Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Career Opportunities

I've been re-reading John Colville's "The Fringes Of Power".
It's the diary of Churchill's private secretary during the war. He was at Chartwell on the June night in 1941 when Churchill, Eden, Beaverbrook and Roosevelt's envoy were staying there.
The following morning he was woken by a telegram informing him that Hitler had invaded Russia. What that meant was that Britain was going to get away with it. It was probably the most significant piece of news for this country in the 20th century.
He went from bedroom to bedroom passing on the news.
He was twenty-five years old.


  1. Despite the reputation of those years for hierarchy, good people seemed to get on quicker in those days. R J Mitchell was Chief Engineer of Supermarine at the age of 25 as well. Imagine the equivalent today. I can't.
    I blame the rise of the BUHMM (Blocking Useless Hindering Middle Manager) as a career path for many. What say you?

  2. I think old films have done a disservice to many of the people who fought the ww as many of them we very young (but are portray/acted older). His men used to call Guy Gibson (Dambusters) "old Man" because he was in his mid 20's and they were late teens and a bit older.
    Whole squadrons where commanded by "old men" of 30.

  3. Anonymous11:41 am

    I'm not sure it was good people getting on. I've only read volume 2, but came away with a distinct impression that he got the job due to an old school tie (Harrow) and being from the right family.

    It's also noticeable how many of the surnames of Tory MPs that are mentioned, are still the surnames of Tory MPs - mainly Churchill and Soames of course.

    I was also troubled by the way in which he's allowed to pootle off and spend a year or two training as a fighter pilot, only to be recalled within a couple of months of reaching active service as Churchill wants him back. I can't imagine the cleaner at No10 being allowed the same leeway.

  4. I could take exception to many facets of this argument but I shall restrict myself to pointing out that nobody "pootled off" to train for the RAF during the war. Not my father-in-law, not Charles Colville nor the many who never got to write their memoirs.

  5. “He got the job due to an old school tie (Harrow) and being from the right family”.

    That‘s one way of looking at it. Another is that he got the job because he had the benefit of the best education the world could offer at the time and his background gave him the confidence and yes, social graces, to operate comfortably in such circles even at a relatively young age. In terms of vetting for security, personal integrity, honesty, reliabilty etc. he could also be quite confidently “vouched for” by people trusted by those who appointed him.
    Elitism is not without its merits.
    How the hell was Churchill supposed to pick his private secretary? Whistle up the first off the rank from the MoD typing pool?
    As for being called back from the RAF. I’d have thought that being an important and trusted member of the Prime Minister’s staff would be the daddy of all Reserve Occupations

  6. This must have been the time when the 'mechanics' for the Diebold Machine was first mooted. These machines are now at the centre of vote fraud in Iowa and New Hampshire.Please see:

  7. Anonymous2:12 pm

    My objection is to him occupying two years of training that, after half a dozen or so missions, were utterly wasted.

    I can fully understand him wanting to do his bit (though I might question whether the value of the token gesture), and Churchill allowing him the right to do so. Presumably six weeks basic training, followed by a couple of years in the PBI wasn't class-appropriate.