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Churchill: 50 years on from his death.

Byline: Dave Morton Nostalgia Editor

SATURDAY marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill.

A political giant who bestrode the first half of the 20th century, his life, times and legacy still divide opinion.

To many, he is remembered as Britain's saviour from the dire threat of Nazi Germany's tyranny.

To others he was a chancer, maverick and reactionary.

The pictures here show Churchill in later stages of his political career and, indeed, in the autumn of his life.

He was 77 when he was driven through the streets of Newcastle, having recently be re-elected Prime Minster in October, 1951.

A year later he was at Wembley Stadium, shak-shaking the hands of Newcastle United players before their 1-0 win over Arsenal in the FA Cup final.

His incredible life as a soldier, journalist, politician, wartime leader, Prime Minister, Nobel prize winner and whiskydrinking cigarette smoker has taken on its own mythology.

And the image of the bowler-hatted bulldog of a man with his famous V-sign is one of the most iconic in British history.

Born on November 30, 1874, Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was the grandson of the seventh Duke of Marlborough, whose family seat is the huge stately home of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

He failed three times to get into the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst before finally succeeding in 1893.

He went on to serve as a soldier in Cuba, India, Egypt and Sudan, where during the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 he took part in the last-ever British cavalry charge.

During the Second Boer War in South Africa he was a war correspondent and joined troops on a scouting mission. He was captured but escaped from a PoW camp and trekked 300 miles to safety.

His six-decade political career began when he was elected as a Conservative MP in 1900 and he was still an MP until the year before his death.

During World War I, Churchill the politician was heavily involved in the planning of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign, for which he effectively punished himself by re-joining the Army and posting himself to the hell fire of the Western Front for a time.

Among many setbacks along the way was the result of the 1945 General Election two months after the war in Europe was won. Britain was hungry for radical change and dumped Churchill's Tories in favour of Clement Attlee's radical Labour government.

But he returned to power in 1951 and was Premier until he resigned in 1955.

Half a century on from Churchill's death, Dr Martin Farr, a senior historian at Newcastle University says: "It's very easy to imagine Churchill as being remembered on the fiftieth anniversary of his death - and then mainly by historians and their students - as a political opportunist who jumped from party to party, who (vocally) opposed votes for women, was responsible for a disastrous international wartime offensive, threatened to turn troops on striking work-workers, took a calamitous decision for the country to return to the gold standard, and (vocally) opposed self-government for India.

"Thanks to a certain German dictator, however, he's instead remembered on the fiftieth anniversary of his death - and rather more widely - as, in the words of one historian, 'the saviour of his country'."

Closer to home, my own grandmother would tell me how, with a husband away at war and young children at home, Churchill's speeches over the radio would give her hope and strength during the dark days.

And, that inspirational wartime leadership, despite a lifetime of faults and contradictions, is surely his everlasting legacy.

Dr Martin Farr: 'Thanks to a certain German dictator, he's remembered ...on the 50th anniversary of his death as... 'the saviour of his country'


| Sir Winston Churchill's coffin travels down the Thames |on a barge during his state funeral. The London cranes were lowered as a mark of respect. January, 1965

Above, Prime Minister Winston Churchill shakes the hand of Newcastle United's Jackie Milburn before the Mapgies' |victorious 1952 FA Cup final; below, crowds greet Churchill in Newcastle shortly after he became PM agains in 1951
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 26, 2015
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