1916 Portrait by William Orpen (Public domain) via Wikimedia Commons
Lee Campbell gave Club members amazing insights into the life and impact of The Right Honourable Sir Winston Leonard Spenser Churchill. They are summarized here (no mean feat!) by Flora Spackman. Judi Lee highly recommends visiting the Churchill Museum in London and experience being in the restored Cabinet war rooms.
Churchill received The Nobel Prize in 1953 for his mastery of historical and biographical descriptions, as well as for his brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values. When talking about the RAF during the Battle of Britain, Churchill said “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” In actual fact, the same should be said about our indebtedness to Sir Winston Churchill. He published 42 books, in addition to all his other writings. His six volume, first person account of World War II and the events that led up to it is a masterpiece of history. These books should be required reading for anyone interested in foreign policy and the consequences of irrational decisions by national leaders.
Winston Churchill was one of the great world leaders of the 20th century. His leadership helped Britain to stand strong against Hitler and the Germans, even when they were the last country left fighting.
Winston was born November 30, 1874 in Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England. His parents were wealthy aristocrats. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a politician who held many high offices in the British government. His mother, Lady Jennie Churchill was an American-born heiress.
Churchill attended the Royal Military College and joined the British cavalry upon graduation. His literary career began as a youth reporter submitting campaign reports. He traveled widely with the military and worked as a newspaper correspondent, writing stories about battles and being in the military.
While in South Africa during the Second Boer War, Winston Churchill was captured and became a Prisoner of War. He managed to escape from prison and traveled 300 miles to be rescued, becoming a hero in Britain.
In 1900 Churchill was elected to Parliament. Over the next 30 years he would hold a number of different offices in the government including a cabinet post in 1908. His career had many ups and downs during this time, but he also became famous for many of his writings.
At the outbreak of World War II, Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty in command of the Royal Navy. At the same time the current Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, wanted to appease Germany and Hitler. Churchill knew this would not work and warned the government that they needed to help fight Hitler or Hitler would soon take over all of Europe. “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”
As Germany continued to advance, the country lost confidence in Chamberlain. Finally, Chamberlain resigned and Winston Churchill was chosen to be his successor as Prime Minister on May 10, 1940. In his first speech as Prime Minister he said “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”
Soon after becoming Prime Minister, Germany invaded France and Britain was alone in Europe fighting Hitler. In a speech criticizing Hitler, he said “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.” Churchill inspired the country to keep fighting despite the bad circumstances. In a speech about fighting the Germans, he said “We shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
He also helped to forge an alliance of Allied Powers with the Soviet Union and the United States. Even though he did not like Joseph Stalin and the communists of the Soviet Union, he knew the Allies needed their help to fight Germany. With the Allies help, and Churchill’s leadership, the British were able to hold off Hitler. After a long and brutal war, they were able to defeat Hitler and the Germans.
After the war, Churchill’s party lost the election and he was no longer Prime Minister. He was still a major leader in the government, however. He was again elected Prime Minister in 1951. He served the country for many years and then retired. He died on January 24, 1965.
Churchill was concerned about the Soviet Union and the Red Army. He felt they were just as dangerous as Hitler, now that the Germans were defeated. He was right: As soon after World War II ended, the Cold War between the Western nations of NATO (such as Britain, France, USA) and communist Soviet Union began.
Churchill is undoubtedly one of the most revered leader of the 20th Century.