Winston Churchill, WWII Leader's Grandson, Dies

Tuesday, 02 Mar 2010 01:59 PM

 

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Winston Spencer Churchill, a former member of Parliament and grandson of Britain's wartime leader, died Tuesday, an associate said. He was 69.

Churchill had been suffering from cancer and died at his London home, said Cmdr. John Muxworthy, president of the United Kingdom National Defense Association.

Churchill was a member of the House of Commons from 1970 to 1997. Earlier he had been a foreign correspondent for The Times of London, The Daily Telegraph and other papers.

He was a founder of the Defense Association, which campaigned for greater support for Britain's armed forces.

"A true patriot, WSC followed in the steps of his grandfather, Sir Winston, who, in the 1930s campaigned ceaselessly for this country to rearm in the face of the ever-growing threat from Nazi Germany," Muxworthy said. "Eighty years on, our Winston has been fighting the same battle."

Churchill was born in October 1940 at Chequers, the prime minister's official country residence, shortly after Royal Air Force pilots prevailed in the Battle of Britain. During it, Hitler's Luftwaffe was prevented from destroying Britain's air defenses or forcing the country to negotiate an armistice.

He was the son of Randolph Churchill and Pamela Digby, who scandalized London society with her affairs and who, in later life, as Pamela Harriman, became U.S. ambassador to France. The parents divorced in 1945.

"I never knew my parents together, so their split meant nothing to me," Churchill said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph in 2008. "But it did mean I got a great deal of grandparental sunlight."

He recalled staying at Chartwell, his grandfather's home southeast of London, and finding the old man "wreathed in cigar smoke with a whisky and soda already on his table" in the morning. The drink, he added, was very weak.

"Each afternoon, we'd spend a couple of hours together, laying bricks. If anyone had asked me what my grandfather did, I'd have said: He's a bricklayer,'" Churchill recalled.

In his autobiography, "Memories and Adventures," Churchill said his famous name could be a burden, especially when he was in school at Eton. He told of bullies swearing at him, then saying: "And take this for being Winston-bloody-Churchill!"

Young Winston's career in journalism began with an unpaid job as a copyreader at The Wall Street Journal. Following his graduation from Oxford University, he covered conflicts in Yemen, the Congo, Angola, Vietnam and Biafra. He also recalled being attacked by Chicago police officers at the raucous Democratic Party convention in 1968.

He was elected as a Conservative to represent Stretford in Lancashire in 1970, serving that district until 1983. During that period he effectively killed his chances for advancement by defying Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and voting against sanctions against white-ruled Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

Churchill subsequently represented Manchester Davyhulme from 1983 until 1997.

In 1979, he was embroiled in scandal over his two-year affair with Soraya Khashoggi, the former wife of a Saudi arms dealer.

The affair came to light during a sensational prosecution of three police officers for blackmailing Khashoggi. A defense lawyer had claimed police were investigating Khashoggi because she was involved with a politician, subsequently identified as Churchill.

He also drew criticism in 1995 after selling his grandfather's personal papers to the nation for 12.5 million pounds ($20 million).

"Although the trustees could have got significantly more on the world market, it was their and my specific wish that the papers should not be offered in the open market but should remain in this country," Churchill said at the time.

Churchill is survived by two daughters and two sons from his marriage to Mary Caroline d'Erlanger, which ended in divorce in 1997; and by his second wife, Luce Danielson.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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