Winston Churchill


Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace on Nov. 30,
1874. His father was Lord Randolph Churchill, who descended directly from the
1st duke of Marlborough, of whom Winston was to write a biography. His mother
was Jennie Jerosme, an American. Churchill's childhood was unhappy. He spent
most of his time at school, something he didn't really love. His teachers
caracterized him as bright, but stubborn and obstinate. He loved to read history
and poetry, however, and was fascinated by soldiers and battles. From childhood
he had an extraordinary memory. Winston Churchhill didn't want to go to
university. Instead, he enrolled in the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. He
graduated in 1894. After service in Cuba and India, he worked as a war-
correspondent in Northern India, Sudan and in South Africa, where he was
captured by the Boers. His daring escape made him an overnight celebrity.

Churchill always wanted to become a politician. His wish came true in 1900, when
he was elected to the Parliment as a Conservative, and he quickly made his mark.
His political sympathies began to change, however, and he "changed sides" in
1904, when he abandoned the Conservative party for the Liberals. When the
Liberals came to power in 1905, Churchill entered the government as secretary of
state for the colonies. In 1908, the year of his marriage to Clementine Hosier,
he became a member of the cabinet as president of the Board of Trade. Winston's
political missions became more and more important, in 1910 he became a member of
the Admirality. In 1913-1914 Churchill completed British naval preparations for
war. During World War Churchhill made some fatal mistakes in war strategy. This
was one of the main reasons that he was removed from the Admirality when the
Conservatives (many of whom now detested him) joined the government in 1915.
After a period of active military service in France, he was re-elected in the
Parliment. He became minister of munitions under the prime minister David Lloyd
George. He subsequently served as secretary of state for war and air and for the
colonies and helped negotiate the treaty that created the Irish Free State. But
he lost both his office and his seat in Parliament when Lloyd George's coalition
government fell in 1922.

Over the next year or two, Churchill gradually moved back into alliance with the
Conservatives. He used to remark with a mischievous twinkle, "Any fool can rat,
but I flatter myself that it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat." Returning to
Parliament in 1924, he was offered the post of chancellor of the exchequer in
Stanley Baldwin's Conservative government (1924-1929). It was in this position
Churchill maybe made his biggest mistake as a politician: He revalued the pound,
giving the currency a fixed value against other currencies, to better the rather
poor economic situation. Churchill took this step with many misgivings, and it
proved a mistake, worsening the poor economic situation. Afterward he made
efforts to heal the grand failure with labor, but he was never entirely
successful. Between 1929 and 1939 Churchill did not hold office. He disapproved
violently of Baldwin's Indian policy, which pointed toward eventual self-
government. At the same time he warned against the ambitions of Nazi Germany
and urged that Britain should match Germany in air power. As World War II drew
nearer, his warnings were seen to be justified. When general war broke out in
September 1939, Churchill was offered his old post of first lord of the
Admiralty by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Following the unsuccessfull
allied attempt to "remove" the Germans from Norway (for which Churchill had
large responsibility) Chamberlain determined to resign. Churchill replaced him
as prime minister as Germany invaded the Low Countries on May 10, 1940.

The prime minister Winston Churchill was largely responsible for many aspects of
war policy. He established personal relations of the highest value with U.S.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt who began to supply arms and weapons to Britain
immediately after the British army lost most of its equipment at Dunkerque (June
1940). In the late summer of 1940, as the Battle of Britain raged and no one
knew whether Britain would be invaded, Churchill daringly diverted an armored
division, one of only two in Britain, to the Middle East. Although no one had
been a more convinced opponent of the USSR than Churchhill, he decided
immediately to give help to the Soviet Union when it was invaded by Germany in
the summer of 1941. The entry of the United States into the war at the end of
the same year gave the Allies the advantage in greater resources. But the new
shape of the alliance also meant that Britain's influence was bound to decrease
as the USSR