One of our members, Mike Edwards, has an interest in naval history. He brought to our attention this following 1962 draft letter from President John F. Kennedy to Sir Winston Churchill asking Churchill’s approval for the United States to name a Polaris fleet ballistic missile submarine after him. We started a line of enquiry with the International Churchill Society as well as perhaps the most knowledgeable Churchillian in North America, if not the world, Richard Langworth. [Richard didn’t know what happened to the submarine naming but suspected the person behind the initative was Washington socialite and friend of both the Kennedy and Chuchill families, Kay Halle. Google her, she is an interesting story all by herself]
Finally, seemingly out of the blue, we received an email from Katharine Thomson, a wonderful archivist at the Churchill Archives in Cambridge. She found a series of letters as noted below, we can’t publish the images due to copyright restrictions from the Churchill family, but here is how it went, according to Katharine:
"We do have some correspondence about this (ref CHUR 2/509/52-59). Kennedy did send the letter, which was referred to the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, who spoke to Kennedy about it. Though it was considered a great compliment, and Churchill was initially inclined to agree, it was decided that naming a weapon of mass destruction after him was rather inappropriate. There was a vague suggestion that another type of ship might work instead, but it seemed that the submarines were the only ships being named in this way, so in the end the solution Macmillan and Kennedy came up with was for Churchill simply not to reply.”
[The letters involved JFK, Amb David Bruce, PM Harold Macmillan, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Churchill Private Secretary Anthony Montague Brown]
ENIGMA DECRYPTED !
Thanks go to Mike Edwards, Richard Langworth, ICS, and most importantly, Katharine Thomson of the Churchill Archives at Cambridge.
PS - as it turns out the Royal Navy did commission an attack submarine, HMS Churchill, in the mid-1960's which has now been retired from service. Apparently an attack submarine doesn't qualify as a weapon of mass destruction whereas a "boomer" does.
One of Bill Fisher’s college friends, Giles Light, was visiting the headquarters of the “Kentucky Colonels” in Louisville, KY and came upon this photo.
The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels is an honorary society with appointments made by a sitting Governor of Kentucky.
Giles knew Bill was both a Kentucky Colonel and also a Churchill fan.
He asked the staff which governor appointed Churchill and they drew a blank. A week later they went to their archives and found they still had no answer.
Finally, they offered a plausible theory: Churchill was made the first honorary American citizen by an Act of Congress signed by President John F. Kennedy in April 1963.
The sitting governor at that time was Bert T. Combs. So perhaps it was Combs who did it somewhat concident with Churchill becoming an honorary US citizen.
ENIGMA DECRYPTED ! (PROBABLY)
Below in this photo in process is Governor Bert T. Combs D-KY (center) with JFK and Senator John Sherman Cooper R-KY.
[Senator John Sherman Cooper would later be a member of the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy]
photo is pending
Here is my Churchill "enigma", can you all help?
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