Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Winston Churchill
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Winston Churchill

Alternative meanings: Churchill (disambiguation)

The Right Hon. Sir Winston Churchill
Periods in Office: 10 May 1940 - 27 July 1945
26 October 1951 - 7 April 1955
PM Predecessor: Neville Chamberlain
Clement Attlee
PM Successor: Clement Attlee
Anthony Eden
Date of Birth: 30 November 1874
Place of Birth: near Woodstock, Oxfordshire
Political Party: Conservative Party, Liberals
Retirement honour: Knighthood of the Garter

The Right Honourable Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, KG (November 30, 1874 - January 24, 1965) was a British politician, best known as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II.

Table of contents
1 Early career
2 Role as Wartime Prime Minister
3 Second Term
4 Family
5 Last Days
6 Writings
7 Quotations
8 Miscellany
9 Churchill's War Cabinet, May 1940 - May 1945
10 Winston Churchill's Caretaker Cabinet, May - July 1945
11 Winston Churchill's Third Cabinet, October 1951 - April 1955
12 External links

Early career

Born at Blenheim Palace, near the town Woodstock, Oxfordshire, Winston Churchill was a descendant of the first famous member of the Churchill family: John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (whose father was also a "Sir Winston Churchill"). Winston's politician father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was the third son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough: Winston's mother was Jennie Jerome (née Jeanette Jerome) of Brooklyn, New York, a daughter of American millionaire Leonard Jerome.

In 1893 he enrolled in the Royal Military College. He graduated two years later ranked eighth in his class. He was appointed Second Lieutenant in the 4th Hussars cavalry. In 1895, he went to Cuba as a military observer with the Spanish army in its fight against the independentists. He also reported for the Saturday Review. In 1898 he rode as a reporter with the 21st Lancers at the Battle of Omdurman.

The first notable appearance of Winston Churchill was as a war correspondent in the second Anglo-Boer war between Britain and self-proclaimed Afrikaaners in South Africa. He was captured in a Boer ambush of a British Army train convoy, but managed a high profile escape and eventually crossed the South African border to Lourenço Marques (now Maputo in Mozambique). Churchill used the status achieved to begin a political career which would last a total of sixty-five years, first standing for Parliament in 1899 and serving as an MP in the House of Commons from 1900 to 1922 and from 1924 to 1964. At first a member of the Conservative Party, he 'crossed the floor' in 1904 to join the Liberals.

In the 1906 general election, Churchill won a seat in Manchester. In the Liberal government of Henry Campbell Bannerman he served as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. Churchill soon became the most prominent member of the Government outside the Cabinet, and when Campbell Bannerman was succeeded by Herbert Henry Asquith in 1908, it came as little surprise when Churchill was promoted to the Cabinet as President of the Board of Trade. Under the law at the time, a newly appointed Cabinet Minister was obliged to seek re-election at a by-election. Churchill lost his Manchester seat to the Conservative William Joynson-Hicks, but was soon elected in another by-election at Dundee. As President of the Board of Trade he pursued radical social reforms in conjunction with David Lloyd George, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1910 Churchill was promoted to Home Secretary, where he was to prove somewhat controversial. A famous photograph from the time shows the impetuous Churchill taking personal charge of the January 1911 Sidney Street Siege, peering around a corner to view a fierce gun battle between cornered anarchists and Scots Guards. His role attracted much criticism. Arthur Balfour asked, "He [Churchill] and a photographer were both risking valuable lives. I understand what the photographer was doing but what was the Right Honourable gentleman doing?"

In 1911, Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty, a post he would hold into the First World War. He was one of the political and military engineers of the disastrous Gallipoli landings on the Dardanelles during World War I, which led to his description as "the butcher of Gallipoli". When Asquith formed an all-party coalition government, the Conservatives demanded Churchill's demotion as the price for entry. For several months Churchill served in the non-portfolio job of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, before resigning from the government feeling his energies were not being used. He rejoined the army, though remained an MP, and served for several months on the Western Front. During this period his second in command was a young Archibald Sinclair who would later lead the Liberal Party.

In December 1916, Asquith fell and was replaced by Lloyd George, however the time was thought to not yet be right to risk the Conservatives' wrath by bringing Churchill back into government. However in July 1917 Churchill was appointed Minister of Munitions. After the ending of the war Churchill served as both Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Air (1919-1921). Churchill suggested chemical weapons be used "against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment". He said, "I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes. The moral effects should be good, and it would spread a lively terror."

