Monday, October 20, 2008

The Churchill Series - Oct>. 20, 2008

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

In March, 1916, Churchill was at the front commanding a battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. His adjutant, Archibald Sinclair, was due for leave. Churchill arranged for Sinclair to stay in London with Clementine and the children in the house they were sharing with his sister-in-law, Gwendeline (always called “Goonie” in the family) and her children. Goonie’s husband, Jack,Churchill’s younger brother and only sib was at the time serving in the eastern Mediterranean.

On March 22 Clementine wrote Churchill to tell him of “Archie’s” arrival. She had just started the letter when the Editor of the Manchester Guardian (now called The Guardian) arrived. He had some advice for Churchill which Clementine passed on before telling Churchill about Archie:

My Darling,

Your letter announcing Archie’s immediate arrival has just come and I have been hastily arranging things for his reception – I am so glad he is coming here especially as he will bring more immediate news of you ----

I was interrupted by the visit of [Manchester Guardian Editor] Mr. C. P. Scott.

While he was here Archie arrived & was therefore able to deliver your letter in person.

Mr. Scott is glad that you still feel that your proper sphere is in the House of Commons, but is very anxious that your return should not make an unfavourable impression – He thinks the right opportunity should be waited for and then seized at once. ….

I am struck by Archie’s appearance – He looks pale and careworn. He cares for you much & takes your affairs to heart I think.

He seems to me to need rest and distraction.

He has gone to have a Turkey [Turkish bath] & is returning to dinner – I will write again later – Keep a level mind my Darling & a stout heart.

Your loving,

I’ll comment further on this letter tomorrow.

For now, these few items: Churchill and Sinclair formed a deep friendship that lasted until Churchill’s death.

During WW II Sinclair served as Secretary of State for Air.

Sinclair was 24 when he visited Clementine.
Clementine’s letter is found on page 192 of Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill, Edited by their daughter Mary Soames.