“Churchill, Walking with Destiny,” by Andrew Roberts Thoughts on Churchill by Richard J, Garfunkel 2-27-19

As I make my way through Andrew Roberts’ most remarkable book, “Churchill, Walking with Destiny,” I noted a wonderful quote on page 675. That night, regarding the Atlantic Conference. In this August 10th, meeting, Churchill and his entourage had dinner, with eight Americans, President Roosevelt, and his dog Fala, on the American cruiser. USS Augusta, anchored in Argentia Bay. Of course, this was the occasion of their critical meeting and the crafting of the Atlantic Charter.

Later, Captain Richard Pim, a naval attaché to Prime Minister Churchill noted, “I think it was felt by everyone present that (upon) the reaction of these two great leaders, perhaps the greatest for many generation, to each other, and the wisdom of their counsels, that the freedom of the world might well depend.” What a great statement and so true.

Note in the top picture, President Roosevelt and PM Churchill are surrounded in the back by Admiral King, General Marshall, British General Dill, Admiral Stark, and British Admiral Pound. In the back left are President Roosevelt’s advisers: Harry Hopkins and Averell Harriman. Also see the two great leaders on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales surrounded by British naval personnel.

As I reach page 775, in the massive and most informative Andrew Roberts’ book on Winston Churchill, the most pivotal year in possibly world history, 1942, enters into the modern calendar. That tumultuous year began with the reality that the Nazi hordes were at the gates of Moscow and Leningrad and driving into the Ukraine, the bread belly of Russia as the Japanese in the wake of their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, were rampaging through the Pacific, Asia, and the Philippines. On the high seas, the German U-Boat menace was sinking hundreds of thousands of tons of Allied shipping, from the mid-Atlantic, to the British Isles and far into the North Sea to the Russian ports of Archangel and Murmansk.

As 1942 opened up, there were many dark days ahead and one could say that between January and June of 1942, one disaster, after another, happened to the Allies. The British surrendered Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. American forces in the Philippines, which were holding out at Bataan and Corregidor collapsed, Tobruk in Tripoli capitulated to the Afrika Korps under Rommel, and British positions in Egypt were threatened as General Claude Auchinleck, who replaced General Archibald Wavel was removed by Churchill. Even the British were being tested and challenged in India by Gandhi’s Congress Party.

But a few days into June, the US Navy achieved one the greatest naval victories in history at Midway, the Russians halted the Germans at Stalingrad, and eventually destroyed the Wehrmacht’s 6th Army, and in Egypt, Churchill’s newest commander of the British 8th Army, General Bernard Law Montgomery, turned the tide at El Alamein.

No matter what would proceed in the next three years of very tough fighting on, on many fronts, the Axis Powers had reached the height of their conquests, power and advancement.

By the latest chapter, “One Continent Redeemed,” massive US and British forces land in North Africa, under the overall command of General Eisenhower. The German forces in the Afrika Korps and the 10th Panzer were squeezed from the east and the west into their last redoubt in Tunisia. Eventually North Africa from Egypt to Morocco would be liberated as the next phase of WWII would begin!

A number of years ago, I went to a lecture series given at Reid Hall at Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY, which at one time was the home of the Ogden Reid’s. That particular evening there was a talk given by Eleanor Roosevelt’s biographer, Blanche Wiesen Cook. As she was introduced, it was mentioned that Helen Rogers Reed, (1882-1970), the mother of Congressman Ogden Reid, (who passed away two weeks ago at age 94) was a great friend of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Of course, ironically, as publisher of NY’s Herald-Tribune, FDR was never endorsed by the paper.

By the way, Reid Hall, is a four-story, L-shaped building built of granite blocks in the Renaissance Revival style. It features a five-story tower and a corbelled battlement parapet that conceals a flat roof. It was designed by Stanford White and built in 1892 as a dwelling for Whitelaw Reid. Frederick Law Olmsted was hired to landscape his estate. Reid Hall occupies the footprint of the previous property owner Ben Holladay’s Ophir Hall, which burned down and was rebuilt by Reid with the massive granite crenellated mansion. The building was expanded in 1912 by McKim, Mead & White with a large library wing and guest cottage.

