<This interview( No: 134814) took place on October 23, 1965, beginning at 1:34 pm and concluding at 4:54 pm, at the house of the subject in Penzance, Cornwall, United Kingdom . Despite the subject’s advanced age and infirmities, he proved a willing and extremely able subject. He was able to talk for a significant time, after some initial prevaricating about British police firearms, about an incident which occurred half a century ago. We think it unlikely that the subject suspects our ultimate purpose in interrogating him; he seems to have accepted without reserve our premise that we are investigative journalists interviewing him for a book on the mysteries and lasting dilemmas of the life of Winston Churchill.>
My name is Albert John Mathewson, late of the Metropolitan Police Force of London, and in January of 1911 I was a police armourer engaged in the trial of various military-grade sidearms for prospective police use.
After what has been called the Siege of Sidney Street, that detestable incident in which a gang of anarchists holed up in an East End tenement flat were besieged by several hundred police officers, it became evident that the armaments available to the police were no longer sufficient.
As a rule, for the usual sort of-highly irregular- police work that firearms called for, which involved their use as a frightener or source of attention rather than in any sort of operational capacity, the outdated but solid ‘Bull-Dog’ .44 was sufficient.
However, during the incident at Sidney Street, where the anarchists concerned were armed with the most up-to-date Mauser or Dreyse automatic pistols, and were more than willing to use them, the police armoury was shown to be embarrassingly out of date- of the few officers who were issued firearms, some received the Bull-Dog, some received the even older and less effective Adams, and the rest were armed with black-powder fowling pieces. Really, this was more like the contents of a junk shop, and about as effective, than an up to date supply of firearms.
Therefore, a few weeks after the siege, we advertised for firearms manufacturers to demonstrate their pistols and revolvers- which is to say I would put the weapons through their paces- at the Metropolitan armory. About a dozen responded-Webley and Mauser were the principal ones that I can remember- and after a full day of comprehensive testing, we settled on the Webley .32 automatic pistol as the new police sidearm.
Winston Churchill was present during the arms testing, wasn’t he?
Yes, he was. In his then capacity as the Home Secretary, he had been heavily involved in directing operations during the Siege itself, putting himself in an exposed position where, in fact, a bullet passed through his hat; this brought him much criticism from his Conservative opposites in the House of Commons. He directed the infantry reinforcements, a platoon of Scots Guards coming from the Tower of London, and I am told that he also ordered a artillery piece towards the scene, which arrived too late to be of any use- all this, you understand, I did not witness; I was not directly involved with the siege itself.
But, I have digressed; yes, Mr Churchill was present during the testing of small arms. I am not quite sure why, as he held no police rank and had no technical firearms knowledge.
What sort of actions did Churchill take during the testing?
He was vocal-perhaps not listened to always or even particularly much, but he emphasized the importance of choosing a British firearm for the British institution of the Metropolitan Police.
So he did not carry out any.... unusual actions?
Nothing that I can think of; you understand, these events happened more than half a century ago, and a few lapses of memory are to be expected.
A few moments of silence.
Well, there is... but...
Please, tell us.
<A sigh. Subject holds his head in his hands, before steeling himself and coming to a decision.>
I have kept this secret for so long, mainly because of the constantly rising public profile of Mr Churchill and the way it would be affected if this was to become public knowledge. But... he is dead now, and it may be necessary for someone else to know.
After all, I am not quite ninety-one years old, and I have the early symptoms of lung cancer. (Corroborated by doctor’s statement, made on 21/10/65.)
<He breaks into a coughing fit, which goes on for some seconds before he presses a handkerchief to his mouth. It comes away bloody.>
My doctor has told me that I have perhaps six months to live.
I have just one request to make: delay the release of what I am about to tell you for five years. Mr Churchill is still a hero to many good people... and to let them down would be cruel indeed, especially on top of his death so recently.
<Interview breaks here; during the break, which otherwise contained no incident of any relevance, the subject demanded, in addition to his previous request, that a significant donation be made to the British Legion (a charity serving former members of the British armed forces). This was done.>
NB: In accordance with Churchill’s status as a major propaganda figure of the British people, this information which follows will almost certainly be never released to the general public.
At about 4 p.m on the second day of testing, during a half-hour delay in the action occasioned by the discovery of a corroded hammer on a revolver being tested, I resolved to use the break to go outside and have a smoke.
At that time, the police armoury was located in the basement of a dilapidated town house in W-<he checks himself>- in a certain distinguished suburb of London. It was perfectly suited for its purposes; no-one ever suspected its usage by the police; it was spacious and set back from the road, surrounded by a barbed-wire fence.
After going round the corner and lighting up, my attention was caught by the sound of low voices from the rear of the house. Thinking it was some miscreant trying to break into the house- or, quite possibly, an anarchist looking for revenge- I moved closer to attempt to see who it was; peering round the corner, I was astonished to see Mr Churchill in conversation with a shadowy figure swathed in bandages.
Could you hear what they were speaking about?
Yes. Yes I could. I was not more than a few yards away from them, and there was very little background noise.
Would you be able to give a rough account of what you heard?
I can go somewhat better than that.
