Lord Aldington, Born on May 25, 1914, was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford, before serving in World War II in Greece, Crete, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Italy and Austria. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, the Croix de Guerre and the American Legion of Merit. He entered Parliament in 1945 as a Conservative member for Blackpool North and became minister of trade when Churchill returned to office in 1951 and, later, vice chairman of the Conservative Party. He was ennobled in 1962.
During World War II Lord Aldington (then known by his given name, Toby Low) as a brigadier on the staff of the British forces occupying Austria at the end of the war was responsible for overseeing the repatriation of Soviet citizens in Austria to the USSR as called for in the agreement forged by the Allies at Yalta. Unfortunately, a significant number of Soviet citizens did not want to return to the USSR and had to be forcibly repatriated in what was termed Operation Keelhaul (in fact, force had to be used against Cossacks who refused to return to the USSR). Along with Soviet citizens, however, non-Soviet citizens to whom the deportation order did not apply were also turned over the Soviets. The motives for doing so were a combination of wanting to finish the job as quickly as possible as well as placating the Soviet government.
On May 21, 1945, Low issued an order that effectively commanded troops to ignore individual claims unless particularly pressed and in all cases of doubt, the individual will be treated as a SOVIET NATIONAL. This order directly contradicted a Foreign Office telegram. Tolstoy labeled Aldington a war criminal. In his libel lawsuit against Tolstoy, Aldington had a simple defense -- he had returned from Austria to Great Britain before the Foreign Office order had been issued.
When the trial came it should have been possible, easy even, to prove the order of events and name the man who had issued the orders [to stop indiscriminate deportations]. ...Some of the relevant documents Tolstoy had copied when he researched his books, but when he went back he found that the old boy network had done its work. All key documents related to the case had been sent to various government ministries -- notably to the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence -- and duly misplaced. When Tolstoy''s researcher asked for these documents, including reports and signals relating to Aldington, she was told they were not available... Aldington''s mind eventually clarified as to the date on which he had finally left Austria -- he gave three dates in three interviews -- but there were no records by which these could be confirmed.
In the mid-1980''s, when he was in his 70''s and winding down a successful political and business career, Lord Aldington felt obliged to bring a libel action against Count Tolstoy and an embittered property developer, Nigel Watts, who had circulated a pamphlet saying that Lord Aldington had the blood of 70,000 innocent men, women and children on his hands and that his wartime activities merited comparison with those of the worst butchers of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Count Tolstoy had already published several books and articles attacking Macmillan and Britain''s wartime government for handing over the anti-Communist prisoners in the hope of pleasing Stalin and securing the release of British soldiers held in Eastern Europe. The books included Victims of Yalta(1977) and The Minister and the Massacres (1986).
At the trial, Lord Aldington agreed that the fate of the returnees had been ghastly but said he had not known that they faced execution.
There were many officers who were very unhappy about what we had to do, and I was amongst them, he testified. But I didn''t make a fuss about it. I just got on with the job.
Tolstoy lost the libel suit and Aldington was awarded $2.2 million in damages, though the Human Rights Court at Strasbourg unanimously ruled that the fine was so excessive as to be a violation of Tolstoy''s fundamental right to free expression. The case centered on one of the Allies'' most shameful acts of World War II, the forced repatriation, under the terms of the 1945 Yalta agreement
with the Soviet Union, of thousands of captured anti-Communist Russians and Yugoslavs, most of whom were promptly executed or imprisoned.
His business career included serving as chairman of the General Electric Company, Grindlays Bank, Westland Aircraft, Sun Alliance and London Insurance. Surviving are his wife, Araminta, whom he married in 1947; two daughters; and a son. The day after Lord Aldington''s death, an Oxford court ordered Count Tolstoy to make a first payment of $85,000 toward the legal costs in the case. But he remained unrepentant, saying of the man whom he had libeled, He''ll get a frosty reception at the Pearly Gates.
The artist Bernard Hailstone (1910-1987) was known for his portraits of royalty,members of the Armed Services, musicians and personalities of stage and screen. Among the most memorable are his portraits of Sir Winston Churchill, Peter Ustinov and Sir John Barbirolli. His portrait of Lord Olivier now hangs in the bar of the Garrick Club.
Less known, but among his best work, are his paintings of the Blitz. During the war he joined up as a fireman in the Auxiliary Fire Service, along with such artists as Norman Hepple and Leonard Rosoman, and would set up his easel among the bombed London churches and smouldering buildings when there was a lull in the raids.
The experiences of these firemen artists were not without their humorous side, for example, when Hailstone helped to extinguish a fire in a warehouse containing barrels of rum near the docks, or when he was disciplined for using His Majesty'';s gas to give himself enough light to complete a picture after dark.
His work came to the notice of Kenneth Clark, who in 1941 asked him to become an official war artist to the Ministry of Transport. During this period he recorded the life of the Atlantic and Mediterranean Convoys. In 1944 he was sent to South East Asia Command (SEAC) to paint Lord Mountbatten and members of his staff. Much of his work is in the Imperial War Museum.
This was the beginning of Hailstone''s career as a portrait painter, which he pursued for the rest of his life - perhaps, some felt, at the expense of his sensitive landscape painting.
Bernard Hailstone came from a large family, in Hadlow,Kent, and he remained in Hadlow for the rest of his life. His elder brother,Harold,was a well-known Punch artist and illustrator. Bernard himself was the seventh child of a seventh son, a fact to which he attributed the good fortune and luck which he enjoyed during his adventurous life.
A generous and warmhearted man, he was very good company,and must have been one of the very few painters who could work with others around him. He was never so happy as when dining in the convivial atmosphere of the Chelsea Arts Club or teaching his pupils during the weekly painting classes he held at this studio.
Teaching for him was perhaps rather more an occasion for getting intouch with others than a strict economic necessity,for he had a cavalier attitude to money and an endearing absent-minded and disorganised way of life which kept his many friends amused.
In spite of this, Bernard Hailstone was much in demand and travelled the globe making new friends through his commissions. He often travelled to New York on the QE2, and would entertain passengers with after-dinner talks on his long and varied career and eminent people he had painted.
- Oil on Canvas
- 25 x 24 ins. (63.5 x 61 cms.)