Web Extra: Churchill Trivia
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
- Winston Churchill full name was “Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill”.
- Churchill served two non-consecutive terms as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1940 to 1945 (during World War II) and 1951 to 1955.
- In 1953, Churchill won the Nobel Prize for Literature based on a lifetime of writing, both historical biographies, mostly of his aristocratic ancestors, and as a war correspondent. He was also nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1945, but did not win.
- Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill was a member of the noble family, the Dukes of Marlborough.
- Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome Churchill, was an American socialite, daughter of New York financier, Leonard Jerome.
- Churchill served in the British Army. He saw action in British India, the Anglo–Sudan War and the 2nd Boer War.
- Though both Churchill and Princess Diana share the surname, “Spencer”, they are only distantly related as fourth cousins, twice removed. Their common ancestors are Henry Bayly, Earl of Uxbridge, who died in 1812, and his wife, Jane Champagne.
- Churchill picked up his habit of smoking Cuban cigars during the Cuban War of Independence (1895). He covered the war for London’s Daily Graphic.
- In 1986, Churchill leapt from a boat in Bombay harbor, injuring his shoulder. The injury never healed correctly. An avid polo player, he had to play with his arm strapped to his side for the rest of his polo career.
- The low point of Churchill’s political career resulted when he returned the British pound to the gold standard in the last 1920’s, which depressed England’s economy, exacerbated by the shipping industry which switched fuel from coal to oil.
- Churchill was against Indian independence, believing the world should let Gandhi die if went on a hunger strike.
- Churchill often spoke of the dangers of German rearmament after World War I, which ultimately proved true.
- When he became Prime Minister, after Neville Chamberlain’s resignation, he was 65 years old. His first speech as Prime Minister stirred the passions of Parliament with “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat… We shall never surrender.”
- The Royal Air Force’s nickname, “The Few”, is based on a famous Chamberlain statement during the Battle of Britain, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
- When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, Churchill, a vehement anti-communist, sent supplies and tanks to help the Russians. He disliked Hitler even more than Stalin.
- Queen Elizabeth II offered to make Churchill the Duke of London, but Churchill declined. He did, however, accept a knighthood as Garter Knight.
- Life Magazine included one of Churchill’s books, Blood, Sweat and Tears, a collection of his speeches, among its list of 100 outstanding book of 1924-1944.
- Churchill was a hobbyist bricklayer. His projects included buildings and garden walls at his country home at Chartwell. His hobby allowed him entry into the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers, but he was expelled when he left Great Britain’s Labour Party and joined the Conservative Party (for the second time).
- Churchill received seven honorary degrees from universities around the world, including Harvard, the only Ivy League university to bestow such an honor on him.