In 1895, he went to Cuba as a military observer with the Spanish army in its fight against the independentists. He also reported for the Saturday Review.
The first notable appearance of Winston Churchill was as a war correspondent in the second Anglo-Boer war between Britain and self-proclaimed Afrikaaners in South Africa. He was captured in a Boer ambush of a British Army train convoy, but managed a high profile escape and eventually crossed the South African border to Lourenço Marques (now Maputo in Mozambique).
Churchill used the status achieved to begin a political career which would last a total of sixty-one years, serving as an MP in the House of Commons from 1901 to 1922 and from 1924 to 1964. At first a member of the Conservative Party, he soon 'crossed the floor' to the Liberals and entered the Cabinet in his early thirties. He was one of the political and military engineers of the disastrous Gallipoli landings on the Dardanelles during World War I, which led to his description as "the butcher of Gallipoli". He was a signatory of the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 which established the Irish Free State. The Liberal Party was now beset by internal division. After losing his seat in the 1922 General Election to Edwin Scrymgeour he rejoined the Conservative Party. Two years later in the General Election of 1924 he
was elected to represent Epping (where there is now a statue of him) as a Conservative. He was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924 under Stanley Baldwin and was responsible for returning Britain to the Gold Standard. During the General Strike of 1926, Churchill was reported to have suggested that machine guns should be used on the striking miners. Churchill edited the Government's newspaper, the British Gazette, and during the dispute he argued that "either the country will break the General Strike, or the General Strike will break the country.".
A young Churchill
The Conservative government was defeated in the 1929 General Election. When Ramsay MacDonald formed the National Government in 1931 Churchill was not invited to join the Cabinet. He was now at the lowest point in his career in a period known as 'the wilderness years'. He spent much of next few years concentrating on his writing, including the History of the English Speaking Peoples (which was not published until well after WWII). He became most notable for his outspoken opposition towards the granting of independence to India. Soon though, his attention was drawn to the rise of Adolf Hitler and Germany's rearmament. For a time he was a lone voice calling on Britain to re-arm itself and counter the belligerence of Germany. Churchill was a fierce critic of Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler. He was also an outspoken supporter of Edward VIII during the Abdication Crisis leading to some speculation that he might be appointed Prime Minister if the King refused to take Baldwin's advice and consequently the government resigned. However this did not happen and Churchill found himself isolated and in a bruised position for some time after this.
At the outbreak of the Second World War Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty On Chamberlain's resignation in May, 1940, Churchill was appointed Prime Minister and formed an all-party government. He immediately made his friend and confidant, industrialist and newspaper baron, Max Aitken, (Lord Beaverbrook) in charge of aircraft production. It was Aitken's astounding business acumen that allowed Britain to quickly gear up aircraft production and engineering that eventually made the difference in the war.
His speeches at that time were a great inspiration to the embattled United Kingdom. His famous "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat" speech was his first as Prime Minister. He followed that closely, before the Battle of Britain, with "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."
(It has been suggested that some of Churchill's radio speeches, including "We shall fight on the beaches", were actually spoken by soundalike actors because Churchill was too busy to make them himself, but this has not been conclusively proven.)
His good relationship with U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt secured the United Kingdom vital supplies via the North Atlantic Ocean shipping routes. Churchill initiated the Special Operations Executive (SOE), under Hugh Dalton's Ministry of Economic Warfare, which established, conducted and fostered covert, subversive and partisan operations in occupied territories with notable success; and also the Commandos which establish the pattern for most of the world's current Special Forces. The Russians referred to him as the "British Bulldog".
Churchill was one of the driving forces behind the treaties that would re-draw post-WWII European and Asian boundaries. The boundary between North Korea and South Korea were proposed at the Yalta Conference, as well as the expulsion of Japanese from those countries. Proposals for European boundaries and settlements were discussed as early as 1943 by Roosevelt and Churchill; the settlement was officially agreed to by Truman, Churchill, and Stalin at Potsdam (Article XIII of the Potsdam protocol).
One of these settlements was the boundary between the future East Germany and Poland at the Oder-Neisse line, which was rationalized as compensation for Soviet gains in Ukraine. As part of the settlement was an agreement to continue the expulsion of ethnic Germans from the area. The exact numbers and movement of ethnic populations over the Polish-German and Polish-USSR borders in the period at the end of World War II is vastly difficult to determine. This is not least because, under the Nazi regime, many Poles were replaced in their homes by the conquering Germans in an attempt to consolidate Nazi power. In the case of the post-WWII settlement, Churchill was convinced that the only way to alleviate tensions between the two populations was the expulsion of the Germans, despite the fact that many of these Germans had lived in these areas since the middle ages and had absorbed the native population, which lived there before. As Churchill expounded in the House of Commons in 1944, "Expulsion is the method which, in so far as we have been able to see, will be the most satisfactory and lasting. There will be no mixture of populations to cause endless trouble...A clean sweep will be made. I am not alarmed by these transferences, which are more possible in modern conditions..." Even though made in "modern conditions" some 500,000 to 1,500.000 people died in these "transferences". Today these transferences would be named "ethnic cleansing".
