Extracts from memoirs and diariesby Ian Irvine / October 16, 2014 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2014 issue of Prospect Magazine
In a letter dated 1st January 1946, John Reith (1889-1971), a former minister and creator of the BBC, complained to Winston Churchill about his dismissal from government four years earlier:
“You can have no idea of the utter shock of your dismissal letter of 21.2.42. You wrote that I had served you loyally and well. I had; and was only anxious for greater opportunity so to do; but I was not a member of the Conservative Party, and I think I know what happened.
“My reply pleased you, and when I declined the Lord High Commisionership [representing the King at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland], ‘being passionately anxious to contribute to the war effort to the utmost of my power,’ you understood. I thought you would soon enable me to do so. After waiting three months I joined the Navy, hoping at least to be busy and fill in the time of waiting. I am glad I did not know I would still be waiting at the end of the war.
“A year later you wrote ‘You may be sure I will try my best to find suitable employment for your well-known energy and capacity… It would be a great pleasure to me that you were pulling your full weight in the war.’ That was in March 1943.
“I am proud of my Admiralty work, and it takes skill to crack nuts with a steam hammer—anyhow for one of my temperament. And I doubt if a day passed that I did not hope for the word from you that never came.