During this time (1919-1921), he undertook with surprising zeal the cutting of military expenditure. However, the major preoccupation of his tenure in the War Office was the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War.Churchill was a staunch advocate of foreign intervention, declaring that Bolshevism must be "strangled in its cradle". He secured from a divided and loosely organized Cabinet an intensification and prolongation of the British involvement beyond the wishes of any major group in Parliament or the nation--and in the face of the bitter hostility of labour. In 1920, after the last British forces had been withdrawn, Churchill was instrumental in having arms sent to the Poles when they invaded the Ukraine.He became Secretary of State for the Colonies 1921 and was a signatory of the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 which established the Irish Free State.

In October 1922, Churchill underwent an operation to remove his appendix. When he came to he learnt that the government had fallen and a General Election was looming. The Liberal Party was now beset by internal division and Churchill's campaign was weak. He lost his seat at Dundee, quipping that he had lost his ministerial office, his seat and his appendix all at once. The victorious candidates for the two-member seat included the Prohibitionist Edwin Scrymgeour. Churchill stood for the Liberals again in the 1923 general election, but over the next twelve months he moved towards the Conservative Party, though initially using the labels "Anti-Socialist" and "Constitutionalist". Two years later in the General Election of 1924 he was elected to represent Epping (where there is now a statue of him) as a "Constitutionalist" with Conservative backing. The following year he formally rejoined the Conservative Party, commenting that, "Anyone can rat [change parties], but it takes a certain ingenuity to rerat." He was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924 under Stanley Baldwin and oversaw the UK's disasterous return to the Gold Standard, which resulted in deflation, unemployment, and the miners' strike that led to the General Strike of 1926. During the General Strike of 1926, Churchill was reported to have suggested that machine guns should be used on the striking miners. Churchill edited the Government's newspaper, the British Gazette, and during the dispute he argued that "either the country will break the General Strike, or the General Strike will break the country". Furthermore, he was to controversially claim that the Fascism of Benito Mussolini had "rendered a service to the whole world", showing as it had "a way to combat subversive forces" — that is, he considered the regime to be a bulwark against the perceived threat of Communist revolution.

The Conservative government was defeated in the 1929 General Election. In the next two years Churchill became estranged from the Conservative leadership over the issues of protective tariffs and Indian Home Rule. When Ramsay MacDonald formed the National Government in 1931 Churchill was not invited to join the Cabinet. He was now at the lowest point in his career in a period known as 'the wilderness years.' He spent much of the next few years concentrating on his writing, including the History of the English Speaking Peoples (which was not published until well after WWII). He became most notable for his outspoken opposition towards the granting of independence to India. Soon though, his attention was drawn to the rise of Adolf Hitler and Germany's rearmament. For a time he was a lone voice calling on Britain to re-arm itself and counter the belligerence of Germany. Churchill was a fierce critic of Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler. He was also an outspoken supporter of Edward VIII during the Abdication Crisis leading to some speculation that he might be appointed Prime Minister if the King refused to take Baldwin's advice and consequently the government resigned. However this did not happen and Churchill found himself isolated and in a bruised position for some time after this.

Role as Wartime Prime Minister

with Winston Churchill during World War II]]
, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Churchill at the Cairo Conference in 1943]]
at the Tehran Conference]]

At the outbreak of the Second World War Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. On Chamberlain's resignation in May, 1940, Churchill was appointed Prime Minister and formed an all-party government. In response to previous criticisms that there had been no clear single minister in charge of the prosecution of the war, he created and took the additional position of Minister of Defence. He immediately put his friend and confidant, the industrialist and newspaper baron Max Aitken, (Lord Beaverbrook) in charge of aircraft production. It was Aitken's astounding business acumen that allowed Britain to quickly gear up aircraft production and engineering that eventually made the difference in the war.

His speeches at that time were a great inspiration to the embattled United Kingdom. His famous "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat" speech was his first as Prime Minister. He followed that closely, before the Battle of Britain, with "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."

His good relationship with U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt secured the United Kingdom vital supplies via the North Atlantic Ocean shipping routes. Churchill initiated the Special Operations Executive (SOE), under Hugh Dalton's Ministry of Economic Warfare, which established, conducted and fostered covert, subversive and partisan operations in occupied territories with notable success; and also the Commandos which established the pattern for most of the world's current Special Forces. The Russians referred to him as the "British Bulldog".

