Norway, and others were now abroad with the British Expeditionary Force. Many of the girls in Mary_s group joined the Women_s Voluntary Service, which helped resettle evacuees, operated rest centers, and provided emergency food, but also did such varied tasks as spinning dogs_ hair into yarn for use in making clothing. Other young women were training to be nurses; some took shadowy posts within the Foreign Office, where, as Mary put it, they pursued _activities not to be defined._ But fun was fun, and despite the gathering darkness, Mary and her friends danced, Mary armed with the ?5 ($20) allowance Churchill gave to her on the first of each month. _London social life was lively,_ Mary wrote in a memoir. _Despite the blackout, theaters were full, there were plenty of nightclubs for late dancing after restaurants closed, and many people still gave dinner parties, often organized round a son on leave._ A favorite locale for Mary and her group of friends was the Players_ Theatre, near Covent Garden, where they sat at tables and watched an ensemble of actors, including Peter Ustinov, perform old music-hall songs. They stayed until the theater closed, at two A.M., then walked home through blacked-out streets. She adored the beauty and mystery conjured on nights when the moon was full: _Emerging from streets deep in shadow like dark valleys into the great expanse of Trafalgar Square flooded with moonlight, the classical symmetry of St Martin-in-the-Fields etched in the background and Nelson_s Column soaring away up into the night above his guardian lions so formidable and black_it was a sight I shall never forget._ Among the men at Judy Montagu_s dinner was a young army major named Mark Howard, whom Mary judged to be handsome and debonair, and whom she _rather fancied._ Fated to die in action in four years_ time, Howard was a major with the Coldstream Guards, the oldest continuously serving regiment in Britain_s regular army. Though an active combat unit, its duties included helping guard Buckingham Palace. After dinner, Mary, Mark, and their friends went to the famed Savoy Hotel to dance, then moved on to a nightclub favored by London_s well-off young men and women, the 400 Club, known as _the night-time headquarters of Society._ Situated in a cellar in Leicester Square, the club stayed open until dawn, as guests waltzed and fox-trotted to the music of an eighteen-piece orchestra. _Danced almost exclusively with Mark,_ Mary wrote in her diary. _V. nice! Home and bed 4 A.M._ That morning, Friday, May 10, she learned of Hitler_s lightning attacks in Europe. In her diary she wrote, _While Mark and I were dancing gaily and so unheedingly this morning_in the cold grey dawn Germany swooped on 2 more innocent countries_Holland and Belgium. The bestiality of the attack is inconceivable._ She went to her school, Queen_s College, on Harley Street, where, as a part-time _day girl,_ she studied French, English literature, and history. _A cloud of uncertainty and doubt hung over us all day,_ she noted. _What would happen to the govt?_ She soon got the answer. In the afternoon, as she customarily did on Fridays, she traveled to the Churchill family estate, Chartwell, about twenty-five miles southeast of London. She had grown up here, raising a menagerie of animals, some of which she sought to sell through an enterprise she named _The Happy Zoo._ The house was closed for the war, save for Churchill_s study, but a cottage on the grounds remained open, and was now occupied by Mary_s beloved former nanny, Maryott Whyte, Clementine_s first cousin, known variously within the family as Moppet or Nana. It was a warm, summery evening. Mary sat on the cottage steps in the blue dusk__the gloaming,_ she called it_and listened to a radio playing within. Around nine o_clock, just before the regular BBC news broadcast, Chamberlain came on and made a brief speech, in which he stated that he had resigned, and that Churchill was now prime minister. Mary was thrilled. Many others were not. _ FOR AT LEAST ONE member of Mary_s set who was also present that night at the Savoy and the 400 Club, the appointment was troubling, in terms of both how it would affect the nation and the war, and how it was likely to affect his own life. Until Saturday morning, May 11, John _Jock_ Colville had served as an assistant private secretary to Neville Chamberlain, but now he found himself assigned to Churchill. Given the demands of the job, he faced the prospect of practically living with the man at No. 10 Downing Street. Mary_s view of Jock was ambivalent, almost wary: _I suspected him_rightly, on both counts!_of being a _Chamberlainite_ and a _Municheer._ _ He, in turn, was less than enthralled with her: _I thought the Churchill girl rather supercilious._ The job of private secretary was a prestigious one. Colville joined four other newly assigned men who together composed Churchill_s _Private Office_ and served almost as his deputies, while a cadre of other secretaries and typists managed his dictation and routine clerical tasks. Colville_s heritage seemed to predetermine his posting to No. 10. His father, George Charles Colville, was a barrister, and his mother, Lady Cynthia Crewe-Milnes, a courtier, woman of the bedchamber to Mary, the queen mother. She also served as a social worker ministering to the poor in East London and now and then brought Colville along so that he could see the other side of English life. At the age of twelve, Colville became a page of honor to King George V, a ceremonial post that obliged him to appear at Buckingham Palace three times a year, bedecked in knee breeches, lace cuffs, a royal blue cape, and a three-cornered hat with red feathers. Though only twenty-five, Colville looked older, an effect attributable both to the funereal manner in which he was compelled to dress and to his dark eyebrows and impassive face. Together these conveyed a dour censoriousness, though in fact_as would become apparent in a covertly kept diary of his days at 10 Downing_he was a precise observer of human behavior who wrote with grace and had a deep appreciation for the ambient beauty in the world at large. He had two older brothers, the eldest, David, in the navy, the other, Philip, an army major serving in France with the British Expeditionary Force, for whom Jock felt great anxiety. Colville had been schooled in all the right places; this was important among Britain_s upper echelons, for whom one_s school served as a kind of regimental flag. He went to Harrow for the British equivalent of high school and captained its fencing team, then moved on to Trinity College, Cambridge. Harrow in particular had an outsized influence on the fates of young men of Britain_s uppermost classes, as evident in the roster of _Old Harrovians,_ which included seven prime ministers, among them Churchill, a lackluster student said by a staff member to have exhibited _phenomenal slovenliness._ (The ranks of later Harrovians include actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Cary Elwes, of The Princess Bride fame, and an ornithologist named James Bond.) Colville learned German and burnished his skills during two stays in Germany, first in 1933, shortly after Hitler became chancellor of Germany, and a second time in 1937, when Hitler was asserting full control. At first Colville found the enthusiasm of the German populace infectious, but over time he grew uneasy. He witnessed a book burning in Baden-Baden and later attended one of Hitler_s speeches. _I had never before, and have never since, seen an exhibition of mass-hysteria so universal in its scope,_ he wrote. That same year he joined the Foreign Office in its diplomatic service division, which supplied 10 Downing with its private secretaries. Two years later, he found himself working for Chamberlain, by then engulfed in conflict over his failed Munich Agreement. Churchill, one of Chamberlain_s foremost critics, called the agreement _a total and unmitigated defeat._ Colville liked and respected Chamberlain, and feared what might happen now that Churchill was in power. He saw only chaos ahead. Like many others in Whitehall, he considered Churchill to be capricious and meddlesome, inclined toward dynamic action in every direction at once. But the public adored him. Colville, in his diary, blamed Hitler for this surge in popularity, writing, _One of Hitler_s cleverest moves has been to make Winston Public Enemy Number One, because this fact has helped to make him Public Hero Number One at home and in the U.S.A._ To Colville, it seemed as though a miasma of dismay settled over Whitehall as the potential consequences of Churchill_s appointment began to register. _He may, of course, be the man of drive and energy the country believes him to be and he may be able to speed up our creaking military and industrial machinery,_ Colville wrote. _But it is a terrible risk, it involves the danger of rash and spectacular exploits, and I cannot help fearing that this country may be maneuvered into the most dangerous position it has ever been in._ Colville harbored a quiet wish that Churchill_s tenure would be short. _There seems to be some inclination to believe that N.C.__Neville Chamberlain__will be back before long,_ he confided in his diary. One thing seemed certain, however: Colville_s posting with Churchill would provide ample material for the diary, which he had begun keeping eight months earlier, just after the war began. Only later did it occur to him that doing so was very likely a grave violation of laws governing national security. As a fellow private secretary put it later: _I am filled with amazement at the risks Jock was running in the matter of security, for which he should have been sacked on the spot if he had been caught._ _ COLVILLE_S DAY-AFTER SKEPTICISM WAS echoed throughout Whitehall. King George VI told his own diary, _I cannot yet think of Winston as P.M._ The king encountered Lord Halifax on the grounds of Buckingham Palace, through which Halifax had royal permission to walk in his commute from his home in Euston Square to the Foreign Office. _I met Halifax in the garden,_ the king wrote, _and I told him I was sorry not to have him as P.M._ Halifax, though newly reappointed as foreign secretary, was skeptical of Churchill and the wild energy he seemed likely to bring to 10 Downing. On Saturday, May 11, the day after Churchill_s appointment, Halifax wrote to his own son, _I hope Winston won_t lead us into anything rash._ Halifax_whose nickname for Churchill was _Pooh,_ after the A. A. Milne character Winnie-the-Pooh_grumbled that Churchill_s new cabinet appointees lacked intellectual heft. Halifax likened them all to _gangsters,_ the chief gangster, in his view, being Churchill. _I have seldom met anybody with stranger gaps of knowledge, or whose mind worked in greater jerks,_ Halifax wrote in his diary that Saturday. _Will it be possible to make it work in orderly fashion? On this much depends._ Churchill_s appointment enraged the wife of one member of Parliament, who likened him to Hermann G?ring, the obese, brutal chief of the German air force, the Luftwaffe, and the second most powerful man in the Third Reich. _W.C. is really the counterpart of G?ring in England,_ she wrote, _full of the desire for blood, _Blitzkrieg,_ and bloated with ego and over-feeding, the same treachery running through his veins, punctuated by heroics and hot air._ But a civilian diarist named Nella Last had a different view, one she reported to Mass-Observation, an organization launched in Britain two years before the war that recruited hundreds of volunteers to keep daily diaries with the goal of helping sociologists better understand ordinary British life. The diarists were encouraged to hone their observational skills by describing everything on their own fireplace mantels and on the mantels of friends. Many volunteers, like Last, kept their diaries throughout the war. _If I had to spend my whole life with a man,_ she wrote, _I_d choose Chamberlain, but I think I would sooner have Mr Churchill if there was a storm and I was shipwrecked._ The public and Churchill_s allies greeted his appointment with applause. Letters and telegrams of congratulations arrived at Admiralty House in a torrent. Two of these surely tickled Churchill, both from women with whom he had been friends for a long time, and who at varying points may have harbored romantic aspirations. Clementine certainly wondered, and was said to be wary of both women. _My wish is realized,_ wrote Violet Bonham Carter, daughter of H. H. Asquith, the former prime minister, who_d died in 1928. _I can now face all that is to come with faith and confidence._ She knew Churchill well and had no doubt that his energy and pugnacity would transfigure the office. _I know, as you do, that the wind has been sown, and that, we must all reap the whirlwind,_ she wrote. _But you will ride it_instead of being driven before it_Thank Heaven that you are there, and at the helm of our destiny_and may the nation_s spirit be kindled by your own._ The second letter was from Venetia Stanley, the woman who had carried on the epistolary affair with Asquith. _Darling,_ Venetia wrote now to Churchill, _I want to add my voice to the great paean of joy which has gone up all over the civilized world when you became PM. Thank God at last._ She rejoiced, she told him, in the fact that _you have been given the chance of saving us all._ She added a postscript: _Incidentally how nice to have No. 10 once more occupied by someone one loves._ CHAPTER 3 London and Washington AMERICA LOOMED LARGE IN CHURCHILL_S thinking about the war and its ultimate outcome. Hitler seemed poised to overwhelm Europe. Germany_s air force, the Luftwaffe, was believed to be far larger and more powerful than Britain_s Royal Air Force, the RAF, and its submarines and surface raiders were by now severely impeding the flow of food, arms, and raw materials that were so vital to the island nation. The prior war had shown how potent the United States could be as a military force, when roused to action; now it alone seemed to have the wherewithal to even the sides. Just how important America was in Churchill_s strategic thinking became evident to his son, Randolph, one morning soon after Churchill_s appointment, when Randolph walked into his father_s bedroom at Admiralty House and found him standing before a washbasin and mirror, shaving. Randolph was home on leave from the 4th Queen_s Own Hussars, Churchill_s old regiment, in which Randolph now served as an officer. _Sit down, dear boy, and read the papers while I finish shaving,_ Churchill told him. After a few moments, Churchill made a half turn toward his son. _I think I see my way through,_ he said. He turned back to the mirror. Randolph understood that his father was talking about the war. The remark startled him, he recalled, for he himself saw little chance that Britain could win. _Do you mean that we can avoid defeat?_ Randolph asked. _Or beat the bastards?_ At this, Churchill threw his razor into the basin and whirled to face his son. _Of course I mean we can beat them,_ he snapped. _Well, I_m all for it,_ Randolph said, _but I don_t see how you can do it._ Churchill dried his face. _I shall drag the United States in._ _ IN AMERICA, THE PUBLIC had no interest in being dragged anywhere, least of all into a war in Europe. This was a change from early in the conflict, when a Gallup Poll found that 42 percent of Americans felt that if in the coming months France and Britain seemed certain to be defeated, the United States should declare war on Germany and send troops; 48 percent said no. But Hitler_s invasion of the Low Countries drastically altered the public_s attitude. In a poll taken in May 1940, Gallup found that 93 percent opposed a declaration of war, a stance known as isolationism. The U.S. Congress had previously codified this antipathy with the passage, starting in 1935, of a series of laws, the Neutrality Acts, that closely regulated the export of weapons and munitions and barred their transport on American ships to any nation at war. Americans were sympathetic toward England, but now came questions as to just how stable the British Empire was, having thrown out its government on the same day that Hitler invaded Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. On Saturday morning, May 11, President Roosevelt convened a cabinet meeting at the White House at which England_s new prime minister became a topic of discussion. The central question was whether he could possibly prevail in this newly expanded war. Roosevelt had exchanged communiqu?s with Churchill a number of times in the past, while Churchill was first lord of the Admiralty, but had kept these secret for fear of inflaming American public opinion. The overall tone of the cabinet meeting was skeptical. Among those present was Harold L. Ickes, secretary of the interior, an influential adviser to Roosevelt who was credited with implementing Roosevelt_s program of social works and financial reforms known as the New Deal. _Apparently,_ Ickes said, _Churchill is very unreliable under the influence of drink._ Ickes further dismissed Churchill as _too old._ According to Frances Perkins, secretary of labor, during this meeting Roosevelt seemed _uncertain_ about Churchill. Doubts about the new prime minister, in particular his consumption of alcohol, had been sown well before the meeting, however. In February 1940, Sumner Welles, undersecretary of the U.S. State Department, had set off on an international tour, the _Welles Mission,_ to meet with leaders in Berlin, London, Rome, and Paris, to gauge political conditions in Europe. Among those he visited was Churchill, then first lord of the Admiralty. Welles wrote about the encounter in his subsequent report: _When I was shown into his office Mr. Churchill was sitting in front of the fire, smoking a 24-inch cigar, and drinking a whiskey and soda. It was quite obvious that he had consumed a good many whiskeys before I arrived._ The main source of skepticism about Churchill, however, was America_s ambassador to Britain, Joseph Kennedy, who disliked the prime minister and repeatedly filed pessimistic reports about Britain_s prospects and Churchill_s character. At one point Kennedy repeated to Roosevelt the gist of a remark made by Chamberlain, that Churchill _has developed into a fine two-handed drinker and his judgment has never proved good._ Kennedy, in turn, was not well liked in London. The wife of Churchill_s foreign secretary, Lord Halifax, detested the ambassador for his pessimism about Britain_s chances for survival and his prediction that the RAF would quickly be crushed. She wrote, _I could have killed him with pleasure._ CHAPTER 4 Galvanized IN HIS FIRST TWENTY-FOUR HOURS in office, Churchill revealed himself to be a very different kind of prime minister. Where Chamberlain_the Old Umbrella, the Coroner_was staid and deliberate, the new prime minister, true to his reputation, was flamboyant, electric, and wholly unpredictable. One of Churchill_s first acts was to appoint himself minister of defense, which prompted an outgoing official to write in his diary, _Heaven help us._ The post was a new one, through which Churchill would oversee the chiefs of staff who controlled the army, navy, and air force. He now had full control of the war, and full responsibility. He moved quickly to build his government, making seven key appointments by noon the next day. He kept Lord Halifax as foreign secretary and, in an act of generosity and loyalty, also included Chamberlain, naming him lord president of the council, a post with a minimal workload that served as a bridge between the government and the king. Rather than evict Chamberlain immediately from the prime ministerial residence at No. 10 Downing Street, Churchill resolved to continue living for a while at Admiralty House, his current home, to give Chamberlain time for a dignified exit. He offered Chamberlain an adjacent townhouse, No. 11 Downing, which Chamberlain had occupied in the 1930s while chancellor of the exchequer. A new electricity surged through Whitehall. Subdued corridors awoke. _It was as though the machine had overnight acquired one or two new gears, capable of far higher speeds than had ever before been thought possible,_ wrote Edward Bridges, secretary to the War Cabinet. This new energy, unfamiliar and disconcerting, coursed through all bureaucratic strata, from the lowest secretary to the most senior minister. The effect within No. 10 was galvanic. Under Chamberlain, even the advent of war had not altered the pace of work, according to John Colville; but Churchill was a dynamo. To Colville_s astonishment, _respectable civil servants were actually to be seen running along the corridors._ For Colville and his fellow members of Churchill_s private secretariat, the workload increased to hitherto unimagined levels. Churchill issued directives and commands in brief memoranda known as _minutes,_ which he dictated to a typist, one of whom was always on hand, from the moment he awoke until he went to bed. He raged at misspellings and nonsensical phrases caused by what he deemed to be misattention, though in fact the challenge of taking dictation from him was made all the harder by a slight lisplike speech impediment that caused him to muddy his s_s. In the course of transcribing a twenty-seven-page speech, one typist, Elizabeth Layton, who came to 10 Downing in 1941, drew his ire for making a single error, typing _Air Minister_ instead of _Air Ministry,_ thereby creating a sentence with an unintended, but robust, visual image: _The Air Minister was in a state of chaos from top to bottom._ It could be hard to hear Churchill, however, especially in the morning, when he dictated from bed, according to Layton. Other clarity-distorting factors intruded as well. _There_s always that cigar,_ she remarked, _and usually he paces up and down the room as he dictates, so that sometimes he_s behind your chair and sometimes far across the room._ No detail was too small to draw his attention, even the phrasing and grammar that ministers used when writing their reports. They were not to use the word _aerodrome_ but, rather, _airfield_; not _aeroplane_ but _aircraft._ Churchill was particularly insistent that ministers compose memoranda with brevity and limit their length to one page or less. _It is slothful not to compress your thoughts,_ he said. Such precise and demanding communication installed at all levels a new sense of responsibility for events, and dispelled the fustiness of routine ministerial work. Churchill_s communiqu?s tumbled forth daily, by the dozens, invariably brief and always written in precise English. It was not uncommon for him to demand an answer on a complex subject before the day was out. _Anything that was not of immediate importance and a concern to him was of no value,_ wrote General Alan Brooke, known as _Brookie_ to the secretarial staff at No. 10 Downing Street. _When he wanted something done, everything else had to be dropped._ The effect, Brooke observed, was _like the beam of a searchlight ceaselessly swinging round and penetrating into the remote recesses of the administration_so that everyone, however humble his rank or his function, felt that one day the beam might rest on him and light up what he was doing._ _ PENDING CHAMBERLAIN_S DEPARTURE FROM No. 10 Downing, Churchill established an office on the ground floor of Admiralty House, where he planned to work