For the past seventy years but closer to a century Winston Churchill is known as the saviour of the modern world. He was the man who fought Nazi Germany and won.
Without doubt, the darling of British, if not world politics and a man bestowed the honour of a State Funeral. He was, doubtless, most of those and probably more, including a murderer.
Had Hitler won the war he would undoubtedly have tried Churchill for ‘war crimes’ but it was not to be. He escaped the indictments that Herr Hitler would have proffered and escaped three other accusations that only now can be made told. Churchill, according to new research, can now be accused of three murders: his mother Lady Randolph Churchill between the days 11-29th June 1921; Spymaster and the first head of the British Secret Service George M. Smith-Cumming at his house 1 Melbury Road, Kensington, on the 14th June 1923; and T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, between 13th and 19th May 1935.
There is no question of Churchill killing with his own hands he was far too careful and squeamish for such acts. He was the ‘mandate’, the man who gave the orders to kill and, as such, is equally guilty as those that carried out his orders. These were not political murders by the State but the acts of a man hell-bent on revenge, on his mother having cheated him out of his inheritance, and then ensuring he would not be caught and as a consequence disgrace the name he carried. He did this by killing the two men that knew what he did in 1921.
For Churchill silence was indeed golden and by further simply airbrushing his far more talented brother Jack Churchill from history, he became the ‘it’ man of the last century
It is no secret that young Winston had little to no love for his parents. Lord Randolph was a neglectful father because of his stressful political career and his Victorian attitudes towards child-rearing. It has even been claimed that he positively disliked his children, who were 20 and 14 when he died, aged 45, in 1895, supposedly from syphilis. There is far more evidence, however, that Lord Randolph suffered from a brain tumour and that he had told his wife he had caught syphilis to avert any activity in the bedroom, especially, as he was well aware of her various affairs.
There was, however, considerable correspondence between Lord Randolph and both his sons, more so Winston, but he was a man that did not display his feelings. Was it that trend which ultimately cost his wife her life at the hands of Winston Churchill in 1921?
In fact, if anyone of the parents should be criticised it is his mother Jennie (née Jerome), an exuberant American socialite who, as evidence now revealed shows effectively, robbed her sons of some £16,800 of income that was rightfully theirs – the equivalent of about £1,500,000 today.
Lord Randolph had made his will in 1883, leaving his estate in a trust fund for the benefit of his wife during her lifetime and for his two sons and their children after her death. But he also inserted a clause that said if Jennie were to marry again, ‘his sons or their children should have access to the trust fund, in order to help his, or her, advancement in the world’.
It was this clause that, once Winston Churchill discovered, would cost Lady Randolph her life in a very spectacularly clever manner.
Lady Randolph, or Jennie as she preferred to be addressed, deceived her sons about the true nature of Lord Randolph’s will to fund her extravagant and hectic social life through a series of ruinously expensive loans. For years Winston and his brother Jack were led to believe that their father had left no provision for them in his will, except that they would inherit a small trust fund after the death of their mother. Jack longed for a career in the Army but was forced to become a partner in a City firm for financial reasons, and even had to delay his marriage to the beautiful Lady Gwendoline Bertie because he lacked the money to marry.
It was only in February 1914 that the truth was discovered. Wrestling with his mother’s chaotic finances as she divorced her second husband, George Cornwallis-West, a man as young as Winston, Jack took the opportunity to read his father’s will in detail and immediately relayed the contents to his brother Winston.
They were astonished to find that he and Winston could have claimed up to £600 a year each (around £50,000 today) from the trust fund since Jennie’s second marriage in 1900.
Jennie had systematically expropriated her children’s inheritance for 14 years. It was a cause of action that would cost her, her life at the hands of her eldest and by then famous son Winston.
On the advice of Winston a letter was delivered to Lady Randolph written by Jack, but in reality, dictated by Winston. It was a letter of rebuke. Jack let her know how pained he was at her dishonesty: ‘We had always thought that Papa was very wrong in not making any provision for us during your life,’ he wrote. ‘It makes a considerable difference finding that Papa’s will was not made – as we were always led to suppose – carelessly and without any consideration for us. It is quite clear that he never thought that while you were single you would be unable to pay us an allowance, and the clause in the will covered the situation – which did actually arise – of your remarriage.’
