Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Hitler?
While Andrew Roberts’s new biography of Winston Churchill – “Churchill: Walking with Destiny” – is a serious assessment of the great man, it does contain approximately 250 jokes made by Churchill himself. Here are Andrew’s four favourites:
1 In the confidence motion of July 2, 1942, when he was attacked over the many shortcomings of the A22 tank, Churchill joked, “As might be expected, it had many defects and teething troubles, and when these became apparent the tank was appropriately rechristened the Churchill.”
2 On June 6, 1944, two days after D- Day, an MP demanded that the same mistakes would not be made as after the First World War. “I am sure that the mistakes of that time will not be repeated,” Churchill replied. “We shall probably make another set of mistakes.”
3 In the confidence motion of November 1941, Churchill said of his critics, “There was a custom in Imperial China that anyone who wished to criticise the Government had the right to . . . and, provided he followed that up by committing suicide, very great respect was paid to his words, and no ulterior motive was assigned. That seems to me to have been, from many points of view, a wise custom, but I certainly would be the last to suggest that it should be made retrospective.”
4 In Nov 1943, he caught a serious bout of pneumonia, with inflammation of the lungs that required the summoning of a team of six doctors from Cairo under Brigadier R. J. V. Pulvertaft, as well as two nurses and an X- ray machine. John Martin said there were so many medics around that he could not get into his office. Churchill kept his sense of humour throughout. Asked for a blood sample by Pulvertaft, he said, “You can use my finger, or my ear, and, of course, I have an almost infinite expanse of arse.”