Case Study #5: Sir Winston Churchill | The Greatest Briton

Marking 50 years since the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, Case Study #5 will take a look back on Winston Churchill’s life, and also the elements of his life that had unfolded along the way. Also, this article brings the total amount of articles altogether to 200, which is a surprising result for me, because I had never thought that I would do this many in just the short space of almost two years, which is fantastic, and I thank you all for keeping me going since I started up Mother Nature. To kick off this Case Study, I will make sure I go in-depth as much as I can, based on the Greatest Briton himself, Sir Winston Churchill.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30th November 1874 – 24th January 1965)

Born on the 30th November 1874 in Blenheim Palace, Woodstock in England, Sir Winston Churchill was a British politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, and was also the Prime Minister for the second time running in 1951, all the way through to 1955. Notably and widely regarded to be one of the greatest wartime leasers of the 20th Century, Winston Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer (as Winston S. Churchill), and also an artist. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was also the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.

Sir Winston Churchill was born int the aristocratic family of the Dukes of Malborough, which is a branch of the Spencer family. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a charismatic politician who had served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his mother, Jennie Jerome, was an American socialite. As a young army officer, he witnessed the action in British India, the Sudan, and also the Second Boer War. He rose to fame as a war correspondent, and had also written books about his campaigns.

Being at the forefront of politics for 50 years, Winston Churchill held many of the political and cabinet positions, but before the First World War, he had served as the President of the Board of Trade, he was also the Home Secretary, and was also the First Lord of the Admiralty as part of Asquith’s Liberal Government. During the course of the war, he would continue as the First Lord of the Admiralty until the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign caused him to depart from the government.

He had then briefly resumed active army service on the Western Front as the commander of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. He returned to government as the Minister of Munitions, the Secretary of State for War, and also as the Secretary of State for Air. In 1921 and 1922, Sir Winston Churchill had served as the Secretary of State for the Colonies, then as the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Baldwin’s Conservative government of 1924 and 1929, controversially returning the pound sterling in 1925 to the gold standard at its pre-war parity, a move which was widely seen as creating the deflationary pressure on the UK economy. Also controversial was Churchill’s opposition to increase the home rule for India, as well as his own resistance to the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII.

While he was out of office and politically “in the wilderness” during the 1930s, Sir Winston Churchill took the lead in warning about Nazi Germany and also in campaigning for rearmament. During the outbreak of the Second World War, he was again appointed the First Lord of the Admiralty, and following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain on the 10th May 1940, Sir Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister. His steadfast refusal to consider surrender had helped to inspire British resistance, especially during the difficult, early days of the war, when the British Commonwealth and Empire stood alone in its active opposition to Adolf Hitler. Churchill was mainly noted for his speeches and radio broadcasts, which had inspired the British people, and he had led Britain as the Prime Minister until the victory over Nazi Germany had been secured.

After the Conservative Party had lost the 1945 election, Churchill had become the Leader of the Opposition to the Labour Government, and after winning the 1951 election, he again became the Prime Minister, before he retired in 1955. Upon his death, Elizabeth II had granted him the honour of a state funeral, which had saw one of the largest assemblies of world statesmen in history. Named as the Greatest Briton of all time in 2002 poll, Sir Winston Churchill is widely regarded as being among the most influential people in British history, consistently ranking well in the opinion polls of the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom.

Family & Early Life

Born on the 30th November 1874, into the aristocratic family of the Dukes of Marlborough, a branch of the noble Spencer family, Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, like his father, had used the surname “Churchill” in his public life. His ancestor, George Spencer, had changed his surname to Spencer-Churchill in 1817, when he became the Duke of Marlborough, to highlight his descent from John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough.

Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill, the third son of John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, was a politician, and his mother, Lady Randolph Churchill (a.k.a. Jennie Jerome) was the daughter of the American millionaire, Leonard Jerome. Sir Winston Churchill was born on the 30th November 1874, two weeks prematurely, in a bedroom in Blenheim Palace, Woodstock in Oxfordshire.

From the age of 2 to the age of 6, Churchill lived in Dublin, where his grandfather was appointed Viceroy and also employed Churchill’s father as his private secretary. Churchill’s brother, John Strange Spencer-Churchill, was born during this time in Ireland, and it has been claimed that the young Churchill had first developed his fascination with the military matters from watching many of the parades that passed by the Vice Regal Lodge (now Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of the President of Ireland).

