Churchill Becomes Prime Minister

May 10, 1940

When Neville Chamberlain's majority in the House of Commons dwindled following debate of the failed Norwegian campaign, he became convinced that he must resign. But in the small hours of May 10th the German onslaught broke in Holland and Belgium, and Chamberlain resolved to stay on. Only the Labour Party's declaration that it would accept only "Winston" to head the now-essential coalition government caused Chamberlain to advise the King to send for Churchill.

"I was taken immediately to the King," Churchill later recalled. "He looked at me searchingly and quizzically for some moments, and then said 'I suppose you don't know why I have sent for you?' Adopting his mood, I replied, 'Sir, I simply couldn't imagine why.' He laughed and said, 'I want to ask you to form a Government.' I said I would certainly do so.

"I was conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial."

Close-up of the postmark. London SW1 is also the location of Buckingham Palace, so this cover was not only postmarked as Churchill became PM, but it was also postmarked very nearby.

The unassuming little cover above is actually one of the treasures of my collection. It bears a London SW1 postmark of 6:15 pm, May 10, 1940. Churchill's meeting with King George VI at Buckingham Palace began at 6:00 pm, so this cover was postmarked almost to the minute Churchill became Prime Minister.

cover Another May 10, 1940 cover. This is a registered cover from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, the post office nearest Churchill's country home, Chartwell. Churchill wasn't at Chartwell that day, but I thought it was still interesting to have a cover of that date from that place.


10th Anniversary

This cover for the London International Stamp Exhibition of 1950 coincidentally marks the 10th anniversary of Churchill's premiership.

25th Anniversary

This cover posted from the United Nations notes the 25th anniversary. Churchill had died just 106 days earlier.

34th Anniversary

The Churchill Centenary Exhibition opened in London on May 10, 1974, the 34th anniversary of Churchill's premiership. Cachet produced by the International Churchill Society (today known as The Churchill Centre).

cover 40th Anniversary

40th anniversary cover with London Trafalgar Square pictorial postmark featuring Lord Nelson.

50th Anniversary

The special London postmark for the 50th anniversary of Churchill's premiership recycles the postmark for the Churchill Centenary stamps first day of issue in 1974. Cachet of the International Churchill Society.

cover    Benham cover for the 50th Anniversary.   

Arlington cover. Photo cachet shows Churchill with Brendan Bracken, his parliamentarian ally. cover

cover    Postal Commemorative Society cover.

The Marshall Islands issued a stamp in their World War II series noting the 50th anniversary. cover

cover 60th Anniversary

I produced this cover for the 60th anniversary. I thought Whitehall, Wisconsin was an appropriately-named place, so I drove there on May 10, 2000 and obtained the cancellation.

The small town of Downing, Wisconsin was not far from Whitehall, so I had a quantity of covers postmarked there as well. The postmistress was very friendly and cooperative and let me apply the postmark myself. cover