Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill was one of the great British politicians and military figures of the 20th century, and perhaps of any century. Here is a brief biography of him.

Family Background

Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was born on the 30th November 1874 in Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England. He was two months premature. His father Lord Randolph Churchill was a conservative politician, and his mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, née Jennie Jerome, was the socialite daughter of a wealthy New York businessman, Leonard Jerome. Winston's father served as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Winston's grandfather was the 7th Duke of Marlborough.

In public life, Winston used the surname Churchill, as did his father. An ancestor of his - George Spencer - changed his surname in 1817 to Spencer-Churchill on becoming Duke of Marlborough to indicate that he was descended from John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough.

Winston's father Lord Randolph was the third son of John Spencer-Churchill, the 7th Duke of Marlborough.

Early Life

Between the ages of 2 and 6, Churchill lived in Dublin, Eire (Southern Ireland). This was because his grandfather had been appointed Viceroy there and he had appointed Churchill's father to be his private secretary. During this time in Dublin, Churchill's brother John Strange Spencer-Churchill was born. Military parades would often go past their residence, the Vice Regal Lodge (now the official residence of the President of Ireland) and this may have helped lead Churchill to become interested in military matters.

In Dublin, Churchill had a governess to teach him reading, writing and math. As was usual for an upper-class child, he had a nanny, Elizabeth Anne Everest, whom he called 'Old Woom'. With his parents being busy with official engagements and social activities, and therefore not spending much time with him, Churchill became close to his nanny.

When he went to school, Churchill's academic record was poor. He was inclined to be somewhat rebellious and had a very independent streak in him. He went to three private schools - two prep (preparatory) schools: St. George's School, Ascot, Berkshire, England, and Brunswick School (now called Stoke Brunswick School and relocated to Ashurst Wood), Hove, Sussex, England; and then Harrow School, Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, England. In Britain, senior private schools are called public schools. It was (and still is) usual for the upper classes and upper middle classes to send their children - or at least their boy children - away to boarding school.

Almost as soon as he got to Harrow School, Churchill joined the school's Rifle Corps.

Churchill did not have much contact with his parents, and Churchill communicated little with his father. (His father died at the age of 45 on 24th January 1895. This led Churchill to believe that he too might not live to advanced years, and therefore he ought to do what he wanted to do sooner rather than later.)

Churchill had the speech impediment of a lisp. Later in life he had special dentures made that reduced his lisp.

Military Career And Involvement With The Military

Churchill left Harrow in 1893 and applied to the Royal Military College (now 'Academy'), Sandhurst, whose grounds straddle the two counties of Berkshire and Surrey, England. It took him 3 attempts to pass the entrance exam. The only reason he applied to enter the cavalry rather than the infantry was that it didn't require him to learn math, and the entrance requirements were lower.

When he graduated in 1894, he came 8th out of a class of 150. At this point he could have gone into an infantry regiment, which is what his father wanted, but instead he chose to stay with the cavalry, and on 20th February 1895 he was commissioned into the 4th Queen's Own Hussars as a Cornet (Second Lieutenant).(Much later, in 1941, he was honored by being appointed Regimental Colonel of this regiment, and after the Second World War was over, he was elevated to Colonel-in-Chief, which is a rank normally only held by royalty.)

Churchill's salary on going into the 4th Queen's Own Hussars was £300 a year, but he decided he needed to have at least another £500 a year on top of that to match the lifestyle of the other officers. His mother gave him £400, but he still spent more, and therefore he began to turn to correspondence writing, and then book writing, to implement his income. Churchill wanted to see military action rather than just get promoted up through the ranks, and he used his family's influence to get posted into active campaigns. He then wrote about these campaigns for several London newspapers, and also wrote books about them. Over time, his writing brought him a fair degree of fame and a quite substantial income.


In 1895 the Daily Graphic commissioned Churchill to go to Cuba and write about the conflict between the Spanish and the Cuban guerillas. (Cuba was then a Spanish colony.) During this time, Churchill came under gunfire. It was something that would happen to him on about 50 occasions during his life. Spain awarded him a medal. It was here that Churchill developed his liking for Havana cigars.

During this trip, Churchill stayed in New York with a friend of the family, Bourke Cochran, an American politician who was a member of the House of Representatives. From him, Churchill learnt a lot about both politics and oratory.

At this time Churchill heard that his old nanny was dying, so he returned to England and stayed near her during the last week of her life. It is fair to say that he was closer to her and fonder of her than he was of and to his parents.


In October 1896 Churchill's regiment was transferred to Bombay in India (which was then a British dominion). The following year Churchill wanted to go to report on, and perhaps fight in, the Greco-Turkish War, but it was over before he could get there. After that, hearing that three British brigades were going to fight a Pashtun tribe on India's North Western Frontier, he asked his superiors if he could go to fight. He was put under General Jeffery, the commander of the second brigade in Malakand.

