Churchill Clairvoyant: Vision of 1940 to Evans

Churchill Clairvoyant: Vision of 1940 to Evans

Great web­site! I am a psy­chol­o­gist writ­ing a book man­u­script on the bio­log­i­cal basis of self-con­fi­dence. I am an admir­er of Churchill, I would like to use a quote from The Gath­er­ing Storm movie to demon­strate Churchill’s tremen­dous con­fi­dence. Can you help me find the film com­ment, to Ralph Wigram?  In con­ver­sa­tion with a school­mate [Mur­land Evans] he says he had a strange feel­ing. One day, he said, Britain would be in great dan­ger, and it will fall to him to save Lon­don. —B.J.S.

Private Doubts

Thanks for the kind words. Pri­vate­ly the Churchill of ear­ly World War II was not so con­fi­dent as his speech­es pro­claimed. In May 1940 he said to his body­guard, Wal­ter Thomp­son, “I hope I’m not too late.” Lat­er he con­fid­ed to Roo­sevelt that the Ger­mans might well invade Britain and install a pup­pet gov­ern­ment. While assur­ing FDR that such a gov­ern­ment would not be run by him, he sug­gest­ed they might install the British fas­cist leader Oswald Mosley “or some such person.”

As France was falling in May 1940, Churchill did not favor seek­ing an armistice with Ger­many. But Neville Chamberlain’s diary for the end of May records Churchill as say­ing that “if we could get out of this jam by giv­ing  up Mal­ta and Gibral­tar and some African colonies, he would jump at the chance.” Of course, he may have just been throw­ing a bone to Lord Hal­i­fax, who was argu­ing for an approach to Hitler through Mussolini’s “good offices.” (The mind boggles.)

To Murland Evans, 1891

Nev­er­the­less, the screen play in The Gath­er­ing Storm about fore­see­ing the future had its ori­gins in fact. It came when Churchill was 17 years old, as quot­ed in  Sir Mar­tin Gilbert’s In Search of Churchill, page 215:

…I can see vast changes com­ing over a now peace­ful world; great upheavals, ter­ri­ble strug­gles; wars such as one can­not imag­ine; and I tell you Lon­don will be in danger—London will be attacked and I shall be very promi­nent in the defence of Lon­don. I see fur­ther ahead than you do. I see into the future. This coun­try will be sub­ject­ed some­how, to a tremen­dous inva­sion, by what means I do not know, but I tell you I shall be in com­mand of the defences of Lon­don and I shall save Lon­don and Eng­land from disaster.…dreams of the future are blurred but the main objec­tive is clear. I repeat—London will be in dan­ger and in the high posi­tion I shall occu­py, it will fall to me to save the Cap­i­tal and save the Empire.

Sir Mar­tin explains that he was giv­en this quote by Churchill’s Har­row school­mate Mur­land Evans, who recalled their con­ver­sa­tion “in one of those dread­ful base­ment rooms in the Headmaster’s House, a Sun­day evening, to be exact, after chapel evensong.…We frankly dis­cussed our futures. After plac­ing me in the Diplo­mat­ic Service…or alter­na­tive­ly in finance, fol­low­ing my father’s career, we came to his own future….”

See also my review of The Gath­er­ing Storm on this website.

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