The Other Club
Winston Churchill & Oswald Mosley's secret group
The Other Club has always been a fascinating, yet little publicized institution. Some of the best-known names in the land are always among its members. Of the forty men who were its original members in 1911 in addition to Churchill and F. E. Smith, there were names like Bonar Law, Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, who never spoke to Churchill anywhere else but at the Other Club dinners, in the course of a bitter feud, Lloyd George, Lord Kitchener, Beerbohm Tree, W. H. Massingham, who had been the editor of the Daily Chronicle until he lost his position because of his opposition to the South African War, and J. L. Garvin, editor of the Observer for some years until he resigned in 1942. The long list of former members bears such names as Lord Asquith, Viscount Astor, Arnold Bennett, Viscount Camrose, the Duke of Devonshire, General Lord Gort, Henry Irving, Frederick Lonsdale, Sir Edwin Lutyens, Sir Desmond MacCarthy, Sir Oswald Mosley, Field Marshal Smuts, Lord Tweedsmuir and Brendan Bracken.
EXTRACTED FROM Churchill's Bodyguard Edmund Murray WH Allen, Star books 1988
Chapter 15 THE OTHER CLUB
IN THE WINTER OF 1952 CAME an event which dealt a severe shock to Winston Churchill- the sudden death of King George the Sixth. The two had been personal friends for many years, the bonds between them forged unbreakably by five years of war. Together with friendship had gone a deep mutual respect. When the news came, shortly after breakfast on a bleak February morning, Mr Churchill was still in bed at No 10 Downing Street. Struggling up he made for his wife's bedroom, calling loudly for her in his distress. Later on, after his wife's ministrations, he appeared composed but thoroughly downcast, a state in which he remained for the following three weeks or so.
The funeral at Windsor, with all the historic weight of its pomp and circumstance, quite overwhelmed him. He would never attend a funeral unless he could not possibly avoid it, and, in fact, was not an ardent churchgoer at any time. On this occasion, with the highly moving pageantry of the funeral adding sombre undertones to the loss of a man he loved and admired, Mr Churchill was seen by his intimates to weep a great deal.
It seemed an indication of his state of mind that afterwards, he took not the usual whisky and soda, but a cup of tea. He was drinking this in the Deanery when suddenly General Eisenhower appeared.
'Say, Murray,' he demanded, 'where's Winston?'
'He's in there having a cup of tea, General,' I replied.
A cup of tea?' he said in mock incredulity. 'I sure would like to see Winston drinking a cup of tea.' As I took him in to Mr Churchill, Ike turned to me and said, 'By the way Sarge, I'm having trouble finding my car - can you help me?' Telling him I would certainly do my best, I returned to the courtyard where the General's aides were searching furiously for the absent vehicle which did seem to have gone astray in the mass of VIP vehicles.
Within minutes I saw Inspector Smith of my own Special Branch who was there on anti-terrorist observation, and he directed me to the car. I escorted the driver to the Deanery door just as Ike came out. I got out and he climbed in~ saying, It's just like they say, Mr Murray. If you want anything sorted out, get in touch with Scotland Yard.' This was not the only occasion I was to hear that sort of tribute to the Yard paid by some foreign dignitary.
During his second term as Prime Minister, there was little or no time for anything else but work for Mr Churchill. Holidays there were, of course, comparatively fleeting trips to the Continent, but these too, were greatly occupied by affairs of State. One function, however, which he strove never to miss, was the monthly meeting of the Other Club, whose members dined in the Pinafore Room of the Savoy Hotel on the first Thursday of each month that Parliament was in session. His support of the club was really remarkable. On more than one occasion he returned to London from the South of France simply to attend the dinner, flying back to the Riviera a day or two later. When he fell ill in Roquebrune in 1958 he did his utmost to get the regular date changed in order that he might attend when he was fit again.
Such support was not really surprising as he was one of the two founders of the club, which came into being in 1911. He and F. E. Smith started it as a rival to a pompous group of Members of Parliament who had started The Club with a simple certainty of their own importance. Membership of the Other Club was restricted to fifty, not more than twenty-four of whom were to come from the House of Commons. Theoretically a club dinner was an occasion when men of varying political persuasions forgot their differences and mingled together. That was how it began, with twelve Tories and eleven Liberals from the House of Commons, with one Nationalist, T. P. O'Connor, who had the post of Secretary. But by the time I began escorting Mr Churchill there, only one Opposition member, the then Sir Hartley Shawcross, was on the books. He always attended in evening dress, complete with red silk-lined cloak and telescopic top hat.