Thus, what is the connection between Mrs. Reid and Winston Churchill? After meeting in Quebec, August of 1943, at the Quadrant Conference, in August, Sicily was already in the hands of the Allies and the Germans were in full retreat on the Russian front. When Churchill returned to the United States he met for lunch with the president at the South Portico of the White House. Joining them was Mrs. Ogden Reid (Helen Rogers Reid), who was a long-standing proponent of Indian independence. Andrew Roberts writes of the exchange that followed. “Mrs. Reid asked Churchill, “What do you intend to do about those wretched Indians?” Churchill replied, “To which Indians you refer? Do you be any chance refer to the second greatest nation on earth which under the benign and beneficent British rule has multiplied and prospered exceedingly, or do you mean the unfortunate Indians of the North American continent, which under your administration are practically extinct?’ Roosevelt, who had seated her next to Churchill hoping for such an eruption, was convulsed with laughter. (page 793).

At the Quebec Conference at the Chateau Frontenac, where we had our honeymoon, almost 50 years ago are seated Canadian PM McKenzie King, (a great friend of FDR), the Earl of Athone, Governor-General of Canada, FDR, Princess Alice, the Earl’s wife, and Winston Churchill.

“Churchill, Walking with Destiny,”

Andrew Roberts

March 8, 2019


In a lesson for today, regarding the rise of authoritative fascism around the world and a blind allegiance to one man rule here in our country, Andrew Roberts, cites an interesting vignette in the midst of his chapter, “Apotheosis of Appeasement.”

While Churchill was unveiling a monument to the late T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) in October 1936, Churchill was asked at a dinner whether there will be a war. “Certainly,” he replied, “a very terrible war in which London will be bombed and Buckingham Palace will be razed to the ground….”

Meanwhile, Lawrence, another good friend of Churchill, to die young, had been killed in a motorbike accident, a year and one-half before in May of 1935, and aged only forty-seven.

Churchill stated, “He (Lawrence) was indeed a dweller upon the mountain tops where the air is cold, crisp and rarefied, and where the view on clear, cold, days commands all the Kingdoms of the world and the glory of them.”

He wrote in Lawrence’s obituary, “Just as an aeroplane only flies by speed and pressure against the air, so he flew his best and easiest in the hurricane. He was not in complete harmony with the normal. The fury of the Great War raised the pitch of life to the Lawrence standard. The multitudes were swept forward until the pace was the same as his. In this heroic period he found himself in perfect relation both to men and events!”


Have reached halfway in this massive tome, as the era of Appeasement has ended with the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. Britain declares war on the 3rd of September, and Churchill, after 10 years in the political wilderness, is finally re-appointed to the Cabinet by Neville Chamberlain.

 Christmas 1941 in Washington

Richard J. Garfunkel

Christmas 2017

On December 22, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met Winston Churchill, the wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain at the White House. It was a difficult trip across the North Atlantic Ocean during the winter. He and his staff had taken the overnight train from London to Greenock on the Clyde. They reached the battleship Duke of York on the morning of December 13, 1941, three days after her sister ship the Prince of Wales and the heavy cruiser Repulse had been sunk by Japanese torpedo bombers off Malaya.

It was a rough crossing, beset by gales and high seas, which splashed over the decks which were off-limits for three days. Eventually the Duke of York arrived at Newport News, Virginia, and the rest of Churchill’s retinue arrived in Washington after midnight. The original plan for Churchill was to sail up the Potomac, so he could disembark, a short drive to the White House. But, Churchill was impetuous, and after spending 10 tumultuous days at sea, he decided to put ashore at Hampton Roads so that he would fly the remaining 120 miles to Washington. Churchill landed at the new National Airport and FDR and Harry Hopkins were parked on the tarmac, awaiting his arrival. FDR, Churchill and his immediate entourage ride in two government-owned Cadillacs, named, because of their bulk after the two great British ocean liners, the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary. Both cars weigh over 8000 pounds and are equipped with a full arsenal of ammunition, two-way radios, and heavy duty generators.

