All posts by Richard K. Munro (Auld Munro)

Like Russell Kirk, I am a great admirer of the late Gilbert Highet. I am the president and founder of the Gilbert Highet Society (on Facebook) which includes many scholars and authors. I was intensely homeschooled as a boy learning English phonics, drama, and oratory as well as the history of the Raj and British Empire where my people prominently served as Empire builders in the Merchant Marine, Indian Civil Service or Highland Regiments. My people specialized in building ships, trains, bridges and were interpreters or scouts for the British Army or Navy for generations. For many generations, it was the desire of each son of Munro, Fraser, MacFarlane or MacKenzie to go a-soldiering far "frae the hame" and to return to marry a woman of his faith "and race and line" and by that was meant to marry a woman of the Gaeltacht (Gaidhealteachd). Two things changed this pattern forever. 1) the depopulation of the Highlands from 1790-1890 meaning there was no place to go home to and 2) the Catastrophe of what we called An Cogadh Mor (the Big War) and An Cogadh Hitler (the Hitler War) 1914-1945. This led to the biggest catastrophe of all -the British Empire went smash and so we became "Orphans of Empire." But the old Highland prophecy sang "Is gearr gach reachd ach riaghailt Dhe" (Each realm is short but the Kingdom of God. " We have seen many Empires rise and fall. I am a teacher of English, Spanish.& history. Author of Spying for the Other Side, KIM PHILBY &The Historic El CID. I have authored one-act plays such as "Euripides' Trojan Women (Calliope),"Romans on the Rhine", "Clad in Gold Our Young Mary" "Beneath Alexandria's Sapphire Sky" among others. Certified teacher in history, Spanish and English. MA Spanish Literature. BA with Honors (NYU '78) winner of Helen M. Jones Prize for History. ISI Fellow UVA 2004-2005. Board of Advisors PRO-ENGLISH I have edited galleys of several books but especially CHURCHILL WALKING WITH DESTINY for my dear friend Andrew Roberts with whom it was my honor to serve. I consider this biography to be the greatest biography of our time both for history and as literature. I Have taught Spanish for Native Speakers, AP US HISTORY, AP Spanish as well as English for Learners in the USA and Spain. My specialty is English literacy for newcomers (emphasizing phonics, diction, and grammar) and sheltered English immersion Social Studies (history) for English learners. I believe in sheltered English immersion for newcomers (English language books, notes, tests and quizzes with some translation and bilingual glossaries available. I have a New Wine Credential. I am married with three children. Two of our children are teachers and one is an engineer. I am proud to have served as a peacetime "Ice Cream" Marine (reserves) and to hold an honorable discharge from USMCR. My people served in the Armies of many Allied Powers 1914-1945; we served under the King's and Queen's Colours of the Red, White ,and Blue of the United Kingdom in every generation since 1707. No one "in my race and line" (to use the old expression) was ever conscripted or press-ganged into service. The graves of my kith and kin who answered the call are found in American and Allied cemeteries around the globe. Spain. Italy. Greece, Belgium, France, Germany. Guadalcanal, North Africa, Burma, India. I have made pilgrimages to many of these places. Perhaps the saddest are the Menin Gate (Ypres), Normandy and Dunkirk. Dozens of close family friends and relatives were killed there including the entire football team of my father's youth. Along with the 51st Highland Division, every single man was killed, wounded or captured. There was no evacuation for them. Captain Patrick Munro was a POW for five years. Many died "fo sgail a Swastika"(under the dark shadow of the Swastika) as slave laborers in the mines and factories of the 3rd Reich. NE OBLIVISCARIS...do not forget. Caisteal Folais Na Theine; the signal fire was set and we answered the call. (An Gairm). The Brave will be tried and no hero is proof against wound. God made man strong only for a while so that he could serve the Chief and help others. Never seek a fight but never shun one either. Touch not this cat but with a glove. My parents emigrated to the USA when young in 1923 and 1927. The war destroyed the fragile economic communities from which they came and essentially no one ever returned. They became US citizens and were Americans by choice. Both graduated from public high school and were the first and only members of their families to graduate from high school and go on to college. My mother was an RN and came from a strict Free Church Calvinist family. My father had a BA in English and French Comparative Literature and was a Roman Catholic. They were married in two separate Catholic and Anglican ceremonies. No one in my mother's family came to either wedding and during the entire war period, my mother had no contact with her mother and family. Needless to say, from a young age I was exposed to great sectarian hatreds and prejudices and this almost destroyed my Christian faith altogether. What saved me? The love of good Christians; the forgiveness of good Christians. I am a direct descendant of the recusant Gaels of Ferindonald baptized by the martyr Father Robert Munro in the 18th century. My father's mother was baptized in Oban, Scotland by Father Allan MacDonald and my father by Father Collins (St. Anthony's Glasgow). Both religious were graduates of the Scots College in Valladolid (Spain) and spoke fluent Italian and Spanish. In the 20th Century, my family emigrated to the Americas (Chile, Canada, and the USA) My uncle worked in Chile and Argentina circa 1914-1936 and my father was an American officer in Texas, Louisiana and the Pacific Theater during WWII. My father was a notable amateur linguist ( reading ancient Greek, Latin, speaking Tagalog, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian). I grew up in a multilingual cosmopolitan household and cannot remember a time when I spoke, sang or heard only English. My mother played the piano and sang in five languages. I lived and studied in Spain and got my MA in Spanish Literature there via the University of Northern Iowa under the legendary Adolfo Franco Pino. I first visited Spain and Italy in 1964. My primary interest is in classical literature (chiefly English and Spanish), history, music, and poetry particularly the music and literature of the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands. Cuimhnich air na daoine bhon tainig mise (I remember the people I came from...the Gaels of Cioch Mhor in Ferindonald). Most of my family today is Spanish-speaking (Spain, Mexico, Chile and the USA). Most of us follow the faith of St. Maelrubha, St. Columba, St. Patrick and St. Mungo. Of course, no Highlander ever recognized St. Andrew as a patron per se as he was later accretion of lowlanders as worthy as St. Andrew is. I was married in Spain and my son was married in Mexico. Every marriage in our family for centuries has a direct or indirect connection to Spain either through marriage in Spain or marriage by priests educated in the Scots College in Spain or Rome. I believe in the policy of the Buen Vecino (the Good Neighbor) and in la conviviencia (peaceful coexistence) of different cultures, languages and religions. I realize I am the very last of my race but am glad to be the father of a new race of Americans whose blood comes from the peoples and races of four continents. Hyphenations can be good descriptors but they are usually a temporary condition like bilingualism. Monolingualism, cultural diffusion and assimilation are the natural tendency of the human race.

