Who was Winston Churchill?, an English political leader and author of the 20th century who became Prime Minister shortly after World War I began and served through the end of the war in Europe. Churchill symbolized the fierce determination of the British to resist conquest by the Germans under Adolf Hitler.
He forged a close alliance with Franklin D.Roosevelt of the United States and Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union in opposition to Germany. Stunningly defeated in elections in 1945, he returned to office as prime minister for several years in the 1950s.
Churchill was born at his parental home, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, on30th of November 1874. At that time the United Kingdom was the dominant world power.
His family was among the highest levels of the British aristocracy, and thus he was born into the country’s governing elite.
His paternal grandfather, John Spencer Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, had been an MP for ten years, a member of the Conservative Party who served in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. His own father, Lord Randolph Churchill, had been elected Conservative MP for Woodstock in 1873.
His mother, Jennie Churchill, was from an American family whose substantial wealth derived from finance. He was unruly and bad as a child. He was very bad with his teachers and friends also. As a young child, Churchill grew up in Dublin.
After performing poorly at his first two schools, Churchill in April 1888 began attending Harrow School, a boarding school near London. Within weeks of his enrollment, he joined the Harrow Rifle Corps, putting him on a path to a military career.
The Young Blood
He made three attempts to be admitted to the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, only succeeding on the third. There, he was accepted as a cadet in the cavalry, starting his education in September 1893 and graduated in 1894.
He had a very terrible relationship with his parents. His father called him a failure but he admired his father.
While at school, Churchill wrote emotional letters to his mother, begging her to come to see him, but she seldom came. His father died when he was 21 and it was said that Churchill knew him more by reputation than by any close relationship they shared.
He started traveling the world visiting Cuba, Sudan, and India. Churchill arrived in Bombay, British India, in October 1896. He was soon transferred to Bangalore where he shared a bungalow with Barnes, describing India as a “Godless land of Snobs and Bores”
He showed exceptional skills in military training. Churchill enjoyed a brief but eventful career in the British Army at a zenith of British military power.
While in the Army, he wrote military reports for The Pioneer Mail and the Daily Telegraph and two books on his experiences, The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898) and The River War (1899).
In 1899, Churchill left the Army and worked as a war correspondent for the Morning Post, a conservative daily newspaper. While reporting on the Boer War in South Africa, he was taken prisoner by the Boers during a scouting expedition. He made headlines when he escaped, traveling almost 300 miles to Portuguese territory on his own in Mozambique.
In 1900, Churchill became the Member of Parliament in the Conservative Party for Oldham, a town in Manchester. Following his father into politics, he also followed his father’s sense of independence becoming a supporter of social reform. At the age of 25, he was now an MP.
In February 1901, Churchill took his seat in the House of Commons where his maiden speech gained widespread press coverage. He opposed an increase in army funding suggesting that any additional military expenditure should go to the navy.
In May 1903, the Conservative MP Joseph Chamberlain called for the introduction of tariffs on goods imported into the British Empire from outside. Churchill became a leading Conservative voice against such economic protectionism.
In February 1903, he was among 18 Conservative MPs who voted against the government’s increase in military expenditure. Unconvinced that the Conservative Party was committed to social justice, Churchill switched to the Liberal Party in 1904.
He was elected a Member of Parliament in 1908 and was appointed to the prime minister’s cabinet as president of the Board of Trade. As president Churchill joined newly appointed Chancellor David Lloyd George in opposing the expansion of the British Navy. He introduced several reforms for the prison system, introduced the first minimum wage, and helped set up labor exchanges and unemployment insurance.
Churchill also assisted in the passing of the People’s Budget, which introduced taxes on the wealthy to pay for new social welfare programs. The budget passed in the House of Commons in 1909 and was initially defeated in the House of Lords before being passed in 1910.
Named the first lord of the Admiralty in 1911, Churchill helped modernize the British Navy ordering that new warships be built with oil-fired instead of coal-fired engines. He was one of the first to promote military aircraft and set up the Royal Navy Air Service. He was so enthusiastic about aviation that he took flying lessons to understand firsthand its military potential.
World War I
Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in June 1914, there was growing talk of war in Europe. Churchill began readying the navy for conflict, convinced that if Germany attacked France then Britain would inevitably join the war.
Churchill remained in his post through the start of World War I but was forced out for his part in proposing what became the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli, and resigned from the government toward the end of 1915. In 1917, he was appointed minister of munitions for the final year of the war, overseeing the production of tanks, airplanes, and munitions.
From 1919 to 1922, Churchill served as minister of war and air and colonial secretary under Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Fractures in the Liberal Party led to the defeat of Churchill as a Member of Parliament in 1922 and he re-joined the Conservative Party.
Churchill accepted the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer in Stanley Baldwin’s Unionist government and formally rejoined the Conservative Party. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Churchill oversaw Britain’s disastrous return to the Gold Standard, which resulted in deflation, unemployment, and the miners’ strike that led to the General Strike of 1926.
The return to the pre-war exchange rate and the Gold Standard depressed industries. The Conservative government was defeated in the 1929 general election. When Ramsay MacDonald formed the National Government in 1931, Churchill was not invited to join the Cabinet. He was at the low point in his career, in a period known as “the wilderness years”.
In 1932, Churchill accepted the presidency of the newly founded New Commonwealth Society, a peace organization which he described in 1937 as one of the few peace societies that advocate the use of force, if possible overwhelming force, to support public international law.
