How I helped dear, sweet Churchill to beat pneumonia in war, by nurse
LETTERS from a nurse tending to Winston Churchill as he battled pneumonia during the Second World War have been published for the first time.
Doris Miles spoke glowingly of Churchill to husband Roger, a Surgeon-Lieutenant with the Royal Navy.
She described him as “most considerate” and someone who treated her “as a dear friend rather than a nurse”.
The correspondence from Doris, who died in 2016 aged 100, reveals Churchill’s ferocious work ethic, dry sense of humour and legendary drinking habits.
The private nurse was working at St Mary’s Hospital in London when she was whisked to Whitehall to care for 68-year-old Churchill in February 1943.
She does not refer to the prime minister by name but instead mentions “V and Victory” and says her patient is “all he is cracked up to be”.
In the letters, discovered by Doris’s daughter Jill Rose in 2001, the nurse fondly recalls how “the old boy” made her “laugh like a drain” and tells how he enjoyed smoking “enormous” cigars.
She writes: “He sings a lot, rather tunelessly, and at the top of his voice while being bathed or washed. “As he gets better, so his cigars get larger and tonight after dinner, he was smoking one that I swear was over a foot long – an enormous ceegar!” In another letter, Doris adds: “I’ve got awfully fond of him, in spite of his occasional tantrums and rather overbearing ways. He’s very sweet to me.”
When Doris said farewell to Churchill three weeks later, he presented her with a signed portrait and insisted she wrote in the Chequers visitors book.
Nursing Churchill: Wartime Life From The Private Letters Of Winston Churchill’s Nurse by Jill Rose is out now, priced £18.99. Churchill in June 1943 after his health battle. Above, excerpts from the letters that Doris sent to her husband