The soldier’s return

For gold the merchant ploughs the main, The farmer ploughs the manor; But glory is the sodger’s prize, The sodger’s wealth is honour. The brave poor sodger ne’er despise, Nor count him as a stranger: Remember he’s his country’s stay, In day and hour o’ danger. ROBERT BURNS

This was the music played i n Glasgow, May 1919 as the Argylls mustered out to join their families. My father was four years old but remembered it clearly and his first look at his father who seemed to him a bronze god in kilt and glengarry.

SCOTLAND THE BRAVE! THEY CAME INTO THE RANKS TO FIGHT FOR KING AND COUNTRY AND LITTLE BELGIUM!

4th August 1914 – 5th May 1919

by RICHARD K. MUNRO

On August 4th 1914, Great Britain declared war on Germany. It was a decision that is seen as the start of World War One. Britain, led by Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, had given Germany an ultimatum to get out of Belgium by midnight of August 3rd. Churchill wrote “It was eleven o’clock at night – twelve by German time – when the ultimatum expired. The windows of the Admiralty were thrown wide open in the warm night air. Under the roof from which Nelson had received his orders were gathered a small group of admirals and captains and a cluster of clerks, pencils in hand, waiting. Along the Mall from the direction of the Palace, the sound of an immense concourse singing ‘God save the King’ floated in. On this deep wave there broke the chimes of Big Ben; and, as the first stroke of the hour boomed out, a rustle of movement swept across the room. The war telegram, which meant, “Commence hostilities against Germany”, was flashed to the ships and establishments under the White Ensign all over the world. I walked across the Horse Guards Parade to the Cabinet room and reported to the Prime Minister and the Ministers who were assembled there that the deed was done.”

News of the war spread all across Britain. In Scotland, men and women were waiting in the street into the night. Then the news spread that Britain was at war. In the air at a great distance cheering could be heard the rousing skirl of pipers. An Argyll recruiting band with pipers and drums was marching down Govan Road in Govan Glasgow (South Glasgow). They played all the well-known tunes of glory: HIGHLAND LADDIE, THE CAMPBELLS ARE COMING, ALL THE BLUE BONNETS, SIR COLIN CAMPBELL’S FAREWELL TO CRIMEA, SCOTS WHA HAE: “We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free.”  Thomas Munro, Sr, (Auld Pop) and his friends and their wives were standing on the corner of Harmony Row and Govan Rd near St. Anthony’s RC church. The cheered and waived their handkerchiefs as the band grew near.

Most were shipbuilders at John Brown shipyards. Most were mature Empire builders from the early 20’s to early 40’s. Many were former soldiers and had served in India or South Africa. Others had been in the Merchant Marine or had built railroads and bridges in South America, Africa, India and Australia. They cheered as they saw the band approach and marched out after it, joyously. A crier called out. “WHO WOULD DEFEND KING AND COUNTRY? WHO WILL JOIN US? ” They would defend King and Country! Down the road. There was a recruiting table with flags. with officers in full dress uniforms surrounded by pipers. My father told me a Laird’s son and some other prominent men were there to volunteer. first. Then a speaker told a story of a little neutral nation -BELGIUM -invaded by the Hun and all the channel ports threatened. England is in danger! Scotland is in danger. Great Britain is in danger!

Sometimes I hear stories that the men of 1914 did not know what they were fighting for. There were some boys aged 16 or so but most of them were mature men. They knew EXACTLY why Britain was fighting. To save Belgium and to stop Germany from ruling Europe and thus be in a position to strangle the British Isles and take the bread and butter and mutton our of the mouths of their wives and children!

So as my father told me from what my grandfather told him, there were speeches and flags and barrels of whisky for those who signed up! My father said they must have made quite a party of it and they were there most of the night. Since many of them were married men they had to have been drunk to sign up for war service! They signed up for three years or for the length of the war. I know from my father’s baptismal certificate that originally my grandfather (and his pals signed up for the 3rd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders). They did training at Sterling Castle and later outside of London. Later they were drafted into the 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherland HIghlanders (Dec 1914) and those men saw service in France and Belgium from January 1915. They saw heavy fighting at 2nd Ypres especially April-May 1915. They witnessed the first poison gas attack in history on April 22, 1915. Only a handful ever saw Scotland again.

Now one of my grandfather’s best friends before August 1914 was no other than Willie Gallacher (later a Communist MP for Scotland). My father and grandmother and my father’s sister and brother all knew Willie. Willie was not a Communist in 1914 but like many of the men had deep sympathies with Socialist or Marxist thought. Gallacher often had dinner at my grandfather’s place and they would talk politics My grandmother, who was a devout Catholic, often dismissed Gallacher’s arguments and said, “they were just one man’s opinion. You can’t just make up rules as you go along. God made man in his own image. The good man dreads God and obeys his commandments for that is the whole duty of man.” My grandmother said Willie never helped with the dishes preferring to smoke cigars and pontificate. To Mrs. Munro Red Willie -as she called him- was puffed up with self-importance. His desire was to feel superior and to threaten revolution. How dare Willie Gallacher say the Catholic Faith was just a trick to make the workers bear woes and exploitation on earth in the hope of a “alleged” paradise in heaven! She said the Communists and Socialist abandoned the commandments of God for THEIR OWN pipe dreams and castles in the sky, My grandmother loved the church and the local priests of her parish. To her the priests and missionaries and sisters of the church were gentle heroes full of self-sacrifice and the mother virtue of humility. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28) Mrs Munro would NEVER spin out to the side of the what she viewed as “the dark angels of Satanic forces.”

