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The Churchill Society
London

It was a nation and race dwelling all round the globe
that had the lion heart.

I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.

Winston Churchill.

Schools

WHO WAS CHURCHILL?

CHRONOLOGY

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"Well" you say - I've read many pages now about Churchill and he does not seem to be much of a hero to me!

Yes, I thought you were going to say that sooner or later.

I told you that these page could only be a short answer to the very big question:

Who was Churchill?

Believe me, for the sake of brevity I have skipped a lot of very important and interesting things about him already.

Please be patient and read on, and whilst you do so, remember all the time that Churchill never forgot any new experience which he encountered in his political life (and many more were yet to come).

It was the accumulated 39 years of experience in politics, which, when combined with his knowledge of history and his great gift as an orator, enabled him in 1940 to save England from ignominious military defeat.

But before that story can be told Churchill was to experience much trouble and personal dislike.

Remember, this man did not do at all well at school.

He did not go to University.

What he knew, he had taught himself or learned from experience - often bitter.

But this was where his strength lay; for no-one is better taught than the man who has taught himself: and just as a wild flower must grow strong in the face of a multitude of dangers if it is to survive: so Churchill, in passing through the many conflicts in his tumultuous political career, remembered them, and knew exactly what to do when the moment of the greatest danger experienced by England in a 1000 years of history arrived.

You will see as the story unfolds, how well he used all this accumulated knowledge, and how it gave him the strength at the age of 65 to save England in her darkest and most dangerous hour - but this part of our story is still 18 years in the future.

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Churchill the pilotChurchill took up flying again and had an accident at Crouson. His wife pleaded with him to give up flying and so he never got his pilot's licence.

In 1921 Churchill took control of the Colonial Office, where he was mainly concerned with the territories in the Middle East. As the Minister responsible for the Region he inherited onerous and conflicting pledges to both Jews and Arabs. In 1922 he confirmed Palestine as a Jewish national home while recognising continuing Arab rights.

He reduced the number of costly troops stationed there and - again far ahead of his time - substituted the Royal Air Force in those territories and appointed local rulers more acceptable to British interests. He knew T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) and relied heavily on his advice.

Later In 1922 the government fell and in the ensuing election Churchill lost his seat in Parliament. Gripped by a sudden attack of appendicitis, he was not able to appear in public until two days before the election, and then only in a wheelchair. He was defeated humiliatingly by more than 10,000 votes. He thus found himself, as he said, all at once

Churchill Electioneering

"without an office, without a seat, without a party, and even without an appendix."

He stood again in 1923 in Leicester   (a mid England small city)  as a Liberal Free Trader but again lost by over 4,000 votes. He then stood again for the Westminster constituency against a Conservative candidate and lost by 43 votes - but then in an election in 1924 he won an easy victory at Epping a small town north east of London, as a Constitutionalist (really a Conservative) and the Prime Minister - a Mr Baldwin - offered a very surprised Churchill the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer - the second most important post in the Cabinet.

CHURCHILL AS CHANCELLORTimes were difficult. The staggering financial losses caused by the great war had completely torn apart the pre-war way of life and financial stability. Everything seemed to be in the melting pot and no-one had any clear idea of how to put it all together again.

Everyone was too close to these enormous changes in English life to be able to detect a way out of the troubles.

Churchill argued for more of the social reforms he had instigated fifteen years earlier when in the Liberal government, such as devising and financing an extension to the compulsory National Insurance Scheme. He fought hard to reduce taxes - for pensions for widows and orphans and the introduction of cheap housing

"for those who could not afford the existing prices".

He believed that

"capitalism is the foundation of civilisation and is the only means by which the population can be supplied with the necessities of life".

"A premium on effort is my aim and a penalty on inertia, may well be its companion"

At the insistence of all the financial institutions - but himself having considerable doubts - he restored the to its pre-war value of $4.86 to the pound. As he suspected this caused serious deflation which in the end led to the miners to strike because they were forced to work for less money. This caused such an uproar that in 1926 a general strike of all the workers took place. But no-one had experience of what would happen to money that was not exchangeable for gold.

