Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874-1965). Knight of the Garter, Order of Merit, Companion of Honor, Territorial Decoration, Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Fellow of the Royal Society, Nobel laurate, first Honorary Citizen in United States history, and almost the Duke of London.British Prime Minister, 1940-1945, 1951-55. Helped win World War II, then won a Nobel Prize for writing about it in a six-volume Doorstopper.Switched political parties twice in his very long career (Conservative to Liberal, then back again). A very much beloved British Prime Minister, he is famous for his constant wit (e.g. Bessie Braddock MP: "You, sir, are drunk!" Churchill: "And you are ugly. Tomorrow morning, madam, I shall be sober."), his cigar-smoking (his scowl in the famous portrait, shown above, is because the photographer took his cigar away) and the Victory salute ("the bird" inverted, although he didn't invert it.)Winning a world war (and funding the invention of the tank) will get a lot of people to forget your less popular policies, and some were very unpopular. He resigned from the War Cabinet in World War One after the failure of Gallipoli and his opposition to Indian autonomy played a large part in his isolation in the 1930s. Furthermore, his second term as Prime Minister is generally regarded a lot less favourably than his first; the general rule is that he's considered a fine wartime leader, but not very suited to peacetime. In 1943, while PM, he did nothing to solve a famine in Bengal, which eventually killed 4 million people—instead expressing disappointment that Gandhi was not killed by it, however given that the war was getting increasingly desperate at that time, his distraction was somewhat understandable. He was also a noted racist, like most leaders and people at the time, believing that one should not help the Palestinians from subjugation by Israel, because "a superior race naturally conquers an inferior one", and supported the use of non-lethal gas on rebellious Iraqis and other "uncivilised tribes" who had been attacking those under nominal British protection.He'd been in the army before going into politics and was also a war correspondent. As well as his Nobel Prize-winning book on the Second World War (not the most reliable source, but an invaluable memoir), he wrote a history of the English-speaking peoples and a largely forgotten political thriller called Savrola: A Tale of the Revolution in Laurania.A real-life Bunny-Ears Lawyer, he once had a meeting with Franklin D. Roosevelt while he was taking a bath, had little awareness of social mannerisms and sometimes wandered around his house naked. He more or less had a drink with him at all times, thus the, "You, sir, are drunk!", quote. He also suffered from depression, which he called his "black dog".He was given a state funeral on his death in 1965, with a lot of leaders turning up. He is buried in a churchyard in Bladon, Oxfordshire. In a BBC series he was voted Greatest Briton of all time, and up until the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005 his funeral was attended by the most heads of states.Winston Churchill was notably a child of a binational marriage; his mother Jeanette Jerome was an AmericanSocialite from Brooklyn. A study of her biography, and that of her father Leonard Jerome, makes it very clear which side of the family Sir Winston got his resiliency from.In 1963, he became the first person to be granted an honorary citizenship of the United States, and one of only two given this honor while they were alive (the other being Mother Teresa). Including Churchill, there are only seven honorary American citizens. He is also one of the very few non-American citizens to have a U.S. naval vessel named in his honor. (Appropriately, the USS Winston S. Churchill has a Royal Navy guest officer assigned to her company and flies the White Ensign below the Stars and Stripes.)Many of Churchill's quotes are rightly legendary, including (as well as our page quote):
The young war correspondent Churchill guest-stars in the Time Wars novel The Khyber Connection, and is attacked by time-travelling assassins.
Appears in Time Squad, in which the main characters must go back in time and stop him from being a nudist.
In the Time Travel / Alternate History novel The Proteus Operation, people from a different United States go back in time to the 1930s to save the world from the Nazi Empire which defeated Britain. They need to find someone in politics to work with to save the UK. When the name Winston Churchill comes up they are about to dismiss him as all washed up and his career over. Then they think more about it and realize that he is untarnished with the defeatism and appeasement of so many others.
When the cast of Are You Being Served? camps out on the floor one night, Mr Grainger does an impression of Churchill giving one of his famous speeches.
A playable leader in Civilization IV (added in the Warlords expansion). His traits are Charismatic/Protective—which boost "happiness" (a rough stand-in for home-front morale during wartime) and defense respectively. This makes him pretty good for turtling.