In any case, my grandfather’s best friend was “American” Johnny Robertson. Grandfather had known him from his time in America and Robertson had worked for Thomas Edison in NJ. (He showed me as a boy pictures of Robertson in the museum in Orange, NJ with Edison). Robertson happened to be visiting and HE was induced to sign up with his Scottish Pals in the Argylls (even though he was a naturalized American citizen at that time). Hence his moniker “American Johnny.” Unlike, Willie Gallacher, American Johnny was a staunch anti-Communist. He had been a great admirer of Theodore Roosevelt and his family and voted for him once or twice. Johnny had no patience at all with the Far Left of the Red Clyde. So in Johnny my grandmother had ally and she and her friends favored his friendship over the friendship of Willie Gallacher.

So everyone joined up except Willie Gallacher. Willie sneaked away early in the evening and did NOT volunteer although he had said he was with the lads. Later Gallacher was arrested for anti-War activity and my grandmother and her friends brought him food in the jail. Later my father’ s sister later married his kinsman Donnie Gallacher but it was a very unhappy marriage as Donnie was unfaithful. My grandfather and Johnny Robertson and all the others thought Gallacher was a traitor and a coward. Auld Pop often said, “the Gallachers are a treacherous race . They have no honour.”

Of the brave Scottish pals of August 4, 1914 many were killed at 2nd Ypres. Only three men in his company were still on active service by January 1919, Auld Pop (Thomas Munro, Sr.), Johnny Robertson and Jimmy Quigley. When my grandfather returned to Scotland in May 1919 from Constantinople, he saw Willie and said:

” Mr. Gallacher, I have nothing to say to you.”

My grandfather was told if he didn’t go along with the Union leaders he would never work,

But Johnny Robertson said to him, “to hell with those cowardly Reds! Come to America with me! There’s many a dollar to be made and work and bread for al!”

So my grandfather became a bird of passage and worked in America from 1919 to 1927 with one brief return trip to Scotland in 1923. He sent money home to his wife, Mary Sweeney Munro, regularly, but his letters were very brief: “Dear Mary, Running to catch the post.”

My father, aunt, and uncle, as well as my great-grandfather Joel Munro, remained in Scotland until October 1927 though they visited my grandfather in America briefly in 1923. According the the list or manifest of Alien Passengers on the SS Transylvania they arrived in New York October 1, 1927 to join my grandfather. My father was 12 and that’s how he came to graduate from an American High School, Manuel Training High School (later John Jay and now defunct) and then go to Brooklyn College. My father and uncle unlike most of their boyhood friends and their fathers, served in the American forces during WWII.

I remember a poignant story. One afternoon shortly after having arrived my father was sitting on the steps of his Brooklyn apartment He said a strange man with a wee fuzzy dog came up to him and said, “Are you Tommie Munro? I am your father. This is my dog Fuzzy!.” Fuzzy was delighted to make a new friend. Auld Pop had picked up the dog as puppy in Galveston, Texas circa 1923 and had the dog for almost 20 years. Everyone used to say, “There goes Auld Pop with his wee dug.” My father had seen Auld Pop so infrequently that he didn’t even recognize him. That’s sad.

But my father always said that his father always took care of his family and worked hard regularly writing and sending money home to Scotland. When was father was a boy his biggest role model was “Uncle” Johnny Dorian, his fourth grade teacher and later Headmaster of the St. Anthony’s RC school. Johnny Dorian was a Sweeney on his mother’s side and his mother was my grandmother’s sister. My father saw a lot of his mother’s family when he was a boy especially Mrs. Quigley and Mrs. Dorian who had two daughter. The eldest Molly was very close to my father and gave him his first book “THE KEYS TO HEAVEN” which I still have. It is inscribed to “TOMMY FROM MOLLY MAY 1923”. It is a manual of prayers for the old Latin Mass. On the early pages it lists the “Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost: (WISDOM, UNDERSTANDING, COUNSEL, FORTITUDE, KNOWLEDGE, PIETY and THE FEAR OF THE LORD (or dreading and reverencing unto God),The Our Father, the Hail Mary. Molly and her sister never married and never came to America (they stayed at home to take care of their father).
My father told me their fiancees had been killed in the war. So my father never saw them again after 1927 though they exchanged correspondence and got the telegrams: AUNT ANNIE HAS PASSED AWAY (1936); JOHNNY ROBERTSON HAS MARRIED MRS MACKENZIE (1938); SADDEST OF NEWS JOHNNY ROBERTSON KILLED IN THE GLASGOW BLITZ (May 1941), CONDOLENCES On the death of MRS. MUNRO (MARCH 4, 1942) As Lewis Grassic Gibbon wrote in SUNSET SONG: ” there were lovely things in the world, lovely that didn’t endure, and the lovelier for that… Nothing endures.” Immigration to America had been very stressful for Mrs. Munro. She lived through the Great War in Glasgow every night there were the sound of blaring ambulance sirens bringing the wounded to hospitals. My grandmother lost two brothers, a brother-in-law and seven nephews and cousins. I always though it ironic that HER husband survived two world wars but in the end Auld Pop was the widow for the last twenty years of his life. The war cut the living heart out of Scotland. Many people don’t remember but Scotland, like France, suffered far worse than America. 74, 000 Scots were killed in the Great War far more than in the Second World War and they took about 200,000 casualties. many very serious. My grandfather’s Regiment alone (The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) had 7,131 officers and men killed and over 25,000 casualties.

My father, Fuzzy and Auld Pop would go on long walks and talk of many things. Often Johnny Robertson came along with them. They were only working men but were avid readers of newspapers and often looked up countries in their Atlases and almanacs. One the topics was the true nature of Socialism/Communism and the Moscow Trials in the 1930’s in which many of the heroes of the Russian Revolution were executed. Auld Pop had believed in “Socialism” as a young man but grew to hate Communism. He and Johnny Roberson were nationalists and loved America and Britain.

“Uncle Johnny”, as my father called Johnny Robertson made it very clear what he thought of the Communists. “They are the masters of deceit. Don’t trust a one of them. They may act like the Working Man’s friend but it’s all a Grand Illusion. A true Communist Party member follows ironclad discipline and will not brook any disagreement to dissent. They sell their souls to the Party.
“What does it profit them if they gain the whole world but lose their souls?” (Luke 9:25). So from my father’s teens he learned a deep Anti-Communism from Johnny Robertson and Auld Pop and this prepared him for his years at Brooklyn College (1933-1937) when he had many “Socialist” and “Communist” classmates.