During his spell with the brigade, General Jeffery sent Churchill on a scouting mission with 15 scouts to explore the Mamund Valley. During this expedition they came across and enemy tribe and opened fire on them. After about an hour of crossfire, the 35th Sikhs arrived as reinforcements for Churchill and his men, and the increase in men and firepower drove the enemy away. When, however, Churchill's men and the 35th Sikhs moved on together, they were ambushed by hundreds of tribesmen. Churchill's men and the Sikhs had to retreat. An injured officer had to be abandoned due to the fierce fighting, and Churchill saw this man hacked to death. However, it was impossible for Churchill to do anything about it, and he was ordered by a superior to withdraw. He then alerted the other brigade in the area as to what had happened, and he and the brigade then went to re-engage with the enemy.

The subsequent fighting lasted for two weeks until they were able to recover the bodies of the men killed in the initial ambush.

Churchill published an account of this warfare episode in December 1900 under the title 'The Story of the Malakand Field Force' and was paid £600 for it - a quite significant sum. In addition he wrote for two newspapers - The Pioneer and The Daily Telegraph - from the latter of which he got £5 a column for his account of this fighting.


In 1898 Churchill was sent to Egypt, joining an attachment of the 21st Lancers in Sudan. He was under the command of General Herbert Kitchener. It was at this time that he met Captain Douglas Haig and gunboat Lieutenant David Beatty, both of whom he would work with during the First World War.

In the Sudan he took part in the last significant British cavalry charge at the Battle of Omdurman in September 1898. During this time he also worked as a war correspondent for the Morning Post newspaper. In October of that year he returned to England. There he started work on his two-volume book 'The River War' which was about how the British re-conquered Sudan. The book was published the following year.

In that year, 1899, on 5th May, Churchill resigned from the British Army so as to be able to become involved in politics. He was invited by Robert Ashcroft to be the second candidate for his Conservative Party in his Oldham constituency. (Oldham is near Manchester in the north-west of England.) Unfortunately Ashcroft died suddenly, but it meant that Churchill could stand as a primary candidate. However, the Conservatives were out of favor with the populace at that time, and he did not win a seat. His energetic campaigning did, however, make a good impression on people.

South Africa

With politics not offering Churchill any immediate opportunities, he got commissioned by The Morning Post to act as their war correspondent for The Second Boer War, which had started on 12th October 1899 between Britain and the Boer Republics (made up of Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers) of South Africa and the Orange Free State. His salary was £250 a month. He went out on the same ship as Sir Redvers Buller, the newly appointed British commander.

In South Africa he went out on a scouting expedition and was captured, being ambushed whilst in an armored train. He was held in a prisoner of war camp in Pretoria. He managed to escape, and, with the assistance of another Englishman, he made his way over a distance of almost 500 kilometers to Portuguese territory. From there he rejoined the British Army under General Redvers Buller, getting commissioned into the South African Light Horse regiment, and took part in the relief of his fellow countrymen at the Siege of Ladysmith. Buller's troops then took Pretoria. Churchill was one of the first British troops into Ladysmith and Pretoria. In Pretoria, he and his cousin the Duke of Marlborough went ahead of other troops and managed to make 52 Boer prisoner of war camp guards surrender.

Churchill returned to England in 1900, where he published his book 'London To Ladysmith', as well as another volume recounting his experiences in the Boer War under the title of 'Ian Hamilton's March'.

That year Churchill again stood for parliament in Oldham, and this time he won a seat. After that, in need of money, he went on speaking tours around Britain, the USA, and Canada, earning himself over £5000. (It is notoriously difficult to adjust values for inflation over time, but as a rough guide that might be seen as being something like US $1,000,000 in today's money.)

Territorial Army Service

In 1900 Churchill again resigned from the regular army. Then on 4th January 1902 he was commissioned as Captain into the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars in the Imperial Yeomanry - part of the Territorial Army. He was promoted to Major in April 1905 and was put in command of the Henley Squadron of his regiment. He moved into the territorial reserves of officers in September 1916 and stayed there until he retired at the age of 50 in 1924.

“In The Navy”

Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty in October 1911. He was an energetic modernizer. He wanted airplanes to be used in fighting, and he wanted ships powered not by coal but by oil, which was already being used on destroyers as well as on submarines, but not on other vessels. He ordered that the new Queen Elizabeth class of battleships be oil-powered. As it was essential to have a plentiful and reliable supply of oil, as well as sufficient reserves of it, in the event of war, the government bought a controlling holding in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and obtained (secretly) a guaranteed 20-year supply.

Churchill remained First Lord of the Admiralty until he was removed in May 1915 when a coalition wartime government was formed during the First World War. The reason for his dismissal was that the unsuccessful Battle of Gallipoli had been his idea. For the next 6 months, until the decision was taken to evacuate Gallipoli, he was allowed to stay in the cabinet of the coalition government as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and then he resigned.

At The Front Line On The Western Front

Again Churchill joined the British Army, taking command of a battalion, although he would have liked to have been put in command of a brigade. For a time he was a Major with the 2nd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards, and then he rose to Lieutenant-Colonel of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, a post that he took up on 1st January 1916.

As a soldier and commander who always sought out active combat, he was possibly rather reckless.

Long after Churchill's death, a respected journalist Lord 'Bill' Deedes, suggested in 2001 that one reason Churchill wanted to be on the front line was that the Grenadier Guards didn't drink alcohol at their headquarters (they tended to drink tea), but alcohol was allowed for those at the front line, and so Churchill, a famous toper, requested to go to the trenches. Outwardly it appeared brave and commendable, but perhaps it was something stronger than bravery that urged him to do it.

Political Career

As already mentioned, Churchill became a Conservative member of parliament in 1900. After his speaking tour, he did himself no political favors by joining a faction of the Conservative Party known as 'the Hughligans' (a play on the word 'hooligans') because it was led by Lord Hugh Cecil. Churchill opposed a proposal by Joseph Chamberlain, the leader of the Liberal Unionist Party to impose a range of tariffs to as to safeguard Britain's industrial, commercial and economic dominance. Churchill's constituency turned against him, but he stayed in member until the next general election. However, in 1904 he defected from the Conservative Party and joined the Liberal Party, still sitting for his Oldham constituency. He remained an advocate of free trade.

He remained a Liberal member of parliament when his recently adopted party took office in December 1905 as part of the power-sharing involved in having a coalition government, the Liberal leader Henry Campbell-Bannerman becoming Prime Minister. At that point Churchill was appointed Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, with a particular focus on dealing with South Africa in the aftermath of the Boer War.

As always, Churchill was still writing, and around this time, between 1903 and 1905, he wrote a two-volume biography of his father. Not surprisingly it was called 'Lord Randolph Churchill'. It was published in 1906 and was well received.

In the 1906 general selection, he obviously wasn't going to stand as Conservative candidate for the Oldham constituency as he had done in the last election, having since then defected from his party and been deselected by his constituency, so instead, as a Liberal, he stood for Manchester North West. He won, and was returned to parliament.

In 1908, Campbell-Bannerman was succeeded by Herbert Henry Asquith, who promoted Churchill to the Cabinet (the group of ministers from the ruling party, or coalition, in government who effectively constitute the 'real' government, subject to whatever support is necessary from 'the House') as President of the Board of Trade. In those days when a new Cabinet minister was appointed, they had to stand for re-election as a member of parliament at a by-election. Churchill actually lost his seat, but was then elected back into parliament and the Cabinet as representative for the constituency of Dundee (Scotland).

In power, he opposed proposed huge Navy expenditure on massive 'Dreadnought' warships. He introduced the first minimum wages. In 1909 he set up labor exchanges to help out-of-work people find jobs. He introduced legislation for the unemployed to get financial assistance from the State. He introduced legislation that allowed mentally inadequate or disturbed people to be put in institutions. (He actually wanted such people to be sterilized, but this idea was not passed.) He also proposed more taxes on the wealthy to fund a state welfare program. This legislation was not passed by parliament, but after two general elections in January and December 1910 which the Liberals won, the legislation got through. That year Churchill was made Home Secretary.

In that year, coal miners in the Rhondda Valley (Wales) rioted. The Chief Constable of the area requested that troops be sent in to quell the riot, but Churchill stopped them from being deployed.

On 3rd January 1911 there was a gunfight in the East End of London. The incident is referred to as The Siege Of Sydney Street, or The Battle of Stepney. A gang of burglars who had been involved in the shooting, killing and wounding of several police officers in an incident in December of the previous year were holed up in a house, under siege by the police. Churchill went to the scene of the incident to observe. He authorized calling in troops from the Scots Guards, with artillery. Then, however, the building where the criminals were holed up went up in flames. Churchill barred the fire brigade from going into the building to tackle the fire, and several criminals were subsequently found dead in the building. Churchill was criticized for his attendance at, and involvement in, the incident.

Churchill thought there should be a referendum on whether women should be given the vote, but Asquith vetoed this, and the matter wasn't addressed until the First World War was over.

As mentioned previously, Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911.

First World War

The First World War officially started on 28th July 1914. The Belgians wanted to evacuate Antwerp, and Churchill went there on 5th October 1914. Britain's Royal Marine Brigade was already there and Churchill also brought in the 1st and 2nd Naval Brigades. These troops effectively 'bought' another 5 days for the city, but at the cost of 2500 lives.