Appeared in "Victory of the Daleks", the third episode of the 2010 series of Doctor Who. He and the Doctor are apparently old friends, and he keeps trying to swipe the TARDIS key from the Doctor. He also turns up in the season finale "The Wedding of River Song" in an corrupted version of the universe where every time is happening at once, where he intrinsically trusts the Doctor due to feeling echoes of their friendship in the proper timeline.
You really shouldn't be surprised, this is Turtledove after all. Like how every time Sam Carsten comes back to the fore we have to be told how easily he burns, and how pale his skin is, and how he always has to wear zinc oxide cream while on deck duty, and how he's sensitive to the Sun, etc, etc. If he thinks something's worth saying, Turtledove says it over and over again.
Yet another Time Travel novel, Lightning by Dean Koontz, ends with a time-traveling ex-Nazi returning to just after World War II and persuading Churchill to finish off the Soviets as well, creating a much nicer world.
Churchill would have liked nothing more. Roosevelt, however, was convinced he had a rapport going with Stalin and that he could "deal with him".
Roosevelt died in office in April 1945; his successor Truman was inexperienced and did not expect to be elevated to the Presidency. Stalin played on this inexperience, as he did when the British leadership changed following the general election of May 1945. Truman and Atlee were no match for the Russian leader, and both were naive enough to think Stalin could be trusted.
Probably not as it would have required a lot of blood and even he was tired of war by then. He would have liked to if he could snap his fingers and get rid of Stalin though.
I think the fact that military intervention in the USSR could only be considered and not acted upon is summed up by the name of the British plans for such an eventuality: Operation Unthinkable
"It's gotten a lot harder to work in government. You think Winston Churchill ever had to pull his pants down and show his butt? No. But would he have? Yes. Now could he have? Well, maybe not towards the end of his life. But he would have. Because he loved his job."
The Eagle Has Landed was a fictionalized account of a real Nazi plot to kidnap Churchill on his native soil.
Churchill: The Hollywood Years is an satire of Hollywood History were Winston Churchill is actually an American commando attempting to stop Hitler from marring into the British Royal Family. The Churchill the world knows was just an actor called Ray Bubbles.
The Rousing Speech at the top of the page was sampled and placed in the beginning section of Supertramp's 1977 anti-war epic, "Fool's Overture".
In Stewart Lee's Comedy Roadshow one sketch focused around the fact that Churchill was in fact a pig. A trained pig whose mouth was controlled by remote control and the V-peace-sign was purely because with a cloven hooves there weren't many other type of gestations available. This sketch was curated by a "historian" called Alan Moore.
A young Churchill comes to Toronto in Murdoch Mysteries to give a lecture on his time in the Sudan during the Mahdist War and becomes the chief suspect in his best friend's murder. It's not him, but a fanatical follower of the Mahdi who saw the friend take part in the descration of the Mahdi's tomb.
America Saves the Day: A good-natured non-American example. Winston spent the first years of the war seducing FDR in a rather unsuccessful attempt to invoke this. When Japan obliged at Pearl Harbor, he was overjoyed and declared "so we have won after all!"
Anti-Climax: His second tenure as Prime Minister, 1951-55.
Because Destiny Says So: On his accession to the office of Prime Minister on May 10, 1940, the same day that the Germans launched their long-awaited attack on the Western Allies:
...on the night of the 10th of May, at the outset of this mighty battle, I acquired the chief power in the State. ... I cannot conceal from the reader of this truthful account that as I went to bed at about 3 a.m. I was conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial. Ten years in the political wilderness had freed me from ordinary party antagonisms. My warnings over the last six years had been so numerous, so detailed, and were now so terribly vindicated, that no one could gainsay me. I could not be reproached either for making the war or with want of preparation for it. I thought I knew a good deal about it all, and I was sure I should not fail.
He was something of a social reformer in his early political career (he was instrumental in introducing old age pensions, for instance), but that largely subsided after taking over the Admiralty in 1911.
His unapologetic imperialism was certainly a 19th century throwback.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Famous for his eccentricities and energetic quirks. At one point, the admirals seriously wondered if Winston had gone mad.
Cassandra Truth : He unsuccessfully spent the 30s trying to warn of the danger that Hitler posed to Europe, and of the lack of Britain's preparedness for war. The first chapter of his war memoirs is named The Gathering Storm.
