During the past few days I have been thinking about VE Day & what I could write without duplicating the other articles out there. The more I thought about the fact that it has been overshadowed by the elections & the obvious connection between the two, I wanted to know more about the boy who grew up to lead us to victory.
We tend associate the name Churchill with war & politics, alongside a mental vision of photos taken of him in his later years around the time of the end of WW11. On VE day in 1945, Churchill was actually 71yrs old, quite an age. In 1965 he suffered a severe stroke which took his life just 9 days later. He passed away on January 24, 1965 aged 90, exactly 70 years after his father had passed away. So here are a few facts about his younger years….
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born on 30th November 1874 to parents Lord Randolph Spencer Churchill, a British Statesman & Jeanette Jerome, a New York socialite.
Born at Blenheim Palace, Churchill found school a chore & in April 1888, aged 13 he was sent to Harrow School where he just managed to get into the lowest class – not what you would expect to hear about one of our most famous Prime Ministers.
During the first few years of school, Churchill wrote letters to his mother begging her to visit him but she rarely did. He doesn’t appear to have had a very close relationship with his parents & sadly his father passed away aged 45 when Churchill was just 21yrs old.
He enrolled in the Harrow Rifle Corps & although it took 3 attempts, Churchill eventually passed his exams for The British Royal Military College. During his time in the British Army, Churchill wrote newspaper reports & then 2 books that reflected his experiences in the army, “The Story of The Malakand Field Force” & “The River War”. By 1899 he had left the army & found employment as a war correspondent for The Morning Post. At this time, Churchill was taken prisoner during the Boer War in South Africa. He was held in a POW camp in a converted school in Pretoria. He managed to escape after 4 weeks on 12th December 1899 by going over a wall into a neighbouring property & then travelled to Mozambique, before finally returning to England. If he hadn’t escaped, just think how different things may have been today.
Churchill met his wife, Clementine Hozier in 1904 but wouldn’t propose to her until they met again in March 1908. By this time he had already proposed to three women & been turned down. They were married on 12th September 1908 in Westminster & went on to have 5 children.
He enjoyed watching movies in his home cinema with Vivien Leigh being his favourite actress. He also enjoyed the company of animals. He had Rufus the dog, Jock the ginger cat & Toby the budgie.
Churchill was known as a Journalist, author, painter, historian, and our greatest wartime Prime Minister. He also had many hobbies including bricklaying which helped him during his depression, which as we know he called the black dog. The depression troubled him for most of his life but by spending time at his home Chartwell he managed to find many ways to keep some kind of control over the feelings. It is said that he wrote more words that Shakespeare & Dickens put together. By 1900 he had not only written five books, some of which had been bestsellers, but also had become one of the highest paid journalist in Britain.
The Funeral – On 30th January 1965 World leaders and dignitaries gathered for his funeral service. Silent crowds lined the streets to pay their respects as his coffin travelled slowly through central London to St Paul’s Cathedral. Millions more around the world watched as the BBC broadcast the events live. Churchill was laid to rest in Oxfordshire, close to his family’s ancestral seat at Blenheim Palace, where he had been born 90 years before.
But back to today. With the last few weeks being dominated by politics, I found it interesting to see that a vote conducted by BBC to see if we would vote for Churchill today resulted in 66% saying yes, 24% said no & 11% said maybe. What would you say?
- Born – 30th November 1874
- Started Harrow School – April 1888
- First book published – 1898
- Escaped POW camp – 12th December 1899
- Married – 12th September 1908
- Dates in office – 1940 to 1945 & 1951 to 1955
- Won The Nobel Prize for Literature – 1953
- Died – 24th January 1965