Churchill promoted the development of tanks, which was actually funded with navy money, and he brought about the creation of the first tank corps. At the time this was viewed as a misuse of navy funds.

His 1915 involvement in the Gallipoli landings has been mentioned, as well as his subsequent political demotion and then his resignation from the government (whilst remaining a member of parliament) and rejoining of the army.

On deciding he wanted to return to government, David Lloyd George, a future prime minister, opined that Churchill was not so much concerned about politics as about himself. A constant criticism of Churchill, in life and death, was that he was essentially self-indulgent, thinking more of himself and his own need for gratification and activity, than he was concerned about other people and what might overall be right or best for them. Plus his war-mongering mentality made him something of a liability in peacetime, although more useful in wartime.

Churchill was reappointed to government in July 1917, becoming Minister of Munitions. In January 1919 he became Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Air. At his behest, and largely against the wishes of a rather weak-willed cabinet, he committed Britain to involvement in the Russian Civil War. As mentioned, Churchill was more of a war-mongerer than a peacemaker. And he was interventionist. And he was anti-communist, which is of course hardly surprising for someone from his privileged, aristocratic background.

In 1920, Churchill helped arm the Poles when they invaded Ukraine.

Churchill got troops involved in the dispute between the English and the Irish (separatists, who wanted to break away from England, and loyalists/unionists who wanted to stay politically attached to England). In 1921 he became Secretary of State for the Colonies, and that year he signed off the Anglo-Irish Treaty which made Ireland a Free State. To protect British maritime interests arranged for there to be 3 Royal Navy bases kept in Ireland - Queenstown), Berehaven and Lough Swill. These were handed over to the Irish Free State in 1938.

In 1923 Churchill earned money in a way that would now be considered unacceptable for a politician (but which still goes on). Burmah Oil paid him to lobby government to allow them to have exclusive rights to Persia's oil resources. Churchill; succeeded in getting them what they wanted.

Becoming A Conservative Again

The Conservative Party withdrew from the coalition government, forcing a general election in October 1922. Churchill lost his seat for the constituency of Dundee, although this was partly due to poor representation by his Party, the Liberals, and also by his falling ill during the campaigning with appendicitis. In 1923 he tried standing again for the Liberals in that year's general election (in the Leicester constituency), but again lost. Then he tried standing as an independent in the by-election for the Westminster Abbey constituency. Again he lost. Then at last he gained a seat by standing for the Epping constituency in the 1924 general election. Once back in parliament, he rejoined (the following year) the Conservative Party. He made the lovely comment, “Anyone can rat (be disloyal/untrustworthy), but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat.” In politics, Churchill was not one to let party loyalty hinder his own interests.

In 1924, when Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister, Churchill became Chancellor of the Exchequer. Under him, the country returned to the gold standard (where money has to be exchangeable for government-held gold, as distinct from today's money, which is created by governments creating debt for the nation, and then the government's central bank creates money equivalent to that debt and gives it to the government in return for that debt, and it also loans out created money to the nation's banks). This caused deflation. (Modern debt-money creation causes inflation by filling the economy with newly created money without requiring any commodities or value-adding activity in return. Commodity-backed money can cause deflation because the money is only obtainable through value-adding activity.) This led to unemployment, as money could not be created to create artificial jobs (government funded jobs) or wage rises for people. Then the most powerful body of workers at that time - the miners -went on strike, and this lead to a General Strike taking place in 1926. Of course mining was in decline anyway as there was a shift from the use of coal to the use of oil.

In 1929 the Tories (Conservatives) were defeated in the general election, although Churchill kept his seat. He fell out of favor because of disagreeing with the party leadership on key issues, and because of his friendships with rich men in finance and newspapers who were regarded by the leadership as somewhat 'dodgy'.

In 1930, Churchill published a book, 'My Early Life'.

In 1931, the Labor Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald formed a coalition government (then called a National Government), but Churchill was not invited to be a member of it.

During this time when he was politically of little significance, he carried on writing. He wrote 'Marlborough: His Life and Times', about the 1st Duke from his own illustrious family, and he also started work on 'A History of the English Speaking Peoples', which was eventually published between 1956 -1958. He also started work on 'Great Contemporaries', which was eventually published in 1937. In addition he continued to contribute many articles to newspapers. From his written work he earned a great deal of money. Churchill expressed the view that he wanted voting rights to be connected to property ownership, and, at least on a local level, he was in favor of proportional representation. He was against India becoming independent of Britain. Because the general parliamentary consensus was that India should move towards independence, and the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin supported this view, Churchill was not during these years offered any ministerial post.

During a by-election in 1931, Churchill was seen as being disloyal to his party by appearing to support an independent candidate standing against the Tory candidate Duff Cooper. The independent candidate was funded by, amongst others, the owners of the newspapers that Churchill wrote for.

