- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

LONDON (AP) - Patrick Kinna, whose wartime duties as stenographer to Winston Churchill included taking dictation while the prime minister bathed, has died. He was 95.

He was a witness to the famous encounter between a naked Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House at Christmas time in 1941.

Kinna died March 14 in Brighton on England’s south coast, according to announcements published by Hanningtons Funeral Directors. The cause of death was not disclosed.

His shorthand and typing skills led to his first assignment with Churchill, accompanying the prime minister to Newfoundland for a meeting with Roosevelt in August 1941. He was with the prime minister again in December in Washington.

“Churchill was in the bath and began dictating. He would submerge himself under the water every now and again and come up and carry on with the dictation,” Kinna said in a recording for the British Broadcasting Corp.’s oral history archive.

“He was very absorbed in his work that morning and would not keep still for the valet to help dress him; he kept walking around the room speaking aloud. There was a rat-a-tat-tat on the door and Churchill swung the door open to President Roosevelt!

“Churchill simply said that he had nothing to hide from Mr. President!”

Kinna was reluctant to join Churchill’s staff, and had told the prime minister’s parliamentary private secretary, or PPS, that he had decided not to accept.

“The PPS had restrained himself until then, but now he told me that this was the nearest thing to a royal command I was ever going to get,” Kinna recalled. “If the prime minister wanted me on his staff, then I started on Monday. So I did.”

Kinna became accustomed to informal arrangements. The reward was an insider’s view of the interactions among Allied leaders.

During a visit to Moscow in 1942, Kinna said that Churchill fell into a rage because Soviet leader Josef Stalin had not expressed thanks for British food and clothing aid.

“So he started to dictate to me a telegram for Mr. (Clement) Attlee, our deputy prime minister, in which he talked about this evil, wretched, terrible man who had no manners and had not given one word of thanks for anything that the Allies had done,” Kinna said.

“He was just getting into his stride when the British ambassador warned him that all of this would be being recorded by the Russians, at which Mr. Churchill really let fly, saying: ‘If this man is rude to me tomorrow I’m walking out and we’re returning to England.’

“As if by magic, the next day Stalin was charming, and most appreciative of everything we had been doing,” Kinna said.

Kinna declined an offer to remain with Churchill after the war, and served Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin until his death in 1951.

Later joining the timber company Montague Meyer, Kinna rose to be personnel director and retired at age 60.

Kinna never married. A funeral was planned for next Wednesday.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide