Churchill’s Headmaster: The “Sadist” Who Nearly Saved the British Empire
Melbourne, Australia: Manticore Press, 2019
I recently discovered Edward Dutton when I listened to a series of Scandza Forum talks on an internet video service. Needless to say, I was intrigued by what he had to say, so I picked up a copy of his analysis of the headmaster of Winston Churchill’s boyhood school, the Reverend Herbert Sneyd-Kynnersley. The general consensus was that Sneyd-Kynnersley was a “sadist” who might have sexually abused the young Churchill. According to legend, Churchill was withdrawn after an attentive nanny noticed the injuries from his beatings.
Dutton looked into the record and argues that Sneyd-Kynnersley was not a sadist. In fact, Churchill was withdrawn from the school due to an illness. Dutton further argues that if Churchill stayed at the school he’d have been a better human in general, enough so that his decisions would not have led to World War II and the collapse of the British Empire shortly thereafter.
Reverend Herbert Sneyd-Kynnersley
The schoolmaster of Churchill’s boyhood school, Saint George’s School, Ascot, came from a family that was of aristocratic, Norman stock, and at least one branch of his family tree was descended from the Royal Plantagenet Family. Throughout the Nineteenth Century, the Sneyd-Kynnersley family sent their sons into the respectable middle management of Great Britain and the Colonies. Reverend Herbert Sneyd-Kynnersley was a Tractarian. This was a religious reform movement that sought to return the Anglican Church to the liturgy of the Catholic Church. It followed the ideas of Cardinal John Newman.
Dutton argues that Sneyd-Kynnersley’s Tractarian views were part of a larger attempt to reinforce a British tribal cult where ritual reinforces group identity and cohesion. The Tractarians were a reaction to the Evangelical Protestantism that encouraged individualism and lessened British identity.
Although cliché, it is profoundly true that the past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. Winston Churchill’s boyhood years were in the height of Victorian England. There were different taboos. Beating children with a birch branch was not a taboo, it was encouraged. There was a reason for the beatings. Dutton:
Part of [schools like Saint George’s] purpose was to mould extremely privileged boys, who had materially never really wanted for anything, into suitable men to run the British Empire. In many respects the schools were akin to the brutal rites of passage into adulthood that are undergone by boys as they turn into men, in many tribal societies. These boys, like almost all boys in such tribes, were their societies’ future warriors and they had to be made into warriors: people who would obey authority, keep their emotions under control, endure physical pain, be mentally resilient, live for the future rather than for the now, make sacrifices for others, and deeply empathise with them, but have the ability to act lethally towards the enemy at the precisely appropriate moment.  
Dutton further argues that the methods of Sneyd-Kynnersley were not unjust, out of the ordinary for the time, or illegal. Furthermore, young Winston Churchill behaved exceptionally poorly. He deserved the birchings. Had he gotten more, Churchill might have been less of an incompetent narcissist.
Winston Churchill, Incompetent Narcissist
Dutton approaches the issue from the viewpoint that Winston Churchill’s career was a disaster for the British Empire. During the First World War, Churchill oversaw the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Churchill’s policy of keeping Britain on the gold standard harmed British industry. Finally, Churchill’s actions in the late 1930s led to the Second World War which effectively ended the British Empire. Throughout his career Churchill was often drunk, meaning that his decisions might not have been the best. While Churchill was Prime Minister for the second time in the early 1950s, he allowed for Third World Immigration which has led to the Balkanization of Great Britain today.
Was it Churchill that Sunk the Empire?
The first question this book raises: “is it true that Winston Churchill destroyed the British Empire?” Winston Churchill deserves a considerable share of the blame, but the English upper class in nearly its entirety made a series of poor decisions from at least 1895 until 1939. The cumulative poor decisions led to three major crises that sunk the British Empire. The first crisis was the Boer War. The second was the abdication of King Edward VIII. And the final crisis was declaring war on Germany in 1939. These three crises were contrived by the British upper class and dominated by the British upper class in their resolution. I left out the decisions surrounding World War I, as there are so many parties involved that one cannot fairly say that Churchill and/or Churchill’s social set dominated or caused the disaster. Too many people causing too many problems launched that disaster.