The Other Club has always been a fascinating, yet little publicized institution. Some of the best-known names in the land are always among its members. Of the forty men who were its original members in 1911 in addition to Churchill and F. E. Smith, there were names like Bonar Law, Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, who never spoke to Churchill anywhere else but at the Other Club dinners, in the course of a bitter feud, Lloyd George, Lord Kitchener, Beerbohm Tree, W. H. Massingham, who had been the editor of the Daily Chronicle until he lost his position because of his opposition to the South African War, and J. L. Garvin, editor of the Observer for some years until he resigned in 1942.
The long list of former members bears such names as Lord Asquith, Viscount Astor, Arnold Bennett, Viscount Camrose, the Duke of Devonshire, General Lord Gort, Henry Irving, Frederick Lonsdale, Sir Edwin Lutyens, Sir Desmond MacCarthy, Sir Oswald Mosley, Field Marshal Smuts, Lord Tweedsmuir and Brendan Bracken.
Such was the Old Man's enthusiasm that he was generally the first to put in an appearance at the Savoy for the monthly dinner where the ritual was always the same. Once out of the car he would allow the hotel's general manager, Mr Hofflin (who was to become a very good friend of myself and my wife because of our Swiss connections) then later Mr Contarini or Mr Griffin would take his arm and escort him to the Princess Ida room for the aperitif. Although he did not know it, the Savoy's own doctor was always on hand every time he went to the Other Club, but he was never called on to my knowledge. I would always have my aperitif there as well, and check each person as they entered. After a couple of meetings they used to treat me as an old friend and I enjoyed the meetings just about as much as the Boss.
The Club rules give the Executive Committee a great deal of power, and their decisions have never been subject to any form of appeal. To protect these men, whose precise number is never defined, one of the rules states that'. . . the names of the Executive Committee shall be wrapped in impenetrable mystery'.
Perhaps the most characteristic rule, however, is the last one, Number Twelve, which declares that 'nothing in the rules or intercourse of the Club shall interfere with the rancour or asperity of party politics'. To what extent that rancour an.d asperity persist is uncertain because, as I have said, the membership is now politically pretty one-sided. In any case this is something known only to a very few discreet waiters at the Savoy, and even they are required to leave the room when speeches begin.
The dinner always takes place in the Pinafore Room and I was allocated a special table in the Princess Ida room where I was served the same repast and drinks as the distinguished company next door. The door leading to the other room was always locked, so that access was only possible via the room where I sat in solitary splendour.
Marc Giachello was the manager of the private rooms in those days and he treated the Other Club as his own little private do, watching everything his waiters did and checking and rechecking that all was according to the traditions of the Club, and the Savoy. Marc had been at the Savoy for many years, working very hard to attain the. supervision of the private rooms. He lived just outside London on the way towards St Albans, I think, and invited me several times to go rough shooting with him. I was never able to find the time but he used to tell me of the fine people who went with him.
Marc's great dream was to retire to the south of France where he would build his own house overlooking the Mediterranean. His wife's dream was to have a large kitchen with a great big window with a lovely view.
When he eventually retired in the early 1960s both dreams were realized; Marc had a lovely villa built at Cavaliere, in the Var Region, not far from St Tropez and facing the Islands of Hyeres, one of which is the Levant Island, a paradise of nudism. The Villa Mon Midi (my southern land) had all they wanted - the beautiful kitchen with picture windows facing the sea, garage under the kitchen with an English dartboard for visitors to amuse themselves, a very workable garden with all the fresh vegetables he required for his wife's cooking and a restaurant next door where their young son, Andre, was able to work, following in his father's footsteps. But their dreams were all shattered when his dear wife died only about six months after they had settled in.
When Beryl and I dropped in to see him on our way back by car from our stay at the Martinez in Cannes, thanks to Elleston and Jonquil Trevor, in 1965, it was still a depressed Marc who received us with open arms, crudites from the garden, canapes and champagne.
Whenever, during Marc's sejour at the Savoy, Beryl and I went to dine in the restaurant, although it was not his province, he never failed to appear towards the end of our meal with his bottle of vintage port which he would leave on the table for our benefit.
Even after Marc had left the Savoy, his successor bestowed upon us the same privilege on the rare occasions we went there. The Old Man was always terribly superstitious about sitting down to a meal with thirteen people at the table, and to avoid this situation at the Other Club, a life-size wooden, or it might have been papier-mâché, model of a black cat was always there on a small shelf on the wall, ready to be placed in a fourteenth chair should it be necessary. Until this was done the Old Man would not even venture near the table.
