Winston Churchill: Biography
Winston Churchill is one of the great statesmen of the 20th Century. His life was filled with drama and excitement as well as personal defeat and triumph.
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born at Bleinheim Palace in Oxfordshire on the 30th of November, 1874. Though undoubtedly loved by both his parents he spent most of his childhood cared for by nannies and governesses. Both his father and mother remained remote and affectionless toward him during his life. This probably explains his self doubt and depression at times during his later life.
In April of 1888 he was sent to a boarding school at Harrow. Here he performed adequately academically while socially he was something of an outcast due to his shy nature and speech impediment. His father, rather than encouraging him, thought that he never did enough. It was an unhappy time for the future leader. However, he did show an aptitude for military tactics and awareness. As result of this he went on to Sandhurst, a military academy.
Churchill found a niche for himself at Sandhurst and performed far better here. He studied tactics, fortifications, musketry, riding and military administration. Of the 130 in his class he finished twentieth. It was also around this time in 1895, that his father, Randolph, died. Thus, perhaps, lifting a weight off his young shoulders. He entered the 4th Huzzars and embarked on a military life.
During his time in the military Churchill supplemented his soldier's wages by writing for newspapers. While in Cuba he chronicled the war of independence from Spain for the "Daily Graphic". In India he sent back weekly dispatches, "The Story of the Malakand Field Force". While attached to Lord Kitchener's Nile Expeditionary Force, in 1899, he penned the "The River War" which brilliantly describes the campaign. In the same year he resigned his commission. He returned to Britain and a life of politics
Early Political Life
He fought the 1899 by-election in Oldham but lost. Briefly resuming his journalistic life he travelled to South Africa to cover the Boer War for the "The Morning Post". A month after his arrival the train he was travelling on was attacked. He fought bravely but was captured. The young Churchill decided that this was not good enough and escaped captivity. He returned home to Britain a hero.
In 1900 he ran for election again in Oldham and won. He was 25 years old. During this part of his political life he served in several posts - Home Secretary in 1910, First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1915. The only black mark on his career was his questionable handling of Navy in the Dardanelles in 1915. While he was First Lord of the Admiralty he ordered a navel expedition to free up the passage between the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara so that the stalemate on the Western Front would be broken and direct communication with Russia would be gained. The attacked failed dismally and Churchill was blamed by many.
After the war there was a brief interlude in his political life. He returned to Parliament in 1924 as M.P. for Epping and was appointed Chancellor for the Exchequer. However the National Government of 1931, a coalition of the Conservatives, the Liberals and Labour, left Churchill in the political wilderness again. The rise of Hitler and the coming of World War Two would ultimately be his finest hour
On the afternoon of May 9, 1940, Neville Chamberlain (who had stepped down as Prime Minister), Edward Wood, Earl of Halifax, Churchill and David Margesson met at 10 Downing Street. Wood was offered the Prime Ministership but turning it down saying that he felt he did not have the qualities to lead a county at war. The task fell to Churchill who rose to the challenge. He also made himself Minister for Defense and went about taking on Hitler.
The Middle East and the Mediterranean dominated his early strategic thinking. This, combined with his later fixation with Italy, would cause a severe drain of troops and resources. It became clear to him that he needed strong allies. To this extent he looked toward the USSR and the USA. In June 1941 he proclaimed the Stalin would be recognised as a full partner in the war and two months later he met with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. On August 9, 1941, at Placentia Bay off the coast of Newfoundland, Roosevelt and Churchill cemented Anglo-American solidarity. In December of that same year Japan bombed Pearl Harbour. American joined the Allies in fighting the Axis powers.
The strategy used was one of bombing, blockade and subversion. The final goal being a large-scale invasion of mainland Europe. It was to prove successful. Germany and Japan capitulated in 1945.
Post war Britain
Despite the triumph in the war the British people thought Churchill not up to the task of rebuilding their dismantled country. Churchill was defeated in the general election. Labour took power for the first time in their own right. Churchill went into opposition. In 1946 at Fulton, Missouri, he coined the phrase, "the iron curtain" which was to later to become a more tangible reality with the construction of the Berlin Wall. Thus proving Churchill to be a shrewd political observer. However failing health was to spell the end of his political career.
Although Churchill laid down the burdens of office he stayed on in the House of commons. He also published "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples", four volumes between 1956 and 1958. On April 9, 1963, he was accorded the distinction of having an honourary U.S. citizenship conferred on him by an act of congress. He died in London, January 24, 1965. He was given a state funeral at which almost the entire world gave tribute. Winston Churchill is buried in the family grave in Blandon Churchyard, Oxfordshire.