Johnny said. ” Some are big mouth show-offs but others would stab you in the back or throw a bomb in an open crowd just for fun! The Communist teaching say,s “Property is theft” and the whole history of the world is a class struggle between so-called “Capitalists” who own the means of production such as the mines, factories, ships, railroads and the so-called “Proletariat” the workers exploited by the Capitalist Bosses. It all starts with Karl Marx and the Communist Manifesto. They say the workers have nothing to lose but their chains, They think religion is just a trick to fool the “Proletarians.” They don’t believe in God or the bible and say God is dead, that is to say the does not exist. There ain’t no Ten Commandments in Communism and so we are just walking dust without any soul or spark nor was man made in the image of God because like they say God doesn’t exist. Communists believe say they believe in pure materialism or dialectal materialism but it is all bunk.” Johnny continued: “The Communists attack the domination of the ruling classes but they themselves want to dominate. They say they want to help the worker. But it is all a lie. What Communists really believe in is power. And they will do anything to get it. Cheat, steal, rob, destroy and murder. Look at Stalin and Soviet Russia! Sure, they expect landowners, property owners and “Capitalist Bosses” to submit peacefully and give up all their property for the good of the workers. Of course, if anyone resists the Communist they have to slaughtered, liquidated. And under Communism the individual counts for nothing. He is just a number, a digit. He is just a strong back carrying a bale of hay or a bag of coal. He is just two hands working the machines in the factory. In America like in Britain or Canada the individual has dignity and worth and is free and is protected by the rights and traditions that are part of our “splendid ancient heritage of freedom that goes back to Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence. Communism is just a delusion. It goes against all common sense. Everyone wants his own property his own things, his own wife, his own home.
And in America, every man is free and has rights. In Scotland the Communists like Willie Gallacher, our old friend, see a rich man in a motor car with a driver and say, “See that laddie! When the Revolution comes we will take that car away from him.” Well, in America if you see a rich man in fine car, chauffeur or not, an man can tell his son, “Lad, when you grow up you can have a car just like that…”

And Auld Pop would, add, “Aye, laddie or at least a wee Ford!.” My father laughed and loved talking with the two old Scots. Johnny always pointed out that HIS boss, Thomas Edison was a good man who cared about his workers and their families. “And in any case he was more interesting in inventing things than merely making money. Money isn’t the only thing is life. Never marry for money- you and borrow it cheaper. Marry a bonnie woman, not over all and not too young with a good honest character. Real wealth is family, love and friendship. Richness of experience enjoying music, your friend’s company, your mother and aunt singing fine songs at home or in the church. Generosity, giving of yourself and being grateful for everything you have because of your parents and grandparents and your country. Many good men did to keep this country and France and Britain and Belgium free. Never forget they made the Supreme Sacrifice” (ne obliviscaris DO NOT FORGET was a motto he and my grandfather repeated many times) . It was a motto of their old Regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlands, the original Thin Red Line of Heroes.

After the warUncle Johnny went back to Belgium, walked down the Menin Road again with solemnity, sadness and pride. He brought back a set of post cards of Ypres (before and after) which i still have along with some of his books which he gave to my father in 1938. Plays of Shaw, Kipling, poems of Burns.

One the favorite activities of the four friends was to see movies or listen to concerts (John McCormack or Rachmaninov ) or in the summer going to baseball games at Ebbets Field and, occasionally, Yankee Stadium so my father could see Babe Ruth. Later my father would take notes of some of the anecdotes his father told him but lamented he could never get him to settle down and be recorded. It made him too anxious. Auld Pop was also too anxious every to go to Fourth of July picnics. He couldn’t stand to hear the exploding rockets. My father said sometimes his father would tremble uncontrollably on the edge of the bed and would settle down only after having downed half a bottle of whisky. When my father and his brother and sister and mother went to Mass in America on Sundays, Auld Pop never went in. He stayed outside with Fuzzy and smoked with Jimmy Quigley, his nephew (and fellow Argyll veteran). Most of the men in my family were not religious. My father used to say, “I vote yes for eternal life but it is too good to be true.” My father had been, like his mother, a very devout Catholic as a boy. He and his brother attended Mass every Sunday in their kilts. His mother innocently dressed them up that way in the USA too which resulted in fist fights most Mondays at school against many Irish, Polish, Italian and Spanish boys of their very parish. So much for love of neighbor; it was another instance of nationalism trumping Christian brotherhood. Many were on the outside religious to others but on the inside they were full of selfishness and hypocrisy. My father had no use for the world of appearances. But my father never attacked the faith of his mother, whom he loved deeply nor ridiculed those who held sincere religious beliefs. He merely though the ritual and ceremony of many was a fraud. And of course they had another problem. Even though my grandmother was of Irish origin she and almost all of her family members in Glasgow or the south of Ireland were strong Unionists. She was never happy with the anti-British feeling of many of the Irish priests she met in America.

Jimmy Quigley was Thomas Munro wife’s sister’s son and had joined up with the Scottish Pals at age 16 making him the youngest man in the Regiment. Auld Pop had promised his wife and sister-in-law that he and Johnny would look after him. That Auld Pop did and he paid for a piper at his funeral at the relatively young ago of 52 in 1951. That left Auld Pop as the very last living survivor of his Old 1914 Regiment. It was a heavy burden.

The disaster of the Great War destroyed the fragile economic life of my family. They had come from the Islands and Highlands in the 1880’s and 1890’s to work in the Shipyards (many had stints in the Army or Merchant Marine). My grandfather had gone to sea as a boy apprentice at age 8 circa 1895 on a tall ship. He killed a Malay pirate with a Martini Henry rifle when he was 10. It was the job of the boy apprentices to bring ammunition to the sailors. They were under attack from pirates and the sailor near the captain was wounded to the captain told my grandfather to pick up the gun and start shooting. The rifle had a great kick and nearly knocked him over. His shoulder was badly bruised by the heavy gun. So he had a hard life as a boy. He used to say the only Christmas present he ever received was the drunken vomit of the sailors.

Auld Pop sailed around the world twice by the time his was 16. My great grandfather, Joel Munro, worked as a master plasterer in White Star and Cunard line ships as well as hotels in Montreal, Canada, New York, Belfast, Liverpool, London and of course Glasgow. He did the elegant plaster designs you used to see in old hotels and ship restaurants. Many of his brothers and cousins served in Highland Regiments in the 19th century and saw service all over the world.

