Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was one of the greatest politicians of the United Kingdom who went on to become the Prime Minister of the country in 1940, serving till 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Winston enjoyed an exceptional success in his political life from the very beginning and held many important positions such as President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary and First Lord of the Admiralty in the Asquith Liberal government. Before chosen to the premiership of the country, Winston was appointed the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924. He also served in the British Army for a short period, where he witnessed the second Boer war and penned his experience as British officer in books such as The Second World War and A History of the English Speaking Peoples. Winston Churchill was a prolific writer, historian and artist.
Childhood & Early Life
Winston Churchill was born on 30 November 1874 in Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom. A descent of the Spencer family, Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was born to a politician father Lord Randolph Churchill and mother Lady Randolph Churchill who was the daughter of an American millionaire. Winston Churchill had a brother John Strange Spencer.
Winston Churchill’s military career began with admitting in to Harrow School in 1888, where he joined the Harrow Rifle Corps. Throughout his schooling life, he performed average in academic but showed a particular interest in English and History. He did not see much of his parents in his early life as he stayed with his grandmother and this made him relatively independent and rebellious in nature. He was believed to have cold relation with his father. His father passed away on 24 January 1895.
Marriage & Children
Winston Churchill married Clementine Hozier on 12 September 1908 in St. Margaret’s Westminster and in 1909, the couple moved to a house at 33 Eccleston Square. Their first child, Diana was born in London on 11 July 1909 and stayed with her nanny while Clementine moved to Sussex. Their son Randolph was born on 28 May 1911 and their third child Sarah came on 7 October 1914 at Admiralty House. Clementine gave birth to Marigold Frances Churchill on 15 November 1918. However, Marigold, who was their fourth child, could not survive into the adulthood and died from illness on 23 August 1921. The couple’s fifth and last child Mary was born next year on 15 September 1922.
Career in Army
Churchill left Harrow in 1893 to seek admission into the Royal Military Academy. He graduated from there in December 1895 and was appointed as a Second Lieutenant in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars on 20 February 1895. While serving there, he was awarded the honor of the Hussars in 1941.
Winston Churchill was sent to Cuba in 1895 to observe the fight between the Spanish and Cuban Guerrillas. He stayed there until he was informed of his nanny’s illness. He returned to England and from that time on, stayed with his nanny until she died after a week or so. The next year in 1896, he was transferred to Bombay, then a part of the British India, where he developed a passion for Polo.
In 1897, Churchill fought against a Pashtun tribe in Malakand-now in Pakistan- under the leadership of General Jeffery. After the victory of the British Army he wrote an account of the fight, which was published in1900 as The Story of the Malakand Field Force. An avid writer, Churchill wrote several articles and columns for the newspapers during the war, for which he received a huge sum.
Churchill was next sent to Egypt in 1898 where he served in the Sudan under the leadership of General Herbert Kitchener. While in the Sudan, he actively participated in the battle of Omdurman in 1898 and worked as a war correspondent for a newspaper. Upon his return to England in 1898, he wrote an account of the recon quest of the Sudan which was published in the next year as The River War. In 1899, he resigned from the Army and unsuccessfully bid for Parliament in Oldham in the by-election the same year.
With the declaration of war between Britain and the Boer Republics, Winston was appointed as a war correspondent for the newspaper the Morning Post. While working there, he was captured and imprisoned for his involvement in a scouting team. He was put in a POW camp in Pretoria, from where he succeeded to escape just a few weeks after. Upon his return to England, he rejoined the army. In 1900, Winston took retirement from the army and joined the Imperial Yeomanry as a captain in the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars on 4 January 1902. He moved to the rank of Major in 1905 and took charge as a commander of the Henley Squadron of the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars. Churchill, then the first Lord of the Admiralty, was appointed Lieutenant-colonel of Royal Scots Fusiliers on 1 January 1916.