Churchill looked upon this strike as a quasi-revolution.   (an attempt to overthrow the lawful government by force) He realised later that his judgment had been wrong. It again made him enemies, especially among trade unionists.

He was not a successful Chancellor of the Exchequer

During the period he did however work with Neville Chamberlain the Minister of Health to expand cautiously the social services and bring into law the provision by the State - for the first time - of pensions for widows. In 1929 the government collapsed and he lost office.

For the next ten years, though still a Member of Parliament, he never held office despite his great abilities - because he was distrusted and disliked by every political party.

During this time he spent much time and energy opposing the proposals to grant India eventual independence. He correctly foresaw that if this were to be granted to the people of India, the Muslims and Hindus would be at each others throats and the slaughter would be on an inconceivable scale. Many years later it happened as he predicted and millions died.

He continued to earn his living with his pen and his writing once again provided him with the financial base required by his independent brand of politics.

His autobiographical history of the war, The World Crisis, netted him the £20,000 with which he purchased Chartwell, a large country house in Kent.

CHARTWELL

CHARTWELL
Near Westerham in Kent
IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Churchill loved Chartwell dearly and after restoring the house he took up painting, (he was an enthusiastic but only moderately gifted amateur). He also took up landscape and garden design, creating fish pools, the inhabitants of which he loved dearly. He even took up bricklaying and built the walls in the rose garden.

BRICKLAYING

Churchill The Bricklayer

(I lived in Godstone a nearby village, and recall meeting to my great surprise and by accident in 1967, Churchill's (by then) elderly handyman. He related how after Churchill had finished bricklaying for the day, he sometimes had to go back and secretly relay some of them lest the wall should in time fall! (His wall in the rose garden and a cottage - which was his studio - are still there).

I suggest you stop now and listen to one of the four evocative orchestral movements entitled:-

SPRING DAWN.

Movement No 4 from

THE CHARTWELL SUITE.

from

THE CHURCHILL MUSIC

At Chartwell Churchill wrote many newspaper articles and also a massive biography of his ancestor entitled "Marlborough: His Life and Times". When you read this fascinating book you will realise just how often European history repeats itself, and how the writing of it taught Churchill how to foretell the outcome of so many contemporary political and military situations.

But overriding all this work during these years at Chartwell was his deep concern about what was happening in Hitler's Germany.

Hitler in 1925.

ADOLF HITLER

(1889-1945).

Before a disbelieving public and weak government and a disinterested opposition, Churchill forcefully argued the case for taking the German threat seriously and for the need to prevent the Luftwaffe from securing parity with the Royal Air Force.

In this matter he was supplied with secret information from both civil servants at home and his informants in Germany.

An Oxford physics professor, Frederick A. Lindemann (later Lord Cherwell), explained all the scientific implications of possible new weapons and inventions to him and Chartwell became a private intelligence centre superior to that of the government.

But England just wanted peace and cricket on the village green.

Churchill describe his long period out of High Office as his 'wilderness years' and the period during which the British government ignored the realities in Germany as 'the years the Locusts have Eaten' period. During these years many other political events took place about which he wrote newspaper articles and spoke both in the House of Commons and on public platforms. One of these was the abdication of King Edward VIII. As the late Enoch Powell said in a speech to the society in 1989

. . . Churchill was not a pedantically consistent exponent of opinions once formed. He had the ability to change with the times and to share the vicissitudes of opinion . . . . .

Thus he shared the afterglow of Britain's devotion to free trade; but when opinion deserted it at last, he moved with the movement of events, unhampered by the scruples or the impracticality of a doctrinaire.(unbending theorist)

. . . Never perhaps was there a statesman who built up such an accumulation of damaging quotes against himself; but a genial English common sense and an eye for the main chance enabled him to soar gleefully above them. . . . .

. . . . Churchill's warning's of German aggressive intention after 1934 which reinforced his personal authority when he was called to the helm in l940, have caused to be misunderstood the true sense in which he was prophetic. It was not so much the triumph of distant deductive reasoning, as the long vista of historical and personal memory which, when others were still blind, revealed to him the nature and inevitable outcome of the resurgent German empire. He was a man who thought with his memory . . . .

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...................Ladybird.

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