The International Churchill Society (ICS) is grieved to announce the death of Paul H. Courtenay. Paul was a stalwart of ICS for many years. He served as a Senior Editor of Finest Hour and was a former Chair of ICS-UK. Paul had an encyclopedic knowledge of the life and times of Sir Winston Churchill that he used to assist numerous authors and editors working in that period of history. He died just a week before the 2020 International Churchill Conference, which was dedicated to his memory.
Paul Courtenay was born 6 March 1934 to William, a well-known aviation correspondent and founding member of the RAF, and to Greta. He grew up around the great pioneer aviators of the 1930s and was godson to Amy Johnson. His father lectured extensively on the war in Japan, often sharing a platform with Winston Churchill—so Paul’s connection to Winston began at a very early age.
Paul went to prep school at Cottesmore, spending the Second World War in North Wales before going on to Malvern College, where he excelled both academically and at sport, particularly at cross country. He joined the army at eighteen. One of his earliest duties was to guard the route along the Mall at the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.
The Army took Paul to Korea at the end of that war, to peacekeeping duties in Aden and Gibraltar, and to deep and abiding friendships in the Royal Sussex regiment, which later merged with three others to form The Queen’s Regiment. He met Sara, his wife of sixty years. They married in 1960 just weeks before Paul was posted to Kenya as an Army Air Corps pilot, one of their many postings in a life of travel that took them to Cyprus, Malta, and Gibraltar; to Kent, Sussex, and Surrey; to Northern Ireland, Germany, and America before finally settling in Hampshire more than forty years ago. Paul and Sara had four children—Caroline, James, Lucy, and William—and twelve grandchildren, all of whom survive him.
After retiring from the Army in 1987, Paul continued working in London, first for IBA and then for The Institute of Chartered Accountants before retiring to dedicate his time to the ICS. In the world of Churchill studies, Paul became a regular contributor, colleague, administrator, speaker, and guide on all aspects of Churchill’s life. He was particularly involved in assisting in re-publishing some of Churchill’s own books, including Thoughts and Adventures and Great Contemporaries. For both books, Paul drafted more than 1,000 footnotes to help explain elements of these works to modern readers. He also made crucial contributions to new editions of The River War, to be published later this year, and My Early Life, which will appear later.