Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 29, 2009

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

Churchill lost a number of election battles. One occurred in the General Election of November, 1922, when he lost his parliamentary seat in the Dundee, Scotland constituancy.

The reasons for Churchill's defeat there were many and complex. I'll say more about them tomorrow. Today I’ll just mention only one of them: Churchill's inability to actively campaign until the last few days before election because he was recovering from an appendectomy, a surgical procedure which in those days required an extended convalescent period.

While he convalesced in London, Churchill’s banner was carried in Dundee by Clementine and some friends. Churchill wrote to Clementine on November 6th. He mentions Sarah , their fifteen year old daughter, and “your kitten,” their seven week old baby, Mary.

[Dr.] Hartigan examined Sarah this morning and said she had had a little cold behind the nose which would naturally cause a certain irritation in the ear, and that there was no connection whatever between this and the glands. [Sarah suffered from tubercular glands. – JinC] Her temperature is normal and she is quite all right. We are, however, keeping her indoors for a day or two as a precautionary measure. …

I do hope you were not too tired by your long journey. I felt it was a great effort for you to cart yourself and your kitten all that way last night.

Jack [Wodehouse, a friend. – JinC] telephoned this morning that you were all right and were addressing a meeting this evening. Do take it easy. The mere fact of your presence will I am sure be highly beneficial. …
Clementine was quite a woman. That train trip to Dundee with a seven-week old must took about 12 hours. And look what her daughter Mary would later tell us happened once she got there :
Clementine flung herself into the front line, making spirited speeches at packed rowdy meetings. General Spears reported to Winston on the bitterness and violence of the campaign: At one meeting, Clementine, wearing a string of pearls, had been spat upon by women. Spears commented admiringly: “Clemmie’s bearing was magnificent – like an aristocrat going to the guillotine in a tumbrel.”
Quite a woman, indeed.
Speaking for Themselves: The Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill, edited by their daughter, Mary Soames. (p. 264)