Winston Churchill’s earliest exposure to education had occurred in Dublin, where a governess tried teaching him reading, writing and arithmetic (his first reading book was called ‘Reading Without Tears’). With limited contact with his parents, Churchill had become very close to his nanny, ‘Mrs’ Elizabeth Ann Everest, whom he had called ‘Old Woom’. She had served as his confidante, nurse and also as a mother substitute. The two had spent many happy hours playing in Phoenix Park.

Independent and also rebellious by nature, Churchill generally had a poor academic record in school, for which he was punished. He was educated at three independent schools: St. George’s School in Ascot, Berkshire, Brunswick School in Hove, which is near Brighton (the school has since been renamed to Stoke Brunswick School and has also been relocated to Ashurst Wood in West Sussex) and at Harrow School from the 17th April 1888. Within weeks of his arrival at Harrow, Sir Winston Churchill had joined the Harrow Rifle Corps.

When young Winston had started to attend Harrow School, he was listed under the S’s as Spencer Churchill. At that time, Winston Churchill was a stocky boy with red hair that talked with a stutter and also a lisp. His nickname at Harrow was always “Copperknob”, which was a form of mockery because of his hair colour. Winston Churchill had done so well on Maths in his Harrow entrance exam that he was put in the top division for that particular subject, and in his first year at Harrow, he was recognised as being the best in his division for history.

Winston Churchill, however, had entered the school as the boy with the lowest grades in the lowest class, in which he would remain in that position. He never even made it into the upper school, because he would not study the classics. Though he had done poorly in his schoolwork, he had grown to love the English language. He hated Harrow, and he was rarely visited by his mother, so, he wrote letters, begging her either to come to the school, or to allow him to come home. His relationship with his father was mainly distant; he had once remarked that they had barely spoken to one another. His father passed away on the 24th January 1895, aged just 45, leaving Winston Churchill convinced that he too would die young, and so that he should be quick about making his mark on the world.

Speech Impediment

Sir Winston Churchill had a lateral lisp which would continue throughout his career, reported consistently by many of the journalists at the time and later. Authors that wrote in the 1920s and 1930s, before sound recordings became common, also mentioned Churchill having a stutter, describing it in terms such as being “severe” or “agonising”, and Winston Churchill had described himself as having a “speech impediment” which he worked to overcome. The Churchill Centre and Museum says that the majority of the records archived showed that his impediment was a lateral lisp, while Churchill’s stutter was a myth. His dentures were specially designed to aid his speech (Demosthenes’ pebbles), and after many years of public speeched, Churchill had carefully prepared, not only to inspire, but to also avoid hesistations, he could finally state: “My impediment is no hindrance”.

Marriage & Children

Sir Winston Churchill had met his future wife, Clementine Hozier, in 1904, at a ball in Crewe House, which is home to the Earl of Crewe and his wife, Margaret Primrose (the daughter of Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebury and Hannah Rothschild). In 1908, they had met again at a dinner party, which was hosted by Susan Jeune, Baroness St. Helier. Sir Winston Churchill had found himself seated beside Clementine Hozier, and they had soon began a lifelong romance. He proposed to Clementine Hozier during a house party at Blenheim Palace on the 10th August 1908, in the small Temple of Diana.

On the 12th September 1908, Winston Churchill and Clementine Hozier were married in St. Margaret’s, Westminster. The church was packed; the Bishop of St. Asaph had conducted the service, and the couple had spent their honeymoon at the Highgrove House in Eastcote. In March 1909, the couple had moved into a house at 33 Eccleston Square.

Their first child, Diana, was born in London on the 11th July 1909, and after the pregnancy, Clementine had moved to Sussex to recover, while Diana had stayed in London with her nanny. On the 28th May 1911, their second child, Randolph, was born at 33 Eccleston Square. Their third child, Sarah, was born on the 7th October 1914 at Admrialty House. This birth was marked with anxiety for Clementine, as Churchill was sent to Antwerp by the Cabinet in order to “stiffen the resistance of the beleaguered city” after the news that the Belgians had intended to surrender the town.

Clementine Hozier gave birth to her fourth child, Marigold Frances Churchill, on the 15th November 1918, just four days after the official end of the First World War. In the early days of August 1921, the Churchills’ children were entrusted to a French nursery governess in Kent, named Mlle. Rose. Clementine, meanwhile, travelled to Eaton Hall to play tennis with Hugh Grovesnor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, and his family.

