Its a good story but I'm afraid it is just that, a story. Complete fiction. Unfortunately it claims to be true and that's the part I have trouble with.
Penicillin was indeed discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928. It took awhile for Fleming's discovery to be developed into a viable medicine but one of its first large scale uses was to treat Allied soldiers on D-Day June 6, 1944.
The Churchill/Fleming story seems to have started in 1950 in a chapter of a Worship Programs for Juniors entitled, "The Power of Kindness". The book was written by Alice Bays and Elizabeth Oakly. They were members of an American religious group. In that version the young Churchill telephones the young Fleming to tell him his parents will sponsor Alex's otherwise unaffordable medical school education.
Here's the first problem. Churchill's dad, Lord Randolph Churchill died in 1895 but the story implies he was alive when the phone call was placed. It is doubtful the the poor Fleming farmhouse "the family hovel" as it was described in the email had a phone prior to 1895.
Second problem. Winston Churchill did become ill with serious strain of bacterial pneumonia while in the Near East in 1943. At that time Penicillin was still in the lab and while it is conceivable that for someone of such stature a quantity could have been provided and flown overseas there is no record of that ever happening. But medical records do document that he was treated at that time with sulfadiazine, to which he responded. Alice Bays and Elizabeth Oakly may have based their story on a consultation Churchill had with Fleming on June 27, 1947. At that time Churchill had a staphylococcal infection that apparently was resistant to penicillin.
like most of us, contracted bacterial infections more than a few times
during his life and it is conceivable that penicillin or one of its many
derivatives may have saved Churchill's life on more than one occasion. But
there is absolutely no record of young Winston nearly drowning in a
Scottish bog and no record of Lord Churchill or the Churchill family
financing Alexander Flemings education.
what's this Irish Luck business anyway. In the story, Fleming was Scottish
and you couldn't find anyone more English than Churchill. I suspect the
Irish blessing/good luck/curse nonsense was added to the story as it floated
through the Internet. That is what often happens, these types of stories
are altered and appended during their ride through cyberspace.
At the very beginning the author of that part of the email states, "It DOES
work.", emphasizing the "does". Later on even he seems
doubtful when he states "Good Luck! I hope it works..." No
emphasis this time. So he goes from shouting a guarantee that it will work to
quietly hoping it will work.
When in doubt - check it out at: