Australia Stories: Peace in 1918, War in 1941

Australia Stories: Peace in 1918, War in 1941

Q: “More still to hope for the future”

Hel­lo, I am the CEO of the Churchill Trust of Aus­tralia. I dis­cov­ered this Churchill quote in your book Churchill: In His Own Words, page 238:

I can­not but think we have much to be thank­ful for, and more still to hope for in the future.” WSC to David Lloyd George, 9 Decem­ber 1918, cit­ed in Lang­worth, Churchill: In His Own Words.

I under­stand we have been caught out in the past with Churchill quotes that were mis­at­trib­uted, so I would like to ver­i­fy this. I won­der if it would be pos­si­ble for you to pro­vide some fur­ther infor­ma­tion about its con­text? —Dr. Rachael Cogh­lan, CEO, Win­ston Churchill Memo­r­i­al Trust of Aus­tralia, Can­ber­ra. A.C.T.

A: Verified, but not to Lloyd George

Dear Dr. Cogh­lan: Thank-you for writ­ing. Your ques­tion is wel­come because it uncov­ers an error in my book. A new, great­ly expand­ed edi­tion will be pub­lished by Hills­dale Col­lege Press this year—so I will be able to fix this.

The let­ter was not to Lloyd George but to Richard Lee, whom WSC called an “influ­en­tial con­stituent.” He reprint­ed some of the words in The World Cri­sisThe com­plete let­ter is in Mar­tin Gilbert, edi­tor, The Churchill Doc­u­ments, vol.  8, War and After­math, Decem­ber 1916 to June 1919 (Hills­dale Col­lege Press, 2008). 432-33:

Win­ston S. Churchill to Richard Lee
(Churchill papers: 5/20)
9 Decem­ber 1918, Min­istry of Munitions

Dear Sir,
I am much oblig­ed to you for your let­ter of Decem­ber 6th. If the peace which we are going to make in Europe should lead, as I trust it will, to the​ lib­er­a­tion of cap­tive nation­al­i­ties, to a reunion of those branch­es of the same fam­i­ly which have long been arbi­trar­i­ly divid­ed, and to the draw­ing of fron­tiers in broad cor­re­spon­dence with the eth­nic mass­es, it will remove for ever most of the caus­es of pos­si­ble wars. And with the removal of the Cause, the Symp­tom, i.e. arma­ments, will grad­u­al­ly and nat­u­ral­ly subside.

I can­not but think we have much to be thank­ful for, and more still to hope for in the future.

With regard to Rus­sia, you have only to seek the truth to be assured of the awful forms of anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic tyran­ny which pre­vail there, and the appalling social and eco­nom­ic reac­tions and degen­er­a­tions which are in progress. The only sure foun­da­tion for a State is a Gov­ern­ment freely elect­ed by mil­lions of peo­ple, and as many mil­lions as pos­si­ble. It is fatal to swerve from that conception.

Yours very faithfully,
Win­ston S. Churchill

This brief let­ter abounds with Churchillian wis­dom. Had only we fol­lowed it. If only we were fol­low­ing it today….

False Quotes = Red Herrings = Churchillian Drift

There are indeed almost 200 com­mon false attri­bu­tions (“Churchillian Drift”). All are in my Appen­dix, “Red Her­rings.” The list is now much longer, but I keep it up to date in four pages on my web­site begin­ning here.

Canberra, Australia, 7 December 1941

The Churchill Memo­r­i­al Trust of Aus­tralia wel­comes appli­ca­tions for Fel­low­ships. Apply via [email protected].

In 1991, on one of our Churchill Tours, we trav­eled to Aus­tralia. (This was some­thing Sir Win­ston, to his regret, nev­er man­aged.) Our host at the Memo­r­i­al Trust of Aus­tralia was then-CEO Rear Admi­ral Ian Richards RAN.

Ian organ­ised a lunch at the Botan­i­cal Gar­dens, a tour of  Par­lia­ment House and the out­stand­ing Aus­tralian War Muse­um. We then enjoyed cock­tails with U.S. Ambas­sador and Mrs. (recent­ly the late) Melvin Sem­bler at the Embassy, and a din­ner at the Com­mon­wealth Club.

Mel Sem­bler told us a droll sto­ry. The Embassy, like most in Can­ber­ra, takes its style from its home coun­try.  The Amer­i­can com­plex resem­bles the Governor’s Palace at Colo­nial Williams­burg. The then-Ambas­sador laid the cor­ner­stone on (wait for it)….7 Decem­ber 1941, amidst the news from Pearl Har­bor.

The Ambas­sador wired Wash­ing­ton: “What do we do now?”

The answer came by return telegram: “Fin­ish build­ing the thing, or the Aussies will think we’re on the run.”

A good sto­ry to dine out on….

Related reading

“Aus­tralia: Nation­al Anthems, Mis­cel­la­neous Ram­blings,” 2023.

“Churchill Quo­ta­tions for Decem­ber 7th,” 2022.

“West­ern Aus­tralian Black Swans Thrive at Chartwell,” 2024.

“Van­ish­ing Nation­al Anthems: ‘Advance Aus­tralia Fair,'” 2024.

“Churchillian (Or Yogi Berra) Drift,” 2013.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

RML Books

Richard Langworth’s Most Popular Books & eBooks

Links on this page may earn commissions.