Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was born Nov. 30, 1874 to Lord Randolph Churchill and his wife, American Jennie Jerome Churchill.
Churchill graduated from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in 1895, and saw action in Cuba, India, and Egypt.
He left the military after four years’ service, and ran for Parliament, but lost. He was working as a journalist in South Africa when he was captured and held as a prisoner of war after a train he was riding on was attacked. Churchill escaped, was hailed a hero, and was elected as a conservative member to the House of Commons in parliament in 1900.
Less than four years later, he crossed the aisle to join the liberal party, and became a Cabinet Minister in 1908. A few years later, he re-joined the conservative party, and was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, or head of the Treasury.
When World War II broke out, Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty, the senior civilian advisor on Naval affairs. In this position, he proved to be a man who could handle war, while the current Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain proved he could not. Chamberlain resigned in the spring of 1940, and Winston Churchill became leader of a coalition government.
Churchill spent a lot of effort trying to get help from President Franklin Roosevelt and the United States during 1940-41. The result was the Lend-Lease program, which supplied Allied nations with war materiel. After the United States entered the war, Churchill continued to push for a Europe-first war.
Churchill was good with words; speaking of the Royal Air Force, he said, “never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” In describing the defense of Great Britain, he said, “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.” (Quotes from winstonchurchill.org)
Churchill was not re-elected in 1945, even after helping to win the war. In 1946, speaking in Missouri, Churchill declared that an iron curtain had fallen over Europe, and only the close alliance of Western Europe and the United States could prevent the spread of Communism.
He remained a member of parliament until 1963. Churchill died Jan. 24, 1965. He is buried near his family at St. Martin’s Church near Blenheim Palace.
To find other items that the Marshall Foundation has on Winston Churchill, search “Winston Churchill” in the library catalog: https://www.marshallfoundation.org/library/results/
Digitized items in the George C. Marshall archives: