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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