Early Political Activities
Churchill won the Oldham seat at the 1900 general election. After his entry in to the Parliament, he became closely linked with the Conservative Party. He was rejected by his electoral after his opposition to the government’s military expenditure and extensive tariffs designed to shield Britain’s economic power. He became associated with the Liberal Party and after it assumed power in 1905, Winston was made Under-Secretary of State. However, He had been rejected by his constituency in Oldham; Churchill was invited to contest for the Manchester North West seat. He won the seat at the 1906 general election and remained in the position until 1908, when he was appointed as President of the Board of Trade. While serving in the cabinet, he actively participated in opposing the proposed exorbitant expenditure for Navy and supported Liberal Reforms. In 1908, he brought in a Trade Bill, which set up the first minimum wages in Britain and the following year in 1909, Winston established ‘Labor Exchange’, which aimed at helping unemployed people find work. He played an instrumental role in planning the first unemployed pension legislation in 1911, which became known as the National Insurance Act of 1911. In 1910, Winston Churchill was appointed as Home Secretary following the major victory of Liberal Party in two consecutive general elections. In July 1917, Churchill was elected Minister of Munitions.
Chancellor of Exchequer
In 1924, Winston Churchill won the seat for Epping as an independent candidate in the general election and the following year in 1925, he formally rejoined the Conservative Party. Churchill’s was appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924 which was followed by a great deflation in the Britain. A situation of anarchy occurred and a series of miner’s strikes led to the General Strike of 1926. The government adopted highly repressive method to break the strikes and as a result, Conservative Party lost the next general election in1929. From then on, The Conservative Party started distancing itself from him and the two never came to terms in the next following years. This was a time of Political Isolation which became known as his Wilderness Years.
During the mid 1930’s, Winston openly spoke and campaigned against the proposal to grant India a dominion status. When The Viceroy Lord Irwin announced the government’s policy to grant India Independence in the Round Table Conference in 1931, however, the Liberal party and the Conservative Party supported the government’s decision- Winston Churchill responded by denouncing the Conference and estranged from the government ineradicably.
First Term as Prime Minister
On 3 September 1939, Britain declared war against Germany; with this Churchill was again elected the First Lord of the Admiralty and became a member of the war cabinet. The Prime Minister Chamberlain resigned after the German invasion of Norway and Churchill was invited to form an –all party government. As Prime minister, Churchill refused to any peace agreement with an evidently growing Germany and geared up the British for a long War.
During his premiership, Churchill maintained good relations with the U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt which secured a regular supply of food, arms and oil in Britain. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Winston fully supported the U.S in its disastrous counter attack on Germany and Japan. The both Prime Ministers signed the Morgenthau Plan at the second Quebec conference in 1944, in which the mutually vowed to renovate Germany into an agricultural and bucolic country after its inevitable defeat in the War. A fervent anti-communist, Churchill gave a huge support to Soviet Union against German invasion, declaring that if he had to choose between communism and Nazis, he will choose communism.
Second Term as Prime Minister
Though the World War II ended with a landslide victory of British and allied countries, Winston lost the 1945 election and became a leader of the opposition. His success came with the General Election of 1951, when he was again elected Prime Minister for a second term. However, foreign policies and international affairs dominated his first term; he put efforts to build the Britain an International power in his second government. He adopted direct military actions against rebellions and Kenya was the First to witness his road to world victory, following by Malaya. Though the rebellions were repressed through harsh methods, it was clearly visible that colonial rule from Britain has come to a downfall.
Health & Retirement
Winston Churchill suffered his first major stroke in 1953, at age 78, which left him unable to speak and walk properly. He moved to his home Chart well to recover from the effects of the stroke and returned in October that year. In the wake of his declining health and inability to govern, he resigned as Prime Minister in 1955 to be succeeded by Anthony Eden. After retiring from the public life, Churchill mostly stayed at home. The first time, he came out in active politics was when he contested at the 1964 General Election. In 1963, Winston received an Honorary Citizen of the United States from U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Death & Funeral
On 15 January 1965, Churchill suffered another major stroke which proved to be fatal and he died after nine days on 24 January 1965. After death, his body lay in state for three days and a state funeral was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The funeral service witnessed the largest Royal gathering of statesmen from across the world and was mourned upon by thousands of people. His body was buried at St. Martin’s Church, near Woodstock, near his birth place at Blenheim Palace.