Churchill in the News

Churchill a War Criminal? Not so fast. By Zareer Masani for

An Indian historian and guest columnist for the popular Indian magazine Open reflects on the recent colonial past of the sub-continent.

IT’S A SAD reflection of our times that smearing and libelling our now-distant colonial past have become a popular substitute for soul-searching about our own failures, abuses and atrocities in the present. With popular and social media happy to circulate the wildest rumours and allegations, quotations out of context, half-truths and even blatant untruths, it’s hard for historians like me to insist that condemnation needs to be evidence-based, or else descends into character assassination.

Read the entire article here at Open.


2015 Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration

Highlights of the fiftieth anniversary commemoration in photos

Randolph Churchill opening speechRandolph Churchill (Winston Churchill’s great grandson) photographed speaking at the press preview of “Churchill’s Scientists” the UK’s first exhibition on Churchill and science to mark 50th anniversary of his death.

30 January 2015 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the State Funeral of Sir Winston Churchill. In commemoration of this event, three separate ceremonies were held in London.
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New Churchill Exhibition at the London Science Museum

A new exhibition ‘Churchill’s Scientists’ at the Science Museum shows just how important Churchill was to British science
Winston ChurchillBy Sarah Knapton, Science Editor

The Telegraph—29 November 2014. Winston Churchill is arguably Britain’s greatest war time Prime Minister, one of the most celebrated orators of the 20th century, and a respected author, who even won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
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“Last Lion” Author Paul Reid Interviewed at the Pritzker Military Library

Watch the superb interview by Chicago Tribune Editorial Board Member Greg Burns

This program was presented by Pritzker Military Library and made possible by the support of the Churchill Centre.

Greg Burns interviews author Paul Reid for this edition of Pritzker Military Library’s Citizen Soldier.

William Manchester was a tremendously successful popular historian and biographer whose books include The Last Lion: Visions of Glory, The Last Lion: Alone, Goodbye Darkness, A World Lit Only by Fire, The Glory and the Dream, The Arms of Krupp, American Caesar, and The Death of A President. In 1998, after completing much of the research for the final volume of The Last Lion, Manchester suffered two strokes that left him unable to write. Manchester sought a writer with a reporting background to complete his work. In 2003, Manchester asked his friend Paul Reid to complete Defender of the Realm. Reid, who now lives in North Carolina, had spent many years as a feature writer for the Palm Beach Post. But Manchester died less than two months after passing the baton to Reid. Before writing Defender of the Realm, Reid augmented Manchester’s voluminous notes with extensive research of his own. The result, after more than eight years of effort, is the most thrilling volume of The Last Lion triptych. Read More >

“The Churchills”: What Winston Learned from His Great Ancestor John Churchill

Historian David Starkey in his new Channel 4 three-part series The Churchills explores the dangers of not learning the lessons of history.
Currently only available for UK residents on the Channel 4 on-demand website. 

Winston Churchill: America’s Enduring Love for Winnie and His Words

An exhibition of Churchilliana in New York has reminded Americans why they took the great man to their hearts – and kept him there.

By Andrew Roberts

THE TELEGRAPH, 4 August 2012—Americans love Sir Winston Churchill. That much has been obvious since even before 1963, when President Kennedy gave him the only honorary US citizenship ever awarded to a living person. Yet, in the half-century since then, that admiration and affection hasn’t abated; he is one of the only non‑Americans to have a US warship named after him, and as many books are published about him in America as in Britain. Indeed, the only bookshop in the world dedicated solely to selling his books, articles and memorabilia is the splendid Chartwell Books on Madison Avenue and 52nd Street in Manhattan. As Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome, was born in Brooklyn, Americans understandably regard Churchill’s extraordinary life as an almost semi-detached telling of their own national story.

So when the prestigious Morgan Library and Museum in New York decided to stage an exhibition entitled Churchill: The Power of Words, which would include the cream of the America-related items in the Churchill Archives at Churchill College, Cambridge, they knew that it would be popular. Read More >

‘Death by Chocolate’ Plot to Kill Sir Winston Churchill Uncovered

Historic letter indicates the Nazis planned to assassinate Sir Winston Churchill with a bar of exploding chocolate.

By Rosa Silverman

THE TELEGRAPH, 17 Jul 2012—A Nazi plot to kill Sir Winston Churchill with a bar of exploding chocolate during the Second World War has been revealed in historic papers.

Giving a new meaning to the dessert name “death by chocolate”, Adolf Hitler’s bomb makers coated explosive devices with a thin layer of rich dark chocolate, then packaged it in expensive-looking black and gold paper.

The Germans apparently planned to use secret agents working in Britain to discreetly place the bars – branded as Peters Chocolate – among other luxury items taken into the dining room used by the War Cabinet during the conflict.