The Munich Agreement that Neville Chamberlain brokered, in which the western powers agreed to hand over a slice of Czechoslovakia for Hitler's promise not to swallow the rest, has become a synonym for political weakness. At the time, however, it was wildly popular in England and Chamberlain was hailed as the man who had saved the peace. Churchill was practically alone when he rose up in the House of Commons and said "we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat". Less than six months later Hitler gobbled up the rest of Czechoslovakia, and less than a year later Britain was at war.
Comically Missing the Point: According to one anecdote, Churchill was awoken one day with the news that an MP had been found naked in the bushes with a guardsman the previous night. Churchill asked, "Wasn't it awfully cold last night?" When told that yes, it had been one of the coldest winter nights in decades, he said, "Makes you proud to be British."
Cursed with Awesome: Arguably. He was born with a speech impediment that he fought for years to overcome, and the lingering effect of it was that he paused a lot in his speeches, which lent them an additional sense of drama. This style may have been deliberately copied by a later Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
Darkest Hour: A real life Trope Codifier of sorts, "The Darkest Hour" is a phrase he coined to describe the phase of the war when Britain alone faced the Axis threat and was pounded daily by The Blitz. He also reversed it to praise such defiance.
If the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.
Deadpan Snarker: Truly prolific, although two of the most famous are these exchanges (the first with one of his favourite House of Commons sparring partners, the Conservative backbencher Nancy Astor):
Astor: If I were your wife, I would put poison in your tea.
Churchill: Madam, if I were your husband, I would drink it.
Bessie Braddock: Sir, you are drunk!
Churchill: Madam, you are ugly. In the morning, I shall be sober.
Democracy Is Bad: As the man himself said, "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
But he did also say "No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time", so it would seem although he felt that democracy was far from perfect, it was still notably less imperfect than the alternatives.
Churchill: You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.
Enemy Mine: He absolutely loathed Bolshevism and campaigned for active intervention against the communist faction in Russia's civil war, but when Germany invaded the USSR he quickly and warmly welcomed Stalin as a genuine ally of the British Empire.
Churchill: If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.
Evil Counterpart: In his unfinished biography, William Manchester claims that the reason Churchill knew Adolf Hitler was, well, Adolf Hitler, instead of just another eccentric politician, was that Hitler was Churchill's Evil Counterpart. Both were romantic nationalists with a militaristic streak (although arguably Churchill's militarism was comparable that of high-school wargame geek or an unusually avid Tom Clancy fan) who had a sense of national mission. Of course Churchill's idea of Britain's mission was rather different from Hitler's idea of Germany's.
Functional Addict: Dependent on alcohol without being an abuser. He boasted about being able to outdrink Molotov and Stalin and also joked his doctor forbade him to ingest anything non-alcoholic between meals.
Glory Seeker: After the fiasco of Gallipoli and his exit from the government, he rejoined the British Army seeking to rehabilitate his reputation and was given a field commission as Colonel in Belgium, where he continued to exhibit the usual reckless daring of his military career.
Godwin's Law: Possibly the first ever invocation, during the 1945 election he attacked Labour, stating that they would limit free speech and claimed they would have to "fall back on some kind of Gestapo". This went over very badly and certainly didn't do anything to prevent Churchill's defeat.
Although Churchill's earlier stint as the actual Chancellor was rather disastrous.
Good News, Bad News: Used in a reverse way in his WWII chronicles. Reportedly, after learning about the attack on Pearl Harbor and on the British possesion in East Asia, Churchill broke out a bottle of champagne and said, "We've won the war", since this meant Awakening the Sleeping Giant, his longtime daydream.
The article link says that a lot of supply aid from within India was blocked...by locally elected Indians working to protect their own food supplies. Moreover, a series of typhoons, floods and the like made the Bengal region even worse off that year, coupled by the fact that the Japanese were invading the main exporters of rice in the region, effectively cutting supply to starvation levels. We do remember that this was during the height of the Pacific War during WWII, right?
As far as "poison gas" is concerned, that's a bit of a misrepresentation. The gas that Churchill supported using he insisted should not be a deadly gas, and part of his motivation for this was actually to keep loss of life and permanent damage to individuals to a minimum. He also wrote that he boggled that people seemed to think that lacerating a man's body with bursting shells and lead bullets was somehow "acceptable," and yet suddenly get on their moral high-horse "at making his eyes water" with gas. In short, Churchill advocated tear gas, something that's used for riot control today.