Churchill also alleged at this time that Sir Samuel Hoare (from the old private banking family - C. Hoare & Co. still exist today) and Lord Derby had attempted to interfere indirectly in the Government of India Bill. No evidence was found for this.

In the early 1930's, Churchill pushed for Britain to re-arm to match the re-arming that was going on in Germany. In 1934, Churchill advocated rebuilding The Royal Air force, and creating a Ministry of Defense.

Churchill was on holiday in Spain in February 1936 when Germany re-occupied the Rhineland. He returned to Britain to find the government divided on what to do. It was felt that imposing sanctions against Germany would fail because of a lack of support from the French, and the British people were not generally in favor of any form of military action.

In 1936 there were rumors that King Edward VIII was besotted with a married American woman called Mrs. Wallis Simpson. Churchill supported the king. This indulgent attitude, seen as typical of someone from a privileged background similar to that of the king himself, was not well received in parliament. However, when Churchill was told that the King intended to marry Mrs. Simpson, he came out against the idea. Yet when the news became public in December of that year, Churchill supported the King. This went against the general feeling in parliament, and the general feeling of the public, and Churchill fell further out of favor. The King abdicated on 11th December 1936, being replaced by his brother, Albert, who took the name King George VI.

The Second World War

As Germany became more aggressive as the 1930's progressed, Churchill criticized Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler, but eventually, on 3rd September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany. Churchill was once again appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. He became a member of the War Cabinet.

In the early stages of the war, the only action that took place was at sea. This was the so-called 'Phoney War'. Churchill wanted to occupy the Norwegian iron-ore port of Narvik and the iron mines in Kiruna, Sweden as a pre-emptive move, but this was voted down by Chamberlain and the rest of the War Cabinet. Germany then invaded Norway, damaging confidence in Chamberlain's leadership. He resigned on 10th May 1940, proposing that Churchill be his successor. Churchill duly became Prime Minister.

Churchill was against an armistice and spoke publicly about being in favor of war with Germany, which had by this time invaded France. So as to have personal responsibility for handling the war effort, he appointed himself Minister of Defense. His friend the newspaper tycoon and industrialist Lord Beaverbrook was put in charge of aircraft production.

Churchill was a great orator, and his first speech in parliament on becoming Prime Minister included the famous line, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” Some people, such as Robert Menzies, the Prime Minister of Australia, thought that Churchill was fonder of dealing with fine sounding words than hard facts.

Always a heavy drinker, Churchill comforted himself with whisky. He also continued to smoke Havana cigars, as he had done since visiting Cuba as a young man. Sometimes he would have wine with his breakfast. Throughout the day he would drink water to which a small amount of whisky had been added. He drank heavily at mealtimes. He said, “I drink champagne at all meals, and buckets of claret and soda in between.” One of his biographers, William Manchester, said, “There is always some alcohol in his bloodstream, and it reaches its peak late in the evening after he has had two or three Scotches, several glasses of Champagne, at least two brandies, and a highball.” He was prone to depression, and it is difficult to say whether his high level of alcohol consumption would have added to it or alleviated it. He could be very emotional, and in some of his recorded speeches it can be heard that he is trying to hold back tears. He would also cry in cabinet meetings on hearing bad news. Of course alcohol has a tendency to heighten people's emotional states. His occasional tendency to let his heart over-rule his head led Field Marshall Alan Brooke to write in his diary, “[People] have no idea what a public menace he is and has been throughout this war,” and, “ Never have I admired and despised a man simultaneously to the same extent.”

American Relations

Churchill had a good relationship with the US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the Americans were very supporting of Britain before they themselves joined the war. Roosevelt came up with the idea of Lend-Lease, which enabled America to aid Britain without requiring immediate payment. This was approved by American politicians on the grounds that in part it enabled Britain to protect American interests. When Pearl Harbor was attacked on 7th December 1941 and America entered the war, Churchill was relieved that such a powerful force was now involved in the fighting.

In June 1940 Churchill established the Commandos, a force of troops that could be deployed to carry out special operations.

Churchill formed the Special Operations Executive on 22nd July 1940 under Hugh Dalton's Ministry of Economic Warfare. It was sometimes called “Churchill's Secret Army” or “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” because it carried out covert, disruptive operations in occupied territories.

Churchill suffered a mild heart attack in December 1941 whilst at the White House. In December 1943 he contracted pneumonia. His health was not good by this stage in his life.

Even as early as 1943 Churchill was discussing with involved parties how national boundaries should be drawn up after the war. At the Second Quebec Conference in 1944, he and Roosevelt drafted and signed the Morgenthau Plan which aimed to turn post-war Germany into an essentially rural nation. At the Potsdam Conference from July 17th to August 2nd 1945, Churchill agreed proposals for European boundaries and settlements with US President Harry S. Truman Russian President Joseph Stalin.