at night. A typist and a private secretary occupied the dining room and daily traversed a walkway populated with furniture in a dolphin motif, the backs and arms of chairs rendered in kelp and twisty marine creatures. Churchill_s office occupied an inner room. On his desk he kept a miscellany of pills, powders, and toothpicks, as well as cuffs to protect his sleeves and various gold medals, which he deployed as paperweights. Bottles of whiskey stood on an adjacent table. By day he occupied an office at 10 Downing. But Churchill_s notion of what constituted an office was expansive. Often generals, ministers, and staff members would find themselves meeting with Churchill while he was in his bathtub, one of his favorite places to work. He also liked working in bed, and spent hours there each morning going through dispatches and reports, with a typist seated nearby. Always present was the Box, a black dispatch box that contained reports, correspondence, and minutes from other officials requiring his attention, replenished daily by his private secretaries. Nearly every morning one visitor in particular came to Churchill_s bedroom, Major General Hastings Ismay, newly appointed military chief of staff, known lovingly, and universally, as _Pug_ for his likeness to that breed of dog. It was Ismay_s job to serve as an intermediary between Churchill and the chiefs of the three military services, helping them to understand him, and him to understand them. Ismay did so with tact, and a diplomat_s grace. Immediately he became one of the central members of what Churchill called his _Secret Circle._ Ismay came to Churchill_s bedroom to discuss matters that would come up later, at the morning meeting of the chiefs of staff. Other times he would simply sit with Churchill, in case he was needed_a warm and calming presence. Pug was a favorite of typists and private secretaries alike. _The eyes, wrinkling nose, mouth and shape of his face produced a canine effect which was entirely delightful,_ wrote John Colville. _When he smiled his face was alight and he gave the impression that he was wagging an easily imaginable tail._ Ismay was struck by how much the public seemed to need this new prime minister. While walking with him from 10 Downing back to Admiralty House, Ismay marveled at the enthusiastic greeting Churchill got from the men and women they passed. A group of people waiting at the private entrance to No. 10 offered their congratulations and encouragement, with cries of _Good luck, Winnie. God bless you._ Churchill was deeply moved, Ismay saw. Upon entering the building, Churchill, never afraid to express emotion, began to weep. _Poor people, poor people,_ he said. _They trust me, and I can give them nothing but disaster for quite a long time._ What he wanted most to give them was action, as he made clear from the start_action in all realms, from the office to the battlefield. What he especially wanted was for Britain to take the offensive in the war, to do something, anything, to bring the war directly to _that bad man,_ his preferred term for Adolf Hitler. As Churchill said on frequent occasions, he wanted Germans to _bleed and burn._ Within two days of his taking office, thirty-seven RAF bombers attacked the German city of M?nchen-Gladbach, in Germany_s heavily industrialized Ruhr district. The raid killed four people, one of whom, oddly enough, was an Englishwoman. But mere mayhem wasn_t the point. This mission and other raids soon to follow were meant to signal to the British public, to Hitler, and especially to the United States that Britain intended to fight_the same message that Churchill sought to convey on Monday, May 13, when he gave his first speech before the House of Commons. He spoke with confidence, vowing to achieve victory, but also as a realist who understood the bleak terrain in which Britain now lay. One line stood out with particular clarity: _I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat._ Although later these words would take their place in the pantheon of oratory as among the finest ever spoken_and years later would even receive praise from Hitler_s chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels_at the time, the speech was just another speech, delivered to an audience made newly skeptical by morning-after remorse. John Colville, who despite his new assignment remained loyal to Chamberlain, dismissed it as _a brilliant little speech._ For the occasion, Colville chose to wear _a bright blue new suit from the Fifty-Shilling Tailors__a large chain of shops that sold low-cost men_s clothing__cheap and sensational looking, which I felt was appropriate to the new Government._ _ BY NOW, GERMAN FORCES were asserting their hold on the Low Countries with ruthless authority. On May 14, massed bombers of the Luftwaffe, flying at two thousand feet, bombed Rotterdam in what appeared to be an indiscriminate assault, leaving more than eight hundred civilians dead and, in the process, signaling that a similar fate might lie ahead for England. What most alarmed Churchill and his commanders, however, was the startling force with which German armor, accompanied by aircraft acting as aerial artillery, were pummeling Allied forces in Belgium and France, causing French resistance to wither and leaving Britain_s continental army, the British Expeditionary Force, or BEF, dangerously exposed. On Tuesday, May 14, the French prime minister, Paul Reynaud, telephoned Churchill and begged him to send ten squadrons of RAF fighters to supplement the four already promised, _if possible today._ Germany was already claiming triumph. In Berlin that Tuesday, William Shirer, an American correspondent, heard German newscasters declare victory over and over, interrupting the regular radio programming to crow about the latest advance. First would come a fanfare, then news of the latest success, and after this, as Shirer recorded in his diary, a chorus would sing _the current hit, _We March on England._ _ At seven-thirty the next morning, Wednesday, May 15, Reynaud called Churchill again, reaching him while he was still in bed. Churchill picked up the phone on his bedside table. Through the scratchy, distant connection he heard Reynaud say, in English: _We have been defeated._ Churchill said nothing. _We are beaten,_ Reynaud said. _We have lost the battle._ _Surely it can_t have happened so soon?_ Churchill said. Reynaud told him that the Germans had broken the French line in the commune of Sedan, in the Ardennes, near the French border with Belgium, and that tanks and armored cars were pouring through the gap. Churchill tried to calm his French counterpart, pointing out that military experience taught that offensives invariably lose momentum over time. _We are defeated,_ Reynaud insisted. This seemed so unlikely as to defy belief. The French army was large and skilled, the fortified Maginot Line said to be impregnable. British strategic planning counted on France as a partner, without which the BEF had no chance of prevailing. It struck Churchill that the time had come to make a direct plea for American assistance. In a secret cable to President Roosevelt dispatched that day, he told the president that he fully expected England to be attacked, and soon, and that he was preparing for the onslaught. _If necessary, we shall continue the war alone, and we are not afraid of that,_ he wrote. _But I trust you realize, Mr. President, that the voice and force of the United States may count for nothing if they are withheld too long. You may have a completely subjugated, Nazified Europe established with astonishing swiftness, and the weight may be more than we can bear._ He wanted material aid, and specifically asked Roosevelt to consider dispatching up to fifty old destroyers, which the Royal Navy would use until its own naval construction program could begin delivering new ships. He also requested aircraft__several hundred of the latest types__and anti-aircraft weapons and ammunition, _of which again there will be plenty next year, if we are alive to see it._ Now he came to what he knew to be an especially sensitive matter in dealing with America, given its apparent need always to drive a hard bargain, or at least to be seen as doing so. _We shall go on paying dollars for as long as we can,_ he wrote, _but I should like to feel reasonably sure that when we can pay no more, you will give us the stuff all the same._ Roosevelt replied two days later, stating that he could not send destroyers without the specific approval of Congress and adding, _I am not certain that it would be wise for that suggestion to be made to the Congress at this moment._ He was still wary of Churchill, but even more wary of how the American public would react. At the time, he was mulling whether to run for a third term, though he had yet to declare his interest. After sidestepping Churchill_s various requests, the president added, _The best of luck to you._ _ EVER RESTLESS, CHURCHILL DECIDED that he needed to meet personally with French leaders, both to better understand the battle underway and to attempt to bolster their resolve. Despite the presence of German fighters in the skies over France, on Thursday, May 16, at three P.M., Churchill took off in a military passenger aircraft, a de Havilland Flamingo, from an RAF airbase in Hendon, roughly seven miles north of 10 Downing Street. This was Churchill_s favorite aircraft: an all-metal, twin-engine passenger plane furnished with large upholstered armchairs. The Flamingo promptly joined a formation of Spitfires dispatched to escort it to France. Pug Ismay and a small group of other officials went along. Upon landing, they realized immediately that things were much worse than they had expected. Officers assigned to meet them told Ismay that they expected the Germans to arrive in Paris within the next few days. Wrote Ismay, _None of us could believe it._ Reynaud and his generals again pleaded for more aircraft. After much agonizing, and with an eye, as always, on history, Churchill promised the ten squadrons. He telegraphed his War Cabinet that night: _It would not be good historically if their requests were denied and their ruin resulted._ He and his party returned to London the next morning. The prospect of sending so many fighters to France worried private secretary Colville. In his diary he wrote, _This means denuding this country of a quarter of its first-line fighter defense._ _ AS THE SITUATION IN France degraded, so rose the fear that Hitler would now turn his full attention to Britain. Invasion seemed a certainty. The deep current of appeasement that had persistently flowed within Whitehall and English society began to surface anew, with fresh calls for a peace arrangement with Hitler, the old instinct burbling up like groundwater through a lawn. In the Churchill household, such defeatist talk inspired only rage. One afternoon, Churchill invited David Margesson, his chief whip in Parliament, for lunch, along with Clementine and daughter Mary. Margesson was one of the so-called Men of Munich, who had previously endorsed appeasement and had supported Chamberlain_s 1938 Munich Agreement. As lunch progressed, Clementine found herself growing more and more unsettled. Ever since Churchill_s appointment as prime minister, she had become his ever-present ally, hosting luncheons and dinners and answering innumerable letters from the public. She often wore a head scarf, wrapped turban-style, that was printed with tiny copies of war posters and slogans exhorting, _Lend to Defend,_ _Go to It,_ and the like. She was now fifty-five years old and had been married to Churchill for thirty-two of them. Upon their engagement, Churchill_s good friend Violet Bonham Carter had expressed grave doubts about Clementine_s worthiness, forecasting that she _could never be more to him than an ornamental sideboard as I have often said and she is unexacting enough not to mind not being more._ Clementine, however, proved to be anything but a _sideboard._ Tall, lean, and displaying a _finished, flawless beauty,_ as Bonham Carter conceded, she was strong-willed and independent, to the point where she often took vacations alone, absent from the family for long periods. In 1935, she traveled solo on an excursion to the Far East that lasted more than four months. She and Churchill kept separate bedrooms; sex happened only upon her explicit invitation. It was to Bonham Carter that Clementine, soon after being wed, revealed Churchill_s peculiar taste in underclothes: pale pink and made of silk. Clementine was undaunted by argument, no matter how lofty her opponent, and was said to be the only person who could effectively stand up to Churchill. Now, over lunch, her anger rose. Margesson espoused a pacifism that she found repulsive. She quickly reached a point where she could stand it no longer, and lit into him for his past role as an appeaser, implicitly blaming him for helping bring Britain to its current dire position. As daughter Mary put it, she _flayed him verbally before sweeping out._ This was not uncommon. Family members talked of _Mama_s sweeps._ Churchill, describing one incident in which the victim received a particularly vivid rebuke, quipped, _Clemmie dropped on him like a jaguar out of a tree._ In this case, she did not sweep out alone. She dragged Mary with her. They had lunch at the Grill in the nearby Carlton Hotel, famous for its gleaming interior rendered in gold and white. Mary was mortified by her mother_s behavior. _I was most ashamed and horrified,_ she wrote in her diary. _Mummie and I had to go and have lunch at the Carlton. Good food wrecked by gloom._ A visit to church presented Clementine with another opportunity to express her indignation. On Sunday, May 19, she attended a service at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the famed Anglican church in Trafalgar Square, and there heard a minister deliver a sermon that struck her as being inappropriately defeatist. She stood up and stormed from the church. Upon arriving at 10 Downing, she told her husband the story. Churchill said, _You ought to have cried _Shame,_ desecrating the House of God with lies!_ Churchill then traveled to Chartwell, the family home outside London, to work on his first radio broadcast as prime minister, and to spend a few peaceful moments beside his pond, feeding his goldfish and a black swan. There had been other swans, but foxes had killed them. _ A NEW TELEPHONE CALL from France drew Churchill back to London. The situation was growing dramatically worse, the French army wilting. Despite the grave news, Churchill seemed unfazed, and this caused a further warming in Jock Colville_s attitude toward his new employer. In his diary that Sunday, Colville wrote, _Whatever Winston_s shortcomings, he seems to be the man for the occasion. His spirit is indomitable and even if France and England should be lost, I feel he would carry on the crusade himself with a band of privateers._ He added: _Perhaps my judgments of him have been harsh, but the situation was very different a few weeks ago._ At a four-thirty meeting of his War Cabinet, Churchill learned that the commander in chief of Britain_s forces in France was contemplating a withdrawal toward the channel coast, identifying in particular the port city of Dunkirk. Churchill opposed the idea. He feared that the force would be trapped and destroyed. Churchill made the decision that, in fact, no fighter aircraft would be sent to France. With that country_s fate now seeming so tenuous, there was little point, and every fighter was needed in England to defend against the coming invasion. He worked on his radio speech until the last minute, from six to nine that night, before settling himself in front of a BBC microphone. _I speak to you for the first time as Prime Minister in a solemn hour for the life of our country,_ he began. He explained how the Germans had broken through the French line, using a _remarkable_ combination of aircraft and tanks. However, he said, the French had proven themselves in the past to be adept at raising counteroffensives, and this talent, in tandem with the power and skill of the British Army, could turn the situation around. The speech set a pattern that he would follow throughout the war, offering a sober appraisal of facts, tempered with reason for optimism. _It would be foolish to disguise the gravity of the hour,_ he said. _It would be still more foolish to lose heart and courage._ He left out completely any reference to the possibility, discussed just a few hours earlier with his War Cabinet, that Britain might withdraw the BEF from France. Next he addressed his main reason for giving the speech: to warn his countrymen of what lay ahead. _After this battle in France abates its force there will come the battle for our Islands, for all that Britain is and all that Britain means,_ he said. _In that supreme emergency we shall not hesitate to take every step_even the most drastic_to call forth from our people the last ounce and inch of effort of which they are capable._ The speech terrified some listeners, but Churchill_s apparent candor_at least on the threat of invasion, if not the true state of the French army_encouraged others, according to the Home Intelligence division of the Ministry of Information. The division went to great lengths to monitor public opinion and morale, publishing weekly reports that drew from more than one hundred sources, including postal and telephone censors, movie-theater managers, and the operators of bookstalls owned by W. H. Smith. After Churchill_s broadcast, Home Intelligence conducted a lightning survey of listeners. _Of 150 house-to-house interviews in the London area,_ it reported, _approximately half said they were frightened and worried by the speech; the rest were _heartened,_ _made more determined,_ _stiffened._ _ Now Churchill turned again to the agonizing decision about what to do with the hundreds of thousands of British soldiers in France. His inclination was to insist that they take the offensive and fight it out, but the time for such heroics seemed to have passed. The British Expeditionary Force was in full retreat toward the coast, pursued by Germany_s armored divisions, which had given Hitler so lethal an advantage in his drive across Europe. The BEF faced the very real prospect of annihilation. The Churchill who on Sunday had struck Colville as being unfazed was here supplanted by a prime minister who seemed deeply worried about the fate of the empire in his charge. Wrote Colville on Tuesday, May 21, _I have not seen Winston so depressed._ _ CHURCHILL RESOLVED, AGAINST THE advice of his chiefs of staff and others, to fly to Paris for a second meeting, this time in foul weather. The visit achieved nothing, except to worry Clementine and daughter Mary. _It was terrible flying weather,_ Mary wrote in her diary, _and I was so anxious. The news is unbelievably bad_one can only hang on by praying it will come out all right._ _ SO TENSE WERE THINGS, so high the pressure on all, that members of Churchill_s cabinet decided that he ought to have a personal physician, though the patient himself did not agree. The assignment fell to Sir Charles Wilson, dean of the medical school at St. Mary_s Hospital in London. A medical officer in the prior war, he had been awarded a Military Cross in 1916 for bravery in the Battle of the Somme. Late in the morning on Friday, May 24, Wilson found himself at Admiralty House, being led upstairs to Churchill_s bedroom. (In Britain, a doctor of Wilson_s stature is typically referred to not by the prefix _Dr._ but, rather, as _Mr._) _I have become his doctor,_ Wilson wrote in his diary, _not because he wanted one, but because certain members of the Cabinet, who realized how essential he has become, have decided that somebody ought to keep an eye on his health._ It was almost noon by now, but as Wilson entered the room he found Churchill still in bed, seated upright against a bedrest, reading. Churchill did not look up. Wilson walked to his bedside. Churchill still did not acknowledge his presence. He continued to read. After a few moments_what to Wilson _seemed quite a long time__Churchill lowered the document and with impatience said, _I don_t know why they are making such a fuss. There_s nothing wrong with me._ He resumed reading, with Wilson still at hand. After another overlong interval, Churchill abruptly shoved away his bedrest, threw off his covers, and barked, _I suffer from dyspepsia__indigestion, or what later generations would call heartburn__and this is the treatment._ He launched into a breathing exercise. Wilson watched. _His big white belly was moving up and down,_ he recalled later, _when there was a knock on the door, and the P.M. grabbed at the sheet as Mrs. Hill came into the room._ This was Kathleen Hill, thirty-nine, his beloved personal secretary. She and her typewriter were ever present, whether Churchill was clothed or not. _Soon after,_ Wilson wrote, _I took my leave. I do not like the job, and I do not think the arrangement can last._ _ FROM JOHN COLVILLE_S PERSPECTIVE, Churchill had no need for a doctor_s attention. He seemed fit and was once again in good spirits, having shed his depression of several days earlier. Later that Friday, Colville arrived at Admiralty House to find Churchill _dressed in the most brilliant of flowery dressing-gowns and puffing a long cigar as he ascended from the Upper War Room to his bedroom._ He was about to take one of his daily baths, these prepared with precision_ninety-eight degrees Fahrenheit and two-thirds full_by his valet-butler Frank Sawyers, present at all hours (_the inevitable, egregious Sawyers,_ as Colville wrote). Churchill took two baths every day, his longtime habit, no matter where he was and regardless of the urgency of the events unfolding elsewhere, whether at the embassy in Paris during one of his meetings with French leaders or aboard his prime ministerial train, whose lavatory included a bathtub. On this Friday, a number of important telephone calls demanded his attention during his bath hour. With Colville standing by, Churchill took each call, climbing naked from the tub and swathing himself with a towel. Colville found this to be one of Churchill_s most endearing traits__his complete absence of personal vanity._ Colville witnessed scenes at Admiralty House and 10 Downing Street unlike anything he had encountered while working for Chamberlain. Churchill would wander the halls wearing a red dressing gown, a helmet, and slippers with pom-poms. He was also given to wearing his sky-blue _siren suit,_ a one-piece outfit of his own design that could be pulled on at a moment_s notice. His staff called it his _rompers._ At times, according to his security officer, Inspector Thompson, the outfit made Churchill look _so pneumatic as to suggest he might at any moment rise from the floor and sail around over his own acres._ Colville was coming to like the man. _ CHURCHILL_S EQUANIMITY WAS ALL the more remarkable given the news emerging that Friday from across the channel. To everyone_s continued mystification, the great French army now seemed on the verge of final defeat. _The one firm rock on which everyone was willing to build for the last two years was the French army,_ wrote Foreign Secretary Halifax in his diary, _and the Germans walked through it like they did through the Poles._ That day, too, Churchill received a sobering document that dared contemplate this hitherto unthinkable