Friday, November 23, 2007

The Churchill Series - Nov. 23, 2007

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

Today's post is a rerun from September 2006. It's an amusing story about a group of men who gave thanks after enjoying some port and the fine officer who made their thanks possible.

Churchill tells the story in My Early Life. He recalls "one day in the winter of 1915 when I was serving [at the front] with the Grenadier Guards."

Churchill continues:

Our Colonel, then the well-known 'Ma' Jeffreys, a super-martinet and a splendid officer utterly unaffected by sixteen months of the brunt, deprecated the use of alcohol (apart from the regular rum ration) on duty, even under the shocking winter weather and in the front line. It was his wish, though not his actual order, that it should not be taken into the trenches.

In a dark and dripping dug-out a bottle of port was being consumed, when the cry, "Commanding Officer," was heard and Colonel Jeffreys began to descend the steps.

A young officer in whom there evidently lay the germs of military genius instinctively stuck the guttering candle which lighted the dug-out into the mouth of the bottle. Such candlesticks were common.

Everything passed off perfectly.

However, six months later this young officer found himself on leave in the Guards' Club, and there met Colonel Jeffreys.

"Have a glass of port wine?" said the Colonel. The subaltern accepted.

The bottle was brought and the glasses emptied: "Does it taste of candle grease?" said the Colonel; and they both laughed together. (p.50)