Churchill’s mem­oirs ig­nored in New­found­land

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Jack Fitzger­ald writes from St. John’s

Con­spir­acy the­o­ries are easy to cre­ate and they make en­ter­tain­ing and often ab­sorb­ing read­ing.

Yet, some of the best of these often take root with­out the aware­ness of those at their source.

When this oc­curs there is lit­tle doubt - the truth is stranger than fic­tion.

Take for in­stance the sum­mit meet­ing in 1941 at Ship Cove, Pla­cen­tia Bay where New­found­land his­tory records that the At­lantic Char­ter was born.

This event’s 75th an­niver­sary was re­cently cel­e­brated in New­found­land.

What if a cred­i­ble claim was made to­day that the At­lantic Char­ter never ex­isted?

What if such a dec­la­ra­tion in­cluded com­ments, al­legedly, made by Prime Min­is­ter Win­ston Churchill that the At­lantic Char­ter did not ex­ist, was not a law, but a star in the sky?

What if the state­ment claimed that Sir Win­ston Churchill found ev­i­dence, and kept it hid­den, and that Pres­i­dent Franklyn D Roo­sevelt forged Churchill’s sig­na­ture on the cover story dec­la­ra­tion?

What if the Pres­i­dent’s hands were tied be­cause he had just won an elec­tion af­ter promis­ing to keep his coun­try out of the war? What if Eng­land was tot­ter­ing on the brink of bank­ruptcy and could not af­ford to de­fend it­self much longer?

You might con­clude that this whole idea is pre­pos­ter­ous. Be­fore as­sum­ing that it’s just another con­spir­acy the­ory in the mak­ing, you might ask what if the truth of the Pla­cen­tia sum­mit ex­poses that the best kept “Top Se­cret” dur­ing the Sec­ond World War “was” - the un­ques­tion­able pur­pose of the meet­ing and its ef­fect on the out­come of the war.

Add to all this, the con­cept that Churchill did not in­tend to hide the real dis­cus­sions at Pla­cen­tia and wanted to make the whole thing pub­lic af­ter the war.

That is ex­actly what Churchill did, yet some­how the cover story given in 1941 has re­placed the gen­uine Churchill records as the ac­knowl­edged his­tory.

Ger­many al­ready had con­trol of the French Navy and was on the verge of de­feat­ing Rus­sia which would have en­abled her to tar­get Eng­land. Part of the truth be­ing con­cealed was that the Ger­man Jug­ger­naut was less than six months from de­feat­ing Bri­tain and its Euro­pean al­lies.

The im­pend­ing Ger­man vic­tory would have been fol­lowed by the in­va­sion of North Amer­ica through bases in Nor­way, Green­land and then the gath­er­ing of its ma­jor in­va­sion forces in New­found­land. Churchill and Roo­sevelt were at Ar­gen­tia to over­come the above de­scribed ob­sta­cles and to rapidly change the course of cer­tain de­feat to one to­wards vic­tory.

If by now you are be­gin­ning to think that this al­leged truth of his­tory is start­ing to sound like some­thing out of a James Bond Movie - hold onto your seat!

The stag­ger­ing truth here is - that what you have just read is not the­ory but au­then­tic his­tory. It can all be found in archival records at Lon­don, Wash­ing­ton and Berlin.

A much eas­ier path to fol­low to con­firm the truth would be to visit MUN’s QEII Li­brary and read the mem­oirs of Sir Win­ston Churchill pub­lished in 1953. The whole story with its many twists and turns can also be found in my book “Bat­tle­front New­found­land” pub­lished in 2006.

How did this es­cape pub­lic scru­tiny all this time? Frankly put, the cover story had been so suc­cess­ful it be­came “the truth” in the pub­lic mind.

In writ­ing his mem­oirs, Churchill ex­plained that al­most ev­ery Gen­eral, Ad­mi­ral and Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer who served in the war will want to con­trib­ute their ver­sions of the war but “I was the only per­son who knew the truth and I needed to write it so his­tory would not be dis­torted.”

Only Churchill knew the au­then­tic truth! Only Churchill told it! The two Churchill books con­firm­ing these facts are: “Tri­umph and Tragedy,” 1953, pages 392, 393 and “The Great Al­liance,” 1953, p476.

An added in­ter­est­ing part of Churchill’s mem­oirs re­ferred to the ut­ter dis­dain he held to­wards Gen­eral Haig whom New­found­land hon­oured af­ter the First World War. Churchill blamed Haig for the loss of sol­diers at Beau­mont Hamel be­cause the Gen­eral knew that the Ger­mans were wait­ing over the hill with ma­chine guns ready to mow them down.

His de­fence of this seem­ingly cold-blooded ac­tion was that the sac­ri­fice was nec­es­sary.

When Churchill vis­ited Haig while re­search­ing his mem­oirs he was bold and up­front in telling Haig how he felt about that de­ci­sion. The in­ter­view pro­ceeded on a friendly ba­sis and Churchill felt Haig had treated him gra­ciously.

Churchill lis­tened to Haig then re­turned home to com­plete his mem­oirs.

The Pla­cen­tia Bay meet­ing made all the dif­fer­ence in the out­come of the Sec­ond World War. Un­til this gen­uine story of what took place in New­found­land at the Churchill-FDR Sum­mit in 1941 is rec­og­nized, New­found­land’s true role in the Sec­ond World War his­tory will re­main un­known.

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