Churchill and Professor Lindemann, Lord Cherwell

Churchill and Professor Lindemann, Lord Cherwell

I reviewed the 1940-45 vis­i­tors books at Che­quers. I was struck by how often Lord Cher­well (Fred­er­ick Lin­de­mann) was there—far more than fam­i­ly and staff. He vis­it­ed more than Brack­en and Beaver­brook, or the Chiefs of Staff. What do you make of him? What’s best to read on him? —A.R., Lon­don

Lindemann, Air Marshal Portal, Admiral Cunningham and Churchill watching an antiaircraft gunnery exhibition, June 1941. (Imperial War Museum)
Lin­de­mann, Air Mar­shal Por­tal, Admi­ral of the Fleet Sir Dud­ley Pound and Churchill watch­ing an anti-air­craft gun­nery exhi­bi­tion, June 1941. (Impe­r­i­al War Muse­um)

Most frequent visitor

After the death of the F.E. Smith, the first Lord Birken­head, Fred­er­ick Lin­de­mann, Lord Cher­well (1886-1957) was prob­a­bly Churchill’s clos­est friend. His sig­na­ture is also the most fre­quent in the vis­i­tors book at Chartwell, where it appears 86 times, more than any­one else (Bren­dan Brack­en only 31, although vis­i­tors usu­al­ly signed only when stay­ing overnight, and Brack­en fre­quent­ly returned to Lon­don). He was invalu­able to Churchill in his abil­i­ty to reduce com­pli­cat­ed sci­en­tif­ic prin­ci­ples and the­o­ries to brief lay­man terms every­one could under­stand.

Ardent­ly pro-Churchill, Cher­well sev­er­al times clashed with gov­ern­ment sci­en­tif­ic advi­sors. He want­ed even more strate­gic bomb­ing of Ger­many than “Bomber” Har­ris; he opposed the effec­tive “Win­dow” (Chaff) radar jam­ming tech­nique; he deemed Hitler’s V2 rock­ets imprac­ti­cal, until they began falling on Lon­don. On the oth­er hand, he was one of the first to urge the impor­tance of atom bomb research. An excel­lent arti­cle on his wartime role is Antoine Capet, “Sci­en­tif­ic Weapon­ry: How Churchill Encour­aged the ‘Boffins’ and Defied the ‘Blimps,'” The Churchillian, Spring 2013.

Books on Cherwell / Lindemann

The “stan­dard work” on Cher­well is still the sec­ond Lord Birkenhead’s The Prof in Two World Wars (Lon­don: Collins, 1961), aka The Pro­fes­sor and the Prime Min­is­ter (Boston: Houghton Mif­flin, 1962). A more recent biog­ra­phy is Adri­an Fort, Prof (Lon­don: Jonathan Cape, 2003).
Thomas Wilson’s Churchill and the Prof (Lon­don: Cas­sell, 1995) focus­es on the rela­tion­ship in World War II, includ­ing Radar, the Ger­man Knicke­bein guid­ance sys­tem, strate­gic bomb­ing, even the Bat­tle of the Atlantic, includ­ing the com­par­a­tive­ly neglect­ed area of ship­ping to the Mid­dle and Far East. Wil­son also con­sid­ers Cherwell’s many mem­os to Churchill on post­war recov­ery. Despite deep hos­til­i­ty to Ger­many, Lin­de­mann nev­er bought into the Mor­gen­thau Plan of cre­at­ing a “pas­toral,” non-indus­tri­al Ger­many after the war.

2 thoughts on “Churchill and Professor Lindemann, Lord Cherwell

  1. In your pho­to­graph, top left, of Churchill with Prof Lin­de­mann, the naval offi­cer stand­ing next to Churchill was Admi­ral and First Sea Lord Sir Dud­ley Pound, the imme­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor of Admi­ral Cun­ning­ham (who does not appear any­where in this pho­to­graph).

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