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This Sceptred Isle

The Death of Churchill, Rolling Thunder, and U.D.I.
In 1965 Sir Winston Churchill died. His political career had started when Queen Victoria was still on the throne. His funeral was a state occasion and when the ceremonial barge with his coffin aboard went by Hays Wharf, the manned cargo cranes were dipped in salute to the sometime First Lord of the Admiralty, soldier, wartime leader and peacetime Prime Minister.

Elsewhere, thousands of soldiers were dying in Vietnam. Indian troops invaded Pakistan. Ian Smith announced his Unilateral Declaration of Independence for Southern Rhodesia on Armistice Day.

At home Edward Heath became leader of the Conservative Party in July.

Ian Smith
Ian Smith

  • Educated in Rhodesia
  • Became an MP in 1948 after a Second World War career as a fighter pilot
  • His wartime reputation and friendship with Daily Express owner, Max Aitken, also a fighter pilot, helped make popular his uncompromising position
  • Committed to maintaining white supremacy in Rhodesia
  • Became Prime Minister of Rhodesia in 1964
  • Unilaterally declared independence in 1965
  • Britain declared him a rebel and it was not until the Thatcher government of 1979 that a negotiated settlement was agreed
  • In 1979 Bishop Muzorewa became Prime Minister and the country was renamed Zimbabwe
  • Made minister without portfolio
  • Suspended in 1987 for working with South Africa
  • Resigned as leader of the white opposition party

did you know?
The Beatles received MBEs in the birthday honours, many did not agree with the awards. One Mr Hector Depuis returned his OBE saying the awards placed him on the same level as "vulgar nincompoops".

Tribute to Sir Winston Churchill by John Masefield, Poet Laureate
"The Divine Fortune, watching Life's affairs,
Justly endowed him with what Fortune may,
With sense of Storm and where the centre lay,
With tact of deed, in some wise witty way,

"Fortune of parents came in equal shares,
With England's wisest mingling with the West,
A startling newness, making better best,
A newness putting old things to a test....

"So, when convulsion came, and direst need,
When, in a mess of Nations overthrown,
This England stood at bay, and stood alone,
His figure, then commanding, stood as stone,

"Or, speaking, uttered like the very breed
Of Francis Drake, disaster being near,
One solemn watchword, to have done with fear.
Thence, without other drum-beat, all took cheer,
Content with such a Captain, such a Creed."

Select historical period

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1960Cyprus and Nigeria become independent
1961South Africa leaves the Commonwealth
1962 The National Economic Development Council is formed
1963 The Profumo Affair
Alex Douglas-Home becomes PM when the Tory leader, Macmillan retires through ill health.
1964 Labour wins General Election. Harold Wilson becomes Prime Minister
1965 Winston Churchill dies
Sir Alec Douglas-Home resigns leadership of Tory Party and is succeeded by Edward Heath
1966 Barclay's Bank introduces the first British credit card
1967 The Pound is devalued
Six Day Arab-Israeli War
1968 The Commonwealth Immigration Act is passed
1969 Start of the present "Troubles" in Ulster
Prince Charles becomes the Prince of Wales
1970 Tories win General Election. Edward Heath PM

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