However, some of the military actions during the war remain controversial. Churchill was at best indifferent and perhaps complicit in the Great Bengal Famine of 1943 which took the lives of at least 2.5 million Bengalis. Japanese troops were threatening British India after having successfully taken neighbouring British Burma. Some consider the British government's policy of denying effective famine relief a deliberate and callous scorched earth policy adopted in the event of a successful Japanese invasion. Churchill supported the bombing of Dresden shortly before the end of the war; Dresden was a mostly civilian target with many refugees from the East and of allegedly little military value. However, the bombing was helpful to the allied Soviets. Churchill was party to treaties that would re-draw post-WWII European and Asian boundaries. The boundary between North Korea and South Korea was proposed at the Yalta Conference, as well as the expulsion of Japanese forces from those countries. Proposals for European boundaries and settlements were discussed as early as 1943 by Roosevelt and Churchill; the settlement was officially agreed to by Truman, Churchill, and Stalin at Potsdam (Article XIII of the Potsdam protocol). One of these settlements was about the borders of Poland, i.e. the boundary between Poland and the Soviet Union, the so called Curzon line, and between Germany and Poland, the so called the Oder-Neisse line. Despite the fact that Poland was the first country that resisted Hitler, Polish borders and government were determined by the Great Powers without asking the voice of the Polish government in exile. Poles who had fought alongside Britain throughout the war felt betrayed. Churchill himself opposed the effective annexation of Poland by the Soviet Union and wrote bitterly about it in his books, but he was unable to prevent it at the conferences.

As part of the settlement was an agreement to transfer the remaining citizens of Germany from the area. (Transfer of Poles didn't need to be approved.) The exact numbers and movement of ethnic populations over the Polish-German and Polish-USSR borders in the period at the end of World War II is extremely difficult to determine. This is not least because, under the Nazi regime, many Poles were replaced in their homes by the conquering Germans in an attempt to consolidate Nazi power. In the case of the post-WWII settlement, Churchill was convinced that the only way to alleviate tensions between the two populations was the transfer of people, to match the national borders. As Churchill expounded in the House of Commons in 1944, "Expulsion is the method which, in so far as we have been able to see, will be the most satisfactory and lasting. There will be no mixture of populations to cause endless trouble... A clean sweep will be made. I am not alarmed by these transferences, which are more possible in modern conditions."

Although the importance of Churchill's role in World War II was undeniable, he produced many enemies in his own country. His expressed contempt for ideas such as public health care and for better education for the majority of the population in particular produced much dissatisfaction amongst the population, particularly those who had fought in the war. Immediately following the close of the war in Europe Churchill was heavily defeated at election by Clement Attlee and the Labour Party.

Winston Churchill was an early supporter of the pan-Europeanism that eventually lead to the formation of the European Common market and later the European Union (for which one of the three main buildings of the European Parliament is named in his honour). Churchill was also instrumental in giving France a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (which he supported in order to have another European power to counter-balance the Soviet Union's permanent seat).

At the beginning of the Cold War he coined the term the "Iron Curtain," a phrase that entered the public consciousness after a 1946 speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri when he famously declared "From Stettin on the Baltic to Trieste on the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere."

Second Term

Following Labour's defeat in the General Election of 1951, Churchill again became Prime Minister. In 1953 he was awarded two major honours. He was knighted and became Sir Winston Churchill and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values". A stroke in June of that year led to him being paralysed down his left side. He retired because of his health on April 5, 1955 but retained his post as Chancellor of the University of Bristol. During the next few years he revised and finally published a History of the English Speaking Peoples in four volumes. In 1956 he was awarded the Karlspreis of the city of Aachen in Germany, for his idea of a "United States of Europe". In 1959 Churchill inherited the title of Father of the House, becoming the MP with the longest continuous service — since 1924. He was to hold the position until his retirement from the Commons in 1964, the position of Father of the House passing to Richard Austen Butler.


On September 2, 1908, at the socially desirable St. Margaret's, Westminster, Churchill married Clementine Ogilvy Hozier (April 1 1885-December 12 1977), a dazzling but largely penniless beauty whom he met at a dinner party that March. (He had proposed to actress Ethel Barrymore, but was turned down). They had five children: Diana (July 11 1909-1963); Randolph (May 28 1911-June 6 1968); Sarah (October 7 1914-September 24 1982, who became an actress, co-starring with Fred Astaire in the film Royal Wedding); Marigold (November 15 1918-August 23 1921); and Mary (b. September 15 1922), who has written a book on her parents.

