10 Interesting Facts About Winston Churchill

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A face portrait of Winston Churchill wearing a bowtie in March 1945.
Sir Winston Churchill in March 1945.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Winston Churchill is probably one of the most famous British figures in modern history. He served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 until 1945 and then again from 1951 until 1955. He served in Parliament for over 60 years, representing 5 constituencies and holding 12 different political offices in that time. You may think that you are familiar with Churchill and what he did in his life, but how much do you really know about him? In this article, we are going to look at 10 interesting facts that you may not know about the former British Prime Minister.

1. Winston Churchill was a distant relative of 1st US President George Washington

Winston Churchill at the tomb of President George Washington with President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 8, 1942.
Video by George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Yes, it’s true, one of Britain’s most famous and iconic political figures was actually half American! Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome, was born in Brooklyn, New York, and lived there until 1867 when, at the age of 13, she moved to Paris, France with her mother and two sisters. Jennie met Lord Randolph Churchill, in Paris in 1873, getting married at the British Embassy there on 15 April 1874, and had Winston in November of the same year. Winston Churchill’s great-great-grandmother was Betsy Ball, who was a relative of George Washington, through his mother Mary Ball. This in turn makes Winston Churchill a distant relative of the First President of the United States.

2. The first known use of the abbreviation “OMG” was sent to Winston Churchill.

Winston Churchill in a suit and top hat standing on the left of the photo with Lord Jacky Fisher who is also wearing a suit. He has a cane and hat with him. They are standing outside of a building probably in London in 1913.
First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill (left), photographed with Chairman of Royal Commission on Fuel and Engines, Lord “Jacky” Fisher (right), after a meeting of the Committee of Imperial Defence in 1913.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

While the abbreviation “OMG” (meaning Oh My God) was popularized in the 1990s and early 2000s through online and text communication, the first known use of the term was actually in a letter to Winston Churchill during the First World War. On the 9th of September 1917, British Admiral, Lord John Fisher wrote “O.M.G (Oh! My! God!)” in his letter to Churchill about some newspaper headlines that had “utterly upset” him.

3. Churchill spent time in a Prisoner of War camp.

Winston Churchill wearing a uniform standing on the right of a group of prisoners during the Second Boer War, 1899.
Winston Churchill standing on the right alongside a group of Prisoners during the Second Boer War, 1899.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1899, Winston Churchill was working as a war correspondent for the newspaper The Morning Star covering the Anglo-Boer War taking place in South Africa. On the 15th of November 1899, the train Churchill was riding on was ambushed by Boers and was captured and then imprisoned in a Prisoner of War (POW) camp in Pretoria. In December of the same month, Winston Churchill managed with the assistance of an English mine manager by hiding in a mine and in freight trains until he reached Mozambique. The story of his escape received national attention and he published a book, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, in 1900 of his time in South Africa.

4. Winston Churchill was a Nobel Prize winner.

Lady Clementine Churchill collects Winston’s Nobel Prize on his behalf at the Stockholm Concert Hall in Sweden, 1953.
Video by British Pathé

Most people know Winston Churchill only as a politician with many not aware that he was a very successful writer. He produced mostly non-fiction works but did also write a fiction novel called Savrola. In 1953, Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.”

5. Churchill’s last words were “I’m bored with it all”.

a crowd watching the coffin, that is draped with a union flag, of Winston Churchill pass by in London.
The funeral procession of Winston Churchill, 1965.
Credit: Annie Spratt // Unsplash License

Winston Churchill’s final spoken words were reportedly said to his son-in-law, Christopher Soames, when he was offered champagne. He said “I’m bored with it all”. this shortly before he fell into a coma in the middle of January 1965. Churchill had 8 strokes throughout his life, with the final one occurring on 15 January 1965. He died at the age of 90 on the 24th of the same month.

6. Winston Churchill produced over 500 paintings throughout his life.

Winston Churchill seated wearing a jacket and large hat, painting a landscape in Southern France in 1955.
Color photograph of Winston Churchill painting in Southern France, 9 March 1955.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Along with his careers as a politician and writer, he also spent much of his free time painting. He first began painting at the age of 40 in 1915 when he was not as active in politics; he represented the constituency of Dundee but held no ministerial office. Throughout his life, he went on to complete over 500 paintings, with his final known piece, The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell, completed in 1962. Nowadays, his paintings are selling for millions.

7. Churchill proposed four times to different women before getting married.

Winston Churchill and Clementine Churchill sitting on a boat close together. September 1940.
Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine on board a naval auxiliary patrol vessel, 25 September 1940.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

During his youth, Winston Churchill had proposed three times to different women and had been turned down each time, before proposing to Clementine Hozier, whom he married in 1908. He first proposed to Pamela Plowden, the daughter of a British colonial officer, in 1900. He then proposed to both American actress Ethel Barrymore, and heiress Muriel Wilson in 1904.

8. 14 people were Prime Minister during his political career.

Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George both walking together wearing suits and top hats. Lloyd George is carrying a box and an umbrella, and Churchill is walking with a cane. 1907
President of the Board of Trade (future Prime Minister) David Lloyd George (left) and Member of Parliament for Manchester North West (future Prime Minister) Winston Churchill (right), both members of the Liberal Party, walking together in 1907. 
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Including himself, there were 14 Prime Ministers during the 60-year political career of Sir Winston Churchill. The first Prime Minister of his career was Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, who served from 1895 until 1902, and the final Prime Minister of his political career was Alec Douglas-Home who served from 1963 until 1964. The role of Prime Minister switched 18 times between the 14 people during this time (with Churchill holding the position on two occasions).

9. Winston Churchill was in a car accident which put him in hospital.

Churchill on Budget Day with his wife Clementine and children Sarah and Randolph, 15 April 1929.
Winston Churchill (3rd from left) on Budget Day on the 15th April 1929, 2 years before the car accident.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

On December 13, 1931, in New York City, Winston Churchill was hit by a car while trying to cross a busy street. Churchill accepted blame for the accident as he was looking in the wrong direction, forgetting that oncoming traffic is on the right in the United States (traffic keeps to the left in the United Kingdom). He was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital with injuries that included a scalp wound and multiple cracked ribs. He met with the man that hit him and gave him a signed copy of his autobiography.

10. Winston Churchill was over 80 years old when he resigned as Prime Minister.

Back row
Osbert Peake, Minister of Pensions
George Edward Peter Thorneycroft, President of the Board of Trade
Walter Turner Monckton, Minister of Labour and National Service
The Hon. James Gray Stuart, Secretary of State for Scotland
Gwilym Lloyd George, Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Welsh Affairs,
Alan Tindal Lennox-Boyd, Secretary of State for the Colonies
Edwin Duncan Sandys, Minister of Housing and Local Government
Derick Heathcoat Amory, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Sir David McAdam Eccles, Minister of Education
Norman Craven Brook, Cabinet Secretary

Front row
Maurice Harold Macmillan, Minister of Defence
Frederick James Marquis, 1st Earl of Woolton, Minister of Materials and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
David Patrick Maxwell Fyfe, Viscount Kilmuir, Lord Chancellor
Sir Robert Anthony Eden, Foreign Secretary
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, Prime Minister
Robert Arthur James Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury, Leader of the House of Lords
R. A. Butler, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Philip Cunliffe-Lister, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
Henry Frederick Comfort Crookshank, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons
Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s cabinet in 1955. Churchill is seated in the center.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on April 5, 1955, he was 80 years and 126 days old. This makes him the second oldest Prime Minister in British history, only beaten by William Ewart Gladstone who was 84 years and 63 days old when he resigned from the post.

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