Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1874, was born Winston Churchill.

Churchill was a statesman, orator, author, historian and Prime Minister who rallied the British people in the Second World War and took them from the edge of defeat to victory.

Churchill’s leadership during the war is legendary. He became Prime minister when the Cabinet were on the verge of seeking terms with Hitler and Germany. But Churchill would not contemplate defeat or even a honourable truce. His saying was ‘We will never give in’. Churchill is credited with conducting the war single-handedly. He made himself Minister for War as well as being Prime Minister and delegated the running of home affairs to junior ministers. Churchill sat at his desk in the Cabinet Office, dictating memos and orders and giving instructions but letting others get on with it. Churchill’s true talent was leadership, not performance. Churchill had a bed in his office suite and habitually slept in the afternoon. He had by a side, in his office, a mixture of brandy and water, which was continually refreshed. Critics say that this put him in a continuously drunken state.

Churchill was a historian. He wrote The History of The English Speaking Peoples, an account not just of English history but also of the British Empire and United States. This work was designed to demonstrate that the British people and their colonies are a unique culture distinct from European civilisations.  

Churchill was an author. His book My Early Life, although outwardly an autobiography, is in fact novel with the young Churchill as one of the characters. In the book, Churchill sits the entrance examination for Harrow but on taking the Latin paper, carefully wrote the title, his name and the question number 1. After further thought, he adds brackets to the number but cannot think of anything to write and his paper is smudged by an inkblot. Churchill’s comments on the wisdom of the headmaster in accepting him despite this is an ironic comment not on the inability of his younger self but on the educational system of the time.

Churchill was known for his eloquence and his ready wit. On being accused of being a turncoat for changing parties twice, Churchill reposted ‘anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat.’  When an official criticised other writers for ending sentences with propositions, Churchill added a note ‘This is the sort of English, up with which I will not put’. On one occasion a lady heckler shouted ‘Sir, you are drunk’. Churchill replied ‘And you, madam are ugly, but I shall be sober, tomorrow!’

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