The Boer War
The roots of the Boer War were British “civil rights” policy. To explain simply, the British set up “civil rights” commissions in Cape Colony in the early nineteenth century and they sided with any non-white complainer against a white. This caused a rebellion that ended with a number of Dutch-Speaking Boers hanged for treason. As a result, many Boers fled Cape Colony for the interior of what is now South Africa. “Civil rights” had a steep cost; instead of advancing the frontiers of the British Empire such as the settlers of Australia or Canada, these settlers set up two independent republics that were in opposition to the Empire. As they built their republics, the Boers had to fight Zulus and other tribes. Thus the Boers became increasingly “redpilled” while the British upper and middle classes in London slipped into virtue signaling and negro worship.Writes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:
“The Imperial Government has always taken an honourable and philanthropic view of the rights of the native and the claim which he has to the protection of the law. We hold and rightly, that British justice, if not blind, should at least be colour-blind. The view is irreproachable in theory and incontestable in argument, but it is apt to be irritating when urged by a Boston moralist or a London philanthropist upon men whose whole society has been built upon the assumption that the black is the inferior race. Such a people like to find the higher morality for themselves, not to have it imposed upon them by those who live under entirely different conditions. They feel — and with some reason — that it is a cheap form of virtue which, from the serenity of a well-ordered household in Beacon Street or Belgrave Square, prescribes what the relation shall be between a white employer and his half-savage, half-childish retainers. Both branches of the Anglo-Celtic race have grappled with the question, and in each it has led to trouble.”  
In 1895, a military column led by Leander Starr Jameson, an upper-class Briton, attempted to capture the Transvaal and its massive goldfields but were defeated. Jameson’s attack was a rogue operation, but the Boers were so suspicious of the British that war became inevitable. It broke out in 1899 and thousands of British, Canadians, Australians, and English South Africans rushed to enlist.
Any organization that believes in “civil rights” ends up misreading data, even if they believe in “civil rights” in the somewhat paltry way the British rulers of 1899 believed in it. The British thought the war would be easy, but it ended up anything but. By the end of the conflict, South Africa’s two white tribes were filled with a mutual enmity so terrible that in later decades they harmed themselves and each other in a flurry of spite rather than cooperation.
Meanwhile, the British Empire lost critical support. When Australian Prime Minister Andrew Fisher promised that he would defend Britain to the “last man” at the start of the Great War in 1914, Boer War veteran Lieutenant George Witton, who’d been involved in a nasty incident during the conflict, stated he would be “the last man.”
The Boer War didn’t just cause men like George Witton to become disillusioned. It also created a sort of madness among Northern Europeans. The German Empire expanded its navy due to the conflict, increasing tensions that helped pave the way for the madness of World War I.
The Abdication of King Edward VIII
There is a sense of hypocrisy in that the Church of England granted King Henry VIII two divorces but helped depose Edward VIII for marrying a divorcee. However, the two kings were in vastly different circumstances. After looking over the record it is clear that King Edward VIII was a disaster for the British Empire.
To explain, Henry VIII needed a male heir to prevent a second War of the Roses and he only divorced Queen Catherine of Aragon after she went into menopause. Wallis Simpson was married when she took up with King Edward VIII. In other words, Edward VIII was a homewrecker; had Edward VIII married Simpson with impunity, he’d have set the precedent that any English king could move in on the wife of one of his subjects as though he was an oriental despot. Other kings and queens have had affairs, of course, but these affairs were done in secret and caused a scandal if revealed. Edward VIII was doing it publicly.
As he was handsome, rich, and royal, he could have married anyone. King Edward VIII should have detailed his female relations to find him a suitable wife and had children with her. In the end, Edward VIII’s affair demonstrated a painfully obvious lack of judgment by the man who was ruling a vast empire at a time of economic crisis and rising international tensions. As a result of the abdication crisis, Ireland effectively became a republic, a more carefully considered approach to Germany was unexamined, and British de-industrialization was not stopped, among other problems.
