Cruise around Britain with Hillsdale College, 1-13 June 2019

Cruise around Britain with Hillsdale College, 1-13 June 2019

A cruise to remember

The Hills­dale Col­lege Cruise in June 2019 is a spec­tac­u­lar jour­ney around Britain. Look­ing at the cal­en­dar, you will  find that it coin­cides with a his­toric event, the 75th Anniver­sary of D-Day. Around that same time, Hills­dale Col­lege Press pub­lish­es the final doc­u­ment vol­ume of Win­ston S. Churchill, the offi­cial biog­ra­phy. This marks com­ple­tion of the great work, fifty-six years since the project began. The longest biog­ra­phy in his­to­ry, it offers a trove of new mate­r­i­al for read­ers, stu­dents and schol­ars.

Hills­dale cruis­es have a fine rep­u­ta­tion. They are exclu­sive, high qual­i­ty edu­ca­tion­al tours of excit­ing venues, com­bined with stim­u­lat­ing on-board lec­tures on a vari­ety of sub­jects. Bar­bara and I are hon­ored to be aboard along with Hills­dale Pres­i­dent Dr. Lar­ry Arnn, Byron York of the Wash­ing­ton Exam­in­er,  and oth­er lec­tur­ers. We would be delight­ed to have you with us. Itin­er­ary and con­tacts: click here.

Some points of note: The cruise price includes round-trip busi­ness air­fare for two, so if you can get to Lon­don on points or on your own, there are sub­stan­tial sav­ings. The cruise includes all meals, drinks, gra­tu­ities and shore excursions—no annoy­ing sur­prise bills at the end. Launched in 2015, the Regent Sev­en Seas Explor­er takes only 750 pas­sen­gers and has a crew of 552, a ratio sug­gest­ing the lev­el of ser­vice offered.

Places in time

While this is not strict­ly a Churchill cruise, I am sure my task will be to advance under­stand­ing of the great man. Many places we will pass or vis­it played their part in what Lady Soames called “The Saga.” I would be inter­est­ed to hear from any­one on venues they might par­tic­u­lar­ly like to hear more about. Here are some:

South and East

Cowes, Isle of Wight: Ran­dolph and Jen­nie met at Cowes Regat­ta, 1874

Portsmouth: HMS Vic­to­ry and Nation­al Muse­um of the Roy­al Navy

Spit­head, Isle of Wight: Churchill orders fleet not to dis­perse after Naval Review, August 1914

Cinque Ports, Hast­ings, Rye, Hythe, Dover, Sand­wich: Churchill was Lord War­den, 1941-65

Folke­stone: far­thest point of shelling by Ger­man cross-Chan­nel bat­ter­ies, Sep­tem­ber 1943

Dover Cas­tle: Admi­ral Ramsay’s HQ for Dunkirk evac­u­a­tion, Oper­a­tion Dynamo, May 1940

Nor­mandy: Inva­sion of Europe, 6 June 1944.

Broad­stairs, Kent: Marigold Churchill’s death, 1921; Monty’s HQ in WW2

Over­strand, near Cromer, Nor­folk: Churchills hol­i­dayed here as WW1 broke out, 1914

Scar­bor­ough, Whit­by, Hartepool: Ger­man shel­lling spurs Churchill to retal­i­ate, 1914 

North-North­west (Scot­land)

Dirleton, East Loth­i­an: Asquith offers Churchill the Admi­ral­ty, 1911

Edin­burgh: HMY Bri­tan­nia, Scot­tish Nation­al Muse­um

Firth of Forth Fleet Anchor­age: High Seas Fleet sur­ren­dered, 1918; scut­tled, 1919

Dundee: Churchill’s con­stituen­cy 1908-22, with numer­ous speech venues

St. Andrews: Churchill’s brief career as a golfer, 1912-15

Scapa Flow, Orkney, Fleet Anchor­age: Roy­al Oak sunk, 1939; Churchill Bar­ri­ers erect­ed

