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In Memoriam

Laid to Rest at St Martin’s Church, Bladon Sir Winston Churchill died on 24 January 1965

As the coffin was lowered into the ground next to his parents and brother in St Martin’s Churchyard at Bladon, within sight of his birthplace at Blenheim, broadcaster Richard Dimbleby recited a poem specially written for the occasion – redolent with Churchill’s own words and phrasing.

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Fifty Years On Commemorating Churchill's death in 2015

Fifty years to the moment of his great-grandfather’s passing, Jack Churchill took this photograph in Parliament Square on 24 January 2015.

Sir Martin Gilbert, in the final volume of his epic biography Winston S Churchill, said, ‘Men and women wept when they heard the news of Churchill’s death. Nearly ten years had passed since his last months as Prime Minister, a quarter of a century since his “finest hour” in 1940. He had died seventy years to the day after his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, the man whose respect and approval he would have so liked to have won, but who had not lived long enough to see even the earliest phases of his son’s remarkable career.’

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Personality of the Century

Churchill Tops the List


With eighteen months left until the millennium,  Churchill tops the list of  Personality of the Century. It’s time to get the machinery in gear for his selection. There will be a spate of such contests, and they’re good for provoking arguments, if nothing else. So,  look around the world and size up the nominees.

Is there anyone in the last hundred years of provincial politics who is worthy?  Hardly. Anyone in Canadian history? We weren’t major players. What about American history? Maybe a couple of presidents and an industrial titan or two could qualify. The rest of the world? Gandhi deserves consideration and so does Mao Tse-Tung, based on the number of lives they changed-or ended. But there is only one name that jumps off the page after even the most casual riffle through the last ninety-eight years, and that’s Sir Winston Churchill, who died over thirty-three years ago.

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Throughout his life, Churchill’s quarrel was with tyranny. Almost certainly he saved Western civilisation by holding out against Hitler in 1940-41. But he despaired that his great postwar goal of world peace was not achieved in his lifetime. Perhaps no better epitaph exists than the one by Hungarian-American historian John Lukacs:

“He loved life very much; and he made life possible for many of us because he had a very old, and very strong, belief in the possibilities of human decency and of human greatness….In the long and slow and sad music of humanity, he once sounded an English and noble note which some of us were blessed to receive and to remember.”

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Funeral Churchill died on the same date as his father seventy year earlier

Winston Churchill died on 24 January 1965 and his State Funeral was held on the 30th of January.

By decree of the HM Queen Elizabeth, his body lay in state for three days in the Palace of Westminster and a state funeral service was held at St Paul’s Cathedral. As his coffin passed down the Thames from Town Pier to Festival Pier on the Havengore, dockers lowered their crane jibs in a salute. The coffin was then taken the short distance to Waterloo Station where it was loaded onto a specially prepared and painted carriage – Southern Railway Van S2464S – as part of the funeral train for its rail journey to Bladon. The Royal Artillery fired a 19-gun salute (as head of government), and the RAF staged a fly-by of sixteen English Electric Lightning fighters. The funeral also saw the largest assemblage of statesmen in the world until the 2005 funeral of Pope John Paul II. The funeral train of Pullman coaches carrying his family mourners was hauled by Bulleid Pacific steam locomotive No. 34051 “Winston Churchill”. In the fields along the route, and at the stations through which the train passed, thousands stood in silence to pay their last respects.

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Churchill Dead at 90

The New York Times, January 25, 1965

By Anthony Lewis
Special to The New York Times

Churchill is Dead at 90; The World Mourns Him; State Funeral Saturday


It Will Authorize Rites in St. Paul’s — Burial to be in Country

London, Jan. 24 — Winston Churchill’s struggle for life ended this morning, and the people he had cherished and inspired and led through darkness mourned him as they have no other in this age.

Sir Winston died just after 8 o’clock, in the 10th day of public anxiety over his condition after a stroke. He was in his 91st year.

Britons small and great village curate, Prime Minister and Queen paid him tribute through the day and this evening. Statesmen around the world joined in homage to the statesman they acknowledge as the greatest of the age.

Londoners, during the last struggle, had come to accept Sir Winston’s death as inevitable. There was little of the shock and horror seen in the reaction to President Kennedy’s death.

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110 Nations’ Leaders Attend Funeral Service

churchill funeral
When I came to St. Paul’s Cathedral on the morning of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral I was on foot. I thought it would be easier that way than competing with the hundreds of hired cars of kings and queens and presidents and prime ministers.

I tried first a tiny cobbled lane I knew opened on Ludgate Hill, near St. Paul’s, where the procession would pass. The opening was corked with people jammed so tightly that anyone who fainted would have stayed upright and perhaps even unnoticed for hours.