Relations With The Soviet Union

The Axis Powers of Germany, Italy and Japan invaded the Soviet Union on 22nd June 1941. Although Churchill was anti-communist, he offered support to the Soviet Union.

At the Casablanca Conference, held in Casablanca, Morocco, from 14th to 23rd January 1943, Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Charles de Gaulle committed the Allied Forces to continuing the war until the Axis Powers surrendered unconditionally. Joseph Stalin should have been there, but he remained in the Soviet Union to deal with the Battle of Stalingrad (now called Volgograd). Churchill opposed the effective annexation of Poland by the Soviet Union, but could not prevent it. The decision on where to set Poland's borders with Russia and Germany after the war also was not acceptable to the Polish Prime Minister in exile, but he had no power to resist the Allied Forces' wishes. Germans were to be expelled from the newly defined Polish territory.

In October 1944, Churchill and his Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, went to Moscow to talk to Stalin as the Soviet Union advanced into East Europe. Churchill suggested that the Soviet Union 'have ninety per cent predominance in Romania', and for the other Allies to 'have ninety per cent of the say in Greece', and go 'fifty-fifty' in Yugoslavia. Stalin accepted this.

A further conference, the Yalta Conference, took place in the Black Sea city of that name between February 4th and 11th 1945, and Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin discussed the post-war organization of Europe. It was decided that the Allies would return to the Soviet Union all Soviet citizens that found themselves in the Allied zone. The same would be done for refugees from East Europe.


Between 13th and 15th February 1945, the British and the Americans heavily bombed the culturally important city of Dresden, effectively razing it to the ground, and killing many civilians. Bombing a city that was not militarily important was, and remains, controversial. Churchill himself had doubts about this policy. He pointed out in a memo that laying waste a city would render it useless to the Allies if they eventually occupied it.

The End Of The War

The Allied Forces invaded Normandy in June 1944 and pushed the Germans out of France and back into Germany. Following attacks by the Allies, Germany was defeated, and on 7th May 1945 Germany surrendered at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force in Rheims, France. The 8th May was declared to be Victory In Europe Day, and Churchill addressed the nation on the radio, announcing the surrender and telling the country that there would be a complete ceasefire across Europe with effect from one minute past midnight that night. In another broadcast that evening he pledged to defeat Japan. The Japanese surrendered on 15th August that year.

Churchill suggested attacking the Soviet Union as they were likely to ignore the agreements that had been reached on various frontiers. However, this was rejected by his Chiefs of Staff as being militarily likely to fail.

Becoming Leader Of The Opposition

The Conservatives were defeated in the 1945 general election, but Churchill retained his seat and remained leader of the Conservative Party, and as such he became Leader of the Opposition.

In 1946 he went to the USA. During that trip he made a speech on 5th March at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, in which he said that 'an Iron Curtain' had descended across Europe, and behind it lay all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe, and they were now in 'the Soviet sphere'.

Churchill wanted to keep some political and economic distance between Britain and continental Europe, preferring to strengthen ties with its Commonwealth countries and with the USA.

In 1949, he became Deputy Lieutenant of Kent (a largely ceremonial post).

Becoming Prime Minister Again

A general election was held on 25th October 1951 and the Conservatives were returned to power. As leader of the party, Churchill once again became Prime Minister. He also became Minister of Defense (until January of the following year.) He would eventually resign as Prime Minister in April 1955.

Under his leadership, the building of council houses (public sector housing) was increased (in one year, 300,000 homes were built), tax allowances increased, and state pensions and other benefits increased. Less popular was the introduction of charges for medical prescriptions.

On the world stage, Britain was declining militarily and economically - something that Churchill was reluctant to accept. There was a Mau Mau uprising against the British presence in Kenya between 1952 and 1960, and Churchill sent troops there to try to keep a hold on the colony. In 1960 majority rule for Africans was implemented, and the transition to independence began.

Similarly there was a rebellion against British rule in Malaya. (It started in 1948.) Again Churchill deployed troops as he resisted the inevitable.

Ill Health, Retirement, Death

In 1949, Churchill suffered a mild stroke while on holiday in the south of France. In June 1953 in London (at the Prime Minister's official residence, 10 Downing Street) he suffered a more severe stroke. This affected his speech and his ability to walk. He retired as Prime Minister in 1955, being succeeded by Anthony Eden. He suffered another stroke in 1956.

Churchill was offered the title Duke of London by the Queen, but he turned it down on the advice of his son, who did not wish to inherit the title, as he would have had to have done. Instead he accepted a knighthood, becoming Sir Winston Churchill.

In the 1959 general election, Churchill retained his seat, but with a decreased majority.

Depression - the Black Dog - was to blight Churchill's latter years.

In 1963, John F. Kennedy proclaimed Churchill an honorary citizen of the US.

