Finest Hour 101, Winter 1998-99
MDs in the audience may like to tell us whether this note from the American doctor who treated Churchill after his New York City car accident in the winter of 1931-32 is unique in its prescription. (Courtesy Warren Kimball, from the Churchill Archives).
January 26, 1932
This is to certify that the post-accident convalescence of the Hon. Winston S. Churchill necessitates the use of alcoholic spirits especially at meal times. The quantity is naturally indefinite but the minimum requirements would be 250 cubic centimeters.
A/Otto C. Pickhardt, M.D.
I seem to recall a 1929 account of Churchill’s encounter with another American doctor on his lecture tour, who told him he would have to stop smoking cigars to maintain his voice. Indicating a glass containing his usual weak highball, Churchill asked, “What about that?” “That,” said Pickhardt, “must be left to your conscience.” WSC replied, “I think you and I shall get along fine.”
ENCOUNTERS WITH LADYASTOR
I am writing a paper about Mr. Churchill and I keep hearing jokes about Lady Astor. Who is Lady Astor and what was the relationship? -Gordon Jones
Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor, Viscountess Astor, b.1879, first woman Member of Parliament (elected 1919, served to 1945), married Waldorf Astor, of Greenwood, Virginia. Although a Conservative, like Churchill after 1924, she clashed often with him over Dominion Status for India and relations with Germany and Russia. She was a strong backer of the appeasement policies of Prime Ministers Baldwin and Chamberlain. The famous exchange between them, during a weekend at Blenheim Palace, is apparently not apocryphal, as we had previously believed: “Winston, if I were married to you I’d put poison in your coffee”… “Nancy, if I were married to you I’d drink it.”
Another reported encounter occurred in the House of Commons as Churchill was orating about Mankind, saying “Man” this and “Man” that. Lady Astor continually kept interjecting “…And Woman, Mr. Speaker…And Woman!” Finally Churchill is supposed to have exclaimed, “In this context, Mr. Speaker, the understanding is that Man EMBRACES Woman.” This did not improve his relations with the Noble Lady.
PRAISE FOR HITLER?
A reader question was prompted by the film “Judgment at Nuremberg,” in which Churchill is said to have “praised Hitler” in The Times in 1938. Ron Cohen provides the documentation:
Regrettably, Woods notes only one letter to The Times in 1938. In all there were nine letters, statements and memoranda by Churchill published in The Times in 1938. Of these, one statement may contain the text referred to. Issued on 6 November and published at p. 12 of The Times of 7 November 1938, it may also be found in Companion Volume 3 to Volume V of the Official Biography, at pp. 1259-60:
“Herr Hitler ought to understand this mood and respect it. I have always said that if Great Britain were defeated in war I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among the nations. I am sorry, however, that he has not been mellowed by the great success that has attended him. The whole world would rejoice to see the Hitler of peace and tolerance, and nothing would adorn his name in world history so much as acts of magnanimity and of mercy and of pity to the forlorn and friendless, to the weak and poor….Let this great man search his own heart and conscience before he accuses anyone of being a warmonger….If Herr Hitler’s eye falls upon these words I trust he will accept them in the spirit of candour in which they are uttered.”