After being at sea my grandfather went to work as helper to his father. So he went back and forth from Scotland to England, America and Canada many times before he was 20. In his 20’s took a job a the John Brown Shipyards in Glasgow. He met my grandmother Mary Sweeney on a tram in Glasgow while she was on the way to Mass at St. Anthony’s RC Church. She was talking to her sister, Mrs. Quigley, and she had a sweet voice with a dulcet Scots accent, lapsing into Gaelic. She was just over 20 and my grandfather thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He had to get to know her.

Auld Pop’s method was to take the tram every Sunday and become familiar to my grandmother by sight. After a few weeks he introduced himself to her and accompanied her to church. Father Collins, the parish priest said to him, Sir, you are a stranger to the parish and my grandfather reportedly said, ” Yes, father but not to the faith. ” Mary Sweeney was born in Oban, Argyll of what they used to call “joad-flittin’ hairst laddies and lassies” (migrant Irish farm laborers from Donegal and Cork) but they eventually settled in Glasgow. She came from a very large family. It is said her father ,Jimmy Sweeney and her mother Catherine Anne O’Rourke had over 100 grandchildren. When my grandparents were courting they used to take the Govan ferry to Kelvin Grove park to walk there. Sometimes they would go to organ concerts at the Kelvingrove Museum. They would have tea with “German biscuits” (later dubbed Empire biscuits). They married at St. Anthony’s in early 1910 and shortly thereafter that year my father’s oldest sister was born Helene (or Nelsie), followed by my father’s brother Jos in 1913. My father was born in 1915 while Auld Pop was in the trenches of the Ypres Salient.

UP THE ANTS! 11th March 1915 – 16th March 1915

My grandfather (Auld Pop) served in the 27th Division with many Indian Army soldiers whom the Scots called the “Dins” after Gunga Din of course. The soldiers Auld Pop respected the most were the Gurkhas of course but he had the closest relationship with the Sikh soldiers. My grandfather and his comrades observed the first use of poison gas on the Western Front on April 22, 1915. As they attacked, the Germans released chlorine gas from over 5,000 cylinders. These formed huge poisonous green clouds that drifted toward two French African divisions. Lacking any protection whatsoever and choking in the gas the French lines essentially collapsed. Those who stayed died and those who retreated were effectively out of action. This created a five-mile-wide gap in the Allied lines but the Germans troops, themselves inexperienced with their gas masks advanced very slowly and tentatively. They too were terrified at the poison fog. The British and Canadian troops without any protection except for handkerchiefs soaked in urine -by tradition the idea of Glasgow University medical students- moved forward to plug the gap. The British then withdrew to a second line of defense, leaving Ypres in Allied hands but virtually surrounded.

Casualties in the Second Battle of Ypres total 58,000 Allies and 38,000 Germans. The Argylls (1st Battalion) at one point experienced 36 days of continuous combat. The Germans and Allies would continue to battle over Ypres in 1916, 1917 and 1918. Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler both saw action there. Over 600,000 men were killed in the Ypres Salient; about 250,000 were British, Canadian and Commonwealth soldiers. Many of their names are commemorated on the Menin Gate and in the surrounding Commonwealth War Cemeteries.

From Dec 1914-March 1915 drafts of men from the 3rd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the 4th Battalion were sent to reinforce the depleted ranks of the 1st Battalion. Most of these men were volunteers for “Three Years or the duration of the War.” Among these men were my grandfather Thomas Munro, Sr., his best friend “American” Johnny Robertson (Scots-born but a naturalized US citizen) and Jimmy Quigley aged 16, his wife’s sister’s son-his mother was a Sweeney. Virtually everyone in my grandfather’s company “the Ants” was his pals with the odd Glasgow University student thrown in. The Ypres Salient was the meat grinder. The Argylls, wearing soft Glengarries (tin hats not yet deployed) suffered over 30% casualties in April alone. But they never yielded to the Germans despite overwhelming odds and by May 1915 they had more rifles than men. One tactic they used was having one man load rifles when the rest of the men in the section used rapid fire (20-30 rounds per minute). The Germans thought the British had invented some new kind of light machine gun. Of course, riflemen were more mobile than a heavy machine gun nest and that was a tactical advantage. The greatest danger was that the men would run out of ammunition, food, water, and supplies. For that, there were communication trenches leading back to the Menin Road. That’s was my grandfather’s job. He left his rifle behind and armed only with Webley pistols and grenades he carried heavy boxes (50 pounds or more) from the Menin Road to the front lines. He often came under heavy mortar fire and there was the danger of infiltration by German raiding parties. He had several close calls. But due to the communication system set up by Johnny Robertson (phone lines and colored rockets), the men coming from the rear could communicate if they were challenged by German infiltrators. Then, men from the front lines would charge back to clear out the German infiltrators. But it was often touch and go. The men carrying the boxes were not heavily armed nor carried much ammunition. Typically they would take cover behind their boxes toss a grenade or two and defend themselves with pistols hoping for rescue.

Once at 2nd Ypres (March-April-May 1915) Auld Pop was cut off and isolated in No Man’s Land. He and a few companions had taken cover under the sturdy stairwell of a Belgian farmhouse. The Colonel had written everyone off who had not made the retreat but the men in the front line trench could hear occasion Enfield gun fire from their former positions. They knew their friends -their comrades in arms- were still out there and fighting. They had “no surrendered!” They had “no been captured.”

But Johnny Robertson and the Argylls also knew they could not last for long without food, water and ammunition. All the men were under strict orders to hold their trench and not to advance or leave the trench without orders.

When night came they still heard sporadic Enfield gun fire. “American” Johnny Robertson as you, know was my grandfather’s best friend. Robertson was a corporal at that time and he pieced together from the other men that Auld Pop and men from his section had taken cover in the ruins of a Belgian farmhouse and were last seen firing furiously at the advancing Germans.

