Wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill was one of the greatest leaders of the 20th Century. Not only are his books eloquently written they are also interesting and notably readable.
At the end of World War II, Winston Churchill was forced to resign as British prime minister following the Conservative party’s electoral defeat by the Labor party. This was the first general election held in Britain in more than 10 years. On July 26, 1945, the same day that Churchill resigned, Clement Attlee, the Labor leader, was sworn in.
Winston Spencer Churchill was born at England’s Blenheim Palace in 1874. He joined the British Fourth Hussars when his father died in 1895. He went on to an illustrious military career for 5 years and served in India, South Africa, and the Sudan, distinguishing himself several time in battle.
He resigned his commission in 1899 in order to focus on his literary and political career and as early as 1900 was elected to Parliament as a Conservative MP for Oldham. In 1904 he joined the Liberals and served in several important posts before being appointed Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911. He worked to bring the British navy to readiness for WWI, which he accurately predicted would happen. During the second your of WWI Winston Churchill was held responsible for the disastrous Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns, and was excluded from the war coalition government. He resigned to volunteer to command an infantry battalion in France but a couple of years later in 1917 he returned to politics as a cabinet member in the Liberal government of prime minister David Lloyd George.
From 1919 to 1921, he was secretary of state for war and in 1924 broke ranks with the Liberal party and returned to the Conservative Party. Two years later he played a leading role in the defeat of the General Strike of 1926. Out of office from 1929 to 1939, Churchill issued warnings, which went unheeded, of the threat of Nazi and Japanese aggression.
When WWII started in Europe, Churchill was called back to his post as First Lord of the Admiralty and eight months later he replaced the feckless Neville Chamberlain as prime minister of a new coalition government. During the first year of his administration, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany and the British people trusted Churchill to be the great leader that he was. He rallied the British people as no other could have done and promised his country and the world that the British people would never surrender.
“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
A couple of weeks before the defeat of Japan in World War II, in July 1945, Churchill’s government suffered an electoral loss against Clement Attlee’s Labor party. He did, however, become leader of the opposition and in 1951 was again elected prime minister.
Churchill was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II two years later and was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for his six-volume historical study of World War II and for his political speeches.
In 1955, he retired as prime minister but remained in Parliament until 1964, the year before his death.