outcome, still so beyond imagining that the authors of the report, the chiefs of staff, could not bring themselves to mention it in the title, calling their paper _British Strategy in a Certain Eventuality._ CHAPTER 5 Moondread _THE OBJECT OF THIS PAPER,_ the report began, _is to investigate the means whereby we could continue to fight single-handed if French resistance were to collapse completely, involving the loss of a substantial proportion of the British Expeditionary Force, and the French Government were to make terms with Germany._ Labeled _MOST SECRET,_ it made for a frightening read. One of its fundamental assumptions was that the United States would provide _full economic and financial support._ Without this, the report noted in italics, _we do not think we could continue the war with any chance of success._ It forecast that only a fragment of the BEF could be evacuated from France. The overriding fear was that if the French did capitulate, Hitler would turn his armies and air force against England. _Germany,_ the report said, _has ample forces to invade and occupy this country. Should the enemy succeed in establishing a force, with its vehicles, firmly ashore_the Army in the United Kingdom, which is very short of equipment, has not got the offensive power to drive it out._ Everything depended _on whether our fighter defenses will be able to reduce the scale of attack to reasonable bounds._ Britain_s energies were to be concentrated on the production of fighters, the training of crews, and defense of aircraft factories. _The crux of the whole problem is the air defence of this country._ If France fell, the report said, the task would be immeasurably more difficult. Previous plans for homeland defense were based on the assumption_the certainty_that the Luftwaffe would be flying from bases within Germany, and would thus have limited ability to penetrate deep into England. But now British strategists had to face the prospect of German fighters and bombers taking off from airfields along the French coast, just minutes from the English shore, and from bases in Belgium, Holland, Denmark, and Norway. These bases, the report said, would allow Germany _to concentrate a very heavy weight of long and short-range bomber attack over a large area of this country._ A central question was whether the British public would be able to endure what was sure to be a furious assault by the full force of Germany_s air force. The morale of the country, the report warned, _will be subjected to a heavier strain than ever before._ The authors, however, found reason to believe that the people_s morale would hold, _if they realize_as they are beginning to do_that the existence of the Empire is at stake._ It was time, the report said, _to inform the public of the true dangers that confront us._ London seemed certain to be Hitler_s primary target. In a 1934 speech to the House of Commons, Churchill himself had called it _the greatest target in the world, a kind of tremendous, fat, valuable cow tied up to attract the beast of prey._ After one cabinet meeting, Churchill led his ministers out to the street and with a grim half-smile told them, _Take a good look round. I expect all these buildings will look very different in two or three weeks_ time._ _ EVEN THE REPORT from the chiefs of staff, gloomy as it was, did not envision the rapid and complete collapse already underway across the channel. With a German victory in France nearly certain, British intelligence now forecast that Germany might invade England immediately, without waiting for a formal French surrender. The British expected that an invasion would begin with a titanic onslaught by the German air force, potentially a _knock-out_ blow_or, as Churchill called it, an aerial _banquet__with as many as fourteen thousand aircraft darkening the sky. British strategists believed that the Luftwaffe had four times as many aircraft as the RAF. Germany_s three main bombers_the Junkers Ju 88, the Dornier Do 17, and the Heinkel He 111_carried bomb loads ranging from two thousand to eight thousand pounds, more than could have been imagined in the prior war. One aircraft was particularly fearsome, the Stuka, its name a contraction of the German word for dive-bomber: Sturzkampfflugzeug. The plane looked like a giant bent-wing insect and was equipped with an apparatus, the Jericho-Trompete (_Jericho trumpet_), that caused it to emit a terrifying shriek while diving. It could place bombs_up to five at a time_with far more precision than a standard aircraft, and had terrified Allied troops during Germany_s blitzkrieg attacks. As British planners saw it, Germany possessed the ability to bomb England to the point where it might have no other option but to surrender, an outcome contemplated long before by theorists of aerial warfare who saw _strategic bombing,_ or _terror bombing,_ as a means of subduing an enemy. Germany_s bombing of Rotterdam had seemed to validate such thinking. The day after the Luftwaffe_s attack, the Dutch surrendered, out of fear that other cities would be destroyed. England_s ability to defend itself from this kind of campaign depended entirely on the nation_s aircraft industries_ capacity to produce fighter aircraft_Hurricanes and Spitfires_at a rate high enough not just to compensate for the fast-mounting losses but also to increase the overall number of planes available for combat. Fighters alone in no way could win the war, although Churchill believed that with enough aircraft, England might be able to hold Hitler at bay and stave off invasion long enough for the United States to enter the war. But fighter production lagged. England_s aircraft plants operated on a prewar schedule that did not take into account the new reality of having a hostile force based just across the channel. Production, though increasing, was suppressed by the fusty practices of a peacetime bureaucracy only now awakening to the realities of total war. Shortages of parts and materials disrupted production. Damaged aircraft accumulated as they awaited repair. Many nearly completed planes lacked engines and instruments. Vital parts were stored in far-flung locations, jealously guarded by feudal officials reserving them for their own future needs. With all this in mind, Churchill, on his first day as prime minister, created an entirely new ministry devoted solely to the production of fighters and bombers, the Ministry of Aircraft Production. In Churchill_s view, this new ministry was the only thing that could save Britain from defeat, and he was confident he knew just the man to run it: his longtime friend and occasional antagonist Max Aitken_Lord Beaverbrook_a man who drew controversy the way steeples draw lightning. Churchill offered him the job that night, but Beaverbrook demurred. He had made his fortune in newspapers and knew nothing about running factories that manufactured products as complex as fighters and bombers. Moreover, his health was impaired. He was plagued by eye troubles and asthma, so much so that he devoted a room in his London mansion, Stornoway House, to asthma treatments and filled it with kettles to produce steam. Two weeks from turning sixty-one, he had pulled back from direct management of his newspaper empire and was intent on spending more time at his villa at Cap-d_Ail, on the southeast coast of France, though Hitler had killed this plan for the time being. Beaverbrook_s secretaries were still composing draft letters of refusal when, on the evening of May 12, apparently on impulse, he accepted the post. He became minister of aircraft production two days later. Churchill understood Beaverbrook, and knew on an instinctive level that he was the man to jolt awake the still-slumbering aircraft industry. He also understood that Beaverbrook could be difficult_would be difficult_and anticipated that he would spark conflict. But it did not matter. As one American visitor put it, _The PM, who has the most kindly feelings toward Beaverbrook, looked at him as an indulgent parent would to a small boy at a party who had said something not quite appropriate, but made no comment._ There was more to Churchill_s decision, however. Churchill needed Beaverbrook_s presence as a friend, to provide counsel on matters beyond aircraft production. Despite later hagiography, Churchill did not and frankly could not manage the staggering pressure of directing the war by himself. He relied heavily on others, even if sometimes these others merely served as an audience on whom he could test his thoughts and plans. Beaverbrook could be counted on for candor at all times, and to deliver advice without regard for politics or personal feelings. Where Pug Ismay was a calming and cooling influence, Beaverbrook was gasoline. He was also wildly entertaining, a trait that Churchill loved and needed. Ismay sat quietly, ready to offer advice and counsel; Beaverbrook enlivened every room he entered. On occasion he called himself Churchill_s court jester. Canadian by birth, Beaverbrook had moved to England before the previous war. In 1916, he bought the moribund Daily Express, and over time he grew its circulation sevenfold, to 2.5 million, cementing his reputation as an ingenious maverick. _Beaverbrook enjoyed being provocative,_ wrote Virginia Cowles, a prominent chronicler of life in wartime England who worked for Beaverbrook_s Evening Standard. Complacency was as tempting a target to him _as a balloon to a small boy with a pin,_ Cowles remarked. Beaverbrook and Churchill had been friends for three decades, though the intimacy of their connection had tended to wax and wane. To the many people who disliked Beaverbrook, his physical appearance seemed a metaphor for his personality. He stood five feet, nine inches_three inches taller than Churchill_with a broad upper body over narrow hips and slender legs. There was something about this combination, tied with his wide and wickedly gleeful smile, his overly large ears and nose, and a scattering of facial moles, that inclined people to describe him as smaller than he was, like some malignant elf from a fairy tale. American general Raymond Lee, stationed in London as an observer, called him _a violent, passionate, malicious and dangerous little goblin._ Lord Halifax nicknamed him _the Toad._ A few, behind his back, referred to him as _the Beaver._ Clementine, in particular, nursed a deep mistrust of Beaverbrook. _My darling__ she wrote to Churchill. _Try ridding yourself of this microbe which some people fear is in your blood_exorcise this bottle imp and see if the air is not clearer and purer._ As a rule, however, women found Beaverbrook attractive. His wife, Gladys, died in 1927, and both during and after their marriage he conducted numerous affairs. He loved gossip, and thanks to his female friends and his network of reporters, he knew many of the secrets of London_s uppermost strata. _Max never seems to tire of the shabby drama of some men_s lives, their infidelities and their passions,_ wrote his doctor, Charles Wilson, now also Churchill_s physician. One of Beaverbrook_s most impassioned enemies, Minister of Labor Ernest Bevin, deployed a gritty analogy to describe the relationship between Churchill and Beaverbrook: _He_s like a man who_s married a whore: he knows she_s a whore, but he loves her just the same._ Churchill saw the relationship in succinct terms. _Some take drugs,_ he said. _I take Max._ He recognized that by removing the responsibility for aircraft production from the long-established Air Ministry and giving it to Beaverbrook, he was laying the groundwork for a clash of territorial interests, but he failed to anticipate just how much outright bickering Beaverbrook would immediately generate and how great a source of exasperation this would become. The writer Evelyn Waugh, whose comic novel Scoop was thought by some to have been inspired by Beaverbrook (though Waugh denied it), once said that he found himself compelled to _believe in the Devil if only to account for the existence of Lord Beaverbrook._ The stakes were indeed high. _It was as dark a picture as any Britain has ever faced,_ wrote David Farrer, one of Beaverbrook_s many secretaries. _ BEAVERBROOK EMBRACED HIS NEW task with relish. He loved the idea of being at the center of power and loved, even more, the prospect of disrupting the lives of hidebound bureaucrats. He launched his new ministry from his own mansion and staffed its administrative side with employees pulled from his own newspapers. In a move unusual for the age, he also hired one of his editors to be his personal propaganda and public relations man. Intent on quickly transforming the aircraft industry, he recruited a collection of top business executives to be his senior lieutenants, including the general manager of a Ford Motor Company plant. He cared little about whether they had expertise with airplanes. _They are all captains of industry, and industry is like theology,_ Beaverbrook said. _If you know the rudiments of one faith you can grasp the meaning of another. For my part I would not hesitate to appoint the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church to take over the duties of the Pope of Rome._ Beaverbrook convened key meetings in his downstairs library or, on fine days, outside on a balcony off his first-floor ballroom (the second floor in American parlance). His typists and secretaries worked upstairs wherever space permitted. The bathrooms had typewriters. Beds served as surfaces for arranging documents. No one left the premises for lunch; at the asking, food prepared by Beaverbrook_s chef was delivered on trays. His own typical lunch was chicken, bread, and a pear. All employees were expected to work the same hours he did, meaning twelve hours a day, seven days a week. He could be unrealistically demanding. One of his most senior men complained about how Beaverbrook gave him an assignment at two in the morning, then called back at eight A.M. to see how much had been accomplished. After a personal secretary, George Malcolm Thomson, took an unscheduled morning off, Beaverbrook left him a note: _Tell Thomson that Hitler will be here if he doesn_t look out._ Beaverbrook_s valet, Albert Nockels, once countered his shouted command _For god_s sake, hurry up_ with the rejoinder _My lord, I am not a Spitfire._ No matter their value, fighters were still only defensive weapons. Churchill also wanted a steep increase in the production of bombers. He saw these as the only means currently at hand for bringing the war directly to Hitler. For the time being Churchill had to rely on the RAF_s fleet of medium bombers, though two four-engine heavy bombers were nearing introduction, the Stirling and the Halifax (named for a town in Yorkshire, not for Lord Halifax), each with the capacity to carry up to fourteen thousand pounds of bombs well into Germany. Churchill acknowledged that Hitler was for the time being free to project his forces in whatever direction he wished, be it eastward or into Asia and Africa. _But there is one thing that will bring him back and bring him down,_ Churchill wrote in a minute to Beaverbrook, _and that is an absolutely devastating, exterminating attack by very heavy bombers from this country upon the Nazi homeland. We must be able to over-whelm them by this means, without which I do not see a way through._ In his own hand, Churchill added, _We cannot accept any lower aim than air mastery. When will it be obtained?_ Churchill_s minister of aircraft production proceeded with the exuberance of an impresario, even designing a special flag for the radiator of his car, with _M.A.P._ in red against a blue background. British aircraft plants began turning out fighters at a rate that no one, least of all German intelligence, could have foreseen, and under circumstances that factory managers had never imagined. _ THE PROSPECT OF INVASION forced citizens at all levels of British society to contemplate exactly what invasion would mean, not as an abstraction but as something that could happen as you sat at your table reading the Daily Express or knelt in your garden pruning your rosebushes. Churchill was convinced that one of Hitler_s first goals would be to kill him, with the expectation that whatever government replaced his would be more willing to negotiate. He insisted on keeping a Bren light machine gun in the trunk of his car, having vowed on numerous occasions that if the Germans came for him, he would take as many as possible with him to the grave. He often carried a revolver_and often misplaced it, according to Inspector Thompson. From time to time, Thompson recalled, Churchill would abruptly brandish his revolver and, _roguishly and with delight,_ exclaim: _You see, Thompson, they will never take me alive! I will get one or two before they can shoot me down._ But he was also ready for worse. According to one of his typists, Mrs. Hill, he embedded a capsule containing cyanide in the cap of his fountain pen. Harold Nicolson, parliamentary secretary for the Ministry of Information, and his wife, writer Vita Sackville-West, began working out the nitty-gritty details of coping with an invasion, as if preparing for a winter storm. _You will have to get the Buick in a fit state to start with a full petrol-tank,_ Nicolson wrote. _You should put inside it some food for 24 hours, and pack in the back your jewels and my diaries. You will want clothes and anything else very precious, but the rest will have to be left behind._ Vita lived at the couple_s country home, Sissinghurst, just twenty miles from the Strait of Dover, the narrowest point between England and France and, thus, a likely pathway for amphibious assault. Nicolson recommended that when the invasion came, Vita should drive to Devonshire, five hours west. _This all sounds very alarming,_ he added, _but it would be foolish to pretend that the danger is inconceivable._ The lovely weather only heightened the anxiety. It seemed as though nature were conspiring with Hitler, delivering a nearly uninterrupted chain of fine, warm days with calm waters in the channel, ideal for the shallow-hulled barges Hitler would need to land tanks and artillery. Writer Rebecca West described the _unstained heaven of that perfect summer,_ when she and her husband walked in London_s Regent_s Park as barrage balloons__silver elephantines__drifted overhead. Five hundred and sixty-two of these giant oblong balloons were aloft over London, tethered by mile-long cables to block dive-bombers and keep fighters from descending low enough to strafe the city_s streets. West recalled how people sat in chairs among the roses, staring straight ahead, their faces white with strain. _Some of them walked among the rose-beds, with a special earnestness looking down on the bright flowers and inhaling the scent, as if to say, _That is what roses are like, that is how they smell. We must remember that, down in the darkness._ _ But even invasion fears could not wholly obliterate the sheer seductiveness of those late spring days. Anthony Eden, Churchill_s new secretary of war_tall, handsome, and as recognizable as a film star_went for a walk in St. James_s Park, sat on a bench, and took an hour-long nap. _ WITH FRANCE IN PRECIPITOUS collapse, air raids over England seemed certain, and the moon became a source of dread. The first full moon of Churchill_s premiership occurred on Tuesday, May 21, imparting to the streets of London the cool pallor of candle wax. The German raid on Rotterdam lingered as a reminder of what could very soon befall the city. So likely was this prospect that three days later, on Friday, May 24, with the moon still bright_a waning gibbous_Tom Harrisson, director of Mass-Observation_s network of social observers, sent a special message to his many diarists: _In the case of air raids observers will not be expected to stand about_it will be entirely satisfactory if observers take shelter, so long as they are able to take shelter with other people. Preferably with a lot of other people._ The opportunity for observing human behavior at its most raw was just too perfect. CHAPTER 6 G?ring ON THAT FRIDAY, MAY 24, Hitler made two decisions that would influence the duration and character of the coming war. At noon, on the advice of a trusted senior general, Hitler ordered his armored divisions to halt their advance against the British Expeditionary Force. Hitler agreed with the general_s recommendation that his tanks and crews be given a chance to regroup before a planned advance to the south. German forces already had sustained major losses in the so-called campaign in the west: 27,074 soldiers dead, 111,034 more wounded, and another 18,384 missing_a blow to the German public, who had been led to expect a brief, tidy war. The halt order, which gave the British a lifesaving pause, perplexed British and German commanders alike. The Luftwaffe_s general field marshal Albert Kesselring later called it a _fatal error._ Kesselring was all the more surprised when suddenly the task of destroying the fleeing British force was assigned to him and his air fleet. Luftwaffe chief Hermann G?ring had promised Hitler that his air force could destroy the BEF on its own_a promise that had little grounding in reality, Kesselring knew, especially given the exhaustion of his pilots and the spirited attacks by RAF pilots flying the latest Spitfires. That same Friday, further swayed by G?ring_s belief in the near-magical power of his air force, Hitler issued Directive No. 13, one of a series of broad strategic orders he would issue throughout the war. _The task of the Air Force will be to break all enemy resistance on the part of the surrounded forces, to prevent the escape of the English forces across the Channel,_ the directive read. It authorized the Luftwaffe _to attack the English homeland in the fullest manner, as soon as sufficient forces are available._ _ G?RING_LARGE, BUOYANT, RUTHLESS, CRUEL_HAD used his close connection to Hitler to win this commission, deploying the sheer strength of his ebullient and joyously corrupt personality to overcome Hitler_s misgivings, at least for the time being. Although on paper Hitler_s official number two man was Deputy F?hrer Rudolf Hess (not to be confused with Rudolf Hoess, who ran Auschwitz), G?ring was his favorite. G?ring had built the Luftwaffe from nothing into the most powerful air force in the world. _When I talk with G?ring, it_s like a bath in steel for me,_ Hitler told Nazi architect Albert Speer. _I feel fresh afterward. The Reich Marshal has a stimulating way of presenting things._ Hitler did not feel this way toward his official deputy. _With Hess,_ Hitler said, _every conversation becomes an unbearably tormenting strain. He always comes to me with unpleasant matters and won_t leave off._ When the war began, Hitler chose G?ring to be his primary successor, with Hess next in line. In addition to the air force, G?ring held enormous power over other realms within Germany, as evident in his many official titles: president of the Defense Council, commissioner for the Four-Year Plan, president of the Reichstag, prime minister of Prussia, and minister of forests and hunting, this last an acknowledgment of his personal love for medieval history. He had grown up on the grounds of a feudal castle that had turrets and walls with machicolations designed for the dispersion of stones and boiling oil onto any assailants below. According to one British intelligence report, _In his childhood games he always played the