“American” Johnny decided to take matters in his own hands. He talked to his pals in Company A (The “Ants” called so because they hailed mostly from St. Anthony’s Parish in Govan and had played on the Ants, a local football (soccer) team). They agreed to lead a rescue patrol. To supplement their force American Johnny went to the Dins -the Indian troops. He knew my grandfather was well-known to them -and they called him Changa Dhost (the Good Comrade) and “Changa Gorai Spahis” (the Good White Soldier). Over a dozen of the Dins volunteered without hesitation. Their leader said in broken English “We save good Christian soldier. We save friend. Changa Dhost. Or we die. The Scots and Indian soldiers would communicate in a Hindi-Punjabi-Gaelic-English patois. Marve e (he is dead). Panee lao (bring water). Nan lao (bring bread/food). Chai lao (bring tea). mara(bad) changa (good). Cheldy cheldy! (quickly! quickly). .303 lao (ammunition). Dhost (comrade).

What act of philia love or Christian love moved them to risk their lives? We will never know. But these were loyal Dins who had served side by side with the Scots on the Northwest Frontier and now in Flanders. But I do know this: “American Johnny” led the patrol in the dark towards where he knew the ruins of the Belgian farmhouse were.

As they drew closer Johnny whistled a few bars of “Hielan’ Laddie”(a regimental march. Auld Pop whistled back. Johnny bravely called out:”UP THE ANTS!”

And Auld Pop answered “AYE, UP THE ANTS”Johnny made his way to their refuge and passed canteens all around. Auld Pop-famous in family story- told him: “Guid to see ye,Johnny -I was doon tae ma last Irishman! (he was hiding with his wife’s nephew Jimmy Quigley whom he promised to look after. You can see Jimmy in two of the old photographs taken at Ypres. He is the short, boyish looking one. I never knew him of course but my cousin (who is still living) and my father’s sister and my father mother knew him well in the 1930’s 1940’s and early 50’s in the USA. He was a sad fellow who drank heavily who never married and never got his life together after the war.

The Dins made the rear guard as they cautiously wended their way back to the Allied lines under the cover of darkness. The noise they made garnered some German attention and they began to take fire. Flares slowed their progress. There was sporadic rifle fire then machine gun then mortars. The Dins covered the retreat the entire way. Several were killed and others were wounded. But all the lost Argylls were recovered.

You might have thought Johnny would have won a medal but the Sergeant and the Colonel were furious he had disobeyed orders. Johnny was broken to the ranks. But he remained a legend in our family for his wisdom and for his loyalty and for his great courage. SAN PEUR (without fear) NE OBLIVISCARIS (do not forget: “I will give to them in my house, and within my walls, a place, and a name better than sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name which shall never perish.” (Isaiah 56:5) Yes, I will build for them a name and a memorial.  I will never forget the brave American volunteers and the more than one million Indian volunteers who served the Allied cause. An imperfect cause you might say but still over two World Wars a good and noble cause upon the whole.

WITH HEADQUARTERS GUARD IN CONSTANTINOPLE 1ST BATTALION ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS. 1st December 1918 – 5th May 1919

I have two photos of my grandfather while stationed in Constantinople with the 1st Battalion ASH. He told stories of visiting sights such as Hagia Sofia with his best squaddies Johnny Robertson and Jimmy Quigley. He said wherever the Highlanders went it was gang way and the Turks were very polite and submissive. He said they took no casualties and had no serious incidents with the Turks. He did say there was a mutiny when some of the men were told to assemble and go to Russia. As he told it the men were mostly volunteers for War Service and they refused to be deployed. The situation was defused but some NCO’s may have been demoted this time also. So I know my grandfather and his friends never went to Russia. In May 1919 when they were demobilized in Glasgow. The band played the Soldier’s Return. My father was four year old but remember being introduced to his Daddy by his mother who said to him “Tommy, this is your Daddy!” To my father his grandfather as a giant of a man in a kilt with a bonnet. And that was all he remembered from that reunion. My father was born March 10, 1915 and baptized March 17, 1915 while my grandfather was at 2nd Ypres in Belgium. But he never would have known his father without the Dins (the Brave Indian Volunteers) and “American” Johnny Robertson.

IN MEMORIAM:

Thomas Munro AHS, Sr. Dec 22 1886- June 9, 1962 MM,

John Robertson ASH1872- May 1941 (killed in Glasgow Blitz)

DICK MacDONALD PORTEOUS Distinguished Service Order
Captain, 1st Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders 
Killed in action on 10 May 1915. Age 31.
Son of Lieutenant-Colonel J. J. Porteous, CMG, late Royal Artillery, and Mrs. Porteous. 
YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL

“War Office, 15 April, 1915: His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the appointment of the undermentioned Officers to be Companions of the Distinguished Service Order, in recognition of their gallantry and devotion to duty whilst serving with the Expeditionary Force:

Captain Dick Macdonald Porteous, 1st Battalion, Princess Louise’s (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders).
For conspicuous gallantry on many occasions throughout the campaign. His very great daring and total disregard of danger on reconnaissance duty, especially at St. Eloi on 19th February, 1915, were most noticeable. Jimmy Quigley, Johnny Robertson and Thomas Munro Sr. went with “Auld Port” on many a night raid and were there when he was struck down (in official reports by a “stray bullet.”) My grandfather said Porteous was killed at the edge of the trench at the crack of dawn after a successful night raid. He always said “It was a German sniper for sure.”

May 10, 1915 was one of the worst days.
839 died on that Monday so long ago the tenth of May, 1915.

These are the Argylls of my grandfather’s unit that died that day:
Captain DICK MACDONALD PORTEOUS (D S O) 1st Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 
9492 Private JOSEPH LAWRIE 1st Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 
55 Private ALEXANDER KING 1st Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 
9812 Private GRAHAM 1st Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 
9967 Private JAMES REID HARPER 1st Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 
8817 Serjeant ANDREW JOHNSTONE 1st Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 
4/9435 Private HERBERT WHITE BELL 1st Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 
4/8636 Private BARTHOLOMEW LEE 1st Bn. ASH
9267 Private JAMES BOYLE 1st Bn. ASH 
1129 Private JAMES BURNSIDE 1st Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 
10311 Private JOHN GRAY 1st Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 
798 Private EDWARD McEWAN 1st Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 
196 Private ROBERT PAUL “A” Coy. 1st Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 
9909 Private PETER ROSS PRENTICE 1st Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 
1012 Private WILLIAM STEWART 1st Bn. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders


Private JOHN McDONNELL Highland Light Infantry
Lance Corporal JAMES D. HERIOT Highland Light Infantry
Private DAVID ATHYA Highland Light Infantry
Lance Corporal PATRICK MURRAY Highland Light Infantry
Private BRAND Highland Light Infantry

