Time and life of Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

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His early years

Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace on St Andrew’s Day, 30 November 1874. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a younger son of the Duke of Marlborough. His mother, Jennie Jerome, was the daughter of an American business tycoon.
Winston’s childhood was privileged but not particularly happy. Like many Victorian parents, Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill were distant figures.

A roving commission

In 1895 Churchill graduated from Sandhurst. He travelled to the United States and Cuba, saw action on the north west frontier of India in 1897, and the following year joined Kitcheners expeditionary force to the Sudan and participated in the cavalry charge against the Dervishes at the battle of Omdurman.

His adventures continued in 1899 when he sailed to South Africa as a correspondent of the Morning Post to cover the Boer War. He was captured and spent his twenty-fifth birthday as a prisoner of war, before escaping and making his way across the enemy lines to Durban.

The young radical
Churchill was first elected to parliament in 1900, shortly before the death of Queen Victoria. He took his seat in the House of Commons as a Conservative member for Oldham. After four years he crossed the floor and joined the Liberals, rising swiftly through their ranks. As President of the Board of Trade he helped to lay the foundations of the welfare state, while his brief tenure as Home Secretary is still remembered for the Tonypandy Riot and the siege of Sidney Street.

A frank and clear-eyed friendship
In 1908 Churchill married Clementine Hozier, granddaughter of the 10th Earl of Airlie. They had five children, four of whom survived into adulthood. The marriage was to prove a long and happy one, though there were quarrels. Their personal correspondence sheds much light on the private people behind the public myth. From the first years of their marriage Winston and Clementine routinely ended their letters with drawings. He was her ’pug’ or ’pig’. She was his ’cat’.

The world crisis
By the time war broke out in 1914 Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty and already a major national figure. As the conflict in Europe degenerated into a stalemate he became convinced that the only way to end the war quickly was to mount a huge out-flanking attack on Turkey through the Dardanelles. But his attempts to force the straits using only ships foundered, leading to the disastrous Gallipolis landings and costing Churchill his job.

Rather than remain idle, Churchill sought active service on the Western Front. In January 1916 he was appointed as Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the 6th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers.

The member for Dundee

Churchill successfully contested Dundee for the first time in May 1908. His ministerial responsibilities kept him away from his constituency. There were also clear differences in lifestyle and background between Churchill and most of his constituents. By the time of the 1922 election, support for the Labour party had grown and the local newspapers were hostile to Churchill.

Worse still, appendicitis kept him from active campaigning. Clementine spoke in her husband’s place, but was spat upon for wearing pearls. When the result was declared, Churchill was left, as he wryly observed, without a seat, without a party and without an appendix.

From war to war

Between 1922 and 1924 Churchill left the Liberal party and rejoined the Conservatives. Anyone could ’rat’, he remarked, but it took a certain ingenuity to ’re-rat’. To his surprise he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in Stanley Baldwin’s government - a position he held until the Tory defeat in 1929.

During the 1930s Churchill fell out with Baldwin over the question of giving India greater self-government and became more and more isolated in politics. His dire warnings about the rise of Hitler and the dangers of the appeasement policy initially fell on deaf ears.

The finest hour

When Neville Chamberlain resigned in May 1940, Churchill replaced him as Prime-Minister. The fight had stood between Churchill and Halifax, a loyal Conservative. The reason why Churchill was chosen, was that he was the only member of the Government that had not taken part of the depressive 30’s, and Chamberlain had done a terrible mistake. He had said in a speech that "mister Hitler had missed the bus", and when the loss in Narvik was a fact, the scene was opened for Churchill. Before that he had been minister of War. During his period as minister of War, he anticipated the following horrors. And he realised that Britain needed a strong Air-force. So he started to build plains. The Enigma system was discovered and Britain was able to find out the coded German plans. But they did not have the capacity to send messages to the front, and that was one of the reasons Narvik was lost.

Churchill formed an all-party government that helped unite public opinion behind the war effort. He developed a strong personal relationship with President Roosevelt obtaining the vital Lend Lease agreements, and played an important role in persuading the US to take part in the war against Germany and Italy.

A speech about bringing the US into the war

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.
We shall go to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, 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 street, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
And even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New world, with all its power and might, steps forth to rescue and the liberation of the Old.

( "Churchill a life" by Martin Gilbert
released at the Minerva in 1990, chapter 28 Prime minister)

It was also sent to America as a cry of help, and as a warning of what could happen with a Europe under Nazi-rule.

At once the bombing on London started, it was suggested that the Royal family should escape to Canada. Winston replied: "no such question." And that was a tactical smart manoeuvre. He showed the Nazi’s that Britain was one.

His immediate contribution was to instil in the British people his own fiery resolve and will to resist. Throughout the tense summer of 1940, when Britain stood alone, his speeches proved an inspiration. One example is the first speech he did as Prime-minister:

"You ask, what is our policy? I will say: it is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime, That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory, 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. Let that be realised.; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal.
But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, ’Come then, let us go forward together with our unit strength."

( "Churchill a life" by Martin Gilbert
released at the Minerva in 1990, chapter 28 Prime minister)

Yet Churchill did more than just talk. He toured the country inspecting the bomb-damaged towns and cities. And the first thing he did after the first air-raid, while inspecting a damaged area, was to order that every damage on houses was to be replaced.

He also worked tirelessly on diplomatic and military initiatives to regain the offensive. It was from Scapa Flow that he sailed in August 1941 for a crucial secret meeting with President Roosevelt.

The tide of victory

As the threat of German invasion receded, the tide of war began to turn. Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union brought Churchill an unlikely ally in the person of Joseph Stalin. The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour transformed the war into a truly global conflict. It also precipitated the United States into the war, and with the Americans came the promise of an ultimate Allied victory. By October 1942 Churchill clearly felt confident enough to accept the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh.

Churchill worked tirelessly to keep the Grand Alliance alive, shuttling between capital cities and conferences. It is often forgotten that he celebrated his 70th birthday during the war. While he tried hard to project a fit and active public image, the strain inevitably took a toll on his health.

The final years

Churchill did not allow his shock defeat in the 1945 General Election to silence him for very long. He remained a hugely important international figure, and used his status to speak out about the new threats posed by the Cold War and the need for reconciliation in Western Europe. In October 1951 the Conservative Party achieved a narrow victory at the polls and Churchill became Prime Minister once again.

After the publication of his six volume, The Second World War, Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Failing health forced him to resign the premiership in April 1955, but he remained an MP until 1964.

Churchill died on 24 January 1965 - seventy years to the day after the death of his father. He received the first state funeral given to a commoner since that of the Duke of Wellington.


"The National Library of Scotland," "the Churchill Archives Centre" and "Churchill a life" by Martin Gilbert published in 1990.


I found most of the information that I needed on the Net, but I also used some of the information Arve gave me after reading the book "Churchill a life". I used most of the time at school to gather all the information that I needed, and at home I put it all together. It took a great deal of time to get this project finished, and I am very satisfied with the result. Now I just hope that our oral presentation goes well.



We went to the city library and found three books. Two of them contained almost no information, but the last one, "Churchill a life," by Martin Gilbert, contained a lot of useful information that we used. We also found some information on the Net, but not much. A very positive thing is that we found a lot of really good pictures of Winston Churchill, from he was young, and even a from his funeral.

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