Loch Ewe, Fleet Anchor­age: “Strange­ly oppressed by my mem­o­ries,” 1939

Inver­ary Cas­tle: Com­bined Oper­a­tions and Allied Com­man­do Train­ing Cen­tre, 1940-44

West

Stran­raer: Port of departure/arrival to Wash­ing­ton to plan Inva­sion of North Africa, June 1942

Belfast: WSC, defy­ing clam­or, speaks out for Home Rule, 1911

Old Head of Kin­sale, Ire­land: Lusi­ta­nia tor­pe­doed, Churchill blamed, 1915

Reminiscence: Scotland, 1939

It is mov­ing to recall Churchill’s words “in stern­er days.” Our cruise pass­es north­ern Scot­land. There I always think of Scapa Flow, which cap­ti­vat­ed me long ago. On one of our Churchill Tours, we were shown around Scapa by Lord Jel­li­coe, the Admiral’s son. On a pilot ves­sel we observed the sunken HMS Roy­al Oak, still ooz­ing oil like the USS Ari­zonaon the bot­tom. Every year in a cer­e­mo­ny, Roy­al Navy divers place a White Ensign on her stern.

In 1949, Churchill recalled his vis­it there ten years before. He was First Lord of the Admi­ral­ty, almost exact­ly twen­ty-five years since he first held the post….

I felt it my duty to vis­it Scapa at the ear­li­est moment….I stayed with the Com­man­der-in-Chief in his flag­ship, Nel­son, and dis­cussed not only Scapa but the whole naval prob­lem with him and his prin­ci­pal offi­cers…. the Admi­ral took me [to Loch Ewe] on the Nel­son…. It was like the oth­ers a love­ly day…. On every side rose the pur­ple hills of Scot­land in all their splen­dour. My thoughts went back a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry to that oth­er Sep­tem­ber when I had last vis­it­ed Sir John Jel­li­coe and his cap­tains in this very bay, and had found them with their long lines of bat­tle­ships and cruis­ers drawn out at anchor, a prey to the same uncer­tain­ties as now afflict­ed us….

An entire­ly dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tion filled the uni­forms and the posts…. It seemed that I was all that sur­vived in the same posi­tion I had held so long ago. But no; the dan­gers had sur­vived too. Dan­ger from beneath the waves, more seri­ous with more pow­er­ful U-boats; dan­ger from the air, not mere­ly of being spot­ted in your hid­ing-place, but of heavy and per­haps destruc­tive attack!

I motored from Loch Ewe to Inver­ness, where our train await­ed us. We had a pic­nic lunch on the way by a stream, sparkling in hot sun­shine. I felt odd­ly oppressed with my mem­o­ries. “For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground, And tell sad sto­ries of the death of kings.”

* * *

No one had ever been over the same ter­ri­ble course twice with such an inter­val between. No one had felt its dan­gers and respon­si­bil­i­ties from the sum­mit as I had, or, to descend to a small point, under­stood how First Lords of the Admi­ral­ty are treat­ed when great ships are sunk and things go wrong.

If we were in fact going over the same cycle a sec­ond time, should I have once again to endure the pangs of dis­missal? Fish­er, Wil­son, Bat­ten­berg, Jel­li­coe, Beat­ty, Pak­en­ham, Sturdee, all gone!

I feel like one

Who treads alone,

Some ban­quet-hall desert­ed

Whose lights are fled,

Whose gar­lands dead,

And all but he depart­ed.

And what of the supreme, mea­sure­less ordeal in which we were again irrev­o­ca­bly plunged? Poland in its agony. France but a pale reflec­tion of her for­mer war­like ardour. The Russ­ian Colos­sus no longer an ally, not even neu­tral, pos­si­bly to become a foe. Italy no friend. Japan no ally. Would Amer­i­ca ever come in again? The British Empire remained intact and glo­ri­ous­ly unit­ed, but ill-pre­pared, unready. We still had com­mand of the sea. We were woe­ful­ly out­matched in num­bers in this new mor­tal weapon of the air. Some­how the light fad­ed out of the land­scape.” —WSC, Their Finest Hour, 339

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