Winston Churchill was very clever in ensuring he would leave no traces in a plot that would take him seven years to execute. When the chance arose it was well planned and premeditated.
Winston Churchill loathed the way his mother was a spendaholic and always available to Edward, Prince of Wales. For many years Lord Randolph blamed the collapse of his marriage and his political aspirations at the door of the Prince of Wales. It was without doubt Lady Randolph was indeed one of his ‘favourites’ during the 1890s.
Shortly after Lord Randolph’s death until early 1898, the Prince regularly visited Jennie at her house, 35a Great Cumberland Place, where she lived mostly alone. Winston was with his regiment in India; Jack was either at Harrow or living with a family in France to learn the language. ‘Tum Tum’, as Jennie called the 20-stone Prince, would send her billets-doux announcing that he would call at five ‘for tea’. He made particular reference to a geisha dress he wished her to wear for him, which apparently was a kimono that slipped off easily. Rumours of such a liaison reached, of course, the ears of Winston Churchill to his utter contempt and dislike.
Eventually, as is always the case, Lady Randolph finally found herself ousted as the Prince’s ‘maîtresse en titre’ by the beautiful Alice Keppel, she sought solace by promptly seducing George Cornwallis-West, widely believed at the time to be the Prince’s illegitimate son.
When Alice gave birth to a child by Edward, Jennie married George, a handsome man born in the same year as her elder son. It was to prove a happy match until he fell in love with the actress whom Mrs Patrick Campbell had ironically introduced as the leading lady in a play written by Lady Randolph.
Winston Churchill loathed the ‘arrangements’ as he called them and often lamented the situation to Mansfield George Smith, a then retired naval captain, who would become Churchill’s second victim. It was Churchill who comforted the then Smith-Cumming after his road accident that ended the life of Smith-Cumming’s son.
In 1914 Winston and Jack discovered the true treachery of their mother and the hatred for his mother grew.
Winston Churchill was always by his own admissions a rebel and a born maverick. He was not the brightest of students and he was certainly capable of ‘dastardly’ behaviour, both at school and whilst in the Army. In 1900, he was elected Conservative MP for Oldham but in 1904, he left the Conservative Party and joined the Liberal Party, which, he believed, better represented his economic views on free trade. From 1906 to 1908, he was a Liberal MP for northwest Manchester and from 1908 to 1922; he was, strangely enough, MP for Dundee.
Between 1908 and 1910, Winston Churchill held a cabinet post when Herbert Asquith, leader of the Liberal Party, appointed him President of the Board of Trade. Winston Churchill’s major achievement in this post was to establish labour exchanges.
In 1910, he was promoted to Home Secretary. As Home Secretary, Winston Churchill used troops to maintain law and order during a miners’ strike in South Wales. He also used a detachment of Scots Guards to assist police during a house siege in Sidney Street, East London, in January 1911. Whilst such actions may have marked him down as a man who would do his utmost to maintain law and order, there were those who criticised his use of the military for issues that the police usually dealt with. It was a similar trend that would lead to him committing three murders.
From October 1911 to May 1915, Winston Churchill was made First Lord of the Admiralty. In this post, he did a great deal to ensure that the navy was in a state to fight a war. Winston Churchill put a strong emphasis on modernisation and he was an early supporter of using planes in combat. He was not afraid of risking lives as the Gallipoli campaign would prove and nor would he be afraid of taking lives.
Churchill was to pay the price for the bloody failure of the Dardanelles campaign in 1915 – it was Winston Churchill who proposed the expedition to the War Council and, as a result, he was held responsible for its failure and considerable loss of lives. He was dismissed from his post at the Admiralty and he was made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Having been Home Secretary and First Lord at the Admiralty, this was seen by many, including Winston Churchill, to be a demotion and he left the post after just six months.
Churchill rejoined the army. Here he commanded a battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front until May 1916. However, Winston Churchill quickly returned to government as taking lives for him proved no great trouble but risking his own was another matter.
In 1917 he was appointed Minister for Munitions – a post he held until 1918.
In 1919, Winston Churchill was appointed Minister for War and Air – a post he held until 1920.
In 1921, he was appointed Colonial Secretary – a post he held until he lost his seat for Dundee in the 1922 election.