On a couple of occasions the system almost broke down during the war. After a private party for members of a squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force in one of the private rooms, it was found that the cat was missing. Mr Churchill himself was informed and was so cross about it that he set an inquiry in motion and the cat was eventually recovered - minus tail and one ear - all the way from Singapore, though the offenders were never officially traced.
A few months later there was another party for the same squadron, and once more the cat disappeared at the end of it. Luckily one of the celebrants was found in the cloakroom trying to get the cat under his greatcoat. He was relieved of his prize which was then returned to his perch, only to disappear again a few minutes later. By a great stroke of luck, an off-duty waiter from the private rooms happened to be queuing for a bus in the Strand outside the Savoy, when he saw what was indubitably the cat's head sticking up out of an airman's coat. He took the cat from the man and returned it to its accustomed place where it continued to serve its purpose to lull Winston Churchill's superstitions for many years afterwards. In fact I hope that it is still there, even though he is gone.
Mr Churchill often took a guest to one of the dinners. On one particular occasion when his guest was Laurence Olivier, this led to some embarrassment. Every member of the Club is expected to pay his own bill at the end of the dinner, in cash. By some oversight, a waiter presented Mr Olivier, as he was then, with a bill. He paid, but was by no means very happy about the incident. I did not realize that he was Mr Churchill's guest for he came separately and was welcomed by all the diners, so when called upon, (just paid the Old Man's bill. Although Olivier and Vivien Leigh had been to Chartwell several times before that incident, henceforth we saw them not at all, and I have a vague feeling that it was a direct result of the nonpayment of the bill. I was sure that Mr Olivier was later reimbursed by Mr Churchill.
I remember particularly an incident following another of the Club dinners, when Lord Montgomery was Mr Churchill's guest. This time his dinner was paid for as I knew he was not a member and we had collected him on the way to the Savoy at the Athenaeum where the Viscount stayed when he was in town. When we came to leave the Savoy to return to No 10, there was no sign of the official car outside the Savoy Hill entrance as it should have been, so I called one of the taxis standing near by. Mr Churchill and Monty climbed into the back and I jumped on to the luggage space beside the driver. We were in a hurry and 1 quickly silenced the driver's protests that no passengers were permitted in that place, by showing him my warrant card and informing him at the same time who his passengers were. The journey was a short one to Downing Street and when we arrived, the Prime Minister told me to pay the cabbie as usual.
But Monty protested. 'No, no,' he said, 'I will see to it, Sergeant Murray:
'The Prime Minister instructed me to pay,' I said, reaching for my wallet, but Monty was adamant. 1 waited, while he searched high and low in all his pockets, eventually to discover only a halfpenny. I paid.
FTR #305 The Bormann Organization http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-305-the-bormann-organization/ 49. The Bormann group’s enormous influence has led to an effective cover-up over the years.
“. . .were he to emerge, it would embarrass the governments that assisted in his escape, the industrial and financial leaders who benefited from his acumen and transferred their capital to neutral nations in the closing days of World War II, and the businessmen of four continents who profited from the 750 corporations he established throughout the world as depositories of money, patents, bearer bonds, and shares in blue chip industries of the United States and Europe. . . When I penetrated the silence cloaking this story, after countless interviews and laborious research in German and American archives for revealing documents of World War II, I knew that the Bormann saga of flight capital and his escape to South America was really true. It had been covered up by an unparalleled manipulation of public opinion and the media. The closer I got to the truth, the more quiet attention I received from the forces surrounding and protecting Martin Bormann, and also from those who had a direct interest in halting my investigation. Over the period of years it took to research this book, I was the object of diligent observation by squads of Gestapo agents dispatched from South America by General ‘Gestapo’ Mulller, who directs all security matters for Martin Bormann, Nazi in exile, and his organization, the most remarkable business group anywhere in the secret world of today. Mueller’s interest in me, an American journalist, confirmed the truth of my many interviews and my ongoing investigation. . . There are also those in international government and business who have attempted to stop my forward movement on this investigation. In Germany, France, England, and the United States, too many leaders in government and finance still adhere to Winston Churchill’s statement to his Cabinet in 1943 ‘In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies’ . . . Oddly, I encountered less resistance from Martin Bormann and his aging peers than I did from the cover-up groups in West Germany, Paris, London, Washington, and Wall Street.”
(Ibid.; pp. 11–12.)