(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)
Grace Hamblin, O.B.E., became one of Churchill’s secretaries in the early 30s and subsequently served as Clementine’s secretary through 1966. The two women also became close friends.
During a talk in 1987 before the International Churchill Society, Hamblin recalled one of Churchill’s “most endearing qualities:”
One of his most endearing qualities was his love of animals. He surrounded himself with them.Grace Hamblin’s entire talk is hosted here at the Churchill Centre’s site.
In his out of door peregrinations - building a wall, making a dam or an island, touring the farm, feeding the fish or his beloved black swans - he was always accompanied by a dog.
In the early days this was a pug, which didn't suit him at all really. Later there was his faithful poodle, Rufus.
Rufus, I'm sorry to say, took rather a liking to me. Poodles are very one-man dogs, you know. And this made Sir Winston rather cross.
He'd say, with his head down, "You've stolen my dog's affection."
I didn't, really. It was just that I was there, and I took him for walks which nobody else did. No wonder the dog liked me. He was a good dog, because after Sir Winston had been away, he would always welcome him back - which was very decent of him.
When Rufus died, I had him at Chartwell, and Sir Winston happened at that time to be in hospital in London with a broken hip.
I telephoned to Lady Churchill and asked her what action she'd like me to take because it was quite a big thing in our lives. She said, "You'd better write him a little note and I'll take it along to him," which she did.
She told me afterwards that when he read it the tears came to his eyes. He was very emotional and the tears came easily. He had said, "Poor Miss, she must have a puppy."
So you see, I was forgiven.