A common criticism of Churchill is that he brought in London Metropolitan policemen to break up a strike at Tonypandy in Wales. While this is true, it ignores the fact that firstly Churchill did sympathise with the strikers, and secondly the rest of the government had wanted to send in the army.
There's also the matter of him getting rather chummy with Benito Mussolini (mostly because Churchill admired the Italian dictator's anti-communist actions, and that until the later '30s, he was not well-disposed to Adolf Hitler, making it a case of "He's an SOB, but he's our SOB."). Got a lot less chummy as the years dragged on, of course.
The Bengali famine aside, Churchill was a passionate opponent of Indian independence and a true believer in Britain's right to rule over brown people around the world. Observe what he said about India in general and Gandhi in particular. Churchill's "wilderness years" when he was a powerless backbencher did not happen because he was against appeasing Hitler; he dropped out of leadership in the Conservative Party before Hitler came to power, because Churchill was opposed to Indian Home Rule.
Another example of those "politically incorrect views on race" are preserved in the essay mentioned in Alternate History above, "If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg". Churchill pronounces the idea of racial equality as "idiotic" and describes black Americans as "simple" and "docile".
With regards to Indian Home Rule, part of his argument was that the advocates of Indian independance were usually members of the old elite castes who had been rebelling in turns and forms for decades, but only recently by appealing to the idea of Indian nationalism. In other words he thought "independance" was just a cover for a power grab by the Indian aristocracy. This is partly true (Gandhi and most of the Home Rule movement were indeed from the upper castes; Ambedkar, another advocate from the Untouchable caste, repeatedly called them out for it and found Gandhi in particular to be condescending), though still far more cynical than the truth. Of course, racial and cultural superiority played into his thoughts as well.
Humble Hero: While Winston was prone to egotism, he also was a romantic who genuinely put the credit collectively in the British and not in his leadership. Quoting from his 80th birthday ceremony in the middle of his second mandate:
It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion's heart: I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.
I Was Quite a Looker: Prior to looking like a very large ugly baby in a suit, he was actually a rather handsome man.
Impoverished Patrician: Lord Randolph was a younger son of the Duke of Marlborough, so money was always a bit of a concern. Winston's expensive tastes meant he was always on the knife's edge in adulthood, and he remained afloat only by churning out an astonishing pace of bestselling books and work-for-hire newspaper and magazine articles.
John Maynard Keynes: Winston has written an enormous book all about himself and called it The World Crisis.
I Warned You: Churchill warned the Western powers of the threat to democracy Hitler and his fascist government posed. No one listened to him until WWII broke out, and he was elected as Prime Minister in 1940.
Lesser of Two Evils: He opposed Communism with a passion, but he made this quote in response to Germany's invasion of Russia: "If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons."
Lord Randolph Churchill, Winston's father, who was a rising star in the Conservative Party but his political career ended in disaster due to a miscalculation when he became Chancellor. Exactly the same thing happened to Winston in the 1920s and, until WW 2, most people assumed his career was over as well.
Look Both Ways: Struck by a car in New York City and nearly killed on Dec. 13, 1931. He looked the wrong way when stepping into the street (Americans drive on the right).
Modern Major General: Churchill's military incompetence is generally glossed over as part of his Historical Hero Upgrade. He was one of the architects of the disastrous British defeat in Gallipoli in World War 1 (something that derailed his political career for a time).
The Dardanelles naval campaign failed because the field commander (Admiral John de Robeck) called off the final assault, against Churchill's advice. The marine landings were also opposed by Churchill, and went bad because of similarly awful leadership from commanders on the scene, but Churchill ended up taking the blame for their failure in spite of that.
Probably a better example would be his tendency towards micromanaging British naval forces in the early stages of World War I, which led to several notable failures and defeats (the flight of the Goeben and the battle of Coronel among them). During World War II he had many novel ideas and schemes, though most of them were so outlandish and unrealistic that General Brooke (his chief of staff) was often driven to distraction. President Roosevelt commented "Winston has a hundred ideas a day, of which four are good ideas".
Also Churchill diverting General Wavell's forces to defend Greece. Greece and Crete were lost anyway and the delay in the Libyan offensive enabled the Africa Corp time to deploy there.