part of a robber knight or led the village boys in some imitation military maneuver._ G?ring held full control over German heavy industry. Another British assessment concluded that _this man of abnormal ruthlessness and energy now holds almost all the threads of power in Germany._ On the side, G?ring ran a criminal empire of art dealers and thugs who provided him with a museum_s worth of art that was either stolen or bought at coercively low prices, much of it considered _ownerless Jewish art_ and confiscated from Jewish households_in all, fourteen hundred paintings, sculptures, and tapestries, including Van Gogh_s Bridge at Langlois in Arles and works by Renoir, Botticelli, and Monet. The term _ownerless_ was a Nazi designation applied to works of art left behind by fleeing and deported Jews. In the course of the war, while ostensibly traveling on Luftwaffe business, G?ring would visit Paris twenty times, often aboard one of his four _special trains,_ to review and select works gathered by his agents at the Jeu de Paume, a museum in the Jardin des Tuileries. By the fall of 1942, he had acquired 596 works from this source alone. He displayed hundreds of his best pieces at Carinhall, his country home and, increasingly often, his headquarters, named for his first wife, Carin, who had died in 1931. Paintings hung on the walls, from floor to ceiling, in multiple tiers that emphasized not their beauty and worth but, rather, the acquisitiveness of their new owner. His demand for fine things, especially those rendered in gold, was fed as well by a kind of institutional larceny. Every year, his underlings were compelled to contribute money for the purchase of an expensive present for his birthday. G?ring designed Carinhall to evoke a medieval hunting lodge, and built it in an ancient forest forty-five miles north of Berlin. He also erected an immense mausoleum on the grounds for the body of his late wife, framed with large sarsen stones that evoked the sandstone blocks at Stonehenge. He married again, an actress named Emmy Sonnemann, on April 10, 1935, in a ceremony at Berlin Cathedral, attended by Hitler, as formations of Luftwaffe bombers flew overhead. G?ring also had a passion for extravagant sartorial display. He designed his own uniforms, the flashier the better, with medals and epaulettes and silver filigree, often changing clothes multiple times in the course of a day. He was known to wear more eccentric costumes as well, including tunics, togas, and sandals, which he accented by painting his toenails red and applying makeup to his cheeks. On his right hand he wore a large ring with six diamonds; on his left, an emerald said to be an inch square. He strode the grounds of Carinhall like an oversized Robin Hood, in a belted jacket of green leather, with a large hunting knife tucked into his belt, and carrying a staff. One German general reported being summoned for a meeting with G?ring and finding him _sitting there dressed in the following way: a green silk shirt embroidered in gold, with gold thread running through it, and a large monocle. His hair had been dyed yellow, his eyebrows were penciled, his cheeks rouged_he was wearing violet silk stockings and black patent leather pumps. He was sitting there looking like a jellyfish._ To outside observers, G?ring seemed to have a limited grip on sanity, but an American interrogator, General Carl Spaatz, would later write that G?ring, _despite rumors to the contrary, is far from mentally deranged. In fact he must be considered a very _shrewd customer,_ a great actor and professional liar._ The public loved him, forgiving his legendary excesses and coarse personality. The American correspondent William Shirer, in his diary, sought to explain this seeming paradox: _Where Hitler is distant, legendary, nebulous, an enigma as a human being, G?ring is a salty, earthy, lusty man of flesh and blood. The Germans like him because they understand him. He has the faults and virtues of the average man, and the people admire him for both. He has a child_s love for uniforms and medals. So have they._ Shirer detected no resentment among the public directed toward the _fantastic, medieval_and very expensive_personal life he leads. It is the sort of life they would lead themselves, perhaps, if they had the chance._ G?ring was revered by the officers who served him_at first. _We swore by the F?hrer and worshipped G?ring,_ wrote one bomber pilot, who attributed G?ring_s cachet to his performance in the prior war when he was a top ace, legendary for his courage. But some of his officers and pilots were now growing disenchanted. Behind his back they began calling him _the Fat One._ One of his top fighter pilots, Adolf Galland, came to know him well and repeatedly clashed with him over tactics. G?ring was easily influenced by a _small clique of sycophants,_ Galland said. _His court favorites changed frequently since his favor could only be won and held by means of constant flattery, intrigue and expensive gifts._ More worrisome, in Galland_s view, was that G?ring seemed not to understand that aerial warfare had advanced radically since the prior war. _G?ring was a man with almost no technical knowledge and no appreciation of the conditions under which modern fighter aircraft fought._ But G?ring_s worst error, according to Galland, was hiring a friend, Beppo Schmid, to head the Luftwaffe_s intelligence arm, responsible for determining the day-to-day strength of the British air force_an appointment soon to have grave consequences. _Beppo Schmid,_ Galland said, _was a complete wash-out as intelligence officer, the most important job of all._ Nonetheless, G?ring paid attention only to him. He trusted Schmid as a friend but, more importantly, reveled in the happy news that he seemed always ready to provide. When Hitler turned to the daunting task of conquering Britain, naturally he came to G?ring, and G?ring was delighted. In the western campaign, it was the army, especially its armored divisions, that won all the honors, with the air force playing a secondary role, providing ground support. Now the Luftwaffe would have its chance to achieve glory, and G?ring had no doubt that it would prevail. CHAPTER 7 Sufficient Bliss AS FRANCE TOTTERED, AND GERMAN planes battered British and French forces massing at Dunkirk, private secretary John Colville struggled with a long-standing and, for him, wrenching quandary. He was in love. The object of his adoration was Gay Margesson, a student at Oxford and the daughter of David Margesson, the former appeaser whom Clementine Churchill had savaged over lunch. Two years earlier, Colville had asked Gay to marry him, but she had declined, and ever since he had felt both drawn to her and repelled by her unwillingness to return his affections. His disappointment made him look for, and find, faults in her personality and behavior. This did not stop him, however, from trying to see her as often as he could. On Wednesday, May 22, he telephoned her to confirm arrangements for the coming weekend, when he was to visit her at Oxford. She was evasive. She told him first that there was no point in his coming because she would be working, but then changed her story and told him that there was something she planned to do that afternoon at school. He persuaded her to honor their plans, since they had arranged the visit weeks earlier. She relented. _She did so with an ill-grace and I felt very hurt that she [should] prefer some miserable undergraduate arrangement, which she had made at Oxford, to seeing me,_ he wrote. _It is extraordinary to be quite so inconsiderate about other people_s feelings when one pretends to be fond of them._ The weekend began on an optimistic note, however. He drove to Oxford on Saturday morning, through lovely spring weather suffused with sunshine. But as he arrived, clouds filled the sky. After lunch at a pub, he and Gay drove to Clifton Hampden, a village south of Oxford on the Thames, and spent time lying in the grass, talking. Gay was depressed about the war and the horror that seemed certain to come. _Nevertheless we enjoyed ourselves,_ Colville wrote, _and for me it was sufficient bliss to be with her._ The next day they walked together on the grounds of Magdalen College and sat for a time talking, but the talk was dull. They went to her room. Nothing happened. She studied French; he took a nap. Later, they clashed over politics, Gay having recently declared herself a socialist. They strolled along the Thames (called Isis within the bounds of the city of Oxford), with its many punts and painted barges, until toward evening they found themselves at the Trout Inn__the Trout,_ for short_a seventeenth-century pub beside the river. The sun emerged and the weather turned _glorious,_ Colville wrote, producing _a blue sky, a setting sun and enough clouds to make the sun still more effective._ They dined at a table with views of a waterfall, an old bridge, and an adjacent forest, then walked along a towpath as children played nearby and plovers called to one another. _There has never been a more beautiful setting in which to be happy,_ Colville wrote, _and I have never felt greater serenity or contentment._ Gay felt likewise. She told Colville that _happiness could only be attained if one lived for the moment._ This seemed promising. But then, upon returning to her room, Gay reiterated her decision that she and Colville would never marry. He promised to wait, in case she changed her mind. _She urged me not to be in love with her,_ he wrote, _but I told her that to have her as my wife was the greatest ambition I had, and that I could not give up crying for the moon, when the moon meant everything in life to me._ He spent Sunday night on a sofa in a cottage on the grounds of a nearby estate owned by the family of a sister-in-law, Joan. _ IN LONDON THAT EVENING, May 26, just before seven P.M., Churchill ordered the start of Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from the French coast. _ IN BERLIN, HITLER DIRECTED his armored columns to resume their advance against the BEF, which now crowded the port city of Dunkirk. His forces moved more tentatively than expected, content to let G?ring_s bombers and fighters finish the task at hand. But G?ring harbored a distorted perception of what by now was unfolding off the coast of Dunkirk, as British soldiers_nicknamed Tommies_prepared to evacuate. _Only a few fishing boats are coming across,_ he said on Monday, May 27. _One hopes that the Tommies know how to swim._ CHAPTER 8 The First Bombs THE ESCAPE RIVETED THE WORLD. In his diary, the king kept a daily count of how many men had gotten away. The Foreign Office sent Roosevelt detailed daily updates. Initially the Admiralty had expected that at best 45,000 men would escape; Churchill himself estimated a maximum of 50,000. The tally for the first day_just 7,700 men_seemed to suggest that both estimates were generous. The second day, Tuesday, May 28, was better, with 17,800 men evacuated, but still nowhere near the kind of volume Britain would need to reconstitute a viable army. Throughout, however, Churchill never flagged. Far from it. He seemed almost enthusiastic. He understood, however, that others did not share his positive outlook; this was underlined on that Tuesday when one member of his War Cabinet said the BEF_s prospects looked _blacker than ever._ Recognizing that confidence and fearlessness were attitudes that could be adopted and taught by example, Churchill issued a directive to all ministers to put on a strong, positive front. _In these dark days the Prime Minister would be grateful if all his colleagues in the Government, as well as high officials, would maintain a high morale in their circles; not minimizing the gravity of events, but showing confidence in our ability and inflexible resolve to continue the war till we have broken the will of the enemy to bring all Europe under his domination._ Also that day, he sought to put to an end, once and for all, any thought of Britain seeking peace with Hitler. Speaking before twenty-five of his ministers, he told them what he knew about the impending debacle in France and conceded that even he had briefly considered negotiating a peace agreement. But now, he said: _I am convinced that every man of you would rise up and tear me down from my place if I were for one moment to contemplate parley or surrender. If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground._ For a moment, there was stunned silence. Then, to a man, the ministers rose and mobbed him, slapping his back and shouting their approval. Churchill was startled, and relieved. _He was quite magnificent,_ wrote one minister, Hugh Dalton. _The man, and the only man we have, for this hour._ Here, as in other speeches, Churchill demonstrated a striking trait: his knack for making people feel loftier, stronger, and, above all, more courageous. John Martin, one of his private secretaries, believed that he _gave forth a confidence and invincible will that called out everything that was brave and strong._ Under his leadership, Martin wrote, Britons began to see themselves as _protagonists on a vaster scene and as champions of a high and invincible cause, for which the stars in their courses were fighting._ He did this on a more intimate level as well. Inspector Thompson recalled one summer evening at Chartwell, Churchill_s home in Kent, when Churchill was dictating notes to a secretary. At some point he opened a window to admit the cooling country breeze, and in flew a large bat, which began wildly careening through the room, now and then diving at the secretary. She was terrified; Churchill was oblivious. At length he noticed her convulsive ducking and asked if something was wrong. She pointed out the fact that the bat__a large and extremely hostile bat,_ Thompson wrote_was in the room. _Surely you_re not afraid of a bat, are you?_ Churchill asked. She was indeed afraid. _I_ll protect you,_ he said. Filtered on with your work._ _ THE EVACUATION FROM DUNKIRK proved successful beyond imagining, aided by Hitler_s pause order and by bad weather over the channel, which thwarted the Luftwaffe. The Tommies did not, after all, have to swim. In the end, 887 vessels carried out the Dunkirk evacuation, of which only a quarter belonged to the Royal Navy. Another 91 were passenger ships, the rest an armada of fishing boats, yachts, and other small craft. In all, 338,226 men got away, including 125,000 French soldiers. Another 120,000 British soldiers still remained in France, including John Colville_s older brother Philip, but were making their way toward evacuation points elsewhere on the coast. As successful as it was, the evacuation of the BEF was nonetheless deeply frustrating for Churchill. He was desperate to take the offensive. _How wonderful it would be if the Germans could be made to wonder where they were going to be struck next instead of forcing us to try to wall in the Island and roof it over,_ he wrote to Pug Ismay, his military chief of staff. _An effort must be made to shake off the mental and moral prostration to the will and initiative of the enemy from which we suffer._ It can be no accident that in the midst of the evacuation, Churchill began adding red adhesive labels exhorting _ACTION THIS DAY_ to any minute or directive requiring an immediate response. These labels, wrote secretary Martin, _were treated with respect: it was known that such demands from the summit could not be ignored._ On June 4, the last day of the evacuation, in an address to the House of Commons, Churchill again turned to oratory, this time to bolster the empire as a whole. First he applauded the success at Dunkirk, though he added a sober reminder: _Wars are not won by evacuations._ As he neared the conclusion of the speech, he fired his boilers. _We shall go on to the end,_ he said, in a crescendo of ferocity and confidence. _We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender__ As the House roared its approval, Churchill muttered to a colleague, _And_we will fight them with the butt end of broken bottles, because that_s bloody well all we_ve got._ His daughter Mary, who sat in the gallery that day, beside Clementine, found the speech breathtaking. _It was now that my love and admiration for my father became enhanced by an increasing element of hero-worship,_ she wrote. One young navy man, Ludovic Kennedy, later to achieve fame as a journalist and broadcaster, recalled how _when we heard it, we knew in an instant, that everything would be all right._ Harold Nicolson wrote to his wife, Vita Sackville-West, _I feel so much in the spirit of Winston_s great speech that I could face a world of enemies._ Not, however, to the extent that he abandoned his plan for suicide. He and Vita planned to acquire some form of poison and_borrowing a phrase from Hamlet_a _bare bodkin_ with which to administer it. He instructed her to keep her bodkin close at hand, _so that you can take your quietus when necessary. I shall have one also. I am not in the least afraid of such sudden and honorable death. What I dread is being tortured and humiliated._ As stirring as Churchill_s speech was, it did not win the wholehearted approval of all. Clementine noted that _a great section of the Tory Party__the Conservative Party_did not react with enthusiasm, and that some even met the speech with _sullen silence._ David Lloyd George, a former prime minister and current Liberal member of Parliament, called the reception _very half-hearted._ The next day, Home Intelligence reported that only two newspapers _gave Churchill_s speech headline value_ and that the speech had done little to fortify the public. _The final evacuation of the BEF has brought with it a certain feeling of depression,_ the office noted. _There is a deflation of tension without a corresponding increase in resolve._ The report found, further, that _some apprehension has been caused throughout the country on account of the PM_s reference to _fighting alone._ This has led to some slight increase in doubt about the intentions of our ally__meaning France. One diarist for Mass-Observation, Evelyn Saunders, wrote, _Churchill_s speech yesterday hasn_t raised my spirits yet, I still feel sick through me._ But the audience Churchill had mainly in mind when he_d crafted his speech was, once again, America, and there it was viewed as an unequivocal success, as might be expected, since the hills and beaches to be fought upon were four thousand miles away. Though he never mentioned America directly, Churchill intended that his speech communicate to Roosevelt and Congress that whatever the setback of Dunkirk, and regardless of what France did next, Britain was wholly committed to victory. The speech also sent a signal to Hitler, reiterating Churchill_s resolve to fight on. Whether the speech had anything to do with it or not, the next day, Wednesday, June 5, German aircraft began bombing targets on the English mainland for the first time_deploying a few bombers, accompanied by clouds of fighters. This raid, and others that immediately followed, perplexed RAF commanders. The Luftwaffe lost aircraft and men largely in vain. In the course of one night_s raids, bombs fell onto pastures and forests around Devon, Cornwall, Gloucestershire, and elsewhere, doing little damage. The RAF presumed these to be practice raids meant to test England_s defenses in preparation for the invasion to come. Hitler, as feared, seemed now to have turned his gaze toward the British Isles. CHAPTER 9 Mirror Image ONE THING CHURCHILL DID NOT address in his speech was an underappreciated element of the Dunkirk evacuation. To those who cared to look, the fact that more than three hundred thousand men had managed to cross the channel in the face of concerted aerial and ground attack carried a darker lesson. It suggested that deterring a massive German invasion force might be more difficult than British commanders had assumed, especially if that force, like the evacuation fleet at Dunkirk, was composed of many hundreds of small ships, barges, and speedboats. Wrote General Edmund Ironside, commander of Britain_s Home Forces, _It brings me to the fact that the Bosches may equally well be able to land men in England despite [RAF] bombing._ He feared, in effect, a reverse Dunkirk. CHAPTER 10 Apparition MONDAY, JUNE 10, FOUND CHURCHILL in a foul mood, one of those rare times when the war eroded his outward buoyancy. Italy had declared war on Britain and France, drawing from him a minatory quip: _People who go to Italy to look at ruins won_t have to go as far as Naples and Pompeii in future._ This and the situation in France combined to make No. 10 Downing Street a stormy locale. _He was in a very bad temper,_ wrote Jock Colville, _snapped almost everybody_s head off, wrote angry minutes to the First Sea Lord, and refused to pay any attention to messages given him orally._ When Churchill was in such a mood, it was usually the person nearest at hand who caught the brunt of it, and that person was often his loyal and long-suffering detective, Inspector Thompson. _He would turn on any handy person and let off steam,_ Thompson recalled. _Because I was always handy, I got a good many of these scaldings. Nothing I seemed to do appeared correct in his eyes. I bored him. The necessity of my job bored him. My everlasting ubiquity must have bored him to death. It even bored me._ Churchill_s sniping at times disheartened Thompson, and made him feel a failure. _I kept wishing somebody would attack him so I could shoot the attacker,_ he wrote. It was also the case, however, that Churchill_s hostile moods faded quickly. He would never apologize, but he managed to communicate through other means that the storm had passed. _He has been accused of being bad-tempered,_ explained Lord Beaverbrook, who, as minister of aircraft production, was himself often a target of Churchill_s ire. _It isn_t true. He could get very emotional, but after bitterly criticizing you he had a habit of touching you, of putting his hand on your hand_like that_as if to say that his real feelings for you were not changed. A wonderful display of humanity._ The weather did not help. In a departure from the long stretch of warmth and sun, the day was dark, eerily so. _Pitch dark,_ wrote Alexander Cadogan, undersecretary of state for foreign affairs, Britain_s senior diplomat, a prominent diarist of the era. Another diarist, Olivia Cockett, a clerk with Scotland Yard and a prolific member of the Mass-Observation panel, wrote: _The black heavy clouds continue all day, though no rain falls, and they are the chief subject of conversation. Rather touchy moods all round._ She overheard someone say, _The day Christ was crucified it came dark like this, something terrible will happen._ Churchill_s main preoccupation was France. It irked him that, despite his several trips to France, he remained powerless to influence events and to ignite a French resurgence. Paris was expected to fall within forty-eight hours, and the French seemed certain to capitulate. He had not yet given up, however. He still believed that with his presence, his encouragement, perhaps some stirring remark or pledge, he might be able to revive the French corpse. He got the chance on Tuesday, June 11, when Prime Minister Reynaud summoned him again, this time to Briare, a small town on the Loire a hundred miles south of Paris. The conference sparked nothing; it merely underscored how bad things had gotten. Hoping to rouse the prime minister, Churchill, in a rush of bad French and good English, vowed to fight on no matter what, alone if necessary__on and on and on, toujours, all the time, everywhere, partout, pas de gr?ce, no mercy. Puis la victoire!