Sir Winston Churchill

1874 - 1965

Sir Winston Churchill
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Sir Winston Churchill

Prime Minister, wartime leader and outstanding orator. Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace (near Oxford, England). He attended the Royal Military College at Sandhurst and gained a commission in the army in 1895. Taken prisoner during the Boer War, he became a national hero when he escaped. Within months he was a Member of Parliament, serving for Oldham, Manchester and then Dundee (1908-22). He joined the Liberal Government as President of the Board of Trade (1908-10), then Home Secretary (1910-11) and First Lord of the Admiralty (1911-15). His career almost ended as a result of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign of World War I, however, he returned to government as Minister of Munitions in 1917. He joined the Conservative government as Chancellor of the Exchequer (1924-9).

Churchill spent the 1930s on the back-benches, his career not helped by his support for King Edward VIII during the abdication crisis of 1936. However, he returned as the First Lord of the Admiralty at the start of World War II. In 1940 he succeeded Chamberlain as Prime Minister and so began the most famous chapter of a notable life. Churchill became known as a stubborn and courageous leader who took Britain from the brink of defeat to victory.

Surprisingly, Churchill lost the election of 1945; not that the British people were ungrateful, but the hardship of the war had brought increased expectations for peacetime which seemed to be better met with a Labour government. He did however return as Prime Minister (1951-55) and remained a Member of Parliament until 1964.

Churchill was a respected author, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature (1953) and went on to write his epic History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956). Among his many honours, he was knighted by Elizabeth II (1953) and created an honorary US citizen by President Kennedy (1963).

He died in London at the age of 90 and was given the rare honour of a State Funeral. He was buried in St. Martin's Churchyard (Bladon, Oxfordshire).

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