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Database: Winston Churchill

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ACS DB Winston Churchill

Date of Birth: 30 November 1874.

Born in 1874 into an influential aristocratic family, Winston believed he was destined for great things from the start, and was obsessed with eclipsing his ancestors. All very healthy. Among them, his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the first Duke of Marlborough, who had won a series of battles against the French in the War of the Spanish Succession. Which makes him rather likeable, in my eyes.

In 1895, Winston Churchill joined the British army, serving in the Indian northwest frontier and the Sudan. Four years later he left to work as a war correspondent, and was taken prisoner by the Boers while reporting on the war in South Africa. He escaped by travelling almost 300 miles into Mozambique.

It was after this that he entered politics, quickly developing a reputation for self-aggrandisement, particularly after his highly publicised presence in a police siege on the streets of London, where he allegedly gave direction on the ground. In 1911, he became First Lord of the Admiralty and oversaw the modernisation of the British Navy. It was in this position that he was first involved in the First World War, obsessing over how to counter the German submarine threat.

Forced to resign over the failed Battle of Gallipoli, Churchill stepped outside of politics to lead a brigade on the Western Front, experiencing the war first hand before returning to Britain, where he would become Minister of Munitions in 1917. His supervision of the production and delivery of tanks, planes and ammo to the front was credited as a significant contributor to Germany's defeat.

It was his role during the Second World War for which he is most remembered, though. As prime minister during the conflict, he was celebrated for his tactical genius, leadership, and steadfast refusal to allow the Nazis to succeed. Later, he would continue to shape world events, pushing for social reform in Britain and winning the Nobel Prize for literature. He died of a stroke in 1965... arguably having achieved precisely what he set out to do in his youth.

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