(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)
Cast your mind back to April, 1941.
It's been nine months since France collapsed and signed an armistice with Hitler's Germany.
There’s no Eastern front. Germany won’t attack Russia for another three months.
The United States won’t enter the war until Dec. 7, 1941.
The Axis powers appear invinciable.
Nevertheless, Britain and the Commonwealth fight on.
On the home island, the fight involves a mostly defensive battle against German bombing raids. The Royal Air Force destroys many attacking bombers but others get through and do their worst.
Bristol is hard hit during a nighttime raid that April.
The following morning, Churchill and Clementine left London for Bristol to view the damage and comfort victims. A small party accompanied them. It included an American, Averell Harriman, then in England as a representative of President Roosevelt.
Everyone was moved by the damage they witnessed and the "pluck" of the survivors.
That evening, Harriman arranged to make a large, anonymous donation to a relief fund for the bombing victims.
Clementine learned of his gesture. She sent him the following letter:
Tuesday, April the 15th. 1941We often forget that in Freedom's great struggle,there were two Churchills who used the English language to touch, sustain, and inspire.
My dear Mr. Harriman:
I am sending your generous present to the Lord Mayor of Bristol & although I shall respect your wish that it shall be anonymous, I shall tell him how moved the giver was by the sufferings and bearing of the people of Bristol.
I feel it is the fervent hope and prayer of many of us that all this pain and grief, some of which we have perhaps deserved by our blindness and negligence, may bring our two countries permanently together & that they may grow to understand each other.
Anyhow, whatever happens we do not feel alone any more.
Yours very sincerely,
Clementine S. Churchill
Clementine Churchill's letter was included in a Library of Congress exhibit: Churchill and the Great Republic. A transcript of the letter may be viewed here.