He was one of the first to promote military aircraft and set up the Royal Navy Air Service. He was so enthusiastic about aviation that he took flying lessons to understand firsthand its military potential. Churchill also drafted a controversial piece of legislation to amend the Mental Deficiency Act of , mandating sterilization of the feeble-minded.
The bill eventually passed in both Houses with only the remedy of confinement in institutions. Churchill remained in his post through the start of World War I , but was forced out for his part in proposing what became the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli , and resigned from the government toward the end of For a brief period, Churchill rejoined the British Army, commanding a battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front and seeing action in "no man's land.
From to , Churchill served as minister of war and air and colonial secretary under Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
As colonial secretary, Churchill was embroiled in another controversy when he ordered air power to be used on rebellious Kurdish tribesmen in Iraq, a British territory. At one point, he suggested that poisonous gas be used to put down the rebellion, a proposal that was considered but never enacted. Fractures in the Liberal Party led to the defeat of Churchill as a member of Parliament in , and he rejoined the Conservative Party. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, returning Britain to the gold standard, and took a hard line against a general labor strike that threatened to cripple the British economy.
With the defeat of the Conservative government in , Churchill was out of government.
He was perceived as a right-wing extremist, out of touch with the people. Over the subsequent decade, known as his "wilderness years," he concentrated on his writing, publishing a memoir and a biography of the First Duke of Marlborough. During this time Churchill began work on his celebrated A History of English-Speaking Peoples , though it wouldn't be published for another two decades. Britain mourned for more than a week.
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Churchill had shown signs of fragile health as early as , when he suffered a heart attack while visiting the White House. Two years later, he had a similar attack while battling a bout of pneumonia. In June , at age 78, he endured a series of strokes at his office. That particular news was kept from the public and Parliament, with the official announcement stating that he had suffered from exhaustion. Churchill recuperated at home, and returned to his work as prime minister in October.
However, it was apparent even to the great statesman that he was physically and mentally slowing down, and he retired as prime minister in Churchill remained a member of Parliament until the general election of , when he did not seek reelection. There was speculation that Churchill suffered from Alzheimer's disease in his final years, though medical experts pointed to his earlier strokes as the likely cause of reduced mental capacity. Despite his poor health, Churchill was able to remain active in public life, albeit mostly from the comfort of his homes in Kent and Hyde Park Gate, in London.
We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! Sign up for the Biography newsletter to receive stories about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives. He is known for his policy of "appeasement" toward Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany. Tony Blair was leader of the British Labour Party from to , and prime minister of the United Kingdom from to Joseph Stalin ruled the Soviet Union for more than two decades, instituting a reign of terror while modernizing Russia and helping to defeat Nazism.
Pierre Trudeau was the 15th prime minister of Canada, famous for his youthful energy, his charismatic and controversial personality and his commitment to Canadian unity. The first female prime minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher was a controversial figurehead of conservative ideology during her time in office. Indira Gandhi was India's third prime minister, serving from until , when her life ended in assassination. She was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister. Benazir Bhutto became the first female prime minister of Pakistan in She was killed by a suicide bomber in The campaign dragged on for months.
Churchill continued to enthusiastically support the campaign but the rest of the cabinet decided it must end. Churchill was left with no alternative but to resign from the government. The failure of the Dardanelles campaign was a severe blow to Churchill but he took up a new hobby - painting. In any case, Churchill was soon back. In July he was made the minister of munitions, in charge of their production. The war ended in November and the Liberals won an election in December. In January Churchill was made secretary of state for war. In he was made secretary of state for the colonies.
However, was a difficult year for Churchill.
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He lost his mother and his daughter, Marigold. In November Churchill lost his seat, Dundee. He returned to parliament in when he became MP for Epping. He rejoined the Conservatives. In he was made chancellor of the exchequer. Churchill later regarded this decision as a serious mistake as it meant the pound was overvalued, which harmed Britain's exports.
In came the general strike. Churchill was determined to break the strike and he edited a government newspaper called The British Gazette. But the strike ended after only nine days. It was published in six volumes between and His book My Early Life was published in Churchill also wrote about his ancestor the Duke of Marlborough a great general in the early 18th century. His book Marlborough; his Life and Times was published in four volumes between and In the Conservatives lost their majority in the House of Commons and a minority Labour government took office.
In a national government made up of men of all parties was formed to deal with the worsening economic crisis. But Churchill was not asked to join the cabinet. In the s and s Churchill was strongly opposed to independence for India. From the s Churchill argued strongly for rearmament. He strongly opposed the appeasement policy of Neville Chamberlain, which for a time made him unpopular.
But he was proved right when Germany occupied the whole of Czechoslovakia in March For a time Chamberlain remained prime minister. Meanwhile Winston Churchill was responsible for some reforms including the Trade Boards Act of , which set minimum wages for workers in certain trades.
He also introduced labour exchanges. In Churchill became the home secretary. That year there were riots in Tonypandy in Wales. The chief constable of Glamorganshire requested troops be sent. At first, Churchill ordered that troops should be held back in Cardiff and Swindon but he did agree to send policemen from the Metropolitan Police Force in London.
However, Churchill later authorized the deployment of troops. In January he was present at the Siege of Sidney Street when two Latvian anarchists in a house fought a gun battle with police. In Churchill was made First Lord of the Admiralty.
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On 2 August Britain declared war on Germany. Churchill was blamed for the failure of the Dardanelles campaign. Turkey was an ally of Germany. Most of Turkey is in Asia but a small part is in Europe. European Turkey is separated from Asian Turkey by water. The Turks protected it with mines and forts. But Churchill believed it could be forced open. Turkey would then leave the war and the British could send supplies to Russia Britain's ally by sea.
But the campaign turned into a disaster. Naval operations began on 18 March On 25 April soldiers landed.
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But they were unable to defeat the Turks. The campaign dragged on for months. Churchill continued to enthusiastically support the campaign but the rest of the cabinet decided it must end. Churchill was left with no alternative but to resign from the government. The failure of the Dardanelles campaign was a severe blow to Churchill but he took up a new hobby - painting. In any case, Churchill was soon back. In July he was made the minister of munitions, in charge of their production. The war ended in November and the Liberals won an election in December.
In January Churchill was made secretary of state for war. In he was made secretary of state for the colonies. However, was a difficult year for Churchill.