Posts Tagged ‘Winston Churchill’

The Eyetooth of the Needle

Posted in General on July 29th, 2010 by Eugene Finerman – 2 Comments

Churchill’s choppers sold at auction in England


LONDON — A partial set of dentures used by former British leader Winston Churchill — described as the teeth that saved the world — sold at auction Thursday for 15,200 pounds ($23,723.)

The upper dentures, one of several sets specially made for the wartime prime minister, were used to maintain his distinctively slurred speaking style. They were bought by a British collector of Churchill memorabilia at an auction in England at three times the estimated price.

The set of dentures were unique because they were designed to be loose-fitting so that Churchill could preserve the diction famous from World War II-era radio broadcasts, experts said.

“From childhood, Churchill had a very distinctive natural lisp; he had trouble with his S’s,” said Jane Hughes, who is head of learning at London’s Hunterian Museum. “These are the teeth that saved the world.”

The medical museum displays a duplicate set of Churchill’s dentures in a glass cabinet alongside other famous teeth — including dentures worn by Queen Caroline, the estranged wife of King George IV.

“He wanted to maintain (the lisp) because he was already so well known for it,” she said. “The dentures wouldn’t quite connect with the top of the mouth, but that was on purpose.”

The dentures were made by dental technician Derek Cudlipp, who produced three or four identical sets for Churchill. One set is believed be have been buried with the leader. The set at auction was sold by the son of Cudlipp.

The false teeth were made just around the start of the war, when Churchill would have been about 65, Hughes said.

The politician is famous for his rousing speeches to the British nation during the war, but his dental issues have been less well known. Hughes said Churchill had many problems with his teeth as a child and probably lost some of them quite early. The leader valued so highly the skill of his dentist, Wilfred Fish, that he nominated him for a knighthood.

Thought one
How is this for a spy thriller?  Germany’s top agent plots to steal Churchill’s dentures.  Ralph Fiennes, playing Otto Panzer, seduces Mrs. Churchill (Judy Dench).  He deliberately plans the tryst when the Prime Minister (Daniel Radcliffe–the teen focus group demanded it)  is about to arrive home.  Panzer hides under the bed waiting for Mr. Churchill to go to sleep.  (This scene would also provide great product placement for Viagra.  “When the moment is ready, but her husband shows up, you can hide under the bed or in the laundry hamp for up to 40 hours.“)   Panzer finds the dentures in a brandy class, smuggles them out of England, and then waits for Britain to surrender.  But the next day, Churchill delivers “the finest hour” speech.  The Prime Minister had a spare set of dentures, hidden in the mouth of his bulldog Victory. 
Thought two:
How many politicians and corporate chairmen will now insist that their dentures be loosened?

The Best Laid Plans…

Posted in On This Day on February 19th, 2007 by Eugene Finerman – 1 Comment

It is February 19, 1915 and you are invited on an all expense paid cruise of the Mediterranean. Tour the charming shores of the Dardanelles on our way to Constantinople! (Itinerary subject to change.)

Quite a change! How should I describe Gallipoli? Imagine if Gettysburg had lasted 11 months and every day was a disaster. Of the 500,000 men in the Allied expedition, half of them were killed or wounded. The casualty rates among the Australians and New Zealanders were nearly one hundred percent; entire ANZAC battalions were wiped out in the campaign. To this day, Gallipoli–the heroism, the horrors and the futility– is seared in the history and consciousness of Australia and New Zealand. They remember Gallipoli, and the British incompetence that caused it.

Ironically, the strategy behind the campaign was brilliant. With its complete mastery of the sea, the British navy would force its way up the Dardanelle Straits, seize Constantinople, knock Turkey out of the war, open the Black Sea and supply the beleaguered Russians on the Eastern Front. Yes, the idea was brilliant, but reality was not accommodating.

When the combined British and French fleets first undertook their expedition, they found the channel had been mined and the Turkish batteries were more accurate than expected. Faced with unanticipated losses and unnerved by further uncertainties, the fleets retreated. In fact, they had already encountered the worst and would have had a comparatively mild cruise to Constantinople. The Allies did not know that, however, and the Turks did not bother to correct them.

The Allies had an alternative plan. They would land an expeditionary force on the coast along the Dardanelles, and brushing aside the surprised and sparse Turkish forces, march to Constantinople. Of course, the aborted naval expedition had made the Turks and their German advisers aware of the Allies’ intentions; and so they prepared for a second attack. The Dardanelles were no longer lightly defended.

Furthermore, there was an obvious place for the Allies to begin such an invasion: a peninsula jutting from the straits. It was called Gallipoli. Six weeks after the failed naval attack, the Allied troops began landing on Gallipoli.
But nothing seemed to go right. The troops were not transported to the right locations. Instead of disembarking on wide, gently sloping beaches, the soldiers found themselves trying to scale cliffs. As for the light, sparse Turkish resistance, there were six divisions and they fought ferociously.

The Allies did establish their beachheads but in eleven months, they never got much further than where they had originally landed. Their brilliant strategy had resulted in a irretrievable military disaster. The Allies had no hope of success and no choice but to evacuate.

It was a Turkish victory and one general, who had been distinguished for his leadership, would in a few years become the founder and first president of the Turkish Republic. Mustafa Kemal remains a hero of Turkey.

It was a British catastrophe and the Lord Admiral of the Navy, who had conceived the brilliant strategy, resigned in disgrace. He was given the rank of colonel on the Western Front and he half-hoped to be killed in action. But he survived, a heavy-drinking eccentric, an entertaining but dismissed backbencher in Parliament.

He had skill as a writer and lecturer and was able to make a living with his theatrical talents. As he aged, he became increasingly outspoken and belligerent, an imperial anachronism in a mundane, accommodating world.   But he thought of himself, not as a has-been or a relic, but as a thundering Jeremiah who foretold the gathering storm.

And he made himself heard with an eloquence that defined history. The scapegoat of 1915 would become the Prime Minister of 1940.