By Kevin Shannahan
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill died 52 years ago on Jan. 24, 1965, four months shy of 20 years after Nazi Germany was reduced to rubble and Hitler’s tyranny wiped from the face of the Earth. It was as magnificent a triumph as any in history. It was also, arguably the result of one man’s refusal to surrender his nation unto “a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime.”
Winston Churchill was born Nov. 30, 1874 in the waning days of the Victorian era. At the age of 24, he served as an officer in the British Army, fighting in the Battle of Omdurman, including the last cavalry charge made by the British Army. A civilian war correspondent in the Boer War, Churchill was captured and held as a prisoner of war, later escaping and traveling 300 miles through enemy territory to freedom. In WWI, he served as the First Lord of the Admiralty until forced to resign after the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign. Not content to sit out the rest of the war, he returned to the British Army and served as a Battalion Commander in the Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front.
“…You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory…”
-Winston Churchill before the House of
Common on being named Prime Minister
In his long years in the wilderness in the 1930s, out of office and out of favor in Parliament, he warned of a rearming Germany and the rise of Nazism. The gathering storm finally arrived in 1939 with the invasion of Poland. Churchill was reappointed First Lord of the Admiralty. On May 5, 1940, with Poland conquered and a beleaguered British Army barely hanging on in France, Winston Churchill was named Prime Minister.
Three days later, he told the British people and the world that he had nothing to offer but “blood, toil, tears and sweat.” There was to be no surrender and no appeasement. Britain would fight on. It would take five more years and an ocean of blood, but the evil of Hitler’s Germany was doomed at that moment.
In no small measure, we owe the survival of Western Civilization to Sir Winston Churchill. He was indeed the right man at the right time. May he rest in well-earned peace.