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Grieving in London Town

Articles from the day:

The funeral procession, the church service, the final salute:

From Westminster to St. Paul’s
Greatest Englishman is Borne
Through Grieving London Town

Big Ben Silent, Ten Bands Play
Mourners Breakfast at Curbside

by John MacSween
Churchill funeral 002
LONDON (CP) The body of Sir Winston Churchill was borne through grieving London on his state funeral today in a spectacle of heart-gripping homage.

Big Ben tolled the last time for the greatest Englishman by signalling the start of his majestic funeral procession from Westminster at 9:45 a.m. on a cold clear day.

Then the famed clock, indelibly associated with Britain’s valor in wartime days, was silenced until midnight in honor of Churchill, who had lain in state for three days in Westminster Hall, a few hundred yards away.

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Britons in Thousands File Past Grave

Newspaper article from the day:

Britons, in Thousands,
File Past Flower-decked Churchill Grave

Bladon, England (Reuters)

The pilgrimage to the grave of Sir Winston Churchill resumed at dawn today as the small village churchyard where the statesman lies buried appeared to be turning into a national shrine. Read More >

Operation Hopenot

The Funeral of Sir Winston S. Churchill

By John G. Plumpton
Finest Hour 66

In early January Sir Winston suffered a stroke which his physician, Lord Moran, informed the family would probably be fatal. After telling his son-in-law, Christopher Soames: “I am so bored with it,” he never again made an intelligible remark to anyone. While his family gathered around his bedside, the world’s leaders prepared to pay homage to ‘the greatest Englishman’. Shortly after 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, 24 January on the seventieth anniversary of the death of his father, Sir Winston died at his home at 28 Hyde Park Gate in London. Read More >

Tributes Paid Sir Winston by the Canadian Press

Tributes Paid Sir Winston by the Canadian Press

Following are excerpts from editorials in representative Canadian newspapers on the death of Sir Winston Churchill:

Toronto Globe and Mail: Sir Winston Churchill goes now to take up his residence in history. His friends will pay him tribute with flowers, with tears, with pomp and with circumstance, but most of all with a floodtide of words. Which is as it should be. For words were his greatest weapon. Read More >

Christening of the USS Winston S. Churchill U.S. Navy names a destroyer for the former Prime Minister

by Michael Richards

In April 1999, the United States Navy took the unusual step of naming one of their fleet for a non-American. The newest Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided-missile destroyer was named for the WWII British Prime Minister.

Feature Articles – Finest Hour 110


“There were tears in the eyes of many tough old men.”

They came from around the world, the people at Norfolk march 10th, many of them wearing caps and badges with the names of ships, wars and generations past. Emotions overflowing, they watched as the crew of USS Winston S. Churchill ran aboard and brought her to life. “It was the most moving experience I can remember,” wrote Richard Raffauf of Philadelphia. “There were tears in the eyes of many tough old men.”

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Five Bells: A Naval History Churchills Forebears

Churchill and the Navy

Featured Article – Finest Hour 110

The Churchills: A Naval History
The Winston S. Churchill Has Interesting Forebears
by Neil Coates

The first vessel unequivocally named (with his permission) for Churchill was the cutter Winston Churchill, built by Percy Coverdale at Battery Point, Hobart, and launched in 1942. During World War II the sailboat served as a lighthouse tender off southern Tasmania. She competed in the first Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in 1945 and in many subsequent races carrying sloop, cutter or yawl rigs, until she foundered with the loss of three lives off the east coast of Australia in 1998. (See Finest Hour 99, p. 47; 100, p. 6; 101, p. 7.)

The first ship named with Winston Churchill “firmly in mind” was HMS Chequers, a “C” Class destroyer. This nomination was made in 1944 by the First Lord of the Admiralty, A. V. Alexander, Chequers being the official residence of the Prime Minister.

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Personality of the Century "We Have Not Yet Reckoned Our Debt"

The Washington Evening Star

25 January 1965

CHURCHILL is dead, gone from the world he saved. And the world he saved, distracted still by the flow and eddy of modern events, has not yet reckoned its debt to him. Perhaps that sum cannot be reckoned up, so great it is. Our very troubles of this time derive from that more nearly mortal evil which Churchill fought and ended.

Are the emerging nations irritated and frustrated at what they take to be survivals of Colonialism? Had it not been for Churchill, they would have been spared their hurt feelings, for they would never have emerged at all.

Does France grow restive at the failure of the nations to see her glory? The question would not have arisen without Churchill to fight for a France that had been given up for lost.

Are Americans troubled with the problems of a superpower? They’d have been spared their troubles had not Churchill stood when all else fell.

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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.