Throughout this time all that lingered on his mind was the shameful conduct of his mother and, her third marriage and, countless affairs. Lady Randolph’s scandalous lifestyle fed many rumours and myths and those constantly reached the ears of Winston, in particular concerning her behaviour both before and during her marriage to Lord Randolph. One of the allegations that were circulating between 1916 and 1921 was whether Winston was illegitimate?
Worse, talk in the House of Commons referred to the widespread belief that Winston was born just seven months after the marriage. Given that such premature babies were unlikely to survive in 1874; his mother must have been pregnant at the time of her wedding.
When rumours, however, started reaching Winston that his brother Jack was not fathered by Lord Randolph it would seal the fate of Lady Randolph to one of murder.
His brother Jack’s health was precarious and early on a close family friend, John Strange Jocelyn, 5th Earl of Roden, was called upon to stand as godfather. For this act of kindness, he would be routinely cited as Jack’s father.
In fact, he is only one of several men, other than Lord Randolph, rumoured to be the father, including the 7th Viscount Falmouth and Count Charles Kinsky. Would this be the reason why Winston would ultimately ‘airbrush’ his brother from his life?
Was this the final act that would lead to Winston committing matricide?
Sir George Mansfield Smith-Cumming was born on April fool’s Day 1859, the youngest son of 13 children, to an officer of the Royal Engineers. Strangely having been commissioned in the Royal Navy he suffered seasickness. He longed for a desk job and, for adventure and, in his own right was similar to Winston Churchill. He was by no means bright but clever in his own way. He was subject to hyperbole like Churchill and exaggerated his own importance.
When his son died in a car accident in 1914, the stories doing the rounds was that George amputated his own leg with a penknife to survive the accident. It was, of course, pure fantasy but it was this early ‘Walter Mitty’ life that, similar to Churchill, would lead to success and his appointment as the first Chief of what would become MI6.
He was known to Winston Churchill as their careers ran parallel and Churchill often complained to him of his poor finances. In 1909 Cumming was the de facto head of the new Secret Intelligence Bureau better known now as MI6. He also became acquainted with Lady Randolph Churchill who had confided to him about her precarious finances before Jack and Winston discovered they had been cheated out of their inheritance. Churchill instead complained to Cumming how his own political aspirations had been thwarted owing to lack of money and how disgraceful his mother was becoming in High London Society.
The keeper of secrets, as well as the State Secrets, would be the death sentence for Cumming only two years after Lady Randolph was murdered, and by the same hand.
There is no evidence that Lady Randolph ever shared intimate moments with Cumming as there is no evidence she shared intimate moments with a host of other would-be suitors. What is clear, however, is that the relationship between Lady Randolph and Cumming as well as Cumming’s friendship with Churchill would become problematic.
Papers accumulated by Henry Winston (Peregrine) Churchill that have recently come to light show that for example, Lady Randolph left as part of her papers “Lady Randolph’s admittance card to the trial of Sir Roger Casement”. The admittance was authorised by Cumming.
Casement was a British Consul and famous because of his exposing human rights abuses in the Congo and South America. He was, without doubt, an Irish Republican and tried to engage the Germans into helping a Free Ireland.
Cumming had given Lady Randolph Churchill access to one of the most notorious trials, and because of the sensitivity of the evidence, only those who had a ‘special pass’ could attend. Cumming was directly responsible for the arrest of traitors and a special friend and confidante of both Lady Randolph and Winston granted ‘Jennie’ the concession.
By 1916 both Winston and Lady Randolph had confided to Cumming their position. Winston at the considerable pain and displeasure it was that his mother had stolen his inheritance and a ‘wayward woman’ and Lady Randolph’s ever questing for more money.
Once Winston discovered in 1923 that Cumming knew about his mother’s misappropriation of funds and that Cumming had invariably ‘ran with the hare and hound’, it signalled murder number two for Winston Churchill.
Thomas Edward Lawrence better known as T.E. Lawrence or Lawrence of Arabia was a close friend of Churchill and who was instrumental in the division of the Middle East in February 1921 where he found Churchill an easy person to talk to and confide in.
Lawrence told Churchill during their various breaks what had happened to him whilst he was captured by the Turks, and Churchill confided to him the inner secret of loathing his mother, everything she stood for and was overheard in the hotel bar saying ‘At times I wish she was dead, I wish it so.’
