Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 2, 2009

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

Regular readers of this series know we’ve often smiled and laughed. Sometimes it’s been because of something Churchill said or did; sometimes it’s been something someone said about him. Remember Clementine Churchill’s explanation for why Churchill often left for the train station at the last minute and had to race to catch the train: “Winston’s a sporting man. He likes to give the train a chance.”

Today we won’t smile. We’ll see Churchill at age eighty attend the funeral of his closest friend, and then walk to his friend’s graveside for the final rites. Sad moments and joyous ones are part of a full life.

From Martin Gilbert :

The passage of Churchill’s remaining years was inevitably marked by the sadness of the death of close friends. In July 1957, his closest friend and confidant, Lord Cherwell, died; he was seventy-one years old, the same age as Clementine.

Before the war it was with “Prof” that he had examined the weaknesses and inventions of Britain’s Defense policy. It was to him that Churchill had entrusted the secrets of Britain’s nuclear policy during both his wartime and peacetime Premierships.

[Churchill] went to Oxford for Cherwell’s funeral. “As he came up the aisle of Christ Church Cathedral,” one of the mourners later recalled, “the congregation rose spontaneously to their feet. After the service he drove to the cemetery. He walked in procession up the cemetery path. He walked beyond the path, advancing over the difficult tufts of grass, with unfaltering but aging steps, onward to the graveside of his dear old friend.”
Later that year Churchill completed the fourth and final volume of his war memoirs. He died eight years later on January 24, 1965, following a massive stroke two weeks earlier.
Martin Gilbert,
Churchill: A Life. (pgs. 961-952)