Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) (1/5)

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Ranking as #1 on countless lists, the great Sir Winston Churchill is likely the most undisputed placement to feature here. Born to an aristocratic family in their famous ancestral home, Blenheim Palace (now a modern tourist attraction!) the young Winston was groomed for greatness from an early age.

Little known to most, however, his behaviour as a youth was far from exemplary: he was known to be unacademic and very misbehaved. During his teen years, his ailing father, fearing for his wayward son’s future, had him apply to the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. He graduated a few years later as a Second Lieutenant in the British army, and during this period made use of his connections in order to have himself deployed to a war zone, eager to see combat.

On 15th November 1899, Winston and the soldiers he was with were captured as POWs on a supply train. With the assistance of an English miner who he had met in the prisoner camp, he eventually managed to escape, making it back to England where he published a book on his experiences in the South African frontier.

He then turned his attention to politics, where he declared himself a “liberal in all but name”, as he vehemently opposed the liberal party’s support for home rule in Ireland – ever the staunch monarchist! After World War I, he was perhaps the most vocal critic in parliament towards the issues of German rearmament and Hitler’s rise to power – warnings which were largely ignored.

However, on the outbreak of the Second World War, Churchill’s popularity both in the commons and across the entire country soared, and he was chosen as war time Prime Minister to replace the ailing Neville Chamberlain. Remembered for his brave efforts in leading the entire western world and most importantly Britain herself through the dark, dark years of the Second World War – arguably the greatest challenge, and threat to her own existence, the country has ever faced – Churchill shall always be remembered as not only a great Prime Minister, but as one of the greatest leaders of history.

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