January 1, 1970

In the First World War Clementine surprised herself with her ability to organise canteens for Munitions workers on behalf of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YCMA).

In the Second World War she supported Churchill tirelessly, too, travelling with him to inspect bomb damage, inspecting troops and workers, entertaining visiting dignitaries and serving as the Chairman of Fulmer Chase Maternity Hospital for Wives of Junior Officers, and, from 1941, as the President of the Young Women’s Christian Association Wartime Fund.

After Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, Clementine accepted an invitation from the Red Cross to become Chair of their Aid to Russia Fund, raising substantial sums, and in March and May 1945 she toured the Soviet Union as an honoured guest of Stalin. This meant that she could not be at her husband’s side on VE Day.

The Second World War presented its own challenges to the marriage, of course. Churchill drove himself and others relentlessly. Clementine may have been a supportive wife but she wouldn’t stand by and watch him make mistakes. She didn’t hesitate to tell him when he was being ‘rough, sarcastic and overbearing’ – which would put him in ‘danger of being disliked by subordinates’. He was clearly not an easy man to work with – or to live with, and Clementine suffered long periods of nervous exhaustion throughout their married life.

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