Winston Churchill served his nation in its time of greatest need
- Published: Feb 18, 2015, 3 AM
Editor's note: The following is the third of a six-part Coin World series about collecting the medals, coins and paper money honoring Winston Churchill, prepared by Michele Orzano for the March 2015 monthly edition of Coin World.
Though he led the nation for the first few months of World War II, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned early in 1940.
Churchill then became British prime minister, his most public political role to date.
On June 18, 1940, in an address to the House of Commons, Churchill explained his strategy for the war, two weeks after thousands of British and Allied forces were evacuated from France at the end of the Battle of Dunkirk:
“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ ”
He would serve as prime minister through 1945 and again, when his political party returned to power, from 1951 to 1955.
After leaving office in 1945, Churchill was minister of Defence (equivalent to U.S. Defense secretary).
His life as prime minister during World War II was not all closed-door, top secret meetings. Churchill would often view the remains of buildings that had been destroyed during one of the many German bombing raids.
He had plenty to see, considering Germany bombed London — day and night — for 11 weeks straight in 1940. Following that stretch of bombing, German bombers conducted dozens and dozens of sorties on London as well as other British cities from Sept. 7, 1940, to May 11, 1941.
Churchill also visited munitions and other factories involved in Britain’s war effort. In acknowledging cheers from workers in factories he would often twirl his bowler hat atop his walking cane.
Keep reading our series about Winston Churchill's numismatic legacy:
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