Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Churchill Series - Feb. 16, 2009

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

Reader’s Note:
Previous posts dealing with John(Jack) Strange Spencer Churchill (1880-1947) and his relationship with his only brother and sibling, Winston S. Churchill (1874-1965), are here, here, here, here. and here.

Chartwell guest books for the 1920s and 30s reveal Jack Churchill, his wife Goonie, and their children were Winston and Clementine’s most frequent overnight guests. In 1929 Winston and his son Randolph, and Jack and his son John, toured Canada and the American West coast together, visiting among other places William Randolph Hearst’s castle home at San Simeon (Churchill used the occasion to arrange with Hearst to write a series of articles for his papers).

During the years between the wars Jack worked as a financier. He was a man “in the City”, a British expression that conveys much the same thing as “she works in Wall Street” conveys here.

It must have been extremely difficult for Jack to be Winston’s brother and not fall to saying at least a few indiscreet things or get drawn into deals where others are hoping to take advantage of your contacts. Or worst of all, to use those contacts fro your own gain. But Jack avoided all of that, while still serving as serving as confidant and sounding board for his powerful brother.

In 1940 Goonie’s health became a concern. She was subsequently diagnosed with cancer, and moved to the country, which was thought better for her health. Jack remained to work in London and come out on weekends. Goonie died in 1941.

Jack continued to work in the City. His house was bombed and thereafter he moved in with Winston and Clementine at 10 Downing Street and in the Annexe, the nearby bomb shelter Churchill and other government leaders and their principal aides used. He was often the last person Churchill spoke to at night.

In 1945. Jack suffered a heart attack. Thereafter his health deteriorated. He died on Feb 23, 1947, at age 67. He was buried next to his parents in the Bladon Churchyard a mile from Blenheim Palace. Eighteen years later, his brother Winston was laid to rest beside him.

At the time of Jack’s death The Times of London noted he'd remained throughout his life “on the closest terms with his elder brother.”
For background I've relied on
Speaking for Themselves: The personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill (Mary Soames, Editor), Martin Gilbert’s Churchill: A Life and Richard Hough’s Winston and Clementine: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Churchills.


Anonymous said...

Just in case you missed it: