On May10th 1940 Winston Churchill became prime minister of Great Britain, the same day that that the German soldiers attacked the Netherlands.
Churchill decided on the faith of all Nations of the free West.
His determination, his love for fighting and tenacity was crucial.
At the age of 65 he became the leader of the war cabinet. He was Hitler’s number one opponent.
Many people were inspired by his voice and speeches.
People still see him as the winner of freedom, the defender of the free West, the greatest leader Great Britain ever had.
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born on November 30th 1874 at the Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, were he spent his childhood.
This beautiful palace was built for John Churchill, one of his ancestors, because of his role in a battle near the German town Blenheim. Winston’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was minister of finance and his mother, Jennie Jerome, was the daughter of an American millionaire.
His mother and father hardly looked after Churchill and his older brother, therefore he was alone a lot.
He didn’t do well at school and rebelled against the school system.
The only subjects he liked were poetry, writing essays and history. His sports were swimming and horse riding.
He often wrote letters to his parents to beg for their presence at parents day. Many of those letters have been found and saved. His parents never came to visit.
He had a speech defect, a mild form of stammer and had trouble pronouncing the ‘s’.
Winston as a miltary observer and war correspondent
After his school years he went to the Royal Military Academy von Sandhurst. He loved it.
In 1895 he went as a military observer and war correspondent to Cuba. After that he went to Bombay India and in 1898 he fought in the war in Sudan. Every time he wrote as war correspondent for the English newspapers such as The Daily Graphic and The Morning Post.
All through his life he wrote articles and books.
In 1899 he went to South Africa where the ‘Boer War’ was taking place. He was captured and was imprisoned but he escaped. He came home as a hero.
First experience in politics
In 1900 Churchill went into politics, as a representative of the Conservatives, the Tories.
In 1904 he changed over to the Liberal Party because the Conservatives were against the international free trade.
In 1911 Churchill became minister of the Marines. He felt totally in place; politics and military force. He spent a huge amount of money to modernize the marine enormously and quickly.
Winston during World War I
During the WW1, Churchill organized the Gallipoli-campaign. French and British troops went ashore at Dardanelle to conquer the Turkish Forts. This plan was made in order to clear a supply route to Russia. It turned out to be a bloodbath. Churchill got the blame and was therefore fired as minister of Marine. He was heartbroken.
Finally he went as major to the front lines in Vlamingen, Belgium and joined the troops in the trenches. He enjoyed the danger and war. The men admired him for his courage and his kindness towards his fellow man.
Changes in politics
He did miss participating in politics and in 1917 he was allowed to come back and became minister of Ammunition.
Later on he became minister of the Colonies. He did a lot for the peace in Ireland and the Middle East.
In 1922 the government came to a fall and because he, being critical of the Labour Party, changed over again to the Conservative Party and then became minister of Finance.
He felt more at home in that Party because he was a patriot and anti-communist.
Painting and writing in between
In 1929 he lost his political job again because of the fact that the Conservatives lost the elections.
He started to paint en write again. He wrote a lot of articles and books because he then could still express what he thought and also because he needed the income.
He repeatedly warned the government about the rise of Germany and Adolf Hitler but they didn’t listen to him.
Winston, back in the saddle
September 3rd 1939 Great Britain and France declared war to Germany. Churchill instantly became minister of the Marine, just like he did during WW1. De marines were very happy and said: “Winston is back”.
The most important years of his life were about to start.
Winston wrote about the serious situation: “Poland is fighting a ‘death battle’, France is weak, Russia is no longer an ally, Italy is not a friend and Japan no ally.”
Churchill found his destiny
When at May10th 1940 the ‘Blitzkrieg’ began, King Georg VI asked Churchill to form a war cabinet with him as Prime Minister, minister of Defence, leader of the Lager house and the Conservative Party .
An unbelievable amount of power, all in the hands of one man Winston Churchill.
Churchill wrote: “I had the feeling that I finally found my destiny, as if my whole life had been a preparation for this moment and for this big task.”
His speeches inspired the nation. His courage and determination touched the hearts of the people. He led them believe they could win!
At May 13th 1940 he gave in the Lager House one of his famous speeches (a short version) : “I only have to offer you blood, tears, effort and sweat.” You ask me what is your policy? War, on land, see and in the air. With all the power we have. You ask me what is your goal? Victory. Because without victory there is no way we can survive. I know we will not fail. Let us go on with joined forces.”
On June 4th the allied troops: Belgium, The Netherlands and France had to surrender. Great Britain was now alone in the battle against Hitler.
Churchill: “You ask me if Britain will continue fighting? If necessary for years, if necessary alone.”.
The Battle of Britain
On July 1940 the Battle of Britain began. The RAF and the Luftwaffe fought a life and death battle above the Channel.
Hitler also started bombing the food supply routes. This lead to famine for the British people.
Hitler thought he would win this battle quickly , but he was wrong.
Churchill was so proud of the RAF pilots . In the Lager house he said: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”.
The RAF bombed Berlin. The Luftwaffe bombed British cities and industrial areas.
Churchill didn’t want to go in to bomb shelters. Several times bombs exploded near Downing Street, but he remained where he was.
Long and lonely fighting
In retaliation to the German bombings Churchill wanted an intensive bombing done in the Ruhr area of Germany.
The Germans were finally defeated in the air. A German invasion on Great Britain never happened.
Churchill now had time to build up his war equipment receiving American weapons and munitions. He had time to find allies. Great Britain was still alone in the battle against Nazi-Germany. Because of Churchill’s firm appearance and heart-warming speeches, he inspired the British people to hold on in the battle against Germany, during the difficult first year of the WWII.
Churchill asked Roosevelt numerous times to participate in the war. He explained to him that Great Britain was the last shield between America and Nazi Germany. But it still would take some time before America joined the war.
One of Churchill’s priorities was to protect the provision routes over the Atlantic Ocean.
Hitler tried bombing that route in order to starve the British people.
He also had to fight in the desert in North Africa, the Balkans and in Greece. Churchill knew that it was only a matter of time before the war would also begin in the East. Again he warned Roosevelt that the loss of Egypt, the Suez canal and the Middle East would mean a disaster.
The British people still held out against Hitler. Hitler had thought that he would have already taken over Europe by now.
Russia enters the War
In the mean time Hitler was organizing an invasion against Russia. On June 22nd 1941 the German soldiers invaded Russia. The Russians asked Churchill and Roosevelt for help.
The pressure for America to deliver war material and assistance increased. Now Russia was also involved in the war.
There was a lot of criticism that Russia could not stand up to Germany. Churchill replied heavily with the remark that the same was said in 1940 about Britain and that they were still standing then.
America joins at last
On December 7th 1941 Japan bombed Pearl Harbour and America joined the war.
Churchill had had to carry a lonely responsibility. The British people, the parliament and the King had given him the authority and he did his best to full fill his task.
Because the situation had changed Churchill was able to visit Roosevelt and they started to negotiate.
Churchill finally had a partner in the War.
Invasion of Normandie
Great Britain was one big storage place for the allied troops, who were about to participate in the invasion in Normandy.
On June 6th 1944 the invasion took place. Churchill visited the troops on the mainland repeatedly, to mediate between the army-commanders and to support the troops. He also tried to persuade Roosevelt that the allies should go to the East as much as possible. Churchill was still worried about the communist threat.
Churchill could not prevent the Russian’s advance in the East.
He said: “The Balkan, except Greece, will belong to Russia and there is nothing I can do to prevent it.
The end of World War II
In May 1945 the War ended, Churchill gave a radio speech:
Between his words of victory, he also warned the people not to neglect conceptions such as freedom, democracy and liberation. He also asked the British people to respect the United States in order to guarantee peace and to aim for a safe and purified world.
Churchill after the war
For all his popularity as a war leader, Winston Churchill lost the 1945 general election to Labour’s Clement Atlee. His wife told him that it might be a ‘blessing in disguise’. Winston Churchill is said to have replied that it was ‘very well disguised’.
In October 1951, he became Prime Minister once again. However, Churchill had suffered a stroke in August 1949 and his health was now a big concern. In 1951, at he age of 77, Winston Churchill was not fit enough to involve himself in day-to-day politics as required of a Prime Minister.
Winston Churchill died in 1965 and was buried near Blenheim Palace. For many people, his stubborn refusal to admit defeat during World War II has given him a reputation few other politicians have ever achieved.