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In her time of greatest need, the man and the hour were one. In May and June, 1940, Winston Churchill "looked into the abyss and still managed to inspire his country." "We shall go on to the end, " he thundered. Lord Halifax, the Foreign Minster, countered with the comment that "common sense was needed, not bravdo." He could not have been more wrong, for on that critical occasion, Winston's words were indispensible.

Churchill took great pride in being compared to two men - David Lloyd George and William Pitt, Lord Chatham, both of whom were war-time leaders. Not surprisingly, there are parallels to the approach they took to their crises. Pitt made the most of his nation's shaky position by building on its strengths, where he could find them. He struck France at its weakest points wherever they existed. In 1940, Churchill's method mirrored Pitt's, for he used all his limited resources to combat Hitler's hordes wherever they were found, including his drastic decision to blow up French ships which he feared would be used by the Nazis.

At eight o'clock on Sunday, 24 January, 1965 death came to the century's greatest figure, Winston Churchill, His death occurred seventy years to the day of his father, Lord Randolf Churchill's death. Big Ben tolled the quarter hour and then was silenced for the day.

Preparations for his state funeral - code-named Hope Not - had been in progress for some time. Churchill chose to be buried not in Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's Cathedral, but in Bladon churchyard, where his parents and his brother Jack were buried.


Winston's Statue in Westminster Square
photo by

Winston Churchill and Lloyd George
Flank the Churchill Arch Entrance to
House of Commons in Westminster

After Winston's retirement, one his his last public duties was to serve on a committee to advise on the above memorial. In 1955 Churchill had proposed that a monument be erected to Lloyd George. When its location was being debated, Churchill said, "Of course, it must be in the Commons Lobby." It was subsequently located there on one side of the Churchill Arch, so called because when the House of Commons was bombed during WW II, Churchill urged that it be built from the rubble as a reminder. After Churchill died, a monument was erected to him by a different sculptor and it was placed on the other side of the arch. On its completion, the memorial was criticized as lopsided because Churchill's statue was significantly larger than Lloyd George's and dominated the setting. Even when the height of Lloyd George's was increased, the discrepancy still existed. Continued criticism did not lead to action and the two statues remain unchanged.

Two days later, Churchill's coffin, draped with the Union Jack, was taken from his last home at Hyde Park Gate to Westminster Hall to lie in state where 321,000 people passed by the catafalque to pay him tribute. It was the first time since Gladstone in 1898, that any non-royal person had been so honoured. Gladstone's state funeral was preceded by that of the Duke of Wellington's in 1852. Churchill's funeral, like that of Wellington's but not Gladstone's, was in St. Paul's Cathedral, not Westminster Abbey.

The Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, had arranged, as a parliamentary tribute to their old colleague, that in place of the soldiers mounting guard around the coffin, the three party leaders - the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the Liberal Party and the Speaker of the House of Commons - would mount guard for a short period at the corners of the catafalque.

Lying In State In Westminster Hall

On Saturday, 30 January 1965, Churchill was accorded a state funeral. To the beat of muffled drums, the drama began. A mile-long procession moved through the streets of London, watched by a nation in mourning. The coffin with the insignia of the Garter resting on a black pillow was borne on a gun carriage guided by the Royal Navy Gun Crew

Casket Carried Into St. Paul's Cathedral

Churchill's coffin rested in the transept of St.Paul's, where three thousand mourners including kings, queens and prime ministers, participated in the Anglican burial service. Those in attendance included the small figure of Paul Reynaud, Prime Minister of France in the dark days of May, 1940, when he and Churchill met frequently as they tried vainly to come up with some way of convincing Hitler to talk rather than take what he wanted by force, and save the world from another blood-letting like that which had occurred only 21 years before.

Paul Reynaud, 118th Prime Minister of France

Service Inside St. Paul's Cathedral

Service In St. Paul's Cathedral

At the conclusion of the simple ceremony, trumpeters high up in the Whispering Gallery, sounded the Last Post and Reveille. The coffin was carried from the Cathedral by grey-coated Grenadier Guards.

Casket Carried From St. Paul's Cathedral

Royal Watchers

Paying humble homage to Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth broke an ancient royal precedent by attending the funeral of a commoner - her greatest subject.

Coffin On Gun Carriage

The coffin was taken to Tower Pier where it was placed aboard the Havengore which sailed upstream to the stirring strains of Rule Britannia, and a nineteen gun salvo, whose booms were re-echoed by sixteen Lightning jet fighters roaring overhead. At Waterloo station, the coffin was loaded onto a train drawn by Winston Churchill, a Battle of Britain locomotive, to Long Handborough, the station nearest the churchyard at Bladon.

Coffin Aboard
Being Taken from Tower Pier to Waterloo Station

Bladon Church
photo by
W. Wilson

After a brief private service, Churchill was buried next to his father, his mother and his brother Jack, within site of his own birthplace at Blenheim Palace some 90 years before.

Winston's Body Lowered Into The Grave

Floral Tributes

Winston & Clementine's Tombstone
photo by
G. Wilson

Winston's Parents' Tombstones
photo by
G. Wilson

Tombstone of Winston's Brother,
John Strange Churchill
photo by
G. Wilson

A Peerless Person About to Enter Parliament
photo by
B. Wilson


Winston S. Churchill
photo by
by G. Wilson


Bismark had Winston in mind when he wrote these words.

"Political judgment is the ability to hear the distant hoofbeats of history."


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