Sir Winston Spencer Churchill

Great British politician and statesman, he served as prime-minister twice, most notably in 1940-1945, gaining the fame of one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century. A respectable orator, historian, writer and an artist, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army.

Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born on 30 November 1874 in the aristocratic family of the dukes of Marlborough. In 1894 he graduated from the Sandhurst Royal Military College, and in 1895 was commissioned Second Lieutenant in a cavalry regiment. In 1896-1900 he took part, as an observer and soldier in colonial wars in India, Sudan and South Africa (Boer War), all recorded in the books he wrote afterwards.

Upon returning to Britain, Churchill retired from the active service and started political career as a member of the Parliament for the Conservative Party. Since 1908 he held various governmental offices, most notably the First Lord of Admiralty (24 October 1911). While in the office, he eagerly promoted expansion and technological advancement of the Royal Navy. He resigned from the Admiralty and the government in 1915 in wake of the disastrous fiasco of the Allied landing in Gallipoli, to which he was one of the main engineer.

In 1916 Churchill served on the Western front, advancing to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. In 1917 he returned to the politics as the Minister of Munitions, and the Secretary of State for War (1919). A major preoccupation of his at that time was the Russian civil war. As a staunch "bulwark of the British Empire", he declared that the Russian revolution must be "strangled in its cradle", and became one of the architects of the foreign intervention in Russia.

After Britain's withdrawal from Russia, Churchill held various posts in the government. People of that time, as well as economists and historians have been criticizing his unpopular decisions, especially financial measures. He also made a lot of damage to his own reputation while praising Italian fascism and its dictator, Benito Mussolini. When the Conservative Party lost the election in 1929, Churchill fell into political isolation, and spent few next years in seclusion, concentration on his private life and historical writings.

With the rise of Adolf Hitler to power in Germany, Churchill returned to politics as an adamant enemy of the German Nazism and outspoken opponent of the policy of "appeasement", that is making compromise with Hitler's aggressive policy. He was one of the firs, and few, British politicians, who recognized the danger of a new world war and advocated the necessity to mount a broad coalition of European countries to keep Germany at bay.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, on 3 September 1939, the day Britain declared war on Germany, Churchill was appointed again the First Lord of the Admiralty and a member of prime-minister Neville Chamberlain's War Cabinet. On 10 May 1940, hours after the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, as well as in view of earlier debacles, Chamberlain resigned and king George VI asked Churchill to be the prime-minister.

As the prime-minister of the coalition War Cabinet, and the Minister of Defence, Churchill led his nation through the Second World War. Despite of his staunch enmity towards the communism, he made the alliance with the Soviet Union, and played a key role in creating of the anti-fascist coalition. He was also an architect of the Atlantic Charter and presided over the Allies' conferences in Casablanca, Quebec, Cairo, Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam.

After the Second World War, although defeated in 1945 election, Churchill continued to have an impact on world affairs. During his 1946 to the United States he gave his infamous "Iron Curtain" speech about the USSR and the creation of the Eastern Bloc, which marked the beginning of so-called "Cold War" - the global opposition of two political blocs. He was the prime-minister in 1951-1955 again, but after a series of strokes Churchill's physical and mental health started deteriorating quickly, forcing him to retire from public life. He died on 24 January 1965 in his estate at Chartwell, Kent.