The lethal slabs of confection were packed with enough explosives to kill anyone within several metres.

But the plot was foiled by British spies who discovered the chocolate was being made and tipped off one of MI5’s most senior intelligence chiefs, Lord Victor Rothschild, before the wartime prime minister’s life could be endangered.

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Sir Winston’s Legacy Lives on in Calgary

Great-grandson Randolph Churchill follows Sir Winston’s footsteps on speaking tour of Canada.

By Licia Corbella

THE CALGARY HERALD, 4 May 2012—”In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.” — Sir Winston Churchill

British prime minister Winston Churchill, left, welcomes Canadian PM William Lyon Mackenzie King in London on Sept. 1, 1941From any other mortal, that quote would sound like a boast, but coming from the mouth and pen of arguably the greatest orator and leader of the 20th century it is, indeed, a wholesome and humble statement.

Many historians over the decades would agree that Churchill’s words — contained in the 50 books, 10,000 articles, and dozens upon dozens of moving speeches he wrote and delivered — were more than just wholesome, they were transformational, if not the very salvation of the free world at its most dangerous time.

On Tuesday, the British wartime prime minister’s great-grandson, Randolph Churchill III, will speak to the 46th annual banquet of the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Calgary, which was established to remember one of history’s greatest people, but also to nurture high school students to aspire to great oratory and leadership themselves.

Randolph, 47, who was born two days before his great-grandfather’s death on Jan. 24, 1965, says he will discuss the importance of inspirational leadership in a speech titled: Churchill, European Unity and Economic Turmoil, at the Ranchmen’s Club, 710 13th Avenue S.W.

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British General Alan Brooke Made Secret Plans to Arm Vichy France in 1942

British general kept Winston Churchill and Free French leader Charles De Gaulle in the dark about a top secret plan to arm Vichy France, recently discovered documents reveal.

By Mike Thomson
BBC Radio 4

BBC NEWS, 19 March 2012—Both Churchill and De Gaulle had made clear their contempt for Marshall Petain’s regime, which controlled a large part of France thanks to a deal struck with Hitler.

Relations between Britain and France had been strained since July 1940, when Churchill, who was determined to stop French ships falling into German hands, ordered the Royal Navy to sink several French war ships off the coast of Algeria – 1,300 French sailors lost their lives in the action.

In retaliation, a furious Vichy not only broke off diplomatic relations with London but also bombed Gibraltar.

In December 1941, Winston Churchill made clear his distaste for the supposedly neutral Vichy regime and its often enthusiastic collaboration with Hitler.

“Here we were having been fighting the Vichy French… and here we are talking about arming their colleagues”

“The men of Vichy, they lay prostrate at the foot of the conqueror, they fawned upon him,” he said, in a speech to the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.

Later, Vichy voluntarily deported Jews to Germany.

Charles De Gaulle was equally contemptuous. Vichy’s leaders had accused him of being a traitor when he fled to London after the fall of France. At the time, Marshal Petain, a hero of World War I, was a more popular figure in France – many saw him as having shielded Vichy from the worst excesses of Hitler’s forces and saved the region from German occupation.

But neither man had anything to say about a secret meeting in London in December 1941 between a senior Vichy military officer and a member of the British General Staff. That, it seems, is because nobody told them.

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Boats for Jubilee Pageant Include Havengore, Famous for Churchill’s Last Journey on the Thames

London-based boats with fascinating histories and expectant owners are getting ready to play their part in the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

By Tom Bigwood

Havengore has been part of state occasions before, such as Churchill’s funeral
BBC NEWS, 23 April 2012—Dedicated owners have spent months preparing a wide range of vessels to be part of the floating celebration.

One million people are expected to line the Thames when about 1,000 boats form the flotilla as part of the Queen’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

From a “jolly boat” to the vessel that carried Sir Winston Churchill on his final Thames journey – a variety of craft will join the royal procession on 3 June.

The full route, including mustering and dispersal areas, stretches from Hammersmith in the west to the Old Greenwich Royal Naval College in the east and is approximately 14 miles (22km) long.

The official pageant route is about seven miles (11km).

‘Bottom cleaned’
One boat the Queen might recognise is Jolly Brit which is a “jolly boat” from the former Royal Yacht Britannia.

Jolly boats were used by members of the Royal Family and other guests when enjoying trips ashore from the yacht.

Boats of all types, including the New Southern Belle, are taking part
Now owned by Henry Butt, Jolly Brit was a mess when he bought her 15 years ago.

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Lady Soames Interview on BBC Radio 4 (Listen)

In March of 1992, Lady Soames was interviewed for Desert Island Discs about her life and her famous father

Follow this link to listen to the interview and her favourite musical pieces.