Clementine's mother was Lady Blanche Henrietta Ogilvy (1852-1925), second wife of Sir Henry Montague Hozier and a daughter of the 7th Earl of Airlie. Clementine's paternity, however, is open to healthy debate. Lady Blanche was well known for sharing her favours and was eventually divorced as a result. She herself maintained that Clementine's biological father was Capt. William George "Bay" Middleton, a noted horseman. But Clementine's biographer Joan Hardwick has surmised, due to Sir Henry Hozier's reputed sterility, that all Lady Blanche's "Hozier" children were actually fathered by her sister's husband, Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford (1837-1916, better known as a grandfather of the infamous Mitford sisters of the 1920s).

Churchill's son, Randolph, and grandson, Winston, both followed him into Parliament.

Last Days

On January 15, 1965 Churchill suffered another stroke — a severe cerebral thrombosis — that left him gravely ill. He died nine days later on January 24, 1965. This was exactly 70 years to the day after his father's death. His body lay in State in Westminster Hall for three days and a state funeral service was held at St Paul's Cathedral. This was the first state funeral for a commoner since that of Field Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar in 1914. It was Churchill's wish that, if de Gaulle outlived him, that his (Churchill's) funeral procession should pass through Waterloo station. As his coffin passed down the Thames on a boat, the cranes of London's docklands bowed in salute. At Churchill's request, he was buried in the family plot at Saint Martin's Churchyard, Bladon, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England.


Churchill was also a notable historian, producing many works. Some of his twentieth century writings such as The World Crisis (detailing the First World War) and The Second World War are highly autobiographical, telling the story of the conflict. Initially Churchill used the name Winston Churchill for his books. However early on he discovered that there was also an American writer of the same name, who had been published first. So as to prevent the two being confused, they agreed that the American would publish as Winston Churchill, and the Englishman as Winston Spencer Churchill (sometimes abbreviated to Winston S Churchill).

Churchill's works include:


Winston Churchill Quotes


Churchill College, a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, was founded in 1960 as the national and commonwealth memorial to Winston Churchill.

The Churchill tank, a heavy infantry tank of World War II, was named in his honour.

Churchill is believed by several writers to have suffered from bipolar disorder and in his last years, Alzheimer's disease; certainly he suffered from fits of depression that he called his "black dogs", Some researchers also believe that Churchill was dyslexic, based on the difficulties he described himself having at school. However, the Churchill Foundation strongly refutes this (Source: http://www.winstonchurchill.org ).

The United States Navy destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DD-81) is named in his honour. Churchill was the first person to be made an Honorary Citizen of the United States.

Churchill was voted as "The Greatest Briton" in 2002 "100 Greatest Britons" poll sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public. He was also named Time Magazine "Man of the Half-Century" in the early 1950s.

The American song writer Jerome Kern was christened Jerome because his parents lived near a park named Jerome Park. This park was in turn named after Churchill's grandfather (the father of Churchill's mother Jennie Jerome)

Churchill's War Cabinet, May 1940 - May 1945


Winston Churchill's Caretaker Cabinet, May - July 1945

Winston Churchill's Third Cabinet, October 1951 - April 1955


External links

Preceded by:
David Lloyd George
President of the Board of Trade
Followed by:
Sydney Buxton
Preceded by:
Herbert Gladstone
Home Secretary
Followed by:
Reginald McKenna
Preceded by:
Reginald McKenna
First Lord of the Admiralty
Followed by:
Arthur Balfour
Preceded by:
Edwin Samuel Montagu
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Followed by:
Herbert Samuel
Preceded by:
Lord Milner
Secretary of State for War
Followed by:
Sir Laming Worthington-Evans
Preceded by:
The Lord Weir
Secretary of State for Air
Followed by:
Frederick Edward Guest
Preceded by:
The Viscount Milner
Secretary of State for the Colonies
Followed by:
The Duke of Devonshire
Preceded by:
Philip Snowden
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Followed by:
Philip Snowden
Preceded by:
Lord Stanhope
First Lord of the Admiralty
Followed by:
Albert Victor Alexander
Preceded by:
Neville Chamberlain
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Followed by:
Clement Attlee
Preceded by:
Clement Attlee
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Followed by:
Sir Anthony Eden
Preceded by:
Neville Chamberlain
Leader of the British Conservative Party
Followed by:
Sir Anthony Eden