The greatest of them all
During his lifetime, Winston ChurchillSir Winston, with his dazzling gifts of oratory and his scintillating vocabulary, often put into words what the nation felt. Of the Battle of Britain he said: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” Now, in paying our final homage to him, we can truly say that never was so much owed to one man by so many. His inspiration, his faith, his courage and his determination galvanised us all to make those superhuman efforts which were to save this country and the forces of freedom throughout the world.
No-one else could have done it.
Each of us has our own particular memories of him. I remember his refusal during his wartime broadcasts to adopt new-fangled pronunciations of places and names—he had his own particular way of saying Nazi or Montevideo; and I remember the impish sense of humour which was constantly breaking through; the V-sign, the cigar, the walking stick, the bulldog look. But above all I recall his dauntless faith in victory—not once did we question whether we should win, only how long it would take.
Sir Winston was a man who knew both success and failure, and experience of both prepared him for his hour of destiny. This came when he was no longer a young man. He entered Parliament in the year 1900. He became Prime Minister forty years later. And when his greatest achievement, that of victory, had been secured, the nation dismissed him from office. This must have been a bitter blow, but great man as he was he accepted it as another turn of fortune's wheel.
In the last five years of his Parliamentary life, one could not fail to be impressed by his never failing courtesy and by his veneration of great institutions. If he left the House during a debate, he always turned and bowed to the Speaker; the fact that he needed two people to support him and it was a great effort made no difference; this was the custom of the House and he its “Father” must set an example. Had he wished, and because of his failing health, he could have had his vote recorded without going through the division lobbies personally, but many times he insisted on going through himself in a wheel-chair to give his own vote. This was particularly noticeable towards the end of the last Parliament.
We read in history of the lives of great men; this one we knew and saw in action.
SURELY HE WAS THE GREATEST OF THEM ALL.
The words in his own book “the Second World War” best summarise his life:—
Our hearts go out to Lady Churchill, who has been his partner throughout these great years, sharing all his joys and sorrows.