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The Parish Church of St Martin’s
At this quiet cemetery of the Parish Church of St Martin’s at Bladon near Woodstock, England, lies the family grave of the Spencer-Churchill family. Among them is the grave of Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965). Churchill expressed his wishes to be buried here at Bladon cemetery. So, after receiving an impressive state funeral service in London at St Paul’s Cathedral on January 30th 1965, Churchill’s remains were moved to Bladon where he received a quiet private burial in the presence of family and close friends.
First Lord of the Admiralty
When England declared war on Germany on September 3rd 1939, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain formed a War Cabinet and appointed Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty, a position he had also held during WW1. Churchill put much effort in a plan of the Allies to provoke Germany into fighting a Navy battle in the waters of Norway by mining the transportation route of iron ore to Germany from Narvik. But the plan was much debated and stalled by Prime Minister Chamberlain and other members of the War Cabinet. The English lost the initiative and eventually Germany invaded Norway successfully on April 9th 1940.
The confidence in Prime Minister Chamberlain was fast fading after Norway. Only a year before the invasion, PM Chamberlain had signed the infamous “Munich Agreement” with Adolf Hitler on September 1938 in an attempt to prevent a war in Europe. Now, Hitler had tread the agreement with both feet by invading Poland.
On May 9th 1940 Chamberlain resigned only hours before the Nazi’s commenced “Fall Gelb” and invaded Holland, Belgium and Northern France. He advised the King to send for Churchill.
Prime Minister and Minister of Defense
Churchill didn’t believe in negotiating for peace with Hitler. He believed that Britain stood a better chance by standing up and fight. He gave a range of inspiring speeches, which were aimed to give a sense of pride and unity to the British people, but also to prepare them for the hard times to come.
In his new position as Prime Minister, he also appointed himself Minister of Defense and kept this position throughout the war. This gave Churchill much power over Britain’s course during the war. He sparked the British war industry, tightened relations with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and, although being a sworn anti-communist, even formed a pact with Russia when it too was invaded by Nazi Germany. Although Churchill had reached the age of 65 when he became PM in 1940, he seemed to be at the height of his powers.
SOE and the British Commando’s
Churchill was a progressive when it came to war tactics and not afraid to take risks. Just the man to oppose Adolf Hitler and his modern “Blitzkrieg” tactics. He initiated the SOE (Special Operations Executive) which helped establish, organize and support partisan operations in the occupied countries. Also he was a huge driving force behind the British Commando’s, who performed various daring operations, like the St. Nazaire Raid.
At the end of WW2 Winston Churchill was also part of the group of political leaders that set the new outlines of post-war Europe and Asia. He attended various meetings from as early as 1943 like the Second Quebec Conference and the Yalta, Casablanca and Potsdam Conferences.
“The Second World War” by Churchill
After the war Winston Churchill published his account of WW2 in his book “The Second World War”. The book, which consists out of multiple volumes, became a commercial success in both England and the United States. In 1953 Churchill received the Nobel Prize for Literature for the book.
The Churchill Window at Bladon
“The Churchill Window” was unveiled on June 9th 2015 in honor of the 50th anniversary of his death. It is placed in the Parish Church of St Martin’s on the right hand side. The window shows the images of St Martin and St Alban in the left and right center. Beneath these images there are two rather simple images depicting Churchill as a man of the people and a military leader. If you take a closer look you can see that the windows are lined with images that are connected to Churchill’s life and if you really put your nose close to the glass you can read small texts of his speeches everywhere.
Visit the Grave of Winston Churchill
The graveyard cemetery in Bladon is publicly accessible during the daytime. For opening hours of the Parish Church of St Martin’s please contact the church administration.