World War II
Churchill was holidaying in Spain when the Germans reoccupied the Rhineland in February 1936. Horrified with the declaration of war, the UK, France, Germany, and Italy, signed the Munich Agreement on the 30th of September 1938, giving certain parts of Czechoslovakia to Germany to avoid the war.
Chamberlain returned to London as triumphant but Churchill had a different view. He didn’t like this initiative and knew that Hitler will go to war and he told him to choose between WAR AND SHAME.
On the 3rd of September 1939, the day Britain declared war on Germany following the outbreak of the Second World War, Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, the same position he had held during the first part of WW I. As such he was a member of Chamberlain’s small War Cabinet.
As Germany began controlling its neighbors, Churchill had become a staunch critic of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement toward the Nazis.
On 10 May 1940, hours before the German invasion of France by a lightning advance, it became clear that, following failure in Norway, the country had no confidence in Chamberlain’s prosecution of the war and so Chamberlain resigned. Churchill replaced him and soon after the invasion of France, he took the command.
Britain was all alone fighting with mighty Germany and in some instances, the condition seemed so hopeless that his ministers advised him to negotiate with Hitler.
Quickly, Churchill formed a coalition cabinet of leaders from the Labour, Liberal and Conservative parties. He placed intelligent and talented men in key positions. On June 18, 1940, Churchill made one of his iconic speeches to the House of Commons, warning that “the Battle of Britain” was about, to begin with, the motto of “We Shall Never Surrender”.
After the United States entered World War II, in December 1941, Churchill was confident that the Allies would eventually win the war.
The Wise Strategy
Churchill had good relations with United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt-between 1939 and 1945. They exchanged an estimated 1700 letters and telegrams and met 11 times and helped secure vital food, oil, and munitions via the North Atlantic shipping routes.
In the months that followed, Churchill worked closely with U.S. President Roosevelt and Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin to forge an Allied war strategy and post-war world.
In meetings in Teheran (November-December 1943), Yalta (February 1945), and Potsdam (July 1945), Churchill collaborated with the two leaders to develop a united strategy against the Axis Powers and helped craft the post-war world with the United Nations as its centerpiece.
As the war wound down, Churchill proposed plans for social reforms in Britain, but was unable to convince the public. Despite Germany’s surrender on May 7, 1945, Churchill was defeated in the general election in July 1945.
The Cold War
In the six years after Churchill’s defeat, he became the leader of the opposition party and continued to have an impact on world affairs. In March 1946, while on a visit to the United States, he made his famous “Iron Curtain” speech, warning of Soviet domination in Eastern Europe. He also advocated that Britain remain independent from European coalitions.
After the general election of October 1951, Churchill again became prime minister and his second government lasted until his resignation in April 1955. He also held the office of Minister of Defence from October 1951 until the 1st of March 1952.
In the early 1950s, Britain was still attempting to remain a third major power on the world stage. These domestic reforms were overshadowed by a series of foreign policy crises in the colonies of Kenya and Malaya, where Churchill ordered direct military action. While successful in putting down the rebellions, it became clear that Britain was no longer able to sustain its colonial rule.
Prime minister after Winston Churchill
Anthony Eden, a renowned Conservative by that time, took the office of Prime Minister after Churchill’s retirement in April 1955. He was a very popular figure as a result of his long wartime service and his famous good looks and charm. His famous words “Peace comes first, always” added to his already substantial popularity.
Soon after his appointment, the second Arab-Israeli was more renowned as the Suez Crisis and became one of Eden’s major setbacks.
Two months after ordering an end to the Suez operation, he resigned as the prime minister on grounds of ill health and because he was widely suspected of having misled the House of Commons over the degree of collusion with France and Israel.
Death and Honour’s
In 1953, Churchill was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. The same year, he was named the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
After leaving the premiership, Churchill spent less time in parliament until he stood down at the 1964 general election. Churchill spent most of his retirement at Chartwell and his home in Hyde Park Gate, in London. By the time of the 1959 general election, Churchill seldom attended the House of Commons.
On the 15th of January 1965, Churchill suffered a severe stroke and died at his London home nine days later, aged 90, on the morning of Sunday, 24th of January, 1965, 70 years to the day after his own father’s death. A state funeral service was held at St Paul’s Cathedral on 30 January 1965.
Crimes of Winston Churchill
There has been debate over Churchill’s culpability in the deaths of approx 4.3 million Indians during the Bengal famine of 1943. Some commentators point to the disruption of the traditional marketing system and maladministration at the provincial level as a cause, with Churchill saying that the famine was the Indian’s own fault for “breeding like rabbits”.
Adam Jones, the editor of the Journal of Genocide Research, calls Churchill “A Genuine Genocidaire”, noting that the British leader called Indians a “Foul Race” in this period and said that the British air force chief should send some of his surplus bombers to destroy them.
The real cause was the fall of Burma to the Japanese, which cut off India’s main supply of rice imports when domestic sources fell short. It is true that Churchill opposed diverting food supplies and transports from other theatres to India to cover the shortfall because of wartime.
In response to an urgent request by the Secretary of State for India (Leo Amery) and the Viceroy of India (Wavell), to release food stocks for India, Churchill responded with a telegram to Wavell asking if the food was so scarce, “why Gandhi hadn’t died yet!” In July 1940, newly in office, he reportedly welcomed reports of the emerging conflict between the Muslim League and the Indian Congress, hoping “it would be bitter and bloody”.