Rifleman BIRSAR GURUNG 4th Gurkha Rifles
Sepoy HARDIYAL 57th Wilde’s Rifles (Frontier Force)
Sepoy MIR BAZ 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force)
Sepoy AMAR SINGH 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force)
Sepoy RULIYA SINGH 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force)
Sepoy NABAT 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force)
Sepoy TARU 58th Vaughan’s Rifles (Frontier Force)
Sepoy TULSA SINGH 69th Punjabis
Lance Corporal ARTHUR HENRY WILLS 6th Dragoons (Inniskilling)
Jemadar NAKIA THAPA 7th Gurkha Rifles
Captain MARMADUKE J. N. ABBAY 87th Punjabis
Lance Naik KULMAN THAPA 8th Gurkha Rifles
Rifleman BALU THAPA 8th Gurkha Rifles
Rifleman BARSING THAPA 8th Gurkha Rifles
Corporal HAGAN Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Private HARRY HUTCHISON Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Private JOHN LINDSAY DUNCAN Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Serjeant ROBERTSON Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Private WILLIAM YOUNG Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Private JOSEPH FLEMING KELLY Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Private SIMPSON Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Lance Corporal JOSEPH MILTON Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Private JOHN ABERCROMBIE Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Lance Corporal WILLIAM KERR Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Private FOTHERINGHAM Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Private McDERMOTT Black Watch (Royal Highlanders
Serjeant SWAN Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Serjeant RANKIN Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

Yes, IN MEMORIAM.

And the all the Scottish Pals of the Ants, and of the Regiment, especially the 7, 131 officers and men who made the supreme sacrifice for the cause of freedom and for King and Country.

Their comrades of the Highland Light Infantry (HLI )(Captain Colin Campbell Mitchell MC battlefield commission to the Argylls from the ranks He was the father of “Mad Mitch”, the WWII and Korean veteran. Colin Campbell, Sr was awarded two Military Crosses.

Also let us remember kinsmen of Mairi MacInnes and Helen MacInnes (wife of Gilbert Keith Highet)

McINNES, T
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
19th May 1915

McINNESS, D
Lance Corporal
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
25th Sep 1915

McINNES, A
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
13th Nov 1916
13th
Nov
1916

McINNES, J L
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
16th Jan 1916

McNEISH, J
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
14th Jul 1916

McAINSH, J
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
20th Jan 1917

McINNES, D
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
20th Nov 1917
20th
Nov
1917

McINNES, D
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
23rd Apr 1917

McINNES, D
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
23rd Apr 1917

McINNES, M
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
24th Apr 1917
24th
Apr
1917

McINNES, W
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
25th Apr 1917

McANSH, H
Piper
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
26th Jul 1918

McGINNES, J
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
24th Aug 1918
24th
Aug
1918

McINNES, A
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
14th Dec 1918
1

McINNES, A
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
18th Apr 1918

McINNES, D
Lance Corporal
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
30th Jul 1918

McINNES, D
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
22nd Oct 1918
22nd
Oct
1918

McINNES, P
Private
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
14th Oct 1918

NEISH, A M
Second Lieutenant
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
24th Mar 1918

And the Black Watch. And all the loyal Gallant Allies especially, the French, The Belgians, the Canadians, the ANZACS, the South Africans. the American volunteers (1914-1917) and the DOUGHBOYS who helped finish the job in 1918.

And all the rest whose names are lost in the mists of time.


The Argyll monument at YPRES has an inscription

La a’bhlair, ‘s math na cairdean

“THE DAY OF BATTLE ‘TIS GOOD TO HAVE FRIENDS.”

AYE, ‘S truth, as Auld Pop would say.

***

The young dead soldiers do not speak. 

Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses: 
who has not heard them? 

They have a silence that speaks for them at night 
and when the clock counts

They say: We were young. We have died. 
Remember us. 

They say: We have done what we could 
but until it is finished it is not done. 

They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished 
no one can know what our lives gave. 

They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours, 
they will mean what you make them. 

They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for 
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say, 
it is you who must say this. 

We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning. 
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.

ARCHIBALD MACLEISH


ANDREW ROBERTS’ BioGraphy: CHURCHILL WALKING WITH DESTINY

By Richard K. Munro

I thought Martin Gilbert was the last word on Churchill (of course, he prepared the pathway for Roberts I am sure to a degree) but with Andrew Robert’s WALKING WITH DESTINY I gained an insight on Churchill and his world that seems totally fresh and almost brand new to me. I literally laughed and chuckled as I read some of the amusing bon mots of Churchill and curious stories. That is a remarkable achievement.

Churchill said: ‘After seeing many nations, after travelling through Europe, and after having been a prisoner of the Boers, I have come to see that, after all, the chief characteristic of the English-speaking people as compared with other white people is that they wash, and wash at regular periods. England and America are divided by a great ocean of salt water, but united by an eternal bathtub of soap and water.’

Boring and tedious and old hat ANDREW ROBERT’S book is not.

Thrilling and illuminating are the only words for it; the prose is like a torrent of clear fresh water clearing away mysteries and old misconceptions.

We learn much about Churchill’s personal relations and among the most heart-rending are the difficult relations he had with his son, Randolph with whom there was almost a love-hate- relationship. Stories of alleged sexual dalliances outside of marriage by Mrs. Churchill or Churchill himself are not ignored but clearly documented. Some things Roberts leaves up to the reader, wisely.

Roberts has reviewed 41 sets of new papers, the King’s diaries from WWII, Mary Soames’ 1940 diary, the verbatim war cabinet minutes (written in a short hand code that neverhad been deciphered until Roberts got a hold of them). Every quote, every reference is meticulously documented. In addition there are wonderful insights and quotes from the Maisky diaries -Ivan Maisky was the Soviet ambassador to the Court of St James. Maisky’s recently translated diaries featured meetings with Churchill, Anthony Eden and HG Wells. Then there are interesting quotes by Churchill about JFK in the Kay Halle letters at the JFK library. Churchill called JFK “that splendid leader” and asked if there was a photo of himself in the White House.

