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Churchill: One of the Greats or the Greatest?

Sir Winston Churchill has been thought of by many to be the greatest Prime Minister the United Kingdom has ever had and there are many reasons for this point of view. Best known for his leadership during World War II, he had numerous other attributes and it can be said that the phrase ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ might have been coined just for him. Arguably, he’s one of the most well known members of humanity to walk the planet and is considered by many as a national hero.

Churchill was born on the 30th November, 1874, at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. His career was an interesting one and he was a busy man even up to his final days. He was not only a British politician, but also an army officer, a writer and a reasonably talented artist.

The website says the following:

‘In 2002, Winston Churchill was publicly voted top of the list of 100 Greatest Britons. He is best known for guiding Britain through the darkest days of World War Two to eventual Allied victory. But had he not been Prime Minister during the war years, he would still be remembered as an extremely famous politician.

‘He served again as Prime Minister in 1951, while having previously held all of the great offices of state. He was also a prolific writer and orator – publishing millions of words and delivering thousands of public speeches. Here are [some] fascinating facts about the number one Brit.’

Winston Churchill took 60 bottles of alcohol with him when he set out for the Boer War.

In 1899 Winston Churchill was held as a prisoner in South Africa, and after hearing that his release was unlikely, he made a 300 mile escape by jumping freight trains and walking. His escape made him a national celebrity in Britain. The first known use of the term ‘OMG’ was in a letter to Churchill. A letter published by the US Library of Congress from Admiral John Arbuthnot “Jacky” Fisher to Churchill sent in 1917 contains the phrase.

After being told that he could not drink in front of Saudi King due to the King’s religious beliefs, Churchill said ‘My religion prescribed an absolute sacred rite smoking cigars and drinking alcohol before, after, and if need be during all meals and the intervals between them.’

Describing his drinking habits he once remarked ‘I drink champagne at all meals, and buckets of claret and soda in between.’ He also noted that ‘Hot baths, cold champagne, new peas and old brandy’ were the four essentials of life.

Churchill’s favourite brandy was Hine, his preferred Champagne Pol Roger, and his top Scotch Johnnie Walker Red Label. His famous Churchill Martini consisted of a glass of chilled English gin supplemented with a nod toward France (vermouth was understandably difficult to source).’

It is said that after his famous ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ speech to the House of Commons in 1940, Winston Churchill whispered to a colleague: ‘And we’ll fight them with the butt ends of broken beer bottles because that’s bloody well all we’ve got!’ Churchill was regularly moved to tears in Parliament – something which was far from common at the time. Three days after becoming Prime Minister for the first time, his old Liberal colleague and former wartime Prime Minister David George made a moving speech telling the House how fond he was of him. Labour Party MP Howard Nicolson wrote, ‘Winston cries slightly and mops his eyes’.

Churchill may well have had a fondness for alcohol but even allowing for that, his achievements mean that his place at the top of that list is well deserved. It is also worth pointing out that one of his quotes is: ‘We are of Europe, but not in Europe’.

Had Winston Churchill been dealing with the Brexit process, it would have been done and dusted, and in all probability to everybody’s satisfaction some time ago.

© Lee Sibley 2019.

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