Posted late Friday afternoon, January 12, 2018.
Hard to imagine any important political leader of one of our major allies, let alone one on Churchill’s level, being grateful for a surprise phone call from our current President.
October 5, 1939:
Churchill [at that point back in the Cabinet as first lord of the Admiralty, the office he’d be holding when he became Prime Minister in May 1940] was having supper in his apartment with the third sea lord, Rear Admiral Bruce Fraser, and the director of naval construction, Sir Stanley Goodall. As the three men were talking, the phone rang. Frank Sawyers, Churchill’s valet, answered it and came into the dining room. “Who is it?” asked Churchill, who, Fraser said, “rather disliked telephones.”
“I don’t know, sir.”
“Well, say I can’t attend to it now.”
“I think you ought to come, sir.”
Churchill went to the phone---“rather testily,” Fraser recalled. Churchill’s guests were surprised to hear him say, “Yes, sir…No, sir,” to the caller. There were, Fraser said, “few people whom he would address as ‘sir’ and we wondered who on earth that was?” In a moment, Churchill returned.
“Do you know who that was?” Churchill said. “The President of the United States. It is remarkable to think of being rung up in this little flat in Victoria Street by the President himself in the midst of a great war. This is very important and I must go and see the Prime Minister at once…”
…the call marked the first time Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt had spoken to each other in more than two decades. Churchill’s summons to the telephone foreshadowed much. Here was Roosevelt, genuinely concerned about the battles being fought on the Atlantic and in Europe, but far removed; here was Churchill, on the front lines, deferential and intrigued by the drama of a call in the night from the president.
---from Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship by Jon Meacham.