<He pulls a carpet-bag from beside his armchair and takes a few yellowed sheets of paper from it.>
I can give you a transcript. I made this immediately after the incident, and I can assure you that it is a full and accurate account of what happened, although it is not quite verbatim; I have not reproduced the other man’s appalling accent and sense of grammar.
Churchill: ... if this is what it purports to be... I pray you have not led me on a fool’s errand.
Man: There can be no mistake. Its identlty is impossible to deny.
Churchill: Even Crowley suspected that they were unreal or exaggerated.
Man: Crowley was wrong.
Churchill: <Some brooding> I need your identity before our dealings proceed.
Man: Very well.
<He pulled back his hood, revealing a face swathed in bandages; most of the flesh visible underneath was terribly burned, the skin peeling. To me, there were no distinguishing features visible, but Churchill evidently thought otherwise.>
Churchill: Peter Piaktow. The Surete informed me last week that you were at large in Paris.
Man: I am not easy to pin down. And harder to kill.
Churchill: You have been one of the most wanted men in England.
Man: Yes. Largely under that absurd nickname that you gave me. ‘Peter the Painter’- pah!
Churchill: Were you at the incident at Sidney Street?
Man: Of course.
Churchill: And yet you survived.
Man: I did. Not unscathed, what I possess is only a shard of the whole, but it absorbed enough damage for me to slip away, as those fools Svaars and Sokoloff shot it out with the police while the fire raged around them.
Churchill: A shard of--?
Man: The Staff, the Romanov regal sceptre, shattered at Tunguska three years ago.
Churchill: I have seen the sceptre since.
Man: It is not the same one. They quelled the Revolution of 1905 with the real one. What they have now is a shoddy imitation with none of the original’s power.
Churchill: Perhaps. But all this has no meaning if you cannot demonstrate the power of what you have to trade me.
Man: If you must.
<He pulled a rough piece of shimmering metal from his pocket, holding it up for Churchill to see. Then he- the really, initially at least, unbelievable part- began to draw out rays from it, which circled round his head before enveloping Churchill in their brilliance. They continued to do so for five or so seconds, before the rays abruptly faded, leaving Churchill gasping for breath in their wake. I was tempted to go forward to his aid, but something, a mystical curiosity in myself, stopped me.>
Churchill: Alright. It is as you say. The veracity of what you have for me is proved. But we cannot talk longer here; indeed, you should not have come in the first place.
Man: A man like you is not one easily available to contact.
Churchill: I will arrange a trade for what you seek somewhere more secure. My club in St James’s Street will serve admirably. I shall contact you in the near future, but in the meantime I must return to...
There, it ends. Knowing my time was at an end, I crept away, and since that day I have not had the opportunity to find out more information.
Do you have any theories on the subject?
I have thought the matter through for fifty-five years, and I have come up with no conclusive end to the matter. At first I thought the object some advanced piece of technology, and the man a spy of some sort who had stolen it from a continental power, but later... my views crystallized. I have begun to think that it was somehow of a more supernatural or spiritual nature. You must understand, I am a Church of England man, but somehow... I really find the whole thing inexplicable from a practical point of view; this is the only way that I can rationalize it.
Did you inform your superiors? Or Churchill himself?
No. I thought about taking that course of action on several occasions, but I simply found the whole thing so ludicrous as to be essentially unbelievable to anyone who had not seen it. The Home Secretary conversing with a wanted criminal about a magical artefact? I would have been dismissed from the service.
But Churchill... no, I did not, but.... <deep breath> on several occasions, occurring about once every five years, I found sums of roughly five hundred pounds deposited into my bank account from a private Swiss account.
Money for silence? Which would imply that Churchill was aware of your presence?
I have come to believe so, on both accounts.
And you have no knowledge about the ’trade’ which Churchill made?
No. Although I believe, with more of a vague feeling than anything else, that there was some bad blood involved. Churchill bore an extremely charmed life, seeming to miss accidents by little more than a hair. You may remember that he was hit by a taxicab in New York in 1931, almost killing him and forcing him to walk with a cane for the rest of his life. There were other incidents also, and it is almost possible to think that...
They were assassination attempts by a disgruntled third party? Perhaps the same one that made the trade in the first place?
It is an extremely remote possibility, but one which I find myself unable to dismiss. Still, his astonishing political and military success- apart from, it must be said, the debacle at Gallipoli in 1915- would seem to contradict that there was ever any concerted bad blood against him by a person or organization.
<The relevant portion of the interview concludes at that point. There are several conclusions that can be drawn from it, mainly regarding the reassessed date of Churchill’s earliest knowledge of the POEs; they can be found at Appendix B (134814-B) of this report.>
NB: The subject was found deceased three days after the conclusion of this interview, from a gunshot wound to the left temple. A revolver of a model owned by the man was found near his body, and the coroner’s office concluded that the wound was self-inflicted due to depressive illness; however, it is our belief that there exists significant doubt as to whether this was indeed the case- a few drops of an unidentified blood type were found on the subject’s skin, and there was also some incidence of moderate-severe bruising on the subject’s hands, of a type consistent with a defence wound (explained by the coroner as being the result of a fall a few days earlier). Further inquiries will be made into the matter by one of our agents (specific details yet to be decided).