_ The French were unmoved. The meeting did succeed, however, in searing into the minds of several French officers a singular image: that of Churchill, angered by the French failure to prepare his afternoon bath, bursting through a set of double doors wearing a red kimono and a white belt, exclaiming, _Uh ay ma bain?__his French version of the question _Where is my bath?_ One witness reported that in his fury he looked like _an angry Japanese genie._ So disconsolate were the French, and clearly so close to giving up, that Churchill renewed his determination not to send RAF fighters to help. He told the French he was not being selfish, merely prudent; that only the fighter force could stop the expected assault against England. _We grieve that we cannot help more,_ he said, _but we cannot._ _ FOR JOCK COLVILLE, THERE was personal anxiety as well. He knew that many of the British soldiers still in France were being evacuated from Cherbourg, and he hoped his brother Philip was among them. Some of Philip_s luggage had arrived in London, a hopeful sign, but much danger remained. With both of his brothers in the war, and so many of his peers, Colville now decided that he, too, needed to join the fight. He believed that the best path lay through the Royal Navy, and he told this to his immediate boss, Eric Seal, Churchill_s senior private secretary. Seal promised to help, but found he could do nothing. A lot of young men throughout Whitehall had the same aspirations as Colville, including many in the diplomatic service, and this had become a problem. For the time being, at least, the Foreign Office was refusing to release any of its young men for military duty. Colville resolved to keep trying. _ ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, as Churchill and his party concluded their meetings in France, U.S. ambassador Joseph Kennedy sent a confidential cable to his chief, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, offering another jaundiced appraisal of England_s prospects. The empire_s preparedness was, he related, _appallingly weak_ relative to Germany_s great strength. _Pitiful,_ he wrote. All England possessed was courage. What kept Churchill going, Kennedy stated, was his belief that the United States would enter the war soon after the upcoming presidential election, on November 5, in which Roosevelt seemed increasingly likely to run. Churchill, he wrote, believed _that when the people in the United States see the towns and cities of England, after which so many American cities and towns have been named, bombed and destroyed they will line up and want war._ Kennedy cited a report from an English correspondent in America who had written that all that was needed was _an _incident_ to bring the United States in._ Kennedy found this alarming. _If that were all that were needed, desperate people will do desperate things,_ he warned. _ THERE WAS FORBIDDING NEWS from another quarter. That Wednesday morning, June 12, Churchill_s newly appointed personal scientific adviser, Frederick Lindemann, known universally as the Prof, convened a meeting with a young scientist from the intelligence branch of the Air Ministry, Dr. Reginald V. Jones, a former student of his who now, at the age of twenty-eight, had the lofty title of deputy director of intelligence research. The meeting was supposed to focus on whether Germany had succeeded in developing and deploying its own radar system, something the British had done before the war and now used to great, and secret, advantage, with a network of coastal towers_the _Chain Home_ stations_that gave accurate advance warning of the approach of German aircraft. The meeting, however, soon veered in another direction, to reveal a terrifying prospect: a technological advance that, if real, would give Germany a huge advantage in the air war. Part Two A CERTAIN EVENTUALITY JUNE_AUGUST CHAPTER 11 The Mystery of Swan Castle THE PROF_LINDEMANN_LISTENED WITH growing skepticism. What Dr. Jones, the young air force intelligence man, was now proposing went against all that physicists understood about the propagation of radio waves over long distances. The bits of intelligence Jones presented were compelling, but they surely meant something other than what Jones imagined. It was the Prof_s job to assess the world with scientific objectivity. Fifty-four years old, an Oxford physicist, he was one of the first men Churchill had brought into his ministry, in accord with the prime minister_s belief that in this new war, advances in technology would play an important role. This had already proved the case with radar, a happy by-product of far less successful research into the feasibility of creating a _death ray_ capable of destroying aircraft outright. Likewise, the British were becoming adept at intercepting and decrypting Luftwaffe communications, these processed at Bletchley Park, the ultrasecret home of the Government Code and Cypher School, where codebreakers had cracked the secrets of the German _Enigma_ encryption machine. Lindemann had previously run an Admiralty office established to provide Churchill, as first lord, with as rich a grasp as possible of the day-to-day readiness of the Royal Navy. Immediately after becoming prime minister, Churchill put Lindemann in charge of a successor bureau with a much broader purview, the Prime Minister_s Statistical Department, and made him his special scientific adviser, with the formal title of personal assistant to the prime minister. Together the two roles gave Lindemann license to explore any scientific, technical, or economic matter that might influence the progress of the war, a compelling mandate but one certain to ignite jealousy within the ministerial fiefdoms of Whitehall. What further complicated things was Lindemann himself, whose main achievement, according to foreign-affairs undersecretary Cadogan, _was to unite against him any body of men with whom he came in contact._ He was a tall, pale man, given to wearing stiff-fronted _boiled_ shirts, rigid collars, and ties knotted to a wasp_s waist at his neck. His pallor matched the gray of his suits. He always wore an immense black bowler and an overcoat with a velvet collar, and carried an umbrella. His expression was invariably one of contemptuous appraisal, this imparted by lips perpetually turned down at the ends. He seemed ageless_or, rather, always aged, recalled Lady Juliet Townsend, daughter of Lord Birkenhead, a close friend of Lindemann_s and his eventual biographer. _I think he was probably one of those people who got to look quite old quite early on,_ she said, _and then just went on looking the same for twenty years._ It was Townsend who as a child assigned Lindemann the nickname _Prof._ Whether one called him Prof or the Prof was a matter of personal preference. Contradiction defined Lindemann. He hated black people, and yet for years played tennis with a doubles partner who was West Indian. He disliked Jews, on one occasion describing a fellow physicist as a _d-dirty l-little Jew,_ yet counted Albert Einstein as a friend and, during Hitler_s rise, helped Jewish physicists escape Germany. He was binary in his affections. His friends could do no wrong, his enemies no right. Once crossed, he remained so, for life. _His memory,_ wrote John Colville, _was not just comprehensive; in recording past slights it was elephantine._ And yet by all counts, women and children loved him. He was a favorite of Churchill_s family and never forgot a birthday. He was beloved in particular by Clementine, who had little affection for most of the ministers and generals with whom Churchill associated. Lindemann_s outward austerity masked an inner sensitivity to public perception sufficiently profound that he would never wear a wristwatch, for fear it looked unmanly. He was assiduous about keeping secret the pet name his parents had given him as a child: Peach. He had to be the best at whatever he pursued and played tennis at a nearly professional level, once even competing in a doubles match at Wimbledon. He often played with Clementine but never exhibited any outward sense of joy, according to his sister, Linda. He seemed always to be fighting some interior battle: _Peach at luncheon shining with quite appalling general knowledge which made all conversation a nightmare of pitfalls. Peach determinedly playing chess, playing tennis, playing the piano. Poor Peach, never really playing at all._ Through an accident of timing that Lindemann attributed to the selfishness of his mother, he was born not in England but in Germany, at the spa town of Baden-Baden, on April 5, 1886. _The fact that she knew her time was drawing near and yet chose to give birth to him on German territory was a source of life-long annoyance to Lindemann,_ wrote Lord Birkenhead. Lindemann saw himself as anything but German and, in fact, loathed Germany, yet because of his birthplace found himself during the past war, and now again during the new one, the target of suspicions as to his national allegiance. Even Colville noted, early on, _His foreign connections are fishy._ Lindemann_s mother had another lasting influence that later shaped how people viewed him. It was she who, while he was a child, placed him and his siblings on a strict vegetarian diet. She and the rest soon abandoned the regimen; he alone held to it, and with a vengeful obstinance. Day after day, he consumed enormous quantities of egg whites (never the yolks) and mayonnaise made from olive oil. He also had a sweet tooth of the first magnitude, with a special passion for filled chocolates, in particular Fuller_s chocolate creams. By his own careful measure, he consumed up to two hundred grams of sugar a day, equivalent to forty-eight teaspoons. Lindemann and Churchill first met in the summer of 1921, at a dinner in London, and over time became friends. In 1932, they toured Germany together to visit battlefields fought upon by Churchill_s ancestor the Duke of Marlborough, about whom Churchill was then writing a biography. While tooling around the countryside in the Prof_s Rolls-Royce (he had inherited great wealth upon the death of his father), they became aware of an undercurrent of bellicose nationalism. Alarmed, they began working together to collect as much information as possible about the rise of militarism in Hitler_s Germany, and to awaken Britain to the coming danger. Churchill_s home became a kind of intelligence center for amassing inside information about Germany. Lindemann felt a professional kinship with Churchill. He saw him as a man who should have been a scientist but had missed his vocation. Churchill, in turn, marveled at Lindemann_s ability to recall details and to distill complex subjects to their fundamental elements. He often described the Prof as having a _beautiful brain._ _ LINDEMANN_S MEETING WITH Dr. Jones began, as planned, with the question of whether Germany had mastered the art of detecting aircraft using radio waves. Jones was certain the Germans had done so, and cited intelligence to support his view. As the meeting came to a close, Jones changed the subject. Something had happened earlier that day that troubled him. A colleague, Group Captain L. F. Blandy, head of the RAF unit responsible for listening in on German radio transmissions, had given Jones a copy of a Luftwaffe message deciphered at Bletchley Park. _Does this mean anything to you?_ Blandy had asked. _It doesn_t seem to mean much to anybody here._ The message was brief, and included a geographic position rendered in latitude and longitude, along with what appeared to be two German nouns, Cleves and Knickebein. As best Jones could make out, the message, translated, said: _Cleves Knickebein is confirmed [or established] at position 53 24' north and 1 west._ Jones was startled. The message, he told Blandy, meant everything to him. It fit into a mosaic that lay partially completed at the back of his mind, consisting of fragments of intelligence that had drawn his attention over the preceding months. He had seen the word Knickebein once before, on a piece of paper found in the wreckage of a German bomber downed in March 1940; it bore the phrase _Radio Beacon Knickebein._ More recently, after the RAF_s Air Intelligence Branch had made it routine practice to eavesdrop on conversations between prisoners, he had listened to a recording of two captured German fliers discussing what seemed to be a secret wireless navigation system. And then came this latest message. Jones knew that Knickebein in English meant _crooked leg_ or _dog_s leg,_ and he believed that Cleves most likely referred to a town in Germany, known also by the spelling Kleve. The town had a famous castle, Schwanenburg, or Swan Castle, where supposedly Anne of Cleves resided before heading to England to become the fourth wife of Henry VIII. Swan Castle and the legend of the knight Lohengrin were thought to have influenced Wagner in his creation of the famed opera that bears the knight_s name. Suddenly the pieces fit together in a way that made sense to Jones, though what he concluded seemed improbable. He was twenty-eight years old. If wrong, he would seem a fool. But if he was right, his discovery could save untold numbers of lives. He knew that the geographic coordinates cited in the newly intercepted message identified a point south of the town of Retford, in England_s industrial Midlands. A line drawn from Cleves to Retford would delineate a vector, possibly an aircraft_s course or radio transmission_a beam or beacon_as evinced by the phrase _Radio Beacon Knickebein._ The term _crooked leg_ suggested an intersection of some kind and, by Jones_s reckoning, raised the possibility that a second beam might intersect the first. This would have the effect of marking a precise geographic location on the ground, perhaps a city or even an individual factory. A technology already existed to guide commercial and military aircraft using radio beams, but only over short distances, to help them land in conditions of limited visibility. Known as the Lorenz blind-landing system, after its inventor, C. Lorenz AG of Germany, the technology was familiar to both sides, and was in use at airports and military airfields in England and Germany. It struck Jones that the Luftwaffe might have found a way to project a Lorenz-like beam all the way across the channel to targets inside England. The prospect was deeply troubling. As things stood now, bomber pilots flying at night needed clear skies and moonlight if they hoped to achieve any degree of accuracy. With a system of the kind Jones imagined, German bombers could range over England on any night, without having to wait for a full moon or its brightest waxing and waning phases, even in weather that would keep RAF fighters grounded. The RAF was confident that it could counter air raids conducted by day, but at night its fighters had little ability to find and engage enemy aircraft, despite England_s radar network. Combat required visual contact, and ground radar simply was not precise enough to bring RAF pilots close enough to afford it. By the time the pilots received radar fixes from controllers at Fighter Command, the German bombers would already be in a different location, possibly at new altitudes and on different headings. Now, at his morning meeting with the Prof, Jones laid out his theory. He was excited, certain that he had stumbled on a secret new German technology. But Lindemann_pallid, ascetic, lips turned down, as always_told him that what he proposed was impossible. Conventional blind-landing beams traveled only in straight lines, meaning that, owing to the curvature of the earth, by the time a beam from Germany traveled the needed two hundred or more miles to the skies above a given target in England, it would be beyond the reach of even the highest-flying bomber. This was accepted doctrine. And Lindemann, once convinced of a thing, was a very hard man to bend. As one close associate, Roy Harrod, put it, _I have never met anyone who, when once he was convinced by his own reasonings, was so deeply and unshakably convinced._ Discouraged but not yet vanquished, Jones returned to his office to consider his next move. He arranged a second meeting with Lindemann for the next day. _ AT ELEVEN O_CLOCK ON Thursday morning, Churchill again took off for France, for what would prove to be his last face-to-face meeting with French leaders. He brought Pug Ismay, Halifax, Cadogan, and Major General Edward Spears, the British liaison to the French army, and this time even Lord Beaverbrook, once again putting at risk a significant portion of Britain_s government. The airfield to which they were headed, at Tours, had been bombed just the night before. For Mary Churchill and her mother, the flight meant another day of anxiety. _I do hate it when he goes,_ Mary wrote in her diary. _We all have a ghastly premonition that the French are going to give in. O God! France can_t do it! She must go on_she must go on._ The field was deserted and desolate, cratered from the night_s raid. French fliers lazed among the hangars, showing little interest in the new arrivals. Churchill walked up to a group of airmen and introduced himself, in awful French, as Britain_s prime minister. They gave him a small touring car_hard for Churchill to fit into, let alone Halifax, who was six feet five inches tall. Thus crammed into the car, like characters in a slapstick movie, they set off for the local pr?fecture, which housed local representatives of the national government. Here they found just two officials, French prime minister Reynaud and his undersecretary for foreign affairs, Paul Baudouin. Reynaud sat behind a desk; Churchill chose a deep armchair and nearly disappeared from view. Unlike at the previous meeting in Briare, Churchill made no effort to appear affable. He looked _extremely stern and concentrated,_ wrote General Spears. Pug Ismay, no longer the lovable human canine, also wore a severe expression. Beaverbrook jingled coins in his pocket, _as if feeling for a coin with which to tip someone,_ Spears observed. His face was flushed, his hair_what little he had_wild. _His round head looked like a cannon-ball that might be projected at any moment at Reynaud by the powerful spring his small, tense body provided._ The French were clearly bent on surrender and seemed impatient to get the meeting over with. At this point, Reynaud said, everything depended on what the United States would do. He planned to cable Roosevelt immediately. _For the moment,_ he noted, _the only move open to us is to put the situation to the American President with the greatest frankness._ Churchill promised to do likewise, then asked for a moment alone with his colleagues. _Dans le jardin!_ he commanded. They retreated to a bleak rectangular garden lined with a narrow path, and marched in repeated circuits. _I believe that everyone was too stunned to speak,_ Spears wrote. _I certainly was._ Abruptly, Beaverbrook broke the silence. All they could do now, he said, was wait for Roosevelt_s response. Fearing that Churchill might rashly promise anew to dispatch squadrons of RAF fighters, Beaverbrook urged him not to make any last-minute pledges. _We are doing no good here,_ he said. _In fact, listening to these declarations of Reynaud_s only does harm. Let_s get along home._ They returned to England at dusk. _ FOR HIS SECOND MEETING with the Prof, young Dr. Jones came more heavily armed. Jones knew that England_s top radio-wave expert, Thomas L. Eckersley, a veteran research engineer with the Marconi Company, had once written a short paper in which he_d calculated that a very narrow beam might indeed bend with the curvature of the earth and, therefore, could be marshaled to guide a bomber from Germany to Britain. Now Jones brought along Eckersley_s paper, as well as some new bits of intelligence. By way of further preparation, Jones had contacted a friend and colleague, Group Captain Samuel Denys Felkin, in charge of interrogating Luftwaffe crew members. Jones knew that bombers shot down in recent days had yielded new prisoners for interrogation, so he had asked Felkin to include questions focused specifically on beam-guidance technology. Felkin did so, but the direct questions yielded nothing new. Felkin, however, had developed an effective new way of harvesting intelligence from prisoners. After an interrogation session, he would reunite the subject with his fellow airmen, then eavesdrop via hidden microphones as they discussed the interview and the questions asked. Felkin returned one of the new prisoners to his cell and listened in as he told a cellmate that no matter how hard the RAF looked, they would never find _the equipment._ Which, of course, piqued Jones_s curiosity. The prisoner_s remark provided oblique confirmation that Jones was on the right track. It also suggested that the device might in fact be hidden in plain sight. Jones immediately requested a copy of a technical report made after British investigators had examined a bomber shot down the previous fall, the same kind of bomber in which the prisoner had flown. Jones focused on its radio equipment. One instrument caught his attention: a device identified in the report as a blind-landing receiver. This in itself was not surprising, since all German bombers were equipped with standard Lorenz landing systems. The report showed that the equipment had been closely examined by an engineer at the Royal Aircraft Factory, an experimental aviation unit. Jones called him. _Tell me,_ he said, _is there anything unusual about the blind landing receiver?