While she was still under the care of Mlle. Rose, Marigold had a cold, but was reported to have recovered from her illness. As the illness had progressed with hardly any notice, it had turned into septicaemia. Following adivce from a landlady, Rose had sent for Clementine, however, the illness (septicaemia) had turned fatal on the 23rd August 1921, and Marigold was buried in the Kensal Green Cemetery three days later. On the 15th September 1922, the Churchills’ last child, Mary, was born. Later that month, the Churchills brought Chartwell, which would be their home until Winston’s death in 1965.

Churchill’s Political Career to the Second World War

During his early years of being in Parliament, Winston Churchill stood again for the seat of Oldham at the 1900 general election, and after winning the seat, he went on a speaking tour throughout Britain and the United States, raising £10,000 for himself (roughly about £940,000 today). From 1903 until 1905, Winston Churchill had also engaged in writing Lord Randolph Churchill, a two-volume biography that surrounded his father, which was published in 1906 and had received much of critical acclaim.

In Parliament, he had become associated with a faction of the Conservative Party, which was led by Lord Hugh Cecil; the Hughligans, and during his first parliamentary session, Churchil had opposed the government’s military expenditure, and Joseph Chamberlain’s proposal of extensive tariffs, which were intended to protect Britain’s economic dominance. His own constituency had effectiive deselected him, although he had continued to sit for Oldham until the next general election.

In the months leading up to his ultimate change of party from the Conservativesto the Liberals, Churchill had made a number of evocative speeches against the principle of Protectionism; ‘to think you can make a man richer by putting on a tax is like a man thinking that he can stand in a bucket and lift himself up by the handle.’ [Winston Churchill, Speech to the Free Trade League on the 19th February 1904.] As a result of his disagreement with the leading members of the Conservative Party over the tariff reforms, he had made the decision to cross the floor.

After the Whitsun recess in 1904, he had crossed the floor to sit as a member of the Liberal Party, and as a Liberal, he had continued to campaign for free trade. When the Liberals took the office with Henry Campbell-Bannerman as Prime Minister in December 1905, Churchill became the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, dealing mainly with South Africa after the Boer War. As he was the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1905 to 1908, Winston Churchill’s primary focus was mainly on settling the Transvaal Constitution, which was accepted by the Parliament in 1907.

This was mainly essential, as it would provide stability in South Africa, and Churchill had campaigned in line with the Liberal Government to install responsible rather than being a part of the representative government. This, in turn, would alleviate the pressure from the British Government to control the domestic affairs, including the issues, mainly of race, in the Transvaal, which would delegate a greater proportion of power to the Boers themselves.

Following his deselection in the seat of Oldham, Churchill was invited to stand for Manchester North West, and he won the seat at the 1906 general election with a majority of 1,214, and had also represented the seat for two years. When Campbell-Bannerman was succeeded by H.H. Asquith in 1908, Churchill was promoted to the cabinet as the President of the Board of Trade. Whilst under the law at that time, a newly appointed Cabinet Minister was obliged to seek re-election at a by-election; Churchill lost his seat, but was soon back as a member for the Dundee Constituency.

As he was the Presiednt of the Board of Trade, this meant that he would go on to join the newly appointed Chancellor, Lloyd George, in opposing the First Lord of the Admiralty, Reginald McKenna’s proposed huge expenditure for the construction of the Navy dreadnought warships, and in supporting the Liberal Reforms. In 1908, Churchill had introduced the Trade Boards Bill by setting up the first minimum wages in Britain, and in 1909, he had set up the Labour Exchanges to help many of the unemployed find work. He helped to draft the first unemployment pension legislation, the National Insurance Act of 1911. As a supporter of the eugenics, he had participated in the drafting of the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913; however, the Act, in the form eventually passed, had rejected his preferred method of sterilisation of the feeble-minded in favour of their confinement in institutions.

Chruchill had also assisted in passing the People’s Budget, becoming the President of the Budget League, an organisation that was set up in response to the opposition’s Budget Protest League. The budget had included the introduction of new taxes on the wealthy to allow for the creation of new social welfare programmes. After the budget bill was passed by the Commons in 1909, it was vetoed by the House of Lords.

The Liberals had then fought and had also won two general elections in January and December 1910 to gain a mandate for their reforms. The budget was passed after the first election, and after the second election, the Parliament Act 1911, for which Churchill also campaigned, was passed. In 1910, Churchill was promoted to Home Secretary, and his term was controversial, after his response to the Cambrian Colliery dispute, the Siege of Sidney Street and the suffragettes.