Of course, this would begin an unprecedented three week stay at the White House, where the two leaders of the free world would plan their coming efforts to take on both the Nazis, who with their allies and friends, occupied most of Europe and the rampaging Japanese warlords, who had control of the most of the East Coast of China, Indochina, vast reaches of the Pacific, and were threatening Australia.

On Christmas Eve, of 1941, in those dark days after the Pearl Harbor attack, and the Declaration of War upon the United States by Germany and its Axis partners, FDR and Churchill stood on a White House balcony an addressed 20,000 onlookers, who gathered in the twilight, as a crescent moon hung overhead. FDR pressed a button to the light the tree and then he spoke to the crowd of onlookers. He said, “Our strongest weapon in this war is that the conviction of the dignity and brotherhood of man which Christmas Day signifies. Winston Churchill then spoke, “Here, in the midst of war, raging and roaring over all the lands and seas, creeping nearer to our hearts and homes, here amid all the tumult, we have tonight the peace of sprit in each cottage home and in every generous heart. Here, then, for one night only each home… should be a brightly lighted island of happiness and peace.”

I just finished another FDR-Churchill book regarding their Christmas together at the White House from December 22, 1941 through the next three weeks. The others were Pearl Harbor Christmas by Stanley Weintraub and The Big Sleepover at the White House, by James Mikel Wilson.  We also got to hear a very interesting lecture on Churchill’s paintings by his granddaughter Edwina Sandys at the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach. Great fun was had by all.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized by admin. Bookmark the permalink.