_ The engineer said no, then qualified his answer. _But now you mention it,_ he said, _it is much more sensitive than they would ever need for blind landing._ The device could be tuned to particular frequencies, which, Jones reasoned, must be the ranges at which the new beam system operated_provided, of course, that his hunch was correct. As inclined as Lindemann was to stand his ground, he was also receptive to cool scientific logic. It was one thing to listen to a twenty-eight-year-old scientist propose the existence of a secret new German guidance technology, working from a few pieces of circumstantial evidence, but quite another to see in clear, hard numbers the calculations of a leading expert purporting to prove that the underlying radio physics could permit the creation of such a system. And the new evidence Jones had collected was compelling. Lindemann now recognized that if the Luftwaffe had managed to harness this new technology, it was indeed a fearsome development. Jones believed the beam could place an aircraft within four hundred yards of a target, a startling degree of precision. Leveraging the power of his direct connection to Churchill, Lindemann that day composed an urgent minute for delivery direct to the prime minister. It was this intimate Rasputin-like link that raised so much suspicion and jealousy among Lindemann_s peers. With his exalted new mandate, anything and everything now came within his purview. He could probe the most remote corners of government and question whatever he wished, even propose new weapons and weigh in on military strategy and, in so doing, upset the lives of bureaucrats both lofty and low. _He was as obstinate as a mule, and unwilling to admit that there was any problem under the sun which he was not qualified to solve,_ recalled Pug Ismay. _He would write a memorandum on high strategy on one day, and a thesis on egg production on the next._ Notes and minutes flew from Lindemann_s office_more than 250 by year_s end_on such diverse subjects as nitroglycerin, timber supplies, and secret anti-aircraft weapons. These often prompted Churchill to demand some new action from his various ministers, thereby disrupting their already pressured lives. One never knew during a meeting whether Churchill, forearmed by Lindemann, would suddenly flourish a statistical rapier that would eviscerate a demand or argument_or whether Lindemann himself, with his quiet, raspy voice, would conduct the evisceration. As Lindemann grew more comfortable in the job, he would append to his notes a draft of a minute for Churchill to initial, written in a voice approximating Churchill_s, careful to mask his own role in the process. But this was what Churchill wanted from Lindemann: to challenge the orthodox, the tried-and-true, and thereby spark greater efficiency. The Prof delighted in coming up with ideas that turned conventional beliefs upside down. Once, as he was walking with a colleague, Donald MacDougall, he saw a poster that admonished, _Stop that dripping tap,_ an exhortation meant to conserve water and thereby save the coal that fueled the water-distribution system. As he walked, the Prof began calculating the costs in energy, wood pulp, and shipping needed to produce the paper for the posters. _And of course,_ MacDougall recalled, _Prof was right in his initial suspicions that it all added up to enormously more than was going to be saved by the posters_ advice being followed._ In his minute to Churchill about Dr. Jones_s apparent discovery, Lindemann kept his tone dispassionate. _There seems some reason to suppose that the Germans have some type of radio device with which they hope to find their targets,_ he wrote. The exact nature of the technology was unclear, but might, he hypothesized, involve some kind of beam, or possibly radio beacons installed in England by spies. Regardless, Lindemann wrote, _it is vital to investigate and especially to discover what the wave-length is. If we knew this we could devise means to mislead them._ He asked Churchill_s permission to _take this up with the Air Ministry and try and stimulate action._ Churchill took the information seriously from the first, later recalling that he received the news as a _painful shock._ He forwarded the Prof_s minute to Air Ministry chief Archibald Sinclair, with a handwritten note: _This seems most intriguing and I hope you will have it thoroughly examined._ Coming from Churchill, this was like being prodded with a whip. Sinclair acted immediately, though grudgingly, and appointed a senior Air Ministry official to investigate Jones_s theory. _ NOW CAME MOVING DAY for the Churchills. On Friday, June 14, with deposed prime minister Chamberlain having at last left 10 Downing Street, the Churchills began transferring their belongings from Admiralty House into their new residential quarters. Clementine directed the operation. Moving in any era was a stressful affair, but the strain certainly was amplified by the fact that France was about to fall and invasion loomed. Clementine, however, seemed to weather it well, as her friend Violet Bonham Carter (the once-suspected rival) found when she stopped at Admiralty House for tea just a few days before the move. The house was still fully decorated and furnished. _It was looking cool and delicious_full of flowers_and all their lovely pictures lit up,_ she wrote in her diary on June 11. _Clemmie was absolutely her normal self_chirrupy_very sweet_and always a little more amusing than one expects to find her._ The move took several days, during which Mary and Clementine stayed at the Carlton Hotel, also the Prof_s temporary residence. Choosing to avoid domestic chaos, Churchill stayed with Lord Beaverbrook in his London mansion, Stornoway House, headquarters of the Ministry of Aircraft Production. The Churchills brought to 10 Downing a new family member, the Admiralty_s black cat, Nelson, named after Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, hero of the British naval victory at Trafalgar. Churchill adored the cat and often carried him about the house. Nelson_s arrival caused a certain degree of feline strife, according to Mary, for Nelson harassed the cat that already resided at 10 Downing, whose nickname was _the Munich Mouser._ There was much to arrange, of course, as in any household, but an inventory for 10 Downing hints at the complexity that awaited Clementine: wine glasses and tumblers (the whiskey had to go somewhere), grapefruit glasses, meat dishes, sieves, whisks, knives, jugs, breakfast cups and saucers, needles for trussing poultry, bedroom carafes and tumblers, 36 bottles of furniture polish, 27 pounds of carbolic soap, 150 pounds of primrose soap (in bars), and 78 pounds of Brown Windsor soap, a favorite of both Napoleon and Queen Victoria. There were banister brushes, both bristle and whisk; a Ewbank automatic floor sweeper; hearth brushes; kneeling mats; mops and handles for mops and heads for special Do-All mops; as well as chamois leathers, 8 pounds of rags, and 24 dozen matches for lighting hearths and cigars alike. _The Chamberlains have left the place very dirty,_ Mary wrote in her diary the next day. _Mummie has left the Admiralty house like a new pin._ Mary loved her new home, particularly its dignified air. The front door was painted with black enamel and had a lion_s-head knocker; it was guarded by a uniformed doorman and a police officer. Churchill_s private study and the famed Cabinet Room were on the ground floor, where a stately quiet prevailed, as if the clamor of daily life were muffled by the sheer weight of British history. His paintings hung in the halls. The family quarters were upstairs on the second floor (what Americans called the third), linked by halls painted eggshell blue with carpet the color of tomatoes. Sashed windows overlooked the garden and the rear entrance of the house and the Horse Guards Parade, a broad, graveled plaza upon which important ceremonial events took place. To Mary, this floor evoked a country home. Here, as at Admiralty House, Churchill and Clementine kept separate bedrooms. Mary especially liked the rooms assigned to her. _Mummie has given me a lovely bedroom, sitting room and most spacious clothes closet (this latter most Hollywood),_ she wrote. With her father as prime minister, she was at the center of things now. It was all very stirring and romantic. That the Luftwaffe would soon evict Mary from her lovely rooms, and from London itself, was a thought that at this point, judging by the tenor of her diary, never entered her mind. _ FULFILLING HIS PROMISE TO the French, late on Saturday afternoon, June 15, Churchill dictated a telegram to President Roosevelt that contained his most ardent plea yet. The process of dictation invariably strained the patience of whomever was in attendance_typically his primary personal secretary, Mrs. Hill, and a private secretary, in this case John Colville. As Colville wrote later, _To watch him compose some telegram or minute for dictation is to make one feel that one is present at the birth of a child, so tense is his expression, so restless his turnings from side to side, so curious the noises he emits under his breath._ The ritual was especially painstaking for telegrams as sensitive as this one. _I understand all your difficulties with American public opinion and Congress,_ Churchill dictated, _but events are moving downward at a pace where they will pass beyond the control of American public opinion when at last it is ripened._ France was confronting an existential crisis, and the only force capable of influencing her future was America. _A declaration that the United States will if necessary enter the war might save France,_ he said. _Failing that, in a few days French resistance may have crumbled and we shall be left alone._ But far more than France was at stake, he added. He raised the specter of Britain, too, succumbing to Hitler_s influence and warned that a new and pro-German government might then replace his own. _If we go down you may have a United States of Europe under the Nazi command far more numerous, far stronger, far better armed than the New World._ He reprised his earlier request that the United States send destroyers to bolster the Royal Navy and backed it up with a paper that detailed just how urgently the destroyers were needed in light of the expected invasion. The paper, echoing Home Forces commander General Ironside_s earlier concerns about a reverse Dunkirk, warned that a German invasion from the sea _will most certainly be in the form of dispersed landings from a large number of small craft, and the only effective counter to such a move is to maintain numerous and effective destroyer patrols._ But the Royal Navy, the report cautioned, had only sixty-eight operational destroyers. The need for more was therefore crucial. _Here,_ Churchill wrote, _is a definite practical and possible decisive step which can be taken at once and I urge most earnestly that you will weigh my words._ He called receipt of the destroyers _a matter of life or death._ After completing this telegram, and another to the prime ministers of Canada and Britain_s other dominions, Churchill turned to John Colville and quipped, _If words counted, we should win this war._ Though sympathetic, Roosevelt remained hamstrung by neutrality laws and the isolationist bent of the American public. _ SOON AFTERWARD, COLVILLE FOUND himself whisked off to the countryside for a weekend at what was fast becoming for Churchill a kind of secret weapon: the official prime ministerial estate, Chequers, in Buckinghamshire, forty miles northwest of London. CHAPTER 12 The Ghosts of Dull People THE THREE BLACK DAIMLERS SPED through the countryside, in fading light. Churchill liked to go fast. With luck and daring, his driver could cover the distance from Downing Street to Chequers in an hour; if he did it in fifty minutes, a feat that required running traffic lights and ignoring rights-of-way, he won Churchill_s generous praise. On one return trip he was said to have hit seventy miles per hour_this in an age when cars had no seatbelts. Churchill was invariably accompanied in the back seat by a typist, for whom the ride could be hair-raising. Wrote secretary Elizabeth Layton, of a later experience: _One would sit with book balanced on one knee, scribbling hard, one_s left hand holding spare pencils, his glasses_ case or an extra cigar, sometimes with one_s foot keeping open his precious Box, which otherwise would have slammed shut as we swung around a corner._ Shorthand was allowed only in cars; the rest of the time, Churchill_s dictation had to be typed. Inspector Thompson came along as well, his anxiety rising as he approached the house, which he deemed an ideal setting for an assassination. Owing to the thoughtful gift of its prior owner, Sir Arthur Lee, the house, a large Tudor mansion of turmeric-hued brick, had been the official country home of British prime ministers since 1917, when Lee gave it to the government. _A police officer, even with his health and a revolver, could feel very alone there,_ Thompson wrote. _And very unsafe._ The procession entered the grounds through a large wrought-iron gate, which was flanked on both sides by brick lodges. Soldiers of the Coldstream Guards patrolled the grounds; police officers manned the lodges and stopped the cars to check identities. Even Churchill_s driver was questioned. The cars then proceeded down a long, straight lane called Victory Way. Banks of tall windows would, in peacetime, have been filled with a welcoming amber light but now were dark, in accord with the strict blackout rules in place throughout the country. The cars entered a semicircular drive and came to a stop before the main entrance, on the east side of the house, where the party was greeted by Miss Grace Lamont, _Monty,_ a Scot who had managed the house for its prime ministerial tenants since 1937. Her official title was _lady housekeeper._ The terms of Lee_s gift specified that no work was to be done at the house_that it was to be a place of rest and renewal. Lee had written, _Apart from these subtle influences, the better the health of our rulers, the more sanely will they rule and the inducement to spend two days a week in the high and pure air of the Chiltern hills and woods will, it is hoped, result in a real advantage to the nation as well as to its chosen leaders._ It was indeed an idyllic locale. _Happy Prime Ministers, whichever way you go fresh beauties meet you,_ wrote Hubert Astley, a descendant of an early owner. The house stood in a shallow valley of the Chilterns, surrounded on three sides by rising terrain laced with paths that led walkers among yew hedges, ponds, and copses of beech, larch, and holly, delicately patrolled by chalk-blue butterflies. One of the estate_s comely forests was the Long Walk Wood, happily and densely populated with rabbits. The immediate grounds had a croquet lawn, which delighted Clementine, an avid and demanding player. Churchill would soon put the croquet lawn to secondary use, testing novel military weapons, some the brainchildren of the Prof. Off the south end of the house was an ancient sundial with a gloomy inscription: Ye houres doe flie, Full soone we die In age secure Ye House and Hills Alone endure. The front door opened onto an entry passage that led to the Great Hall, whose walls rose the full height of the house and displayed thirty large paintings, including Rembrandt_s The Mathematician. (The painting was later determined to have been done by one of Rembrandt_s students.) The entire house embodied the grand sweep of British history, but it was in the Long Gallery, on the second floor, that a sense of the past was most palpable. Here stood a table used by Napoleon Bonaparte during his exile on St. Helena. On the mantel of a large fireplace lay two swords once wielded by Oliver Cromwell, one of which supposedly accompanied him into battle at Marston Moor in 1644. To the left of the fireplace hung the cheery letter written by him from the scene with the notable line _God made them as stubble to our Swords._ The house was not to everyone_s taste. Lloyd George disliked the fact that it was situated in a hollow and thus afforded only constricted views of the countryside. The house, he said, was _full of the ghosts of dull people,_ and this, he mused, might explain why his dog, Chong, tended to growl in the Long Gallery. Churchill visited the house during Lloyd George_s tenure, in February 1921, a visit that must surely have stoked his lust to one day be prime minister. _Here I am,_ he wrote to Clementine about his visit. _You [would] like to see this place. Perhaps you will some day! It is just the kind of house you admire_a paneled museum full of history, full of treasures_but insufficiently warmed_Anyhow a wonderful possession._ Churchill quickly demonstrated that he had no intention of honoring Arthur Lee_s demand that prime ministers leave their work behind. _ DINNER ON THAT SATURDAY, June 15, was to begin at nine-thirty. The cook, alerted that the Prof would be a guest, prepared a special meal for him, suited to his vegetarian palate. He favored asparagus omelettes, lettuce salads, and tomatoes, first peeled, then sliced_anything, basically, that could be matched with eggs and olive oil_based mayonnaise. Clementine did not mind bending the culinary apparatus of the house to accommodate the Prof. _My mother took endless trouble,_ Mary recalled. _There was always a special, different dish cooked for Prof, endless egg dishes, and he would carefully pick out the yolks and eat the whites._ Meals aside, he was an easy guest. _Prof was never a worry,_ Mary wrote. _He wasn_t any trouble to entertain: he would take himself off to play golf, or he was working, or he was enlightening Papa, or he was playing tennis. He was a totally wonderful guest._ As welcome as he was, Mary had her reservations. _I always rather dreaded sitting next to Prof as he didn_t make many jokes, and for a young person he was a little boring. I never felt cozy with Prof. He was absolutely charming,_ she remarked, _but he was a different animal altogether._ Neither Clementine nor Mary was present that Saturday night, presumably having chosen to stay behind to continue the process of moving the family, and Nelson, into No. 10 Downing. The guests who would stay the night included Churchill_s daughter Diana and her husband, Duncan Sandys, and the ever-present John Colville; the Prof, leery of encountering others while on his way to the bath, never stayed overnight, preferring the privacy and comfort of his rooms at Oxford or his new workday residence at the Carlton Hotel. Shortly before everyone entered the dining room, Colville received a telephone call from a fellow private secretary on duty in London, reporting the grimmest news from France thus far. The French were now openly demanding to be allowed to make their own peace deal with Hitler, in violation of a prior Anglo-French pact. Colville took the news to Churchill, _who was immediately very depressed._ At once the atmosphere at Chequers grew funereal, Colville wrote. _Dinner began lugubriously, W. eating fast and greedily, his face almost in his plate, every now and then firing some technical question at Lindemann, who was quietly consuming his vegetarian diet._ Churchill_troubled and glum_made it clear that, at least for the moment, he had little interest in routine dinner talk and that only Lindemann merited his attention. At length, the house staff served champagne, brandy, and cigars, and these did wonders to lighten the mood. This revitalization over drink and dinner was something of a pattern, as Lord Halifax_s wife, Dorothy, had noted in the past: Churchill would be _silent, grumpy and remote_ at the start of a meal, she wrote. _But mellowed by champagne and good food he became a different man, and a delightful and amusing companion._ After Clementine once criticized his drinking, he told her, _Always remember, Clemmie, that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me._ The talk grew animated. Churchill began reading aloud telegrams of support that had come from far-flung lands within the empire, this by way of cheering himself up and heartening the others in the party as well. He offered a sobering observation: _The war is bound to become a bloody one for us now, but I hope our people will stand up to bombing and the Huns aren_t liking what we are giving them. But what a tragedy that our victory in the last war should have been snatched from us by a lot of softies._ By _softies,_ he was referring to supporters of Chamberlain_s policy of appeasement. The group went outside to stroll the grounds, with Churchill, son-in-law Duncan, and Inspector Thompson going to the rose garden, while Colville, the Prof, and Diana headed for the opposite side of the house. The sun had set at nine-nineteen; the moon was up and bright, a waxing gibbous, with a full moon due in five days. _It was light and deliciously warm,_ Colville wrote, _but the sentries, with tin helmets and fixed bayonets, who were placed all round the house, kept us fully alive to the horrors of reality._ Colville was summoned often to the telephone, and each time set out to find Churchill__searching for Winston among the roses,_ as he put it in his diary. The French, he told Churchill, were moving ever closer to capitulating. Churchill said, _Tell them_that if they let us have their fleet we shall never forget, but that if they surrender without consulting us we shall never forgive. We shall blacken their name for a thousand years!_ He paused, then added, _Don_t, of course, do that just yet._ _ DESPITE THE NEWS, CHURCHILL_S mood continued to improve. He passed out cigars; matches flickered in the dark. As the coal ends of cigars glowed, he recited poems and discussed the war with an animation that verged on delight. At intervals he chanted the refrain from a popular song performed by the male duo Flanagan and Allen: Bang, bang, bang, bang goes the farmer_s gun, Run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run, run. The song would become immeasurably more popular later in the war when Flanagan and Allen substituted _Adolf_ for _rabbit._ A telephone call arrived for Churchill, from America_s ambassador to Britain, Joseph Kennedy. Colville retrieved Churchill from the garden. His demeanor immediately more grave, Churchill unleashed on Kennedy _a flood of eloquence about the part that America could and should play in saving civilization,_ Colville wrote in his diary. Churchill told the ambassador that America_s promises of financial and industrial support constituted _a laughing-stock on the stage of history._ At one A.M., Churchill and his guests gathered in the central hall; Churchill lay down on a sofa, puffing his cigar. He told a couple of off-color jokes and talked about the importance of increasing the production of fighters for the RAF. At 1:30 A.M. he rose to go to bed, telling the others, _Good night, my children._ That night in his diary Colville wrote, _It was at once the most dramatic and the most fantastic evening I have ever spent._ CHAPTER 13 Scarification AT SEVEN-THIRTY ON SUNDAY MORNING, upon learning that Churchill was awake, Colville brought him the latest report on the French situation, which had arrived earlier both over the telephone and in the form of a document delivered by courier. Colville brought the messages to Churchill_s room. Churchill was in bed, _looking just like a rather nice pig, clad in a silk vest._ Churchill decided to convene a special cabinet meeting at ten-fifteen that morning, in London. As Churchill breakfasted in bed, his valet, Sawyers, ran his bath, and the house roused to action. Mrs. Hill readied her portable typewriter. Inspector Thompson checked for assassins. Churchill_s driver prepared the car. Colville raced to dress and pack, and rushed through his breakfast. They sped back to London through heavy rain, splashing through stoplights and hurtling along the Mall at high speed, with Churchill all the while dictating minutes to Mrs. Hill and generating a morning_s worth of work for Colville and his fellow private secretaries. Churchill arrived at 10 Downing Street just as his cabinet ministers were gathering. The meeting resulted in a telegram to the French, sent at twelve thirty-five P.M., authorizing France to inquire about the terms of an armistice on its own behalf, _provided, but only provided, that the French Fleet is sailed forthwith for British harbors pending negotiations._ The telegram made clear that Britain planned to fight on, and would not participate in any deliberations that France pursued with Germany. Churchill knew France was lost. What he cared about most, now, was the French fleet. If it fell under Hitler_s control, as seemed likely, it would change the balance of power on the high seas, where Britain, at least for the time being, retained superiority. _ IN LONDON THAT SUNDAY, the Prof and young Dr. Jones of Air Intelligence attended a meeting of the RAF_s Night Interception Committee, convened by Air Marshal Philip Joubert to further consider Jones_s apparent discovery of a new German beam navigation system. Churchill, otherwise engaged, did not attend, but the galvanic power of his interest was evident. What had hitherto been the subject of more or less academic interest now became a target of concrete inquiry, with specific tasks assigned to various officers. _What a change,_ Jones wrote, _from my inactivity of only a week ago!_ But doubts about Jones_s theory persisted. One key participant in the meeting, Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding, head of Fighter Command, described Jones_s case as consisting of _some rather nebulous evidence._ Another, Henry Tizard, a prominent scientific adviser to the Air Ministry, wrote, _I may be wrong, but there seemed to me to be unnecessary excitement about this latest alleged German method for dealing with the country. One cannot possibly get accurate bombing on a selected target in this way._ The Prof, however, was convinced that the matter was urgent. Lindemann again wrote to Churchill, this time urging him to issue a directive _that such investigation take precedence, not only as regards materials but especially the use of men, over any research whose results are not liable to affect production in the next three months._ Churchill agreed. On Lindemann_s note he jotted, _Let this be done without fail._ Soon Jones heard a rumor that Churchill considered the matter so grave that he planned to convene a meeting on the subject at 10 Downing Street. To Jones, this seemed implausible, very likely the opening move in a multiple-step practical joke by his colleagues in Air Intelligence, who had elevated the art of pulling pranks to a high level; Jones himself was acknowledged to be a foremost practitioner. _ ON MONDAY, JUNE 17, _a certain eventuality_ came to pass. France fell. Churchill_s cabinet met at eleven A.M. and soon afterward learned that Marshal Philippe P?tain, who that day replaced Reynaud as leader of France, had ordered the French army to stop fighting. After the meeting, Churchill walked into the garden at 10 Downing, alone, and began to pace, head down, hands clasped behind his back_not depressed, and not cowed, but deep in thought. Colville watched him. _He was doubtless considering how best the French fleet, the air force and the Colonies could be saved,_ Colville wrote. _He, I am sure, will remain undaunted._ Judging by the telegram Churchill sent to P?tain and General Maxime Weygand later that day, this appeared to be the case. Deploying flattery leavened with irony, he began: _I wish to repeat to you my profound conviction that the illustrious Marshal P?tain and the famous General Weygand, our comrades in two great wars against the Germans, will not injure their ally by delivering over to the enemy the fine French Fleet. Such an act would scarify__scarify, a six-hundred-year-old word that only Churchill would use in crucial diplomatic correspondence__would scarify their names for a thousand years of history. Yet this result may easily come by frittering away these few precious hours when the Fleet can be sailed to safety in British or American ports, carrying with it the hope of the future and the honor of France._ The news about France was first broadcast by the BBC at one o_clock that afternoon. Home Intelligence reported that the reaction by the public _has been one of confusion and shock, but hardly surprise. From all parts come reports of bewilderment and great anxiety._ There was widespread fear that the British government might _go abroad_ or simply give up. _A few feel all is over._ The two questions most on people_s minds were what would happen to the soldiers still in France__Will a second Dunkirk be possible?__and what would now become of the French air force and navy. It was crucial, the report said, that Churchill or the king come forward that very night to speak. Olivia Cockett, the Scotland Yard clerk and Mass-Observation diarist, was at work when she heard the BBC broadcast. _Poor France!_ she wrote at three-forty P.M. _The 1 o_clock news was a bomb to me. I_d said over and over again that I didn_t believe France was ever going to give in to Germany. We all fell very silent._ The afternoon tea service arrived. Cockett did not share England_s national obsession with tea, but today, she said, _I was grateful for a cup, for once._ She spent the next hour _quivering and with tears._ But at 10 Downing and Buckingham Palace, there was a new and welcome sense of clarity. _Personally,_ the king wrote, in a letter to his mother, Queen Mary, _I feel happier now that we have no allies to be polite to and to pamper._ Air Marshal Dowding was elated, for it meant the end, at last, of the persistent threat that Churchill, in a rash and generous moment, would send fighters to France and deplete the force needed to repel the massive assault by the German air force that was certain to come now that France had capitulated. Dowding later confessed to Lord Halifax, _I don_t mind telling you, that when I heard of the French collapse I went on my knees and thanked God._ But all this relief was tempered by an appreciation of just how radically the French collapse altered the strategic landscape. The Luftwaffe was sure now to move its air fleets into bases along the channel coast. Invasion seemed not only practical but imminent. The British expected it to begin with a massive onslaught by the German air force, the much-feared _knock-out_ blow. _ MORE BAD NEWS ARRIVED that afternoon. Churchill was seated in the quiet of the Cabinet Room at No. 10 Downing when he was told that a large Cunard liner, the Lancastria, which was serving as a troopship and loaded with more than 6,700 British soldiers, air crews, and civilians, had been attacked by German aircraft. Three bombs had struck the ship and set it afire. It sank in twenty minutes, with the loss of at least 4,000 lives, far more than the combined tolls of the Titanic and the Lusitania. So wrenching was this news, especially on top of the French debacle, that Churchill barred the press from reporting it. _The newspapers have got quite enough disaster for today at least,_ he said. This was, however, a misguided attempt at censorship, given that 2,500 survivors soon arrived in Britain. The New York Times broke the story five weeks later, on July 26, and the British press followed suit. The fact that the government never acknowledged the sinking caused a surge of distrust among the public, according to Home Intelligence. _The withholding of the news of the Lancastria is the subject of much adverse criticism,_ the agency stated in one of its daily reports. The lack of disclosure raised _fears that other bad news is withheld_and the fact that the news was only released after publication in an American paper gives rise to the feeling that it would otherwise have been withheld longer._ As it happened, the death toll was likely much greater than first reported. The actual number of people aboard the ship was never determined but could have been as high as 9,000. _ THERE WAS GOOD NEWS, however, from the Ministry of Aircraft Production. On Tuesday, June 18, Lord Beaverbrook gave the War Cabinet his first report on the output of aircraft. The results were stunning: New aircraft were exiting his factories at a rate of 363 a week, up from 245. The production of engines had soared as well_620 new engines a week, compared to 411. What he did not report, at least not here, was that these gains had come at considerable cost to himself, in terms of stress and health, and to harmony within Churchill_s government. Immediately after accepting his new post, Beaverbrook began clashing with the Air Ministry, which he saw as fusty and hidebound in its approach not just to building aircraft but also to deploying and equipping them. He had personal insight into aerial warfare: His son, also named Max, and known as _Little Max,_ was a fighter pilot, tall and sharply handsome, soon to win the Distinguished Flying Cross. From time to time, Beaverbrook invited him and his fellow pilots to his home for cocktails and conversation. Beaverbrook lived each day in a state of anxiety until about eight o_clock each evening, when Little Max would check in by telephone to let him know he was alive and intact. Beaverbrook wanted control_of everything: production, repair, storage. The Air Ministry, however, had always considered these its exclusive responsibility. It wanted all the planes it could get, of course, but resented Beaverbrook_s intrusions, especially when he sought to dictate even the kinds of guns that should be installed in new aircraft. Beaverbrook infuriated other ministries as well. He wanted first access to all resources: wood, steel, fabric, drills, milling equipment, explosives_anything needed for the manufacture of bombers and fighters, regardless of the needs and demands of other ministries. He would, for example, commandeer buildings already earmarked for other uses. His direct connection to Churchill made his depredations all the more exasperating. As Pug Ismay saw it, Beaverbrook had more in common with a highwayman than an executive. _In the pursuit of anything which he wanted_whether materials, machine tools, or labor_he never hesitated, so rival departments alleged, to indulge in barefaced robbery._ Two days before submitting his progress report, Beaverbrook had dictated a nine-page letter to Churchill in which he laid out his troubles. _Today,_ he began, _I find myself frustrated and obstructed, and I ask for your immediate help._ He cited a long list of vexations, including resistance from the Air Ministry to his campaign to salvage and repair downed RAF planes, a province the ministry saw as its own. Beaverbrook recognized from the start that these wrecked planes were a trove of spare components, especially engines and instruments, that could be cobbled together into complete aircraft. Many damaged British fighters managed to crash-land at airfields, farms, and parks, or on other friendly ground, from which they could be readily retrieved. He marshaled the talents of myriad mechanics and small companies to create a repair network so adept at salvage that it could return to battle hundreds of aircraft a month. Beaverbrook demanded full control of maintenance depots where damaged planes and parts accumulated, and claimed that the Air Ministry, out of territorial pique, tried to stymie him at every turn. In his letter to Churchill, he described how one of his salvage squads had recovered sixteen hundred inoperable Vickers machine guns from one depot and sent them to a factory for repair. He was told there were no more such guns, but this proved not to be true. _Yesterday, after an early morning raid, carried out at my instigation, we recovered another batch of 1,120 guns,_ he wrote. His use of the word _raid_ was emblematic of his approach. His tactics won him no praise from Air Ministry officials who viewed his emergency salvage crews_his _Action Squads__as the equivalent of roving bands of pirates, and at one point banned the squads from frontline airfields. Beaverbrook never sent the nine-page letter. This change of heart was not unusual. He often dictated complaints and attacks, sometimes in multiple drafts, deciding later not to post them. In the personal papers he eventually left to the archives of Parliament, one big file contains unsent mail, a collection that steams with unvented bile. His dissatisfaction continued to fester and intensify. CHAPTER 14 _This Queer and Deadly Game_ THAT AFTERNOON, TUESDAY, JUNE 18, at 3:49 P.M., Churchill stood before the House of Commons to address the French debacle, delivering a speech he would repeat that evening in a radio broadcast to the public. This speech, too, would go down as one of the great moments in oratory, at least as he delivered it in the House of Commons. Churchill spoke of parachute troops and airborne landings and of bombing attacks _which will certainly be made very soon upon us._ While Germany had more bombers, he said, Britain had bombers too, and would deploy them _without intermission_ to attack military targets in Germany. He reminded his audience that Britain had a navy. _Some people seem to forget that,_ he said. He made no attempt, however, to skirt the true meaning of the French collapse. The _Battle of France_ was over, he said, adding, _I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin._ At stake was not only the British Empire but all of Christian civilization. _The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war._ He marched toward his climax: _If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free, and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands; but if we fail then the whole world, including the United States, and all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more prolonged, by the lights of a perverted science._ He issued an appeal to the greater spirit of Britons everywhere. _Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the British Commonwealth and Empire lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, _This was their finest hour._ _ Arguably, this was Churchill_s finest as well, and so it would have remained had he taken the recommendation of his minister of information to broadcast the speech live from the House chamber. As Home Intelligence had found, the public needed to hear from Churchill himself about the French fiasco and what it meant for Britain_s prospects in the war. But the process of arranging a broadcast from the House, including a necessary vote of approval by members, proved too daunting. Churchill agreed, with reluctance, to do a separate broadcast that night. The ministry expected him to write something new, but, with a child_s contrariness, he decided simply to reread the speech he had delivered in the Commons. Although public reaction as measured through Mass-Observation and Home Intelligence reports varied, one consistent theme was criticism of Churchill_s delivery. _Some suggested he was drunk,_ Mass-Observation reported on Wednesday, June 19, _others that he did not himself feel the confidence he was proclaiming. A few thought he was tired. It would seem that the delivery to some extent counteracted the contents of the speech._ Cecil King, editorial director of the Daily Mirror, wrote in his diary, _Whether he was drunk or all-in from sheer fatigue, I don_t know, but it was the poorest possible effort on an occasion when he should have produced the finest speech of his life._ One listener went so far as to send a telegram to 10 Downing Street warning that Churchill sounded as though he had a heart condition, and recommended he work lying down. As it happened, the problem was largely mechanical. Churchill had insisted on reading the speech with a cigar clenched in his mouth. _ THE NEXT DAY, CHURCHILL_S top three military commanders_his chiefs of staff_sent a secret note (_To Be Kept Under Lock and Key_) to Churchill and his War Cabinet, via Pug Ismay, in which they laid out the coming danger in terms more stark than Churchill had detailed in his speech. _Experience of the campaign in Flanders and France indicates that we can expect no period of respite before the Germans may begin a new phase of the war,_ the note read. _We must, therefore, regard the threat of invasion as immediate._ But first would come an assault from the air, the chiefs explained, one that _will tax our air defenses and the morale of our people to the full._ Hitler would spare nothing, they warned. _The Germans have accepted prodigious losses in France, and are likely to be prepared to face even higher losses and to take even greater risks than they took in Norway to achieve decisive results against this country._ The next three months, they predicted, would determine the outcome of the war. _ ON THURSDAY, THERE WERE more rumors that Churchill would hold a meeting devoted solely to beam navigation. The meeting, Dr. Jones now heard, would take place the next morning, Friday, June 21. No one had invited him, however, so on that Friday morning he kept to his usual routine, which involved catching a train from London_s Richmond district at nine thirty-five and arriving at work about thirty-five minutes later. When he got to his office, he found a note from a secretary in the Air Intelligence Branch stating that a colleague, Squadron Leader Rowley Scott-Farnie, _has telephoned and says will you go to the Cabinet Room in 10 Downing Street._ _ AT 10 DOWNING, THE Cabinet Room began filling with officials. Here was the _long table,_ a twenty-five-foot span of polished wood covered with green cloth, toothed by the backs of twenty-two mahogany chairs. The prime minister_s chair_the only armchair_was at the center of one side of the table, in front of a large marble fireplace. Tall windows afforded views of the back garden and, beyond, the Horse Guards Parade and St. James_s Park. At each seat was a writing pad, a blotter, and notepaper with _10 Downing Street_ embossed in black at the top. From time to time, Churchill used the room as his base for dictating telegrams and minutes. A secretary would sit opposite him, with a typewriter, sometimes for hours, typing item after item, with Churchill _holding out his hand for it almost before he had finished dictating,_ wrote Elizabeth Layton. At the ready were his _klop__his hole punch_and two pens, one with blue-black ink for signing correspondence, one with red ink for initialing minutes. If he needed something, he would hold out a hand and say _Gimme,_ and Layton was expected to know what device he wanted. He used the same command to summon people. _Gimme Prof_ or _Gimme Pug_ meant she was to call for Lindemann or General Ismay. During long quiet stretches, she listened to the chimes of Big Ben and the Horse Guards clock, both of which sounded at quarterly intervals, with a pleasing dissonance, the clang of the Horse Guards clock against the stately boom of Big Ben. The officials took their seats. Here came Churchill, Lindemann, Lord Beaverbrook, and the empire_s top aviation officials, including Air Minister Sir Archibald Sinclair and Fighter Command chief Hugh Dowding, a dozen or so men in all. Present as well was Henry Tizard, who advised the government on aeronautical affairs. A onetime friend of Lindemann_s, Tizard had become estranged from the Prof, in large part because of the Prof_s virtuosity at nursing grudges. No secretaries were present, private or personal, indicating that the meeting was deemed so secret that no written record would be kept. There was tension in the room. Tizard and Lindemann were feuding over past imagined slights; the animus between them was clearly evident. Churchill noticed that one key man, Jones, the young scientist whose detective work had caused the meeting to be convened in the first place, was absent. The discussion began without him. With the fall of France, the urgency of the matter was growing by the day. The Luftwaffe was moving its bases steadily closer to the French coast; its raids over the English mainland were growing in size, severity, and frequency. Two nights earlier, the Luftwaffe had sent 150 aircraft over England, damaging steelworks and a chemical plant, destroying gas and water mains, sinking one merchant ship, and nearly blowing up an ammunition depot in Southampton. Ten civilians were killed. It was all part of the mounting drumbeat of suspense as to when the Germans would invade, like the slow build of a thriller (to use a word that debuted in 1889). The suspense was making people irritable and anxious, as well as more critical of the government, according to a Home Intelligence report. If German aircraft were indeed being guided, at night, by a secret new navigational system, it was crucial to know that, and to devise some means of countering the technology as soon as possible. This realm of secret science was one in which Churchill took great delight. He loved gadgets and secret weapons, and was an ardent promoter of the novel inventions proposed by the Prof, even those derided by other officials as the dreams of a crackpot. Upon the failure of an early prototype of an explosive device that adhered to the exterior of a tank_and occasionally to the soldier throwing it_Churchill rose to the Prof_s defense. In a minute addressed to Pug Ismay but meant for wider distribution, Churchill wrote, _Any chortling by officials who have been slothful in pushing this bomb over the fact that it has not succeeded will be viewed with strong disfavor by me._ The _sticky bomb,_ as it was known, did eventually reach a point where it could be deployed in the field, despite opposition by the War Office. Churchill overrode the department_s objections and gave the weapon his full support. In a June 1, 1940, minute noteworthy for both its precision and its brevity, Churchill commanded, _Make one million. WSC._ When, later, several members of Parliament began to question Lindemann_s influence, Churchill bridled. During a contentious _Question Time_ in the House of Commons, one member not only asked questions that implicitly criticized Lindemann but made dark allusions to his German heritage, which infuriated Churchill. Afterward, he ran into the critic in the Commons Smoking Room and__bellowing at him like an infuriated bull,_ according to one witness_shouted, _Why in Hell did you ask that Question? Don_t you know that he is one of my oldest and greatest friends?_ Churchill told the man _to get the hell out_ and never to speak to him again. In an aside to his own parliamentary secretary, Churchill said, _Love me, love my dog, and if you don_t love my dog you damn well can_t love me._ _ DR. JONES STILL THOUGHT the meeting at 10 Downing Street might be a prank. He tracked down the secretary who had put the note on his desk that morning. She assured him that the invitation was real. Still unconvinced, Jones paid a call on Squadron Leader Scott-Farnie, the colleague who had telephoned the original message to the secretary. He, too, avowed that this was no prank. Jones caught a taxi. By the time he reached No. 10, the meeting had been underway for nearly half an hour. For Jones, this was an unnerving moment. As he entered the room, Churchill and a dozen other men turned his way. Jones was a bit stunned to find himself, all of twenty-eight years old, looking down the center of the legendary long table in the Cabinet Room. Churchill was seated midway down the left side of the table, flanked by Lindemann and Lord Beaverbrook, the two men antipodes in appearance_Lindemann pale and soap-featured; Beaverbrook, animated and bilious, every bit the scowling elf captured in newspaper photographs. At the other side of the table sat Henry Tizard, Air Minister Sinclair, and Fighter Command_s Dowding. Jones sensed the tension in the room. Lindemann gestured toward the empty seat to his right; the men on Tizard_s side signaled that he should come sit with them. For an instant Jones was flummoxed. Lindemann was his former professor and undoubtedly the main reason he had been invited to the meeting in the first place; but the Air Staff men were his colleagues, and by all rights he should sit with them. What further complicated the moment was that Jones was well aware of the ill feeling between Tizard and Lindemann. Jones resolved the quandary by taking a chair at the end of the table, in what he called _the no-man_s land_ between the two delegations. He listened as the others renewed their conversation. He judged by their comments that the group had only a partial understanding of the beam situation and its implications for aerial warfare. At one point Churchill addressed a question directly to him, to clarify a detail. Instead of merely answering, Jones said, _Would it help, sir, if I told you the story right from the start?