Monday, February 09, 2009

The Churchill Series - Feb. 9, 2009

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

Did you know Churchill had a brother?

People are often surprised to learn that. Here, for example, is an inquiry typical of many The Churchill Centre receives each year :

While watching “Young Churchill” the other day, I heard a reference to his brother. I have since learned he had a younger brother named Jack. I am highly surprised I have never heard about him before. Could you tell me something about him?

The Centre replied with a “bare bones” sketch, some of which follows :
John Strange Spencer Churchill, 1880-1947, known as Jack, a stockbroker.

Wounded in action in the Boer War, 1899.

Served at Dunkirk, 1914; on Sir John French's staff 1914-15; on Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton's staff at Gallipoli, 1915; on General Birdwood's staff 1916-18.

Married Lady Gwendeline Bertie (1884-1941), daughter of the 7th Earl of Abingdon, in 1908.

Jack and Winston were very close; their descendants still are.
In the next two posts, I’ll put some “flesh” on those “bones.”

Jack was a person of amiable temperament, generous, brave, and possessed of what we used to call “a fine character.” He and Churchill loved each other and always got along. After their marriages (both in 1908), the brothers’ wives became became close friends and confidants.

It followed than that each couple was the other’s “best friend.” They shared the good and the bad of their lives until first Gwendeline’s (always called “Goonie” in the family) died in 1941, followed by Jack in 1947.

Jack and Goonie will tell us a lot about Winston. And Clementine, too.

I hope you're back tomorrow.