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THE THREE MURDERS OF WINSTON CHURCHILL (PART I)

 

THE THREE MURDERS OF WINSTON CHURCHILL (PART I)


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 a 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 ‘mandante’, 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 Gwendeline 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 life at the hands of her eldest and by them 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 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 his ''favourite" 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 in 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 re-joined 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 sea sickness. 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.
At the outbreak of the First World War, Cumming was able to work with Vernon Kell as well as the Special Branch and directly responsible for the arrest of a number of German Agents in the United Kingdom. One such was Sir Roger Casement who together with eleven others was executed for treason.
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.
Winston Churchill’s grandfather, John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, was at one time the Viceroy of Ireland for four years and Winston’s mother was often in Ireland during Lord Randolph’s many absences abroad. Jennie was a political troublemaker and had Irish Republican sympathies. She was after all an American that was living through colonial independence.


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 quest 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 and 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.”
Similar to Cumming and Churchill, T E Lawrence was also a dreamer and maverick. After the First World War, Churchill was Colonial Secretary and had to make a new and more just settlement in the Middle East. He was determined to assemble the best and brightest of Britain's Middle East experts. Despite Lawrence's ‘maverick’ reputation Churchill could not overlook his vast knowledge of the Arabs and their needs.


Churchill persuaded through friendship and confidences shared, Lawrence back into public service in 1921 with a special post in the Colonial office. Lawrence had enormous respect for Churchill and genuinely believed they could repair the injury done to the Arabs at the Paris Peace Conference, stabilize the region and remove British armed forces.

But Lawrence also knew the secret loathing that Churchill had for his mother and the doubts he raised over his brother Jack’s 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.
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.


Lawrence was well aware in February 1921 at the Cairo Conference that Churchill hated his mother and wanted her dead. Churchill knew the secrets of Lawrence and what happened to him at the hands, and other parts, of the Turks when he was captured and tortured. This would be the cause of the third Churchill murder in 1935, when Lawrence was adding to his already published autobiography, ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’. The new manuscript contained accurate notes and accounts kept by Lawrence and written simultaneously in 1919 at the Paris Peace Conference and the 1921 Cairo Conference. It contained a whole new chapter on Winston Churchill.


That manuscript, in an abridged version and minus the important chapter was published in 1997 when copyright expired. Lawrence had not wanted to write anything further after 1926 and had made clear he would not be publishing his new manuscript. Yet, within weeks of his murder the abridged version was published, contrary to the instructions of Lawrence, minus the chapter on Churchill and their ‘confidential talk’.


The ‘offending’ and ‘revealing’ chapter manuscript is kept at MI6 Headquarters and no known copies are ‘believed’ to have been made. That belief is however, only shared by the Security Services, because a copy was made in 1988.


Churchill remained in close contact with Lawrence right to the end of Lawrence’s life. Churchill headed the list of notable mourners. He said of Lawrence: "I fear whatever our need we shall never see his like again."
His murder at the hands of Churchill would maintain the secret for ever - or so Churchill thought.

 

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