The castaway in Desert Island Discs this edition is Lady Soames, historian and only surviving child of Winston Churchill. A distinguished author and now Chairman of the Board of the National Theatre, she spoke to Sue Lawley about her extraordinary life – recalling her blissful childhood spent at Chartwell, the family’s country home in the Kent countryside. She also spoke about the many state visits she made with her father and her husband – and remembering a conversation she had with General de Gaulle, who gave her lots of good advice on the best places to walk dogs in Paris.

©BBC Radio 4 and Desert Island Discs

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Churchill to Chamberlain: “Take Refuge in the 18th Century”

Churchill inscriptionWinston Churchill inscribes book for Neville Chamberlain

Since his opponents often complained that Churchill was philosophically rooted in the past, he must have taken wry amusement to suggest Neville Chamberlain go there, in a book inscription written, just before Munich. Steve Gertz offers a cogent and well-written account of a priceless set of Churchill’s Marlborough, inscribed to Chamberlain. Though political opposites, they retained a personal friendship. 

Follow this link for the full story.

One Man’s Drive Drew Churchill to Missouri

How was it that Winston Churchill came to give is historic “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri?


THE KANSAS CITY STAR, 7 March 2012—The president of Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., which then had approximately 300 students, already had displayed a gift for persuading big fish to come to his small pond: New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia had lectured there, as had FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
Winston Churchill in Fulton
But when McCluer asked his wife, Ida Belle, what she thought of inviting arguably the most recognizable face in world politics — British prime minister Winston Churchill — her first thought was to think him sarcastic.

“But I replied that we could dream,” she added.

As described in “Our Supreme Task: How Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech Defined the Cold War Alliance,” a sequence of fortuitous events, set in motion by McCluer, resulted in Churchill’s improbable appearance.

McCluer, writes Olathe author Philip White, wrote a five-paragraph invitation on Westminster stationery and brought it to Washington, where an old Westminster classmate, Harry Vaughan, served as Harry Truman’s military aide.

Vaughan found a five-minute window in Truman’s schedule and brought McCluer into the Oval Office.

Learn more about the “Iron Curtain” speech, including a video clip here

Truman read the letter and said “That might work. Wait a minute.” Truman then inscribed a personal note, saying he would introduce Churchill at Westminster.

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Churchill and “The Pod”

The Internet swarms with rumors (untrue) about Churchill’s pressurized pod.

By Chris H. Sterling for Finest Hour

In January 2012 a website ( reported that “Churchill Used in-Flight Pod to Light up, Stay Alive“. Alas there is much less to this story than the fascinating headline implies.

Of the many technologies developed during World War II, few were as well-intentioned as a strange device designed to allow Winston Churchill to fly in comfort at high altitudes. Churchill’s doctor, Lord Moran, was concerned that if the Prime Minister flew above about 8000 feet, the lack of oxygen would be bad for his heart. Aircraft pressurization—something we take for granted today—was in its very early stages then. None of the aircraft in which Churchill flew before 1945 was pressurized—thus they generally flew below 8000 feet, save for momentary ventures higher to avoid mountains.1

Flying higher was not only be safer but more comfortable: there is less turbulence above, say, 20,000 feet. As much to the point, anti-aircraft guns of the period began to lose value as airplane altitudes increased. Thus the wizards at the Institute of Aviation Medicine (part of the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, west of London) sought a means of allowing the Prime Minister to fly at greater altitude.

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What Did Churchill Really Think About Ireland?

This month 100 years ago in Belfast Winston Churchill was attacked by a loyalist mob trying to stop him promoting Home Rule, but his vision was of an Ireland loyal to Britain

THE IRISH TIMES, Wednesday, 8 February 2012—Winston Churchill made his first public appearance in Ireland in 1878. In 1877 Disraeli had sent his family into a form of internal exile – the Duke of Marlborough was appointed viceroy in Dublin Castle and his son Randolph decided to act as his aide. Randolph’s wife Jenny – proud mother of cherubic Winston – painted his portrait and placed it on public display at a Dublin exhibition, to the joy of the local press.

He also learned his first political lesson. His nanny warned him against the dangers posed by the Fenians, reasonable advice as in 1882 republican assassins murdered Lord Frederick Cavendish, the incoming chief secretary, in the nearby Phoenix Park.

Churchill’s relationship to Ireland is encapsulated for many by a few famous phrases – his celebrated reference to the integrity of the quarrel of the dreary steeples in Fermanagh and Tyrone, and his sharp critique of de Valera and neutrality in the fight against Hitler. But what did Churchill really think about Ireland?

Churchill’s conversion from Conservatism to Liberalism owed everything to domestic social pressures in Britain and nothing to the Irish question. At the moment of conversion in April 1904 he signalled to the Liberals of northwest Manchester that he was not impressed by the great Gladstonian theme of Home Rule: “I remain of the opinion that a separate parliament for Ireland would be dangerous and impractical.”

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The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.