About admin

A lifelong New Yorker, who now lives full-time in Palm Beach County, Richard was raised in Mount Vernon, New York and he was educated in the Mount Vernon public schools He graduated from Boston University with a BA in American History. After spending a year on Wall Street as a research analyst with Bache & Co., he joined a manufacturing and importing firm, where over the next twenty-five years he rose to the position of chief operating officer. After the sale of that business, Richard entered into the financial services field with Metropolitan Life and is a Registered Representative, who has been associated with Acorn Financial Services which is affiliated with John Hancock Life Insurance Company of Boston, Ma. Today, he is a retired broker who had specialized in long-term care insurance and financial planning. One of Richard’s recent activities was to advise and encourage communities to seek ways to incorporate “sustainability and resiliency” into their future infrastructure planning. After a lifetime in politics, with many years working as a district leader, which involved party organizational work, campaign chair activity and numerous other political tasks, Richard has been involved with numerous civic and social causes. In recent years, Richard served in 2005 as the campaign coordinator of the Re-Elect Paul Feiner Campaign in Greenburgh, NY and he again chaired Supervisor Feiner’s successful landslide victory in 2007. Over the next few years, he advised a number of political candidates. He has served as an appointed Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, with responsibilities regarding the town’s “liaison program.” He was a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board of the Town of Greenburgh, NY. Richard has lectured on FDR, The New Deal and 20th century American history in the Mount Vernon schools, at the Westchester Council of Social Studies annual conference in White Plains, and at many senior citizen groups, which include appearances at the Old Guard of White Plains, the Rotary Clubs of Elmsford and White Plains, and various synagogue groups around Westchester. In the winter of 2006 Richard was the leader of the VOCAL forum, sponsored by the Westchester County Office of Aging, which addresses the concerns of Westchester County’s Intergenerational Advocacy Educational Speak-out forums for senior citizens. Richard has given lectures for the Active Retirement Project, which is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center on the Hudson, the Greenburgh Hebrew Center, and other groups around Westchester County. Richard also is the founder and Chairperson of the Jon Breen Memorial Fund, that judges and grants annual prizes to students at Mount Vernon High School who submit essays on public policy themes. He also sponsors the Henry M. Littlefield History Prize for the leading MVHS history student. Richard serves on the Student College Scholarship Committee of Mount Vernon High School. In past years Richard chaired and moderated the Jon Breen Fund Award’s cablecast program with the Mayor and local and school officials. Richard has been a member of Blythedale Children’s Hospital’s Planned Giving Professional Advisory Board, and was a founding member of the committee to re-new the FDR Birthday Balls of the 1930’s and 1940’s with the March of Dimes’ effort to eliminate birth defects. Their renewal dinner was held at Hyde Park on January 30, 2003. Richard is currently an active contributor to the Roosevelt Institute, which is involved in many pursuits which included the opening of the Henry A. Wallace Center at Hyde Park, and the Eleanor Roosevelt – Val-Kill Foundation. In 2007, he proposed to the City of Mount Vernon an effort to develop an arts, educational, and cultural center as part of a downtown re-development effort. Richard was a team partner with the Infrastructure & Energy Solutions Group. IEFG which has developed innovative strategies for the 21st Century. Richard hosted a weekly program on WVOX-1460 AM radio, called “The Advocates,” which was concerned with “public policy” issues. The show, which was aired from 2007 until May 15, 2013, has had amongst its guests; Representative Charles Rangel, Chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, along with hundreds of others. All the 300 shows are archived at http://advocates-wvox.com. Richard currently gives lectures on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR and the Jewish Community, The New Deal, FDR and Douglas MacArthur, 20th Century American Foreign Policy Resulting in Conflict, and Israel’s Right to Exist. Richard lives in Boynton Beach, Fl, with his wife Linda of 44 years. They have two married children. Their daughter Dana is a Rutgers College graduate, with a MS from Boston University, and is the Assistant Director of Recruitment at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Their son Jon is an electrical engineering graduate of Princeton University and a senior software architect at NY/Mellon Bank in NYC. Richard J. Garfunkel rjg727@comcast.net Recent Appearances: KTI Synagogue, Rye Brook, NY- Long Term Care & Estate Conservation- Anshe Shalom Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY- Long Term Care- American Legion Post, Valhalla, NY- Long Term Care and Asset Protection- Doyle Senior Ctr, New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care and Asset Protection- AME Methodist Ministers, New Rochelle, NY, LTC and Charitable Giving- Profession Women in Construction, Elmsford, NY, LTC and Business Benefits- Kol Ami Synagogue- White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Disability - Beth El Men's Club-New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care-Is it Necessary- Greater NY Dental Meeting Javits Ctr, NY, NY- LTC and Disability- IBEW Local #3 , White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Asset Protection, Health Fair -Bethel Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY-LTC and Disability, Heath Fair- Riverdale Mens Club CSAIR- Riverdale, NY- LTC- Life Weight Watchers of Westchester and the Bronx-LTC and Tax Implications Sunrise Assisted Living of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, NY-LTC Sprain Brook Manor of Scarsdale-LTC- November 15, 2001 Sunrise Assisted Living of Stamford, Connecticut, February 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, February, 2002 The Old Guard Society of White Plains, NY, April, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY August, 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, October, 2002 JCC of Scarsdale, Scarsdale, NY, November, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY, January, 2003 The Rotary Club of White Plains, NY January, 2003 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY April, 2003 Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, NY January, 2004 Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, NY March 2004 Kol Ami/JCC of White Plains, NY November, 2004 The Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, January 2005 The Sunrise of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, April, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, November, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, December, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, January, 2005 Rotary Club of Elmsford, April, 2006 Kiwanis Club of Yonkers, June, 2006 Greenburgh Jewish Center, November, 2006 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, February, 2007 Hebrew Institute, White Plains, March, 2007 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, NY, April, 2007 Westchester Meadows. Valhalla, November, 2007 Hebrew Institute. White Plains, November, 2007 Art Zuckerman Radio Show- January, 2008 JCC of the Hudson, Tarrytown, February, 2008 Matt O’Shaughnessy Radio Show, March, 2008 WVOX –Election Night Coverage, November, 2008 WVOX – Inaugural Coverage, January 20, 2009 The Advocates-host of the WVOX Radio Show, 2007- 2010 Rotary Club of Pleasantville, February, 2009 Hebrew Institute of White Plains, May, 2009 JCC Hudson, Tarrytown, December, 2009-10-11-12 Brandeis Club, Yonkers, March 25, 2010

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *