BornThis Day: Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

Winston [Leonard Spencer] Churchill, the British leader who directed Britain and her Allies through the tragedy of World War II, was born at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England.

Churchill came from a prestigious family with a long history of military service and joined the British Fourth Hussars upon his father’s death in 1895. Over the next five years, he enjoyed a distinguished military career, serving in India, the Sudan, and South Africa, and distinguishing himself several times in battle. In 1899, he resigned his commission to concentrate on his scholarly and political career and in 1900 was elected to Parliament as Conservative MP for Oldham. In 1904, he joined the Liberals, serving in a number of important posts before being selected as Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911, where he worked to bring the British navy to a readiness for the war he anticipated.

Earlier, during World War I, Churchill was held responsible for the demoralizing Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns, and he was barred from the war coalition government. He resigned and volunteered to command an infantry battalion in France. However, in 1917, he returned to politics as a cabinet member in the Liberal government of Lloyd George. From 1919 to 1921, he was secretary of state for war and in 1924 returned to the Conservative Party, where two years later he played a leading role in the defeat of the General Strike of 1926. Out of office from 1929 to 1939, Churchill issued unheeded caution of the threat of German and Japanese aggression.

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