Although the importance of Churchill's role in World War II was undeniable, he produced many enemies in his own country. His expressed contempt for ideas such as public health care and for better education for the majority of the population in particular produced much dissatisfaction amongst the population, particularly those who had fought in the war. Immediately following the close of the war in Europe Churchill was heavily defeated at election by Clement Attlee and the Labour Party.
Winston Churchill was an early supporter of the pan-Europism that eventually lead to the formation of the European Common market and later the European Union (for which one of the three main buildings of the European Parliament is named in his honor). Churchill was also instrumental in giving France a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (which he supported in order to have another European power to counter-balance the Soviet Union's permanent seat).
On September 2, 1908, at the socially desirable church of St. Margaret's, Westminster, Churchill married Clementine Ogilvy Hozier (1885-1977), a dazzling but largely penniless beauty. They had five children: Sarah Millicent Hermione Churchill (who became a movie actress of some renown, costarring with Fred Astaire in the film "Royal Wedding"), Randolph Frederick Edward Churchill, Marigold Frances Churchill (who died as a child), Diana Churchill, and Mary Churchill.
Clementine Churchill's mother was Lady (Henrietta) Blanche Ogilvy (1852-1925), the second wife of Sir Henry Montague Hozier and a daughter of the 7th Earl of Airlie. The identity of her father, however, is open to healthy debate. Lady Blanche was well known for sharing her sexual favors and was eventually divorced as a result. She maintained that Clementine's father was Capt. William George "Bay" Middleton, a noted horseman. But Clementine Churchill's biographer Joan Hardwick has surmised that all Lady Blanche's "Hozier" children were actually fathered by her sister Clementine's husband, Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford (1837-1916, better known as a grandfather of the infamous Mitford sisters of the 1920s).
Churchill is believed by several writers to have suffered from bipolar disorder and in his last years, Alzheimer's disease; certainly he suffered from fits of depression that he called his "black dogs", Some researchers also believe that Churchill was dyslexic, based on the difficulties he described himself having at school.
November 1942: Oliver Stanley succeeds Lord Cranborne as Colonial Secretary. Sir Stafford Cripps retires as Lord Privy Seal. His successor is not in the Cabinet.
September 1943: Sir John Anderson succeeds Sir Kingsley Wood as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Clement Attlee succeeds Anderson as Lord President, remaining also Deputy Prime Minister. Attlee's successor as Dominions Secretary is not in the Cabinet.
November 1943: Lord Woolton enters the Cabinet as Minister of Reconstruction.
January 1944: Lord Moyne succeeds Richard Casey as Minister Resident in the Middle East.
November 1944: Edward Grigg succeeds Lord Moyne as Minister Resident in the Middle East
May 1952: Henry Crookshank succeeds Lord Salisbury as Lord Privy Seal. Salisbury remains Commonwealth Relations Secretary. Crookshank's successor as Minister of Health is not in the Cabinet.
November 1952: Lord Woolton becomes Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Lord Salisbury succeeds Lord Woolton as Lord President. Lord Swinton succeeds Lord Salisbury as Commonwealth Relations Secretary.
September 1953: Florence Horsbrugh, the Minister of Education, Sir Thomas Dugdale, the Minister of Agriculture, and Gwilym Lloyd George, the Minister of Food, enter the cabinet. The Ministry for the Co-ordination of Transport, Fuel, and Power, is abolished, and Lord Leathers leaves the Cabinet.
October 1953: Lord Cherwell resigns as Paymaster General. His successor is not in the Cabinet.
July 1954: Alan Lennox-Boyd succeeds Oliver Lyttelton as Colonial Secretary. Derick Heathcoat Amory succeeds Sir Thomas Dugdale as Minister of Agriculture.
October 1954: Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, now Lord Kilmuir, succeeds Lord Simonds as Lord Chancellor. Gwilym Lloyd George succeeds him as Home Secretary. The Food Ministry is merged into the Ministry of Agriculture. Sir David Eccles succeeds Florence Horsbrugh as Minister of Education. Harold Macmillan succeeds Lord Alexander as Minister of Defense. Duncan Sandys succeeds Macmillan as Minister of Housing and Local Government. Osbert Peake, the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, enters the Cabinet.