At the 1964 general election Churchill stood down as a member of parliament.

On 15th January 1965 he suffered a severe stroke. He died on the 24th January, aged 90. He was given a state funeral, the largest ever up to that time, with representatives of 112 nations attending. The Queen also attended. The funeral was watched live on television by millions of people. Churchill's body lay in state for three days, and then the funeral took place on the 30th January at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. His coffin was brought up the River Thames on a naval vessel. There was a Royal Air Force fly-by, and a 19-gun salute. He was buried in the Spencer-Churchill family plot at St Martin's Church in Bladon, which is near Woodstock in Oxfordshire, and not far from Blenheim Palace, the stately home where Churchill had been born.

Additional Information

Marriage And Children

Churchill met Clementine Hozier, who was to be his wife, in 1904 at a ball at the home of the Earl of Crewe, then they met again in 1908 at a dinner party hosted by Baroness St Helier. He proposed to Clementine at a house party at Blenheim Palace on 10th August 1908. On 12th September hat year they got married in St. Margaret's church in the grounds of Westminster Abbey, London. They honeymooned at Highgrove House in Eastcote, north west London.In March the following year they took up residence at 33 Eccleston Square, London. Their daughter Diana was born on 11th July 1909. Their son Randolph was born on 28th May 1911. Their daughter Sarah was born on 7th October 1914. Their daughter Marigold was born on 15th November 1918. In 1921 Marigold caught a cold which then turned into septicemia, and she died on 23rd August 1921. Winston and Clementine's daughter Mary was born on 15th September 1922.


In September 1922 the Churchills bought Chartwell, which was to be their country house until Winston's death. In 1946 they could no longer afford to run the property, so a group of wealthy businessmen, headed by Lord Camrose, purchased the estate and let the Churchills live there for a nominal rent. It was intended that they could stay there until both of them died and then the estate would go to the National trust, but after Winston died in 1965, Clementine presented Chartwell to the National Trust straightaway.

During their time there, the Churchills renovated and altered the property. In 1938 felt unable to afford the place, so he put it up for sale. In the advertisement for it, it was described as having 5 reception rooms, 19 bedrooms and dressing rooms and 8 bathrooms. It had grounds of 80 acres, three cottages, and a heated, floodlit swimming pool. In the end the Churchills were able to keep the property because the industrialist Sir Henry Strakosch paid off Churchill's extensive debts and took over his share portfolio, which had lost a lot of money in recent years, for a period of three years.


In 1902 Churchill became a Freemason. His lodge was Studholme Lodge, London, number 1591. He was raised to the Third Degree on 25th March 1902.

Churchill The Artist

Churchill very much enjoyed painting. It helped him deal with depression. He was introduced to painting by his artist friend, Paul Maze, whom he met during the First World War. Maze also taught Churchill how to paint and influenced his style. The two of them would sometimes paint together.

As an aside, it is generally well known that Churchill enjoyed brick-laying as another relaxing occupation.

Bibliography Of Churchill's Writings

The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War. - Longmans, Green, 1898 The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan. - 2 vol. - Longmans, Green, 1899 Savrola : a Tale of the Revolution in Laurania. - Longmans, Green, 1900 Lord Randolph Churchill. - 2 vol. - Macmillan, 1906 My African Journey. - Hodder & Stoughton, 1908 Liberalism and the Social Problem. - Hodder & Stoughton, 1909 The People's Rights. - Hodder & Stoughton, 1910 The World Crisis. - 6 vol. - Butterworth, 1923-1931 My Early Life: a Roving Commission. - Butterworth, 1930 India : Speeches and an Introduction. - Butterworth, 1931 Thoughts and Adventures. - Butterworth, 1932 Marlborough: His Life and Times. - 4 vol. - Harrap, 1933-1938 Great Contemporaries. - Butterworth, 1937 Step by Step: 1936-1939. - Butterworth, 1939 War Speeches: 1940-1945. - Cassell, 1946 The Second World War. - 6 vol. - Houghton Mifflin, 1948-1955 Painting as a Pastime. - Odham Press, 1948 A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. - 4 vol. - Cassell, 1956-1958 Young Winston's Wars: The Original Despatches of Winston S. Churchill, War Correspondent, 1897-1900 / edited by Frederick Woods. - Cooper, 1972 Collected Works of Sir Winston Churchill. - Centenary Limited Edition. - 34 vol. - Library of Imperial History, 1973-1976 Winston S. Churchill His Complete Speeches, 1897-1963 / edited by Robert Rhodes James. - 8 vol. - Chelsea House, 1974 The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill / edited by Michael Wolff. - 4 vol. - Library of Imperial History, 1976 The Churchill War Papers / edited by Martin Gilbert. - 2 vol. - Norton, 1993-1995

Winston Churchill Quotations

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.

A joke is a very serious thing.

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.