In 1910, a number of coal miners in the Rhondda Valley began what has come to be known as the Tonypandy Riot. The Chief Constable of Glamorgan requested that the troops were to be sent in to help the police quell the rioting. Learning that the troops were already travelling, Winston Churchill had allowed them to go as far as Swindon and Cardiff, but blocked their deployment, and on the 9th November, The Times had criticised this decision. In spite of this, the rumour still persists that Churchill had ordered the troops to attack, and his reputation in Wales and in Labour circkes never recovered.

In early January 1911, Churchill had made a controversial visit to the Siege of Sidney Street in London. There is some uncertainity, however, as to whether he had attempted to give operational commands, and his presence had attracted much of criticism. After an inquest, Arthur Balfour had remarked, “he [Churchill] and a photographer were both risking valuable lives. I understand what the photographer was doing, but what was the right honourable gentleman doing?” A biographer, Roy Jenkins, suggested that he went simply because “he could not resist going to see the fun himself” and that he did not issue commands. Another account said that the police had the miscreants – Latvian anarchists wanted for murder – surrounded in a house, but Churchill called in the Scots Guards from the Tower of London and, dressed in his top hat and astrakhan collar greatcoat, directed the operations.

The house had caught fire and Churchill had prevented the fire brigade from dousing the flames so that the men inside were burned to death. “I thought it better to let the house burn down rather than spend good British lives in rescuing those ferocious rascals.” Churchill’s proposed solution to the suffragette issue was the main referendum on the issue, but this had found no favour with Asquith and the women’s suffrage had remained unresolved until after the First World War had ended.

Churchill’s Second Term as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

After the general election that took place in October 1951, Sir Winston Churchill had again become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and his second government had lasted until his resignation in April 1955. He had also held the office of Minister of Defence between October 1951 and January 1952. In the domestic affairs, various reforms were introduced, such as the Mines and Quarries Act of 1954, and the Housing Repairs and Rent Act of 1955.

The former measure had consolidated legislation, which dealed with the employment of young people and women in mines and quarries, together with safety, health and welfare. The latter measure had extended the previous housing Acts, and had also set out the details in defining the housing units as “unfit for human habitation.” In addition, tax allowances were raised, the construction of council housing was accelerated, and the pensions and national assistance benefits were increased. Controversially, however, the charges for prescription medicines were introduced.

Housing was mainly the issue that the Conservatives were widely recognised to have made their own, after the Churchill government of the early 1950s, with Harold Macmillan as the Minister for Housing, gave the housing construction far higher political priority than it had initially received under the Attlee administration (where the housing had been attached to the portfolio of Health Minister, Aneurin Bevan, whose attention was solely concentrated on his responsibilities for the National Health Service, also known for short as the NHS). Macmillan had accepted Churchill’s challenge to meet the latter’s ambitious public commitment to build 300,000 new homes a year, and achieved the target a year ahead of the schedule.

Churchill’s domestic priorities in his last government were often overshadowed by a series of foreign policy crise, which were partly due to the result of the continuing decline of British military, as well as imperial prestige and power. Being a strong proponent of Britain as an international power, Churchill would often meet such moments with direct action. One example was of his dispatch of British troops to Kenya to deal with the Mau Mau Rebellion. Trying his best to retain what he could of the British Empire, Churchill once stated that “I will not preside over a dismemberment.”

The War in Malaya

This was mainly followed by the events which had become known as the Malayan Emergency. In Malaya, a rebellion against the British rule had been in progress since 1948. Once again, Winston Churchill’s government had inherited a crisis, and he had chosen to use direct military action against those in rebellion while attempting to build an alliance with those who were not. While the rebellion was being defeated slowly, it was equally known to be clear that the colonial rule from Britain was no longer sustainable.

His Relations with the United States during his Second Term

Sir Winston Churchill had also devoted much of his own time in the office to Anglo-American relations, and although he did not always agree with the President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Churchill still attempted to maintain the Special Relationship with the United States. He had made four official transatlantic visits to America during his second term as Prime Minister.

Sir Winston Churchill’s Series of Strokes

Winston Churchill had suffered a mild stroke while he was on holiday in the South of France in the Summer of 1949, and in June 1953, when he was 78 years old, Sir Winston Churchill had suffered a more severe stroke when he was at 10 Downing Street. The news of his strokes were kept hidden from the public and from Parliament, who were told that Churchill was suffering from exhaustion (to avoid the news of his stroke from getting out into the open).

