13/09/2016 21:36 BST

Sir Winston Churchill: 5 Things You Might Not Know About The Man On The New £5 Note

Looks a bit grumpy to be honest.

POOL New / Reuters
The new polymer 5 pound Sterling note.

Prime Minister, war hero, famed orator - Sir Winston Churchill is remembered for many things and today another was added to the already impressive list.

He’s the face of the new £5 note.

In honour, here are five lesser-known facts about the man, one for every bob...

1) He was the first person to ever be made an honorary citizen of the United States.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill, left, and U.S. President Harry Truman aboard the yacht Williamsburg in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 5, 1952.

In 1963 Churchill was made the first honorary citizen of the USA, an honour bestowed upon him by then-president John F. Kennedy.

The citation of the award read:

Whereas Sir Winston Churchill. a son of America though a subject of Britain, has been throughout his life a firm and steadfast friend of the American people and the American nation; and

Whereas he has freely offered his hand and his faith in days of adversity as well as triumph; and

Whereas his bravery, charity and valor, both in war and in peace, have been a flame of inspiration in freedom’s darkest hour; and

Whereas his life has shown that no adversary can overcome, and no fear can deter, free men in the defense of their freedom; and

Whereas he has expressed with unsurpassed power and splendor the aspirations of peoples everywhere for dignity and freedom; and

Whereas he has by his art as an historian and his judgment as a statesman made the past the servant of the future;

Now, therefore, I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America, under the authority contained in the act of the 88th Congress, do hereby declare Sir Winston Churchill an honorary citizen of the United States of America. 

2) His artwork sells for millions of pounds.


The Pyramids At Cairo.

Churchill was a prolific artist and writer, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 for his “or his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values”.

In his literary and artistic output he found relief from the depressive episodes from which he occasionally suffered.

John Stillwell/PA Archive
Christies employee Emma Cunningham inspects the Goldfish Pool at Chartwell.

In 2014, the above painting, Goldfish Pool at Chartwell, sold for a whopping £1.8m.


3) He DIDN’T coin the phrase the “Iron Curtain”

Churchill speaks at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946

The phrase is often attributed to a speech Churchill gave in the year after The Second World War ended (seen in the photo above) to raise concerns about growing Soviet influence in Eastern Europe. But it was first used by the Nazi Propaganda Minister, Josef Goebbels, in his weekly newsletter, Das Reich.

In the February 5th, 1945, edition he wrote:

“If the German people lay down their weapons, the Soviets, according to the agreement between Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin, would occupy all of East and Southeast Europe, along with the greater part of the Reich. An iron curtain would fall over this enormous territory, controlled by the Soviet Union, behind which nations would be slaughtered. The Jewish press in London and New York would probably still be applauding.”

4) He suffered from a speech impediment.


Universal History Archive via Getty Images
Speaking at the Albert Hall in front of a large picture of Abraham Lincoln in 1944.

Despite being remembered to history as one of the finest orators, throughout his earlier years he suffered from a lisp.

When he escaped from a prisoner of war camp (see point 5), the notice put out by his captors seeking his release said: “During long conversations he occasionally makes a rattling noise in his throat.”

He sought help in 1897 to overcome it from a renowned therapist, Sir Felix Semon, who is said to have commented afterwards: “I have just seen the most extraordinary young man I have ever met.” 

5) He escaped from a prisoner of war camp.

PA/PA Archive
Winston Churchill in South Africa as a war correspondent for the Morning Post during the Boer War.

Among the many stages of his career, Churchill was also a war correspondent for various publications as a means to supplement his income.

After failing at becoming the MP for Oldham in 1899, he was commissioned to cover the Second Boer War in South Africa, earning himself a rather handsome £250 a month, an incredible £29,000 in today’s money.

While travelling on an armoured train with a scouting expedition a Boer kommando force placed a boulder on the line, then opened fire on the crashed locomotive.

Churchill, then 25, was captured and interned in a prisoner of war camp.

Not one to be told what to do, he escaped after just a week by vaulting a wall. He made his way to Mozambique by “hiding by day, walking at night, stealing food, drinking out of streams and hitching rides on goods trains”.