Intervention in the Polish-German Border Conflict of 1939
The cause of World War II was not appeasing Hitler at Munich and it was not appeasing Hitler regarding Poland. The British entered into a pact with Poland which they could not honor at the exact same time the Polish government was provoking a conflict with Germany over the treatment of Germans in Poland.
Essentially, Dutton compresses the ideas in Patrick Buchanan’s Churchill, Hitler, and “The Unnecessary War”: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World. Dutton emphasizes the fact that Jewish pressure groups were paying a high-living and debt-ridden Churchill to make anti-German speeches.
It is without a shadow of a doubt that Churchill’s reckless actions helped bring out the catastrophe; other writers have argued that Edward Wood, Lord Halifax, the British Foreign Secretary and political rival to Churchill, also maneuvered Britain and Germany into war. World War II was the final bad decision on four decades of bad decisions by the British upper class going back to Leander Starr Jameson’s raid on the Transvaal in 1895. Churchill deserves much of the blame, but certainly not all of it.
Getting to the Top
Churchill made many mistakes throughout his career, but he survived politically through a number of factors. First, one mistake was countered by one very solid act. For example, Churchill’s initiative probably saved
the Royal Navy when he ordered it put on a war footing and moved to Scapa Flow just before World War I broke out in 1914. These sorts of things happened again and again throughout his career. Second, the appalling losses of World War I among British officers took away competent rivals of his age and social class. Finally, Churchill could grasp and explain complex ideas and write very well. All of his books are good and none of his rivals in parliament produced books like The History of the English Speaking People, or The World Crisis.
Churchill also showed up. What I mean by showing up is this: I know a veteran officer whose career fizzled out at lieutenant colonel. The retired officer ended up working at a major headquarters where he ran into general officers day in and day out. He discovered they weren’t really all that smart, but had advanced their careers by showing up. They had volunteered for every hardship assignment, they went to every training course, and jumped at every command opportunity. They sacrificed their families for their careers and didn’t let failure bother them.
Churchill did exactly this. He served in the Sudan Campaign in 1898, rejoined the army in South Africa when war broke out there, and used his prestigious background to get into public service. He showed up again and again. It worked for him well personally, but when he showed up for World War II, he was so high up that he took the British Empire with him. He is a hero and World War II is only a “good war” because the British paid so dear a price they must justify the sacrifice.
Is there a Headmaster out there?
Dutton also examines the psychological profile of Reverend Herbert Sneyd-Kynnersley. He argues that the headmaster had a sort of arrested development. He also had some out-of-sorts sexual desires, like pederasty or homosexuality, that he repressed. Though he was married, he never had children, and his wife was jealous of his relationships with his students.
Speculation on the inner life of Reverend Sneyd-Kynnersley aside, his career got me thinking about the critical job of turning boys into men. In looking back over my own experiences, I must recognize that it was the less-than-likable guys that put me on the path to maturity. For example, all of the scoutmasters, teachers, and coaches that really helped me along didn’t have a gentle touch. Most of them were veterans of World War II, Korea, or Vietnam and they told things like they were. It wasn’t pleasant, but I’ve come to increasingly appreciate their wisdom. True good advice never comes politely. I’d like to hear from a headmaster out there who has successfully turned boys into men.
  Dutton, Edward, Churchill’s Headmaster: The “Sadist” Who Nearly Saved the British Empire, Manticore Press, Melbourne, Australia, 2019 Pages 32 & 33.
  Of the Boers, the Englishman Sir Arthur Conan Doyle writes “These people were as near akin to us as any race which is not our own. They were of the same Frisian stock which peopled our own shores. In habit of mind, in religion, in respect for law, they were as ourselves. Brave, too, they were, and hospitable, with those sporting instincts which are dear to the Anglo-Celtic race. There was no people in the world who had more qualities which we might admire, and not the least of them was that love of independence which it is our proudest boast that we have encouraged in others as well as exercised ourselves.” Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, The Great Boer War, Smith, Elder & Co, London, 1900 Page 46.
  Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, The Great Boer War, Smith, Elder & Co, London, 1900 Page 4.