He went to his country home, Chartwell, to recuperate from the effects of the strokes that had affected his speech, as well as his ability to walk. Winston Churchill, however, did make a return to public life in October to make a speech at a Conservative Party conference in Margate. However, as he was fully aware that he was slowing down both physically and mentally, because of the series of strokes that he had, Sir Winston Churchill had retired as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1955, and was later succeeded by Anthony Eden. He had suffered from another mild stroke in the December of 1956.

Sir Winston Churchill’s Retirement & Death

Elizabeth II had offered to create Churchill as the Duke of London, but this was declined due to the objections of his son, Randolph, who would have inherited the title on his father’s death. He did, however, accept a knighthood as Garter Knight. After leaving the premiership, Churchill spent less of his time in Parliament until he stood down at the 1964 General Election. As a mere “back-bencher,” he spent most of his retirement at Chartwell and at his home in Hyde Park Gate, in London, and became a habitué of high society on the French Riviera.

In the 1959 General Election, Winston Churchill’s majority had fallen by more than a thousand, and as his physical faculties had declined, he had begun to lose the battle he had fought for so long against the “black dog” of depression. There was initial speculation that Sir Winston Churchill may have suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease in his last years, although others have maintained that his reduced mental capacity was merely the result of the series of strokes that he suffered from. In 1963, the U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, acting under the authorisation granted by an Act of Congress, proclaimed Churchill as an Honorary Citizen of the United States, but he was unable to attend the White House ceremony.

Despite Winston Churchill’s poor health, he still tried his absolute hardest to remain as active as he possibly could in his public life, and on St. George’s Day, he sent a message of congratulations to the surviving veterans of the 1918 Zeebrugge Raid, who were attending a service of commemoration in Deal, which is in Kent, where the two casualties of the raid were buried in the Hamilton Road Cemetery. On the 15th January 1965, Sir Winston Churchill had suffered a severe stroke which had left him gravely ill, and on the morning of Sunday 24th January 1965, Winston Churchill died at the age of 90 years in his London home, just 9 days after suffering from the severe stroke. The morning of Sunday 24th January 1965 was 70 years to the day after his father’s death.

Sir Winston Churchill’s Funeral

Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral was the largest state funeral in world history up to that exact point in time, with many of the representatives from 112 nations; only China did not send an emissary. In Europe, 350 million people, including 25 million in Britain, had watched the funeral live on television, and it was only Ireland that didn’t broadcast his funeral live.

As by decree of the Queen, Winston Churchill’s body had laid in state in Westminster Hall for three days, and a state funeral service was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral on the 30th January 1965. One of the largest assemblages of statesmen in the world was gathered for the service. Unusually, the Queen had attended Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral. As his head-lined coffin was passed up the River Thames from the Tower Pier to the Festival Pier on the MV Havengore, the dockers had lowered their crane jibs as a mark of salute.

The Royal Artillery had fired the 19-gun salute due to a head of government, and the Royal Air Force (RAF) had staged a fly-by of sixteen English Electric Lightning fighters. The coffin was then taken the short distance to Waterloo Station, where it was loaded onto a specially prepared and painted carriage as part of the funeral for its rail journey to Hanborough, which is 7 miles North-West of Oxford.

The funeral train of Pullman coaches carrying his family mourners was hauled by the Battle of Britain Class steam locomotive: “No. 34051 Winston Churchill”. In the fields along the route, and at the stations through which the train had passed, thousands had stood in silence to pay their last respects. Upon Sir Winston Churchill’s request, he was buried in the family plot at St. Martin’s Church in Bladon, near Woodstock, which was not far from his birthplace at Blenheim Palace. His funeral van – the former Southern Railway van, S2464S – is now a part of a preservation projected with the Swanage Railway, having been repatriated to the United Kingdom in 2007 from the United States, to where it was exported in 1965.

Later on in 1965, a memorial to Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, which was cut but the engraver, Reynolds Stone, was placed in Westminster Abbey, in London.

To mark the end of Case Study #5, and to also mark an end to February, here is the full video of Sir Winston Churchill’s state funeral in Black & White, which took place on the 30th January 1965, exactly six days after he died at his London home, aged just 90.

Alex Smithson

P.S. It has almost been two years since I started this website, and the 2-Year Anniversary of Mother Nature falls on the 6th June 2015. Thanks so much to all of you followers, my friends, my old school teachers and my family for helping me to get this far, I couldn’t have done it all without you…again, thanks for getting me this far, and I will see you all in March.

4 thoughts on “Case Study #5: Sir Winston Churchill | The Greatest Briton

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