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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Remembering the Death of a World Hero on This Day in 1965

Sir Winston Churchill
On this day in 1965, the great Sir Winston Churchill died in his ninetieth year.  Soldier, statesman, author and painter, his Olympian gifts and personality were fitted to one of the greatest crises the world has ever known.  He led his nation, the British Empire and Commonwealth, indeed, all freedom loving people through the storm to "broad, sunlit uplands."  Western civilization will be forever in the debt of this great champion of freedom.

The following photos and reflection by Norman Phillips on Sir Winston Churchill's State Funeral were published in the Toronto Star.

Silent mourners pace slowly by the catafalque in Westminster Hall.

Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and his wife Maryon leave Westminster Hall.

In Trafalgar Square the gun carriage rolls past the monument to Lord Nelson.

Lady Churchill on the arm of son Randolph, followed by daughter Sarah

The escorted launch Havengore bears Sir Winston Churchill up the Thames.

At the grave in the village churchyard at Bladon was a tribute from his widow.
110 Nations mourn at St. Paul's
by Norman Phillips, The Toronto Star staff writer
LONDON  In the magnificent service at St. Paul's  -- a service never before attempted and impossible of repetition --Winston Churchill's name was not once mentioned.
The unspoken praise came from the multitude representing 110 nations.
From my seat in the cathedral nave I watched the two-hour ceremony as the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Earl Marshal assembled a great cast of international figures for the state funeral.
As I entered the cathedral at 9 a.m. an almost blind light bathed the scrubbed stone walls of the ancient building.
Ushers with gold-tipped purple batons directed the early members of the congregation to their seats.
Mute television monitors hung from the wall recording events outside and two miles away where the funeral procession was assembling.
Directly beneath the 365-feet-high dome stood the waiting catafalque, its dull black velvet cross-hatched with silver.
6 candles, 3 gilt chairs
Beside it stood six black candlesticks with dull-gold beeswax candles and in front of it three red upholstered gilt chairs for the Queen, the Queen Mother and Prince Philip.
A workman in open-necked shirt mounted a 12-foot ladder to light the tapers, and a powerful vacuum cleaner sounded throughout the building as it removed footprints from the bright blue carpeting.
In the midst of these last-minute preparations, Lord Moran, Churchill's family doctor, walked down the aisle behind Apostolic Delegates in magenta robes. African diplomats in brightly-colored togas and bewigged legal officers.
It was like the stage setting for an extravaganza as characters were added one by one while the coffin rolled on inexorably from Westminster Hall.
By 10 minutes to 10 the scarlet-clad aldermen and high officers of the City of London filed through the south door and took their seats in the choir stalls.
Speaker follows mace.
The speaker of the House of Commons in gilt-embroidered black robes followed the mace bearer to his place under the dome and one minute later the Lord Chancellor preceeded by his mace took his seat along side the speaker.
Attendants waited with dark velvet cloths with which the maces must be covered in the presence of the Queen.
Gold-emblazoned officers of chivalry with lacy black mourning sashes over their scabards entered bearing Sir Winston's sword, crest and spurs, while the Lord Chamberlain went out of the cathedral to greet heads of state and royal representatives at the foot of the steps.
Among these President Charles de Gaulle and Russia's Marshal Ivan Konev, both in magnificent military uniforms, dominated the groups with whomthey entered.
The lord mayor of London was the last to arrive before the Queen.  Carrying a four-foot, two-inch black mourning sword, he stood at the cathedral entrance greeting the royal party and leading them to where the Archbishop stood in the vestibule.
As the seldom-opened huge west doors swung on creaking hinges, the throb of the drums from the great procession mingled with the gentle organ music within the cathedral.
Finally, on the television screens, the gun carriage could be seen drawn up in the forecourt of St. Paul's and the bare-headed guardsmen stood the burden of the coffin on their shoulders.
At a signal from the earl marshal the procession entered the great west door at 10:49 and paced slowly up the nave followed by the pallbearers, officers bearing the Churchill banners, his orders and decoration, and his achievements, and place them on a black velvet covered table to the east of the catafalque. Then, the traditional Church of England service began with the choir chanting "the sentences" beginning "I am the resurrection and the life."
When the coffin was placed upon the bier, the whole congregation sang "Who Would True Valor See, Let Him Come Hither."
The 30-minute service ended with the Archbishop of Canterbury standing on the altar steps facing the congregation with his cross of office in his hand and offering a benediction.
Trumpeter high in dome
Then came the national anthem, and as it ended a trumpeter, high in the galleries of the dome, sounded the Last Post. As the last notes died away a bugler silhouetted against the narrow windows over the west door replied with reveille and the service was ended.
The bearer party, their faces bathed with perspiration from their heavy burden, led the procession out of the cathedral followed by the heavily-veiled Lady Churchill accompanied by her only son, Randolph.
In the cathedral forecourt, the family party mounted the five state carriages for the next stage of the procession, to Tower Hill and the waiting launches on the Thames.
Led by the lord mayor, the Queen walked to the great west door where the dean and chapter, the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury took formal leave of her. She then watched the great procession move off to the beat of the shrouded drums.
Royal Artillery men fired a 19-gun salute as the procession gathered momentum and at Tower Hill 60 massed pipers began the lament as the state funeral proper ended with the transfer of the body to the river launch Havengore for the voyage upriver.
Out of the pale noon clouds, there suddenly streaked 16 Lightning fighters of the Royal Air Force in a final service tribute.


AMW said...

I just started reading "Citizens of London" by Lynne Olson, which offers detail about Churchill and his relationship with a handful of Americans who stood with Britain amid World War II. It's worth checking out if you get the chance.

Also, you have a fine blog. I hope you consider following mine as well. Keep up the good work.

Daniel J. Cassidy said...

Thanks very much, AMW, for the book recommendation. "Citizens of London" is on a short list of books I plan to read.

Thanks also for your kind remarks about this blog. I am following your superb blog on Google and highly recommend it to my readers.