Although personally I am quite content with existing explosives, I feel we must not stand in the path of improvement.

Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed.

A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality.

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.

A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.

Baldwin thought Europe was a bore, and Chamberlain thought it was only a greater Birmingham.

Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter.

Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat.

Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.

Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities … because it is the quality which guarantees all others.

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.

Do not let spacious plans for a new world divert your energies from saving what is left of the old.

Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.

Everyone has his day and some days last longer than others.

For good or for ill, air mastery is today the supreme expression of military power and fleets and armies, however vital and important, must accept a subordinate rank.

Great and good are seldom the same man.

Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.

He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.

History is written by the victors.

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is a much better policy to prophesy after the event has already taken place.

I always seem to get inspiration and renewed vitality by contact with this great novel land of yours which sticks up out of the Atlantic.

I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.

I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.

I am certainly not one of those who need to be prodded. In fact, if anything, I am the prod.

I am easily satisfied with the very best.

I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

I am never going to have anything more to do with politics or politicians. When this war is over I shall confine myself entirely to writing and painting.

I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.

I cannot pretend to be impartial about the colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.

If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.

If the Almighty were to rebuild the world and asked me for advice, I would have English Channels round every country. And the atmosphere would be such that anything which attempted to fly would be set on fire.

If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another.

If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.

If you are going through hell, keep going.

If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack.

If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.

If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce.

I have been brought up and trained to have the utmost contempt for people who get drunk.

I have never developed indigestion from eating my words.

I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.

I like a man who grins when he fights.

I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.

I'm just preparing my impromptu remarks.

India is a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the Equator.

I never worry about action, but only inaction.

In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.

In those days he was wiser than he is now; he used to frequently take my advice.

In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.

In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.

In war, you can only be killed once, but in politics, many times.

It is a fine thing to be honest, but it is also very important to be right.

It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.

It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.

It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.

It is more agreeable to have the power to give than to receive.

It is no use saying, 'We are doing our best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.

It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion's heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.

I was only the servant of my country and had I, at any moment, failed to express her unflinching resolve to fight and conquer, I should at once have been rightly cast aside.

Kites rise highest against the wind - not with it.

Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.

Meeting Franklin Roosevelt was like opening your first bottle of champagne; knowing him was like drinking it.

Mr. Attlee is a very modest man. Indeed he has a lot to be modest about.

My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.

My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them.

My wife and I tried two or three times in the last 40 years to have breakfast together, but it was so disagreeable we had to stop.

Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

Never, never, never give up.

'No comment' is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again.

No crime is so great as daring to excel.

No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered with a searching but at the same time a steady eye.

No part of the education of a politician is more indispensable than the fighting of elections.

Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilization.

Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

One does not leave a convivial party before closing time.

One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!

Perhaps it is better to be irresponsible and right, than to be responsible and wrong.

Play the game for more than you can afford to lose … only then will you learn the game.

Politics are very much like war. We may even have to use poison gas at times.

Politics is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.

Politics is not a game. It is an earnest business.

Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.

Really I feel less keen about the Army every day. I think the Church would suit me better.

Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.

Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.

Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer.

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.

The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.

The first quality that is needed is audacity.

The great defense against the air menace is to attack the enemy's aircraft as near as possible to their point of departure.

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

The length of this document defends it well against the risk of its being read.

The power of an air force is terrific when there is nothing to oppose it.

The price of greatness is responsibility.

There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.

There are two things that are more difficult than making an after-dinner speech: climbing a wall which is leaning toward you and kissing a girl who is leaning away from you.

There is no such thing as a good tax.

There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.

The reserve of modern assertions is sometimes pushed to extremes, in which the fear of being contradicted leads the writer to strip himself of almost all sense and meaning.

These are not dark days: these are great days - the greatest days our country has ever lived.

The British nation is unique in this respect. They are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst.

The power of man has grown in every sphere, except over himself.

The problems of victory are more agreeable than those of defeat, but they are no less difficult.

The short words are best, and the old words are the best of all.

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.

This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.

Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace and those who could make a good peace would never have won the war.

To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.

To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.

True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.

Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

War is a game that is played with a smile. If you can't smile, grin. If you can't grin, keep out of the way till you can.

War is mainly a catalogue of blunders.

We are all worms. But I believe that I am a glow-worm.

We are asking the nations of Europe between whom rivers of blood have flowed to forget the feuds of a thousand years.

We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.

We are stripped bare by the curse of plenty.

We do not covet anything from any nation except their respect.

We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

We occasionally stumble over the truth but most of us pick ourselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.

We shall show mercy, but we shall not ask for it.

What kind of people do they think we are? Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson which they and the world will never forget?

When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home.

When the war of the giants is over the wars of the pygmies will begin.

When you are winning a war almost everything that happens can be claimed to be right and wise.

When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.

Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.


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