Sunday 4 January 2015

50 Years Since Churchill's Death

One of my earliest black and white TV memories was watching the state funeral of former British leader Sir Winston Churchill, back in late January 1965.

At the tender age of 6 years old, I would have been pretty much unaware of his identity or indeed anything he had accomplished, but as my parents were sat glued to the box, the solemnity of the occasion certainly seemed to make a lasting impression on this young boy.
With Stalin and Roosevelt at Yalta 1945

Considered to be of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th Century, Sir Winston died 50 years ago, on the 24th January 1965 with his funeral taking place 6 days later.

Named ‘the Greatest Briton of all time’ the Queen decreed that Churchill’s body should lay in state in Westminster Hall for 3 days before the service took place at St Paul’s Cathedral on the 30th.

Representatives from 112 nations were in attendance as was the Queen. The Royal Artillery fired a 19 gun salute, the RAF staged a flypast and even dockworkers lowered their crane jibs in tribute, as the funeral cortege made its way up the River Thames.

Funeral train
On the train journey to his final resting place, thousands of British subjects packed all available space on station platforms where the train passed, all silently paying their last respects to the great man.

Churchill's grave
At his own request he was interred in the family plot at St Martin’s Church, Bladon – close to his birthplace at Blenheim Palace. Later in 1965 a memorial was placed in Westminster Abbey.