His Name Was Hugh

As I mentioned in a previous entry, I recently purchased a copy of National Geographic for a dollar – way more than I would usually pay – because it had an article by Dwight D. Eisenhower about his friend Sir Winston Churchill.

After looking over the images and the articles, I’d pay a lot more for this issue, August 1965. There’s a photo of Churchill testing carbines with Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley, and a great shot of him with some soldiers in a rifle pit on the coast. (As if a rifle pit was going to stop a German invasion! These blighters would be gone with one shell from an German 88. The war was won in the air and on the sea.) There’s even a portrait of Sir Winston painted by… Dwight Eisenhower!

Here’s the opening of an article by National Geographic staff writer Howard La Fay. I’d pay a buck just for this snippet from real life:

He was a middle-aged Scot and his name was Hugh. He had taken three days of vacation to come down from Edinburgh for the funeral, and now we huddled together in the slow, frozen queue winding toward Westminster Hall.

Inside, beyond the statues of Cromwell and Richard the Lionheart, Sir Winston Churchill lay in state. For five hours Hugh and I shuffled slowly, foot by cold, tedious foot, toward the hall. And he told me why he’d come:

“I was a subaltern at Dunkirk, and the Nazis kicked my unit to death. We left everything behind when we got out; some of my men didn’t even have boots. They dumped us along the roads near Dover, and all of us were scared and dazed, and the memory of the Panzers could set us screaming at night.

“Then he got on the wireless and said we’d fight on the beaches and in the towns and that we’d never surrender. And I cried when I heard him. I’m not ashamed to say it.

“And I thought, ‘To hell with the Panzers. We’re going to win!'”