However, as the Churchill Museum in London makes a point of noting, unlike Hitler Churchill never actually overruled his generals.
Apparently tougher on his Admirals than his Generals, during the Bismark pursuit, Churchill micromanaged the situation to the Admiralty and Admiral Tovey's despair. At one point, he ordered Tovey to keep his capital ships out on the hunt even if they had to be towed back to port from running out of fuel (a possibly disastrous situation during the heyday of the U-boat). Tovey and the Admiralty blew him off and ignored him and not being a Hitleresque dictator with permission to kill, all Churchill could do was stew at them.
He did try to get Admiral Cunningham punished after what Churchill felt was timidness during the Battle of Cape Matapan (which the British technically won anyway). No action was taken against Cunningham.
My God, What Have I Done?: At one point, when shown film footage of the bombing campaign against German cities, he burst out "Are we beasts? Are we taking this too far?"
Also, his remark in his history of the Great War that the only atrocities that hadn't been committed by the "civilized" nations who fought the war had been "Torture, and Cannibalism; and those had been of doubtful expediency." As First Lord of the Admiralty he had been, of course, a senior political leader of one of the nations that had fought so dirty.
Mr. Vice Guy: His smoking and drinking, both seen as excessive, did nothing but add to his mystique.
Nice Hat: He frequently wore bowlers, as seen in photographs. This hat has become associated with his image almost as much as his famous cigars.
The Only One: Churchill was hardly the heroic saint he's remembered as in some quarters. However, regardless of why it happened, Churchill's standing as practically the only British politician who hadn't supported appeasement left him the only realistic candidate to take over as PM in the spring of 1940, when the war started to go bad.
"In England, there was such a man. [chapter break] Now, at last, his hour had struck." (William Manchester's Churchill bio)
Only Sane Man: During the 1930s, he was pretty much the only politician in Britain who saw Hitler for what he truly was.
Although, ironically enough, he was one of some to openly congratulate Benito Mussolini on his policies (mainly because Mussolini was no threat to British supremacy, and even despite that he showed remorse for doing that later on).
Actually, there were a few British politicians who saw Hitler for the threat he was, some before Churchill did; its just that most of them weren't famous.
Parental Substitute: Mrs. Everest, his childhood governess, who, as with most good Victorian households, handled most of the actual child-rearing.
Power Trio: With Uncle Sam Franklin D. Roosevelt and Uncle JoeJosef Stalin, who historically was the winner at Yalta, to Churchill's chagrin. Strategically Churchill was the leader of the weakest nation among the big three, but nevertheless fought to retain some parity.
During the 1926 general strike, he nationalized Fleet Street machinery and started to edit, with great success, the government-biased paper The British Gazzette. He would wield it later as a warning "If ever you let loose upon us again a general strike, we will loose upon you another British Gazette"
Liberally and justifiedly used during the war.
In war-time truth is so precious she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.
A frequent visitor to the ruins during the blitz, a moral act of defiance. He had trouble containing the tears however.
His declaration of war on Japan received some flak for being extremely courteous, which he defended reasoning that "If you have to kill a man, it cost nothing to be polite"
Senior Sleep Cycle: Inverted, because of the siesta habit he picked up while covering the Spanish-American war, Churchill in his sixties was able to stay fresh and work until late at night and his junior colleagues or underlings were barely able to keep up.
Churchill and the Conservatives were defeated by the Labour Party in 1945 (soon after Victory-Europe-day but before Victory-Japan-day) as the people deemed his martial traits and general agenda were not useful for a post-war Britain in need of reforms.
Additionally, there was the dissolution of Britain's empire, which happened quite rapidly after the war, as Britain had gone so far into debt fighting Hitler that there was no possible way to maintain it. For Churchill, a strong believer in the Empire, this came hard.
In a broader sense, Britain went to war to defend Poland's sovereignty and the European Balance of Power. By the end of the war Poland was a defacto Soviet satellite and Churchill was unable or powerless to convince Roosevelt against this. Churchill was at least able to sway Greece (but failed with other countries) away from the Soviet sphere in the Percentages agreement done with Stalin.
Written by the Winners: Trope Namer. Churchill, of course, made sure that he was one of those writers, publishing multi-volume histories of both the First and Second World Wars.