In the above Getty photo by J. A. Hampton, Sir Winston Churchill gives the famous ‘V for victory’ sign after hearing the results of a poll returning him as Prime Minster in October’s general election. Out of power since 1945, Churchill was about to turn 77 when he resumed office.
His third ministry (after the wartime cabinet and 1945 interim government) was less successful (or less than successful). Plagued by his failing health, he was besieged both by failing domestic agenda and crises aboard. His beloved British Empire was falling apart–in Kenya, in Malaya, in the Middle East, as was his relationship with his war-time friend, Dwight Eisenhower, now the President of USA. Eisenhower complained that the meetings were conducted at the screaming volume because the British PM refused to wear a hearing aid.
Despite his stubbornness, Churchill couldn’t hide his rapidly failing health. In June 1953, he suffered a stroke, news of which was kept from the public and from Parliament. He returned to public life in October with a minor limp and speaking difficulties and he would soldier on until he was 80. Exhausted both physically and mentally, Churchill retired as Prime Minister in 1955. The only MP to serve under both Queens Victoria and Elizabeth, he would continue to attend the Parliament in a wheelchair until 1964, a year before he died.