But Lawrence also knew the secret loathing that Churchill had for his mother and the doubts he raised over his brother Jacks’ paternity.
Confidences were easy for Lawrence and the question of paternity was not so strange to him. The bond between Lawrence and Churchill was one with ease. Lawrence was born in Tremadoc, Wales, in 1888, Thomas Edward – known as Ned – was the second of five illegitimate boys. Lawrence’s father, Sir Thomas Chapman, left his first marriage when he fell in love with the family governess, Sarah Junner. His parents assumed the name of Lawrence and remained unmarried.
Churchill with Lawrence of Arabia
In Cairo at the Semiramis Hotel, both Lawrence and Churchill exchanged their fears, hopes, ambitions and deep-rooted hatred for what both deemed to be injustices of life.
They were then brought separately to trial:
Crippen was executed on 23 November 1910. But, more importantly, Churchill was educated by Spilsbury on forensic science and modes of murder. It was unusual to see a Home Secretary befriend a prosecution witness but, in 1910, the Home Secretary had considerable powers which were beyond reproach.
Lady Randolph’s first concern, however, was War work. She persuaded the wealthy Mr Paris Singer, of the famous sewing machine company, to offer his residence, Oldway House, Paignton, in Devon for use as a hospital. It was turned into a well-equipped, 255-bed hospital, which included an operating room. Throwing herself into raising money for the American Women’s War Relief Fund to finance the hospital, Lady Randolph became Chairman of the Executive Committee, with Paris Singer as Vice-Chairman. There was a staff of 151, which included 8 surgeons, 15 American nursing Sisters, 17 English nursing Sisters, and 21 Probationers. Wounded soldiers were transported to the hospital in troop trains. Patient intake included, in 1915, New Zealanders and wounded men from the Royal Inniskillings and the North Staffordshire Regiments; and in 1916, injured soldiers from the Somme offensive. By 1916, 3,203 cases had been admitted for treatment. The funds raised provided also, motor ambulances for the front, clothes for refugees, employment for women, and famine relief for Belgium.
She also helped organise buffets at railroad stations for the thousands of travelling troops. Along with the famous opera singer, Maud, Lady Warrender, she set out on a series of morale-boosting concerts around the country. They toured the army camps and hospitals, entertaining the troops, with Jennie playing the piano, and Maud singing.
Much to the dismay and disapproval of Winston, she married for the third time, to Montague Phippen Porch, on June 1st, 1918.
On this occasion, Lady Randolph did indeed fall and, by a mere accident, allowed Winston Churchill the opportunity he had been waiting to rid himself of what he called his ‘embarrassment.’
Forever an opportunist, Churchill was dining with Spilsbury on 28th May 1921, when he mentioned his mother had fallen and broken her ankle. Spilsbury, jokingly, replied he hoped that it would not turn to gangrene, as that would be dangerous.
Over 1 million people sprain or break their ankle in the US each year, yet not a single case of gangrene has ever been reported. The probabilities of gangrene caused by a sprained ankle are remote.
Just how, then, did Lady Randolph die? The truth is that she was murdered in an opportunistic manner.
Lady Randolph, by pure accident, did fall as a result of new Italian high heeled shoes she was wearing. Winston Churchill was not responsible for that. He simply used an accident to plan and perpetrate a murder.
On 10th June 1921, a London surgeon from Paddington Hospital did indeed ampútate the leg of Lady Randolph. It is important at this point to know that Dr Spilsbury had studied, and was indeed based, at the same hospital where Lady Randolph was operated.
Spilsbury had made sure his colleague, who performed the surgery, would indeed cut well above the knee. Doing so would ensure healing would take longer, and the risk of haemorrhage would be greater.
It was Spilsbury enhancing his friendship with Churchill to members of the hospital staff, who would suggest Lady Randolph be discharged from hospital as soon as possible. As it was, she was indeed discharged to her home at 8 Westbourne Street, Paddington, within a miraculous three days.
What is known is that, upon Lady Randolph’s return to London on 3rd June 1921, Spilsbury was a visitor to the house. As a doctor he examined Lady Randolph, who was a regular visitor to the Central Criminal Court, and, after Lady Randolph had complained of pain, he gave her an injection. The needle contained bacteria from his laboratory, whilst the fluid was indeed a sedative.
In 1923, as a reward for murder, Churchill persuaded Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law to award Dr Spilsbury a Knighthood – one earned in blood and by blackmail.
What is known about Cumming is mostly legend, if not fable. He had by far exaggerated the threat of German spies in England before the War and it is he directly that caused the arrest, trial and execution of many innocent people, both prior and during the First World War, including Sir Roger Casement.
Katherine Armstrong’s body was riddled with arsenic and at the time of her death the ingested quantity must have been far higher, and Armstrong had made a huge purchase of arsenic. The defence had somehow to make the jury believe that Mrs Armstrong had committed suicide by getting out of bed, going downstairs and helping herself to arsenic without anyone seeing or hearing her; or that massive doses of arsenic had somehow got into her system some accidental way. All witnesses confirmed that towards the end she was almost paralysed.
On 13th April 1922, at Hereford Shire Hall, Armstrong was found guilty of the murder of his wife. Mr Justice Darling stated that he concurred with the jury’s view and that it was absurd and unsupported by any evidence that Mrs Armstrong had committed suicide. He then sentenced Major Armstrong to death commending the evidence of Dr Bernard Spilsbury. He was hanged at Gloucester Prison on 31st May 1922.
The News of the World reported that, when asked by the prison governor on the morning of the execution if he had anything to say, the Major’s last words were ‘I am innocent of the crime for which I have been condemned to die’.
Thomas Edward Lawrence was the illegitimate son of Sir Thomas Chapman, an Anglo-Irish baronet, was born in Tremadoc, Wales on 16th August 1888. Educated at Oxford High School, he developed a strong interest in archaeology and military history. An intelligent boy he won a history scholarship at Oxford.
By December 1917, General Allenby and his army had captured Beersheba, Gaza and Jerusalem. The following year the British defeated General Von Sanders and the Turkish-German Army in Palestine. Lawrence joined Allenby’s forces and entered Damascus on 1st October 1918.
He had been converted to the cause of the Arabs, and felt they were betrayed by the treaties agreed at the Paris Peace Conference. He was particularly concerned about the decision to give the French control over Syria.
In 1921 Lawrence joined the Middle East Department of the Colonial Office. He also served as special adviser on Arab affairs to Winston Churchill, the Colonial Secretary (1921-22). Both men visited the Middle East in an attempt to deal with the growing conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine.
After leaving the Colonial Office he changed his name to John Hume Ross and enlisted into the RAF. After four months reporters from the Daily Express discovered what he had done and he was discharged. In March 1923 he joined the Tank Corps as Private Thomas Shaw but only served until 1925.
In return, Lawrence found in Churchill a man who was able to listen and absorb the most inner of secrets. He told Churchill of the fateful days under the Turks and the obscenities he had to endure. Churchill felt at ease in 1921 for although he despised his mother and told Lawrence he would not ‘shed a tear’ if she died, she was still alive.
On two occasions, one in 1934, and early 1935, Churchill met Lawrence in the Isle of Man at his cottage in Wareham, Dorset. There Lawrence reiterated his feelings to Churchill about his time in Turkish custody. He asked Churchill whether the time was nigh to write one’s most inner secrets.
Churchill knew that Lawrence was an adventurer and that he loved his motorcycle more than probably his typewriter. The experience Lawrence underwent at the hands of the Turks made it impossible for him to have any sensible relationship. His love was transferred to his motorcycle, his cottage and typewriter.
Such was the importance and concerns for Lawrence that he motored from his home at Arundel, 100 miles away, and arrived at 12.20 in the morning. Forty minutes later, Sir Farquhar Buzzard, the King’s physician, joined the other doctors at the bedside having travelled by car from Oxford. He was the authority on nerves and was one of the specialists called in during the King’s illness in 1928.
‘One thing I wish to deny very emphatically’, he said, ‘is the story that my brother recently went to Berlin. That story, like others which are going the rounds, is absolutely untrue.’
Lawrence wrote his book three times because he had on previous occasions lost the manuscripts, once whilst changing trains at Reading railway station. Lawrence had accurately recalled and recounted the confessions of Winston Churchill in Cairo 1921 but Churchill, irrespective of offering money throughout the years to come on the pretext of acquiring works of his friend, never found the manuscript.