June 18, 2008

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.

At Churchill’s request, he was buried in the family plot at St Martin’s Church, Bladon, near Woodstock, not far from his birthplace at Blenheim Palace.

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Churchill’s funeral van – Southern Railway Van S2464S – is now part of a preservation project with the Swanage Railway having been repatriated to the UK in 2007 from the USA where it was exported in 1965.

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