Winston Churchill: A life of one-liners

On the 50th anniversary of his funeral, we look back at some of the famous sayings he is remembered today for

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The Independent Online

He was the master of the one-liner.

Today, a flotilla of ships will sail down the River Thames to mark the 50th anniversary of the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.

Here are the former prime minister’s finest oratory moments (and they’re certainly better than the soundbites we get from our mealy-mouthed politicians of today).

“In the course of my life I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.” - 1940s.

“I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” - November 30 1949.

Photographer: “I hope, sir, that I will shoot your picture on your hundredth birthday.”
Churchill: “I don't see why not, young man. You look reasonably fit and healthy.”

Bessie Braddock MP: “Winston, you are drunk, and what's more you are disgustingly drunk.”
Churchill: “Bessie, my dear, you are ugly, and what's more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.” - 1946.

This exchange was confirmed by Churchill's bodyguard of the time, Ron Golding, who allegedly heard his boss say it.


“Hess or no Hess, I'm going to watch the Marx Brothers.” - during an air raid, May 11 1941, Ditchley Park.

And here's some of his classic moments:

“This war effort could not have been achieved if the women had not marched forward in millions and undertaken all kinds of tasks and work for which any other generation but our own ... would have considered them unfitted; work in the fields, heavy work in the foundries and in the shops, very refined work on radio and precision instruments, work in the hospitals, responsible clerical work of all kinds, work throughout the munitions factories, work in the mixed batteries ... Nothing has been grudged, and the bounds of women's activities have been definitely, vastly, and permanently enlarged.” - September 29 1943, Royal Albert Hall, London.

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” - May 13 1940.

“You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory - victory at all costs, victory in spite of terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” - May 13 1940, in his first speech as Prime Minister.

Some of Mr Churchill's best lines were - sadly - not actually his. Social commentators often attached his name to memorable lines, such as the following:

Nancy Astor: “If I were married to you, I'd put poison in your coffee.”
Churchill: “If I were married to you, I'd drink it.” - to Nancy Astor, Blenheim Palace

This exchange first appeared in the Chicago Tribune's joke of the day in 1900 - a full forty years before Churchill's acerbic conversation with Mrs Astor.