Is there a person greater than Winston Churchill to the Brits?

Karl Lyimo

HIS name was/is Churchill – born on November 30t. But, before I name the year of his birth, there’d been four ‘Churchills’ worth of note by then, starting with ‘John Churchill’ (1650-1722), the First Duke of Marlborough.

Next, chronologically, was ‘Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill’ (1849-1895), ‘a British Statesman who ended up as ‘Right Honourable Lord Randolph Churchill!’ Apparently, he was ‘the third son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough.’ This Churchill was a cantankerous Parliamentarian who in 1878 excoriated fellow Conservative Party members – including three-time British Premier William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) – as the ‘Old Gang’ that must be jettisoned!

After some brilliant performance as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons, our Randolph Churchill abruptly resigned in 1886 ‘on differences of opinion’ with is party colleagues! Perhaps fortunately for the Brits, though, Lord Randolph fathered a ‘future-tobe- prominent-Churchill’ in 1874: ‘Winston Leonard Spencer...’ (1874-1965).

That’s the ‘Churchill’ the subject-matter of this LUCUBRATION, who was birthed on today’s date, November 30… 142 years ago! [Never mind that another ‘Churchill’ was virtually thrown into the works much like the legendary spanner!

Born in 1871 and died in 1947, this particular ‘Churchill’ was in reality an American novelist who, for some reason or another, had the moniker ‘Winston Churchill’ bestowed upon him in the nomenclature stakes! But, never mind that – or him – for the here and now!]

The Right Honourable Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill – born Nov. 30, 1874; died Jan. 24, 1965 – was ‘an English Colonel, Journalist and Politician who was twice Prime Minister of the UK – and a Nobel Prize Laureate…’

He was awarded a Nobel Literature Prize in 1953 “for his mastery of Historical and Biographical description, as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values…’

His compatriots laud Churchill especially for the way he ‘conducted’ World War-II (1939-45) as British Premier and Defence Minister from 1940 to 1945 – and Conservative Party leader! Thereafter, Churchill led the Political Opposition (1945- 51) before returning as Premier from 1951 to 1955 when he retired.

He also dabbled in mattersmilitary in the early years. For instance, he served in the 1898 Sudan Campaign in which Anglo-Egyptian forces crushed the Mahdi Dervishes; and the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa (1899-1902)… Apparently, Churchill didn’t particularly feature in the 1914-18 Great War, when he was Lord Rector of Aberdeen University (1914-1918)!

But, he played a pivotal role on the side of the British and its Allies in WW-II, giving invigorating speeches (‘This is the Finest Hour’) as well as not-so encouraging ones (‘Africans died like fish…’)! Churchill is famous (and ‘infamous,’ perhaps?) for a bazillion quotes. I reproduce herein-below a few self-explanatory ones…

• ‘If you are going through Hell, keep going!’

• ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat...’ • ‘... we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans…we shall never surrender!’

• ‘A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty!’ • ‘I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober – and you’ll still be ugly!’ • ‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen!’

• ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’

• ‘I’m ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker’s prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter!’ Was ‘our’ Churchill Britain’s most illustrious personage? Reportedly, Churchill – a.k.a. known as the ‘British Bulldog’ – was voted ‘the Greatest-ever Briton’ in Year- 2002, trampling underfoot the likes of Dramatist/Poet Shakespeare (1564-1616), Naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882), and Engineer (Railways & Steamships) Isambard Brunel (1806-1859)… Sheesh!

This isn’t to say the fellow didn’t have bad/awkward moments. For instance, he’s considered ‘a racist and white supremacist’ who, in 1937, told the Palestine Royal Commission: “I don’t admit that a great wrong’s been done to the Red Indians of America or the Black people (Aborigines) of Australia.

I don’t admit that a wrong’s been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly-wise race, has come in and taken their place!’ [See Tom Heyden, ‘The 10 Greatest Controversies of Winston Churchill’s Career,’ BBC News Magazine: Jan. 26, 2015].

Churchill has also been criticised for advocating the use of chemical weapons, primarily against Kurds and Afghans! “I cannot understand this squeamishness about the use of gas,” he wrote in a Memo as War Minister in 1919. “I’m strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes,” he stressed…! [See ‘Churchill: The End of Glory,’ by John Charmley].

That’s Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill for you… Tears!

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