Lady Churchill's Aid to Russia medallion
Within just a few months of Germany declaring war on Russia, the Germany army had advanced some way into Soviet territory. From the outset, the British people pledged their support to Russia and set out to help their allies across the continent. A national scheme was needed to unite the country in their cause and Lady Churchill was the one to lead it.
In 1941 the Aid to Russia Fund was set up with Clementine as the chairman. Various fundraising methods were used to raise money, including a penny-a-week fund. Wage earners were given the option of volunteering a penny per week to the appeal, to be deducted from their pay. Fundraisers also went door to door and even major events contributed to the cause. The proceeds from the England vs Scotland game at Wembley for example all went to the appeal.
Many who sent in letters with donations received personal, signed replies from Lady Churchill herself. She would speak of how ‘deeply touched’ and appreciative she was at the response to her appeal. Clementine even took the time to thank all the school children who contributed small collections to the fund. Despite the vast amount of correspondence she received, Clementine always kept the personal touch that characterised all her public work.
Within just 12 days £370,000 has been raised. Less than three months later Clementine was even able to announce in a Christmas broadcast that the total stood at over £1 million. The momentum did not stop there though; all over the country organisations and individuals alike were collecting money on a regular basis.
" This sum of money...is a token from the hearts of all the British people all over the world"
By the end of the Second World War, nearly £8 million had been raised. The funds went to the Soviet Red Cross and helped to pay for medical supplies and warm clothing, including portable x-ray units, ambulances and blankets. The fund even paid for machinery for factories in Russia to produce artificial limbs.
This medallion had originally been produced to commemorate the marriage of Tsar Nicholas II and Maria Feodorovan in 1896. It was donated years later to the Soviet Red Cross who insisted that Lady Churchill keep it, in recognition of everything she had done for the people of Russia.
By achieving the goals of the Churchill's Chartwell appeal we intend to preserve not only Winston’s legacy here, but also that of his wife Clementine. She was Winston’s rock; helping him to make some of his most difficult decisions and helping him through the hardest times. By his own admission, she had made ‘my life & any work I have done possible’. She was also a leader in her own right and this medallion is testament to this.