Monday, August 13, 2007

The Churchill Series – Aug. 13, 2007

(One of a series of posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

I want to do something different today.

Instead of a post about Churchill, I'm offering a post about someone Churchill knew and admired. Let's call what I'm doing a “guest appearance” post.

Today’s “guest” is General of the Army and later both Secretary of State and Defense, George C. Marshall.

During WW II Churchill and Marshall had their rounds over strategy and resource allocations, but each had great respect for the other. As the war was drawing to a close, Churchill saluted Marshall as “the organizer of victory.”

In 1929 Marshall was a Colonel stationed at Fort Benning, just outside Columbus, Georgia. He was forty-eight and a very lonely man. His first wife, Lily, had died the previous year from complications related to a coronary condition.

Marshall was invited to a dinner party in Columbus at which another guest was Katherine Tupper Brown, a widow with three children. She was in Columbus to visit friends. She’d later record her first sight of Marshall: “I will never forget. George had a way of looking right straight through you. He had such keen blue eyes and he was straight and very military.”

The two chatted throughout dinner. Afterwards Marshall offered to “drive Mrs. Brown home.” He said he’d have no trouble finding Mrs. William Blanchard’s house, where she was staying.

Marshall biographer Ed Cray tells us what happened next:

Having assured her he knew the Blanchard residence where Mrs. Brown was staying, Marshall spent an hour driving the streets of the small town of Columbus while the two of them chatted.

Finally Mrs. Brown asked, “How long have you been at Fort Benning?”

“Two years,” the colonel answered.

“Well, after two years, haven’t you learned your way around Columbus?”

“Extremely well, or I could not have stayed off the block where Mrs. Blanchard lives.”
Ed Cray, General of the Army George C. Marshall, Soldier and Statesman. (W. W. Norton & Co., 1990) (pgs. 107-108)


Anonymous said...

Terrific and heart warming story - no wonder we enjoy your posting so much.

Anonymous said...

Did you not intend to say that Mrs. Brown was a widow? George C. Marshall was the widower.
The Churchill series is a marvelous and enjoyable way to enhance one's knowledge of this fascinating, charismatic, influential man. Most of the items are previously unknown to me. I wonder whether you might consider researching and publishing an account of a fateful encounter that perhaps reflects one of Churchill's blindspots: his meeting with the great physicist Niels Bohr, after which Churchill is reputed to have said, "How did that man Bohr come into this atomic bomb business?" Churchill apparently was unaware of Bohr's scientific stature and contributions to nuclear physics. Of course, Bohr did not always present his ideas cogently, especially when speaking, so there was potential for confusion in his interaction with Churchill. Although OT in this comment, your reportage of the attempted British boycott of Israeli academics was important in revealing the seditious political correctness and terrorist-sympathizing of the Left.

JWM said...

Anon @ 12:07,

Thank you.

Marshall is one of my heros. He and Katherine had a wonderful marriage; and as you would expect he was a fine step-father.

Anon @ 12:42,

Thanks for pointing out my mistake re: widower. I've got that fixed now.

Thank you for you nice words.

I'll take a look at the Bohr matter and say something in a future post.

But don't expect much. The physical sciences are one of my many weak areas.

BTW - Am I right to assume you're familiar with the play "Copenhagen?"

Thank you again to both of you.


Anonymous said...

I am familiar with the play "Copenhagen", having read several accounts and reviews. I have not watched it. It belongs to a genre, fiction mixed with history without a clear demarcation, that doesn't appeal to me. I wouldn't expect to derive any historical insight from the play. Although it is based on yet another instance, perhaps the most famous one, in which Bohr engaged in a conversation (in this case with fellow physicist Werner Heisenberg) which resulted in misunderstanding, Bohr's wife Margrethe was not present, so that any remarks attributed to her in the play are not likely to be enlightening.