Winston Churchill accomplished many things in his lifetime. It's not surprising in a 2002 BBC poll, Winston Churchill was voted the Greatest Briton for his efforts during the Second World War. Yet there is so much more to this great man's story. His life and work are well documented and too vast for a single blog post, so here are our top 8 interesting facts about Winston Churchill:
Winston Churchill's daring escape from a prison camp at the age of 25
In November 1899, Winston Churchill traveled in an armored train through the British colony of Natal in South Africa. He was serving both as a military office and war correspondent for the Morning Post. Boers, the descendants of Dutch settlers who were fighting the British, ambushed the train. During the ensuing battle, Churchill was captured and taken to a prisoner of war camp.
He soon started plotting his escape with other prisoners. But due to poor communication, their plans didn't go through as planned. As a result, Churchill escaping alone into the night. Luckily, he stumbled upon a British coal mine manager, who hid him for three days before sending him off on a rail truck to Mozambique.
He declined to be made a duke twice
In 1945, King George VI offered Churchill to make him the Duke of Dover and a Knight of the Garter; however, Churchill turned down both offers.
In 1955, after retiring as prime minister, Churchill was offered again by Queen Elizabeth II for elevation to the peerage in the rank of duke. By custom, prime ministers retiring from the Commons were usually offered earldoms. Hence, a dukedom was a sign of special honor. He declined that offer since he didn't want to affect his son or grandson chances of serving in the House of Commons.
He wrote every word of his famed speeches
Winston Churchill is best remembered as the British prime minister whose speeches rallied a nation under a relentless Nazi onslaught in World War II. But few people know that he wrote every word of his many speeches. He's said he'd spend an hour working on a single minute of a speech. On May 13, 1940, three days after Germany invaded France, Churchill gave his first speech as prime minister to the House of Commons. It was later broadcasted to the public. "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat," he said, rallying the country brace for hard times.
His World War 1 Assault failed terribly
Having suffered countless casualties on the war front only four months, Churchill serving as the First Lord of the Admiralty (the British equivalent of U.S. Secretary of the Navy devised an alternative plan. Instead of invading Germany as earlier planned, they would attack the Ottoman Empire and seize Constantinople. He believed this would give them a clear sea route to their Russian allies. The plan seemed to be working until undetected mines sank three of their ships and severely damaged three others.
This loss proved to be the end of their advantage, and nine months later, they pulled back after sustaining massive casualties. Though the military commanders were mostly to blame, Churchill served as the scapegoat for the disastrous campaign and was demoted to an obscure cabinet post.
Winston Churchill was an award-winning author
Churchill was a prolific writer throughout his life. He wrote books detailing his army experiences in India, Sudan, and South Africa, a biography of his father, and numerous volumes on World War I and World War II. In 1953, while serving his second term as prime minister, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature for "his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values." His six-volume books on The Second World War became a best-seller in both the U.K. and the U.S.
Winston Churchill has been depicted in movies and T.V. shows
Churchill has been depicted on screen more than sixty times.
Some of the most popular tv shows and movies Churchill's character has been portrayed include:
- Darkest Hour(2017)- A war drama film directed by Joe Wright. Set in May 1940, it stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill and accounts for his early days as prime minister during the Second World War.
- The Gathering Storm(2002)- A BBC–HBO co-produced television biographical film about Winston Churchill in the years before World War II.
- Peaky Blinders- A British crime drama television series created by Steven Knight. Set in Birmingham, England, the series follows the Shelby crime family's exploits in the direct aftermath of the First World War. Read our post on Peaky Blinders.
- The Crown- A historical drama T.V. series about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Winston Churchill was an Avid Painter
Painting was one of Churchill's favorite hobbies. He was once quoted saying, "When I get to heaven, I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting." He didn't start painting until he was 40, but he quickly grew in skill producing over 500works of art. Today, some paintings by Churchill are worth a lot of money. In fact, in 2014, a collection of 15 Churchill paintings went for £11.2 million.
Winston Churchill experienced a lot of accidents!
As a young boy, he suffered a concussion and ruptured kidney while playing on a bridge. He also nearly drowned in a Swiss lake and fell from multiple horses. He dislocated his shoulder disembarking from a ship in India. He crashed a plane while learning to fly and was hit by a car when he looked the wrong way while crossing 5th Avenue, New York. Yet it seems his many close shaves only further encouraged him to tempt destiny and put himself on the path of yet more danger.