In Walking with Destiny I learned Churchill’s biography of his father Lord Randolph Churchill ‘was at least partially intended as an explanation of the political somersaults being executed by the author at the time of writing it’. Roberts truthfully tells us… “it is almost worthless as historical biography today, because of the total lack of objectivity and Churchill’s willingness, indeed seeming eagerness, to ignore any evidence that undermined his hagiographical case…..”With this book, which became an overnight bestseller, Churchill dragooning his father into finally doing something useful for him. His casual cruelty as a father was of course not so much as hinted at…” This is a great precis of a book I only knew as a title. Even our Churchill could not overcome his desire to make his father seem greater than he was. Quite human, actually.

In WALKING WITH DESTINY we learn what books Churchill read, what places in America he visited and the people he visited with. Roberts sprinkles his book with references to places associated with Churchill’s WWI service such as Plug Street Experience visitors centre at Rue de Messines 156, Ploegsteert, Comines-Warneton 7782, Belgium. It is indeed eerie to contemplate that Adolf Hitler was stationed only miles from Churchill. Churchill , we learn from personal letters, lamented the loss of his fellow officers and men from his Scottish regiment. They were not numbers to him but men: volunteers from Ayr, Kilmarnock, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leicester and Oldham including. Private W. Russell who was 19 years old when he was killed on 7th February 1916. Churchill had in 1899 stood for election in the northern industrial mill-town of Oldham – and lost. Places in Britain were not just names to Churchill but homes of the British people he had visited and come to know.

We learn what his favorite movies were and the famous actors and authors he knew personally (Churchill had a crush on Ethel Barrymore a legendary actress and beauty of her time). I had no idea that Churchill spent a delightful and refreshing sojourn at the Casa del Desierto in Barstow, California later was added to the National Register of Historic Places ). Churchill said, “We have stopped for two hours at this oasis. We have left the train for a bath in the hotel” It is not far from Bakersfield and on the road to Phoenix.

Before Pearl Harbor Churchill had visited 24 of the 48 states in addition to the District of Columbia. At one point Churchill was introduced to an audience by Mark Twain. He met Theodore Roosevelt. Churchill visited Civil War battlefields with Eisenhower and the famous historian Douglas Southall Freeman. I had no idea that Churchill had crisscrossed the USA several times and visited almost every site of historical or cultural interest such as the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Carnegie Hall, The Brooklyn Academy of Music and so on. Roberts writes “Churchill understood from an early age that his father, a leading light of the Conservative party in the first half of the 1880s, was a famous national celebrity, and he asked him for autographs to sell to his classmates.” Who knew?

Roberts writes: “Churchill made a far more extraordinary series of predictions on a Sunday evening in July 1891 in a basement room of Dr Welldon’s house after chapel evensong, when he was discussing his plans with his friend Murland (later Sir Murland) Evans, who worked in the War Office during the First World War and was a man of irreproachable and fastidious recollection. ‘I can see vast changes coming over a now peaceful world;’ Churchill told Evans, ‘great upheavals, terrible struggles; wars such as one cannot imagine; and I tell you London will be in danger – London will be attacked and I shall be very prominent in the defence of London. I see further ahead than you do. I see into the future. This country will be subjected somehow, to a tremendous invasion, by what means I do not know, but I tell you I shall be in command of the defences of London and I shall save London and England from disaster … dreams of the future are blurred but the main objective is clear. I repeat – London will be in danger and in the high position I shall occupy, it will fall to me to save the capital and save the Empire’ This was completely new to me and I have read dozens of books about Churchill.

Before he left for Cuba, in 1895 the director of British Military Intelligence, Colonel Edward Chapman, asked Churchill to discover anything they could on the penetration and striking power of the Spanish army’s new type of bullet. The Spanish had German Mausers and their weapons were superior to that of the American’s in 1898. Roberts writes: “This was Churchill’s inauguration into the world of Secret Intelligence, which was to become hugely important to him later on. Also interesting, this I did not know. I thought he did it on a lark by himself or as a journalist. Over and over again Roberts has new facts, new insights.

Throughout the book there are marvellous quotations from Churchill’s works which unless you have read Churchill’s massive oeuvre in entire, you will find many less known quotations. Churchill wrote ‘Chance, Fortune, Luck, Destiny, Fate, Providence seem to me only different ways of expressing the same thing, to wit, that a man’s own contribution to his life story is dominated by an external superior power.’ Roberts writes of Churchill, {His} capacity for memorizing huge amounts of prose and verse stayed with him for life, and would continue to astonish contemporaries well into his old age. Many were the occasions that he would quote reams of poetry or songs or speeches half a century after having learned them. He was omnivorous in what his mind’s ear chose, which included long Shakespeare soliloquies but also much of the repertoires of music hall performers such as Marie Lloyd, George Robey, ‘Little Tich’, and George Chirgwin (‘the White-Eyed Kaffir’)

We learn from Roberts how Churchill’s life and experience prepared him for leadership in WWII. Roberts writes with great detail: “By the outbreak of the Second World War, Churchill had delivered 1,695 speeches and travelled 82,633 miles to give them, an extraordinary display of energy, far more than normal politicians even of the front rank, and an indication of his decades-long drive and energy. By the time he came to deliver his great wartime addresses in the first half of the 1940s, therefore, Churchill was as experienced and assured a public speaker as it was possible for a Briton to be.”

I felt I almost came to know Churchill during while reading WALKING WITH DESTINY. I could almost feel the soul of the great man as I read and pondered this work and chuckled with his witticisms. Roberts certainly did his best to treat this good and noble but imperfect human being with honesty and yet giving credit where it is due.

Churchill was a great statesman but as Roberts point out time and again but also a wise political thinker and a great author –one of the greatest of all time in any language. Churchill is needed today when so many are deceived by the Siren call of the Bold State, Marxist influenced Multiculturalism and Socialism in general. No one in the 20th century compares to Sir Winston Churchill whose greatness is like granite –it endures. And as JFK famously said:
“For no statement or proclamation can enrich his name now–the name Sir Winston Churchill is already legend.”

Robert’s book is very engaging and would make any reader reappraise what he knows and has read.

In short, WALKING WITH DESTINY is the very best education I know to learn about Churchill, his British society, his contemporaries, his family and his world.

EVERY EDUCATED PERSON SHOULD READ and STUDY Churchill: WALKING WITH DESTINY. This is a great read, a must read. WALKING WITH DESTINY is a great book by one of Britain’s most distinguished historians and authors. (
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