Tag: Josef Stalin

Athens, 1944: Some Lighter Moments in a Serious Situation

Athens, 1944: Some Lighter Moments in a Serious Situation

The Greeks are still not laugh­ing about their mid-1940s civ­il war, so lev­i­ty may be inap­pro­pri­ate. Nor was Churchill at the time. “There is a lot of ruin in any nation,” he once mused. In Athens, 1944, Britain was “respon­si­ble for build­ing up the nest of cock­a­tri­ces for EAM [com­mu­nist par­ti­sans] in Greece.” (His vocab­u­lary was broad: A cock­a­trice is a myth­i­cal, two-legged drag­on or ser­pent-like crea­ture with a cock’s head.)

Nev­er­the­less, the peace deal Churchill bro­kered between war­ring Greeks in 1944 had so many hilar­i­ous moments that, 75 years lat­er, we may be per­mit­ted to indulge in lighter aspects.…

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Galloping Lies, Bodyguards of Lies, and Lies for the Sake of Your Country

Galloping Lies, Bodyguards of Lies, and Lies for the Sake of Your Country

About lies. Can you please advise whether or not Sir Win­ston Churchill said: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”  Many thanks. —A.S., Bermu­da

That one lies with Cordell Hull

It was Franklin Roo­sevelt‘s Sec­re­tary of State, Cordell Hull, not Churchill. I have a slight vari­a­tion of it in the “Red Her­rings” appen­dix of  Churchill by Him­self, page 576: “A lie will gal­lop halfway round the world before the truth has time to pull its breech­es on.”  Although com­mon­ly ascribed to Churchill (who would have said “trousers,” not “breech­es”), this is def­i­nite­ly down to Hull.…

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Athens 1944: Not Churchill’s Finest Hour? Hmm….

Athens 1944: Not Churchill’s Finest Hour? Hmm….

Question:

A r ead­er writes: “Rather late in the day, I have been read­ing The Spec­ta­tor (UK) Christ­mas Spe­cial dat­ed 15/21/29 Decem­ber 2018. Page 28 refers to one Ron­nie Boyd, who had been a teenage Ordi­nary Sea­man aboard HMS Ajax in Decem­ber 1944, when Win­ston Churchill arrived in Athens to try to end the ongo­ing civ­il war.

 “British forces ‘helped put down, with con­sid­er­able force of arms, a per­ceived partisan/communist uprising—the so-called Bat­tle of Athens, or the Dekemvri­ana in Greece,’ the arti­cle states. There fol­lows the extra­or­di­nary state­ment ‘Not Win­ston Churchill’s Finest Hour, it has to be said.’…

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