_ In retrospect, he was startled by his own sangfroid. He attributed his calmness in part to the fact that his summons to the meeting had so taken him by surprise that he had not had an opportunity to let his anxiety build. Jones told it as a detective story, describing the early clues and the subsequent accumulation of evidence. He revealed, as well, some fresh intelligence, including a note pulled just three days earlier from a downed German bomber that seemed to confirm his hunch that the Knickebein system deployed not just one beam but two, with the second one intersecting the first over the intended target. The note pegged the second beam_s point of origin as Bredstedt, a town in Schleswig-Holstein, on Germany_s north coast. It also provided what appeared to be the frequencies of the beams. Churchill listened, rapt, his fascination for secret technologies in full flare. But he also realized the bleak significance of Jones_s discovery. It was bad enough that the Luftwaffe was establishing itself at bases on captured territory just minutes from the English coast. But now he understood that the aircraft at those bases would be able to bomb accurately even on moonless nights and in overcast weather. To Churchill, this was dark news indeed, _one of the blackest moments of the war,_ as he later put it. Until this point, he had been confident that the RAF could hold its own, despite being, as Air Intelligence believed, vastly outnumbered by the Luftwaffe. In daylight, RAF pilots were proving adept at bringing down Germany_s slow-moving bombers and besting their fighter escorts, which were hamstrung by having to hang back to protect the slower aircraft and by fuel limitations that gave the fighters only ninety minutes of flying time. At night, however, the RAF was powerless to intercept German aircraft. If the German planes could bomb accurately even in heavy overcast and on the darkest nights, they would no longer need their swarms of fighter escorts, and no longer be restrained by the fighters_ fuel limits. They could traverse the British Isles without restriction, a tremendous advantage in laying the groundwork for invasion. Jones talked for twenty minutes. When he was done, Churchill recalled, _there was a general air of incredulity_ in the room, though some at the table were clearly concerned. Churchill asked, What should now be done? The first step, Jones said, was to use aircraft to confirm that the beams actually existed, and then to fly among them to understand their character. Jones knew that if indeed the Germans were using a Lorenz system like that employed by commercial airliners, it had to have certain characteristics. Transmitters on the ground would send signals through two separate antennae. These signals would spread and become diffuse at long distances, but where they overlapped they would form a strong, narrow beam, in the way that two shadows become darker at the point where they intersect. It was this beam that commercial pilots would follow until they saw the runway below. The transmitters sent a long _dash_ signal through one antenna and a shorter _dot_ signal through the other, both made audible by the pilot_s receiver. If the pilot heard a strong dash signal, he knew to move to the right, until the dot signal gained strength. When he was centered on the correct approach path, where both dashes and dots had equal strength_the so-called equi-signal zone_he heard a single continuous tone. Once the nature of the beam system was known, Jones told the men in the meeting, the RAF could devise countermeasures, including jamming the beams and transmitting false signals to trick the Germans into dropping their bombs too early or flying along the wrong course. At this, Churchill_s mood improved__the load was once again lifted,_ he later told Jones. He ordered the search for the beams to begin immediately. He also proposed that such beams made it all the more important to press ahead with one of the Prof_s pet secret weapons, the _aerial mine,_ which Lindemann had been promoting since well before the war, and which had become an obsession for him and Churchill alike. These mines were small explosive devices hung by wire from parachutes that could be dropped by the thousands in the path of German bomber formations, to be snagged by wings and propellers. Lindemann went so far as to propose a plan to protect London by raising a nightly _mine-curtain_ nearly twenty miles long, replenished by successive flights of mine-dispensing aircraft that would drop 250,000 mines per six-hour night. Churchill fully endorsed Lindemann_s mines, although most everyone else doubted their worth. At Churchill_s insistence, the Air Ministry and Beaverbrook_s Ministry of Aircraft Production had developed and tested prototypes, but only halfheartedly, and this caused Churchill great frustration. The inevitable Luftwaffe assault demanded the thorough examination of every possible means of defense. Now, at the meeting, his frustration blazed anew. It seemed clear to him that the existence of German navigation beams, if proven, added new urgency to fulfilling the Prof_s dream, because if these beams could be located, suddenly the placement of aerial mines along the paths of inbound bombers would become much more precise. But so far the whole program seemed bogged down in studies and minutes. He banged on the table. _All I get from the Air Ministry,_ he growled, _is files, files, files!_ Tizard, in part driven by his hostility toward Lindemann, scoffed at Jones_s story. But Churchill, convinced about _the principles of this queer and deadly game,_ declared that the existence of the German beams should be treated as established fact. He understood that soon Hitler would turn the full strength of the Luftwaffe against England. Work on countering the beams was to be given precedence over all else, he said, and _the slightest reluctance or deviation in carrying out this policy_ was to be reported to him. Tizard, his objections ignored and his loathing for Lindemann inflamed anew, took this as a personal affront. Shortly after the meeting, he resigned both from his position as chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee and as an adviser to the Air Staff. It was in such moments that Churchill most appreciated the Prof. _There were no doubt greater scientists,_ Churchill acknowledged. _But he had two qualifications of vital consequence to me._ First was the fact that Lindemann _was my friend and trusted confidante of twenty years,_ Churchill wrote. The Prof_s second qualification was his ability to distill arcane science into simple, easy-to-grasp concepts_to _decipher the signals from the experts on the far horizons and explain to me in lucid, homely terms what the issues were._ Once thus armed, Churchill could turn on his _power-relay__the authority of office_and transform concepts into action. A search flight to attempt to locate the beams was scheduled for that evening. Jones got little sleep that night. He had put his career on the line before the prime minister and Lindemann and the most senior men of the Royal Air Force. His mind paged back through the entire meeting, one detail to the next. _Had I, after all,_ he wondered, _made a fool of myself and misbehaved so spectacularly in front of the Prime Minister? Had I jumped to false conclusions? Had I fallen for a great hoax by the Germans? Above all, had I arrogantly wasted an hour of the Prime Minister_s time when Britain was about to be invaded or obliterated from the air?_ _ CHURCHILL HAD FURTHER CAUSE for relief that day, a kind of financial Dunkirk. As the war deepened and the demands on him intensified, he wrestled with a personal problem that had dogged him through much of his career, a lack of money. He wrote books and articles to supplement his official income. Until his appointment as prime minister, he had written columns for the Daily Mirror and News of the World and had done broadcasts for American radio, also for the money. But it had never been enough, and now he was nearing a financial crisis, unable to fully pay his taxes and routine bills, including those from his tailors, his wine supplier, and the shop that repaired his watch. (He had nicknamed his watch the _turnip._) What_s more, he owed his bank_Lloyds_a lot of money. His account statement for Tuesday, June 18, had cited an overdraft amounting to over ?5,000, equal to more than $300,000 in twenty-first-century American dollars. An interest payment on this was due at the end of the month, and he lacked the money to pay even that much. But that Friday of the beam meeting, a check in the amount of ?5,000 mysteriously, and conveniently, turned up in his Lloyds account. The name on the deposited check was that of Brendan Bracken, Churchill_s parliamentary private secretary, but the true source was Bracken_s wealthy co-owner of the Economist magazine, Sir Henry Strakosch. Three days earlier, upon receiving a statement from Lloyds listing his overdraft, Churchill had called Bracken to his office. He was fed up with the distraction and pressure caused by his financial troubles and had far more important matters to confront. He told Bracken to fix the situation, and Bracken did. The Lloyds payment did not get Churchill out of debt entirely, but it removed the immediate risk of an embarrassing personal default. _ THE NEXT DAY, SATURDAY, Dr. Jones attended a meeting convened to hear the results of the previous night_s flight to search for German beams. The pilot, Flight Lieutenant H. E. Bufton, appeared in person and delivered a concise report, with three numbered items. He and an observer had taken off from an airfield near Cambridge with instructions only to fly north and look for transmissions like those generated by a Lorenz blind-landing system. First, Bufton reported finding a narrow beam in the air a mile south of Spalding, a town near England_s North Sea coast, where the coastline bulges inward in a large bay called the Wash. The flight detected transmissions of dots just south of the beam and dashes to the north, as would be expected with a Lorenz-style beacon. Second, Bufton reported that the frequency of the detected beam was 31.5 megacycles per second, the frequency previously identified in one of the notes retrieved by Air Intelligence. And then came the best news of all, at least for Jones. The flight had detected a second beam, with similar characteristics, that crossed the first at a point near Derby, home to a Rolls-Royce factory that produced all the Merlin engines for the RAF_s Spitfires and Hurricanes. This second beam, on a different frequency, would necessarily intersect the first shortly before the target, to give the German crew time to drop their bombs. Despite the fact that the point of intersection seemed to indicate that the Rolls factory was a target, there was jubilation. For Jones, especially, it was a great relief. The officer in charge of the meeting, Jones recalled, was _actually skipping round the room in delight._ Now came the urgent effort to find an effective way of countering the beams. Knickebein received the code name _Headache_; the potential countermeasures, _Aspirin._ First, though, Jones and a colleague walked to nearby St. Stephen_s Tavern, a popular Whitehall pub situated a hundred yards from Big Ben, and got drunk. CHAPTER 15 London and Berlin AT 6:36 P.M., SATURDAY, JUNE 22, the French signed an armistice with Hitler. Britain was now officially alone. At Chequers the next day, the news about France soured the atmosphere. _A wrathful and gloomy breakfast downstairs,_ Mary wrote in her diary. Churchill was in a black mood. What consumed his thoughts and darkened his spirits was the French fleet. Germany had not immediately disclosed the precise terms of the armistice, and thus the official fate of the fleet remained a mystery. That Hitler would annex its ships seemed certain. The effect would be catastrophic, likely both to change the balance of power in the Mediterranean and to make a German invasion of England even more certain. Churchill_s behavior annoyed Clementine. She sat down to write him a letter, recognizing, as always, that the best way to get his attention for anything was in writing. She began, _I hope you will forgive me if I tell you something that I feel you ought to know._ She completed the letter, but then tore it up. _ IN BERLIN, VICTORY SEEMED NEAR. On Sunday, June 23, Joseph Goebbels, whose official title was minister for popular enlightenment and propaganda, convened the regular morning meeting of his chief propaganda operatives, this one to address the new direction of the war now that France had made its capitulation official. With France quelled, Goebbels told the group, England must now become the focus of their attention. He warned against doing anything that would cause the public to believe that a quick victory would follow. _It is still impossible to say in what form the fight against Britain will now be continued, and on no account, therefore, must the impression be created that the occupation of Britain is about to start tomorrow,_ Goebbels said, according to minutes of the meeting. _On the other hand, there can be no doubt that Britain will receive the same sentence as France if she persists in closing her mind to sensible considerations__meaning a peace agreement. With Britain now casting itself as the last guardian of European liberty, Goebbels said, Germany must stress in reply that _we are now the leaders in the clash between continental Europe and the plutocratic British island people._ Germany_s foreign-language transmitters must henceforth _deliberately and systematically operate with slogans on the lines of _Nations of Europe: Britain is organizing your starvation!_ etc._ In a remark not recorded in the minutes but later quoted by a member of the Reich press office, Goebbels told the group, _Well, this week will bring the great swing in Britain__meaning that with France fallen, the English public would now, surely, clamor for peace. _Churchill, of course, can_t hold on,_ he said. _A compromise government will be formed. We are very close to the end of the war._ CHAPTER 16 The Red Warning IN LONDON ON MONDAY, JUNE 24, Churchill_s War Cabinet met three times, once in the morning and twice that night, the last meeting beginning at ten-thirty P.M. Most of the time was spent discussing what Foreign Undersecretary Cadogan called _the awful problem of the French fleet._ Earlier that day, the Times of London had revealed the terms of the French armistice, which Germany had not yet formally disclosed. German forces would occupy the northern and western tiers of France; the rest of the country would be administered by a nominally free government based in Vichy, about two hundred miles south of Paris. It was Article 8 that Churchill read most intently: _The German Government solemnly declare that they have no intention of using for their own purposes during the war the French Fleet stationed in ports under German control except those units necessary for coast surveillance and minesweeping._ It also called for all French ships operating outside French waters to return to France, unless they were needed to protect French colonial holdings. The clause as later published by Germany included this sentence: _The German Government further solemnly and expressly declare that they do not intend to claim the French Fleet on the conclusion of peace._ Churchill did not for an instant believe that Germany would honor this declaration. Hitler_s persistent dishonesty aside, the language of the article by itself seemed to offer great leeway in how he deployed French ships. What exactly did _coast surveillance_ entail? Or _minesweeping_? Churchill scoffed at Germany_s _solemn_ promise. As he later told Parliament, _Ask half a dozen countries what is the value of such a solemn assurance._ Despite the three cabinet meetings, the ministers made little progress toward shaping a final course of action. Just after the last meeting came to an end, at one-fifteen on Tuesday morning, air-raid sirens began to howl, the city_s first _red warning_ since the previous September, when the war began. The alert meant an attack was imminent, but no bombers appeared. The warning had been triggered by a civilian aircraft. While waiting for the all-clear siren to sound, Mass-Observation diarist Olivia Cockett opened her diary and wrote, _The night is very still. The clock ticks loudly. Four bowls of roses and one of tall white lilies scent the air deliciously._ As her family watched, she took the lilies and lay down on the rug, propping them on her chest in funereal fashion. _All laughed,_ she wrote, _but not very uproariously._ Home Intelligence reported that Tuesday that 10 to 20 percent of London_s population failed to hear the air-raid warning. _Many people did not leave their bedrooms,_ the report said, _and parents were reluctant to awaken children._ A seven-year-old girl came up with a term for the sirens: the _Wibble-Wobbles._ _ THE THREAT OF INVASION seemed to grow daily. On Friday, June 28, Churchill received a note from Dr. Jones of Air Intelligence, who seemed to have a talent for delivering disconcerting news. In this note, Jones reported that the same _unimpeachable source_ who had provided critical information about the German beams had learned that an anti-aircraft unit of the German air force known as Flakkorps I was requesting eleven hundred maps of England of various scales for immediate shipment to its headquarters. Jones pointed out that this could indicate _an intention to land motorized AA units in both England and Ireland._ Such a force would be necessary to help an invading army protect itself from the RAF and consolidate its hold on captured ground. Churchill knew that the _unimpeachable source_ was not in fact a human spy but, rather, the elite codebreaking unit at Bletchley Park. He was one of the few senior officials in Whitehall who knew of the unit_s existence; Jones, as deputy director of Air Intelligence, also knew. Bletchley_s secrets were delivered to Churchill in a special yellow dispatch box, separate from his regular black box, that only he was authorized to open. The intercepted map request was troubling in that it was the kind of concrete preparatory measure that would be expected before an invasion. Churchill immediately sent copies of the message to the Prof and Pug Ismay. The next three months, Churchill judged, were the period when the threat of invasion would be greatest, after which the weather would become progressively more hostile and, thus, a deterrent. The tone of his minutes grew more urgent, and more precise. Prodded by the Prof, he told Pug Ismay that trenches were to be dug across any open field more than four hundred yards long, to defend against tanks and landings by troop-carrying aircraft, specifying that _this should be done simultaneously throughout the country in the next 48 hours._ In a separate note, on Sunday, June 30, he ordered Pug to see that a study was made of tides and moon phases in the Thames Estuary and elsewhere, to determine on _which days conditions will be most favorable to a seaborne landing._ Also that Sunday, he sent Pug a minute on a subject of particular sensitivity: the use of poison gas against invading forces. _Supposing lodgments were effected on our coast, there could be no better points for application of mustard than these beaches and lodgments,_ he wrote. _In my view there would be no need to wait for the enemy to adopt such methods. He will certainly adopt them if he thinks it will pay._ He asked Ismay to determine whether _drenching_ the beaches with gas would be effective. Another threat caused him particular worry: German parachutists and fifth columnists in disguise. _Much thought,_ he wrote, _must be given to the trick of wearing British uniform._ _ THE STRESS OF MANAGING the war began to take its toll on Churchill, and Clementine grew alarmed. During the previous weekend at Chequers, he had been a boor. Having discarded her first letter on the subject, she now wrote to him again. She reported that a member of Churchill_s inner circle, whom she did not identify, _has been to me and told me there is a danger of your being generally disliked by your colleagues and subordinates because of your rough sarcastic and overbearing manner._ She assured her husband that the source of this complaint was _a devoted friend,_ with no ax to grind. Churchill_s private secretaries, she wrote, seemed to have resolved simply to take it and shrug it off. _Higher up, if an idea is suggested (say at a conference) you are supposed to be so contemptuous that presently no ideas, good or bad, will be forthcoming._ Hearing this shocked and hurt her, she said, _because in all these years I have been accustomed to all those who have worked with and under you, loving you._ Seeking to explain the degradation in Churchill_s behavior, the devoted friend had said, _No doubt it_s the strain._ But it was not just the friend_s observations that drove Clementine to write her letter. _My Darling Winston,_ she began, __I must confess that I have noticed a deterioration in your manner; and you are not so kind as you used to be._ She cautioned that in possessing the power to give orders and to _sack anyone and everyone,_ he was obliged to maintain a high standard of behavior_to _combine urbanity, kindness and if possible Olympic calm._ She reminded him that in the past he had been fond of quoting a French maxim, _On ne r?gne sur les ?mes que par le calme,_ meaning, essentially, _One leads by calm._ She wrote, _I cannot bear that those who serve the Country and yourself should not love you as well as admire and respect you._ She warned, _You won_t get the best results by irascibility and rudeness. They will breed either dislike or a slave mentality_(Rebellion in War time being out of the question!)_ She closed, _Please forgive your loving devoted and watchful Clemmie._ At the bottom of the page she drew a caricature of a cat at rest, with a curled tail, and added a postscript: _I wrote this at Chequers last Sunday, tore it up, but here it is now._ The irascible Churchill she depicted was not, however, what John Colville encountered that morning when, at ten o_clock, he entered Churchill_s bedroom at 10 Downing Street. The prime minister seemed remarkably at ease. He lay in bed, propped up by his bedrest. He wore a bright red dressing gown and was smoking a cigar. Beside him was a large chrome cuspidor for his expended cigars (a Savoy Hotel ice bucket) and the Box, open and half full of papers. He was dictating to Mrs. Hill, who sat at the foot of the bed with her typewriter. Cigar smoke misted the room. Churchill_s black cat, Nelson, lay also at the foot of the bed, in full cat sprawl, the portrait of peace and repose. Now and then Churchill gazed adoringly at the cat and murmured, _Cat, darling._

  • Mans Search for Meaning /     (by Viktor E. Frankl, 1946) -   Mans Search for Meaning /
  • Dumbo /  (Disney, 2012) -   Dumbo / (Disney, 2012)
  • The Universe in a Nutshell /     (by Stephen Hawking, 2001) -   The Universe in a Nutshell /
  • Tales of mystery and imagination /     (by Edgar Allan Poe, 1993) -    Tales of mystery and

, , .

  • .

  • ,