Category: Red Herrings: False Quotes

Urban Myths: “Alexander Fleming Twice Saved Churchill’s Life”

Urban Myths: “Alexander Fleming Twice Saved Churchill’s Life”

Fleming as rescuer…

The Flem­ing myth is updat­ed from an arti­cle orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in 1998.

Is it true that Lord Ran­dolph Churchill financed the edu­ca­tion of Alexan­der Flem­ing, the dis­cov­er­er of peni­cillin, as a result of Flem­ing (or his father) res­cu­ing Churchill from drown­ing in a swamp when young Win­ston was a youth—and a Flem­ing dis­cov­ery, peni­cillin, saved Churchill’s life years lat­er in 1943? A friend of mine has sent me this email regard­ing it and I want­ed to ver­i­fy . —L.M.

This ques­tion comes up reg­u­lar­ly, but both parts of the sto­ry are untrue. Nei­ther Alexan­der Flem­ing nor his father were with Churchill at the times sug­gest­ed.…

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Churchill and the White Russians: The Russian Civil War, 1919

Churchill and the White Russians: The Russian Civil War, 1919

Extract­ed from “Churchill: A Mil­lion Allied Sol­diers to Fight for the White Rus­sians?” for the Hills­dale Col­lege Churchill Project, Novem­ber 2019. For the orig­i­nal text click here.

A read­er refers us to The Polar Bear Expe­di­tion: The Heroes of America’s For­got­ten Inva­sion of Rus­sia 1918-1919 (2019). It repeats a mis­un­der­stand­ing about Churchill’s role in aid­ing the White Rus­sians against the Bol­she­viks. By the spring of 1919 in Rus­sia, we read:

…the cat was out of the bag: whether its allies—English, French, White Russians—liked it nor not, the U.S. was pulling out.…

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Churchill Red Herrings: On a Federal Europe and “Keep England White”

Churchill Red Herrings: On a Federal Europe and “Keep England White”

Churchill on Europe

“It is only when plans for unit­ing Europe take a fed­er­al form that we our­selves can­not take part, because we can­not sub­or­di­nate our­selves or the con­trol of British pol­i­cy to fed­er­al author­i­ties.” This quote is a red her­ring —not Churchill.

Hoist on my own petard! Alan Ingram, a kind read­er, has helped me cor­rect sev­er­al attri­bu­tions (four of them mine) of this quote to Churchill. The remark, exclud­ing Britain from a fed­er­al Europe, belongs to his then-for­eign sec­re­tary, Antho­ny Eden. I plead…

Guilty with an explanation:

My error and oth­ers’ occurred by mis­read­ing suc­ces­sive quotes in John Charmley’s Churchill’s Grand Alliance (1995).…

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