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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1965) was a British Statesman and Nobel Prize winner.[1] He is most famous for being the British Prime Minister for most of World War II.

History

Early Life and Career

Born at Blenheim Palace, Churchill was educated at Harrow, winning a prize for reciting all 1,200 lines of Macuaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome, as well as the Public School Championship in Fencing. He subsequently entered Sandhurst after three attempts, before graduating eighth out of 150,[2] receiving a commission in the 4th Queen's Own Hussars. Churchill served in the 1897 Malakand and 1898 Nile campaigns.

While serving as a War Correspondent during the Boer war, Churchill was captured but escaped. He entered Parliament in 1900 as a Conservative MP, crossing the floor of the House to join the Liberals in 1906. He was appointed Colonial Under Secretary and, as President of the Board of Trade (1908-1910), he established Labour Exchanges. As First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill began strengthening Great Britain's Army and Navy in preparation for the war with Germany that he foresaw.[1]

He succeeded in rebuilding his reputation after the disastrous Dardanelles expedition of 1915 by serving on the Western Front, during which time he narrowly escaped death during an enemy artilliary barrage.[2] In 1917 David Lloyd George appointed Churchill Minister of Munitions.

He was Secretary for War and Air from 1919 to 1921, but then found himself out of favour and excluded from the Cabinet. His warnings during the 1930s of the rising Nazi threat, and criticisms of the National Government's lack of preparedness for war were ignored. In 1940 Neville Chamberlain stepped down, and Churchill began his 'walk with destiny', as Prime Minister of the Coalition that would steer the country through five years of war.[1]

World War II

The loyalty of the British people, and the confidence of the Allies was critical during the first two years of the war - Churchill gained two enormous advantages by winning both early on. He was also the first Premier since the Duke of Wellington to have first-hand battle experience, and was an accomplished orator able to convince the people that Britain would be victorious, either by radio broadcast or Parliamentary statement. His compassion, and loathing of the scale of allied casualties made Churchill impatient for victory.
Churchill, 1944

Winston Churchill, Alan Brooke, and Bernard Montgomery standing at military HQ in 1944

Over the course of four years, he travelled thousands of miles, shaping the Atlantic Charter of 1941, drew a reluctant United States of America into the war and masterminded the strategy for the Battle of Britain, Alamein and the North African Campaign. After the victory, he contrived with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin the means of gutting Germany's status as an epicentre of territorial ambition.[1]

Later Life and Death

After WWII, Churchill retired from the position of Prime Minister in 1953. He later began to give public speeches and create paintings. He wrote A History of the English Speaking Peoples (1956-1958) in retirement and was awarded a nobel prize for literature in 1963. He was also made a US citizen in 1963 by US president John F. Kennedy and died from stroke in 1965. He was 90 years old when he died.[3]

Quotes

If you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never! [4]
if the troops here should fail at penetrating the defences we might give Hitler the chance for a startling come back. my dear friend this might be the greatest thing we have ever attempted
We will fight in trenches, we will fight in the landing grounds, we will fight in streets, we will never surrender!
I may be drunk today but tomorrow I will sober and you will still be ugly! - WSC to Labour MP Bessie Braddock.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 McGovern, Una. Chambers Biographical Dictionary. Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd (2002)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Makins, Clifford. High Command. Dragon's Dream (1981)
  3. http://history1900s.about.com/od/people/a/Churchill_2.htm
  4. Lloyd, John and John Mitchinson. Advanced Banter - The QI Book of Quotations. Faber and Faber. 2008. ISBN 978 0 571 23372 4 Page 72

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