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Grace Hamblin, 94; Secretary to the Churchills

October 19, 2002|From Associated Press

Grace Hamblin, the trusted private secretary to Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine, has died. She was 94.

Hamblin died Tuesday at her home in Westerham, in southern England, said a spokeswoman for Chartwell House, the former Churchill residence.

The daughter of the head gardener at an estate near Chartwell, Hamblin began working part time for Churchill and his wife at Chartwell Manor in 1932. She was nicknamed "Hambone" by the Churchill children. She later became a full-time employee whose tasks included typing manuscripts for Winston Churchill.

When Churchill became prime minister in 1940, Hamblin moved to London and took on the additional role of secretary to his wife, accompanying her on several trips abroad.

She accompanied Clementine Churchill to North Africa when the prime minister became seriously ill at the villa of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower outside Carthage. When the Germans surrendered in Europe, the two women, who had just completed a journey across the Soviet Union for the Red Cross, toasted the victory with champagne at Britain's Embassy in Moscow.

After the war, Hamblin returned to Chartwell, which she continued to manage when Churchill regained power in 1951.

When Church left office again in 1955, Hamblin was made an officer of the Order of British Empire. When Chartwell passed to the National Trust, a preservation group, she became its first curator and helped re-create its atmosphere of the family home.

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