Churchill? Doesn't he sell insurance on TV?

To millions, he was the greatest ever Briton - saving us from the nightmare of Hitler.

But to many of today's teenagers, Winston Churchill was not the nation's inspirational wartime leader... he was an insurance salesman.

Ignorant of history but mesmerised by television, the youngsters connect him not with his pivotal role in the fight for freedom, but with the Churchill Insurance television advertisments fronted by a talking bulldog.

They have no idea of Churchill's part in saving the world from the Nazi menace and leading Britain to victory against Hitler.

Yesterday, the former Prime Minister's grandson spoke of his despair over the findings and blamed the standard of history teaching in schools.

"I am just appalled how abysmal, for the most part, that teaching is," said ex-Tory MP Winston Churchill.

Speaking on the eve of the official opening of a new £6million Churchill Museum in Westminster, he lamented the results of a recent poll of 15-year-olds - 15 per cent of whom believed his grandfather worked in insurance.

"It makes one want to despair," he said. "How many of the younger generation know that Britain was responsible for freedom in Europe today?

"How many know it was not Germany that declared war on Britain, and that it was Britain that declared war on the Nazis?

"How many know it was not Winston Churchill who declared war, but someone called Neville Chamberlain?"

With the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe approaching in May, Mr Churchill said it was possible that, had Britain surrendered to the Nazis, the swastika flag would still be flying over the capitals of Europe as far as Moscow.

He said the new museum, housed in the old Cabinet War Rooms beneath Whitehall from where his grandfather spent years directing Britain's war effort, is vitally important in educating the young. In its television adverts, Churchill Insurance uses an animatronic nodding bulldog called Churchill, along with voiceovers by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. The dog's catchphrases are 'Oh yes' and 'Give the dog a phone'.

Yesterday, historian Lawrence James echoed Mr Churchill's despair over the teenager survey findings, saying: "This is both extraordinary and horrifying.

"Either the quality of history teaching in schools is desultory, or the material is just passing over children's heads. Do these youngsters not watch any of the excellent documentaries and historical dramas on television? Do they not read the papers?

"I can only think they are too busy playing video games or watching the latest idiotic reality television show. If youngsters can reach the age of 15 not knowing who Churchill was, one wonders what else they don't know. Do they even know who Hitler was? They certainly can't make any excuse that the material is boring.

"Churchill's role in the Second World War is as gripping a story as you could wish for. I am also puzzled that anyone could mistake an animated nodding dog for an insurance salesman."

A Department for Education spokesman insisted that Churchill is firmly embedded in the National Curriculum.

He added: "Teaching of British history from Roman times to present day is a clear requirement throughout the curriculum.

"Pupils must study history after 1900, which includes both world wars, by the time they are 15."

Churchill was voted the greatest ever Briton from a list of ten candidates in a BBC poll in 2002.

The museum traces his life from his birth in 1874 through his varied careers from soldier to journalist, novelist, politician and wartime statesman to his death in 1965 at the age of 90.

A_S Bangs head off brick wall! :roll:
Jay Leno does a roving camera/man-in-the-street bit on The Late Show.

He was buttonholing pedestrians and asking them questions about American history to which (I'd assumed) everyone knew the answers.

He asked a 20-ish gal: Against what country did America fight its Revolutionary War?

She furrowed her brow with concentration and said: "Uhmm......Germany?"

He asked her what she did for a living. Answer: "I'm a teacher."
I think Chamberlain's statement (as from

"This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that, unless we hear from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany"

.... amounts to us declaring war on them.

On the other hand, America didn't declare war on Germany - it was a surprise to all when the Germans did it first. Many pressures on Roosevelt to limit offensive action to the Nips.

However, education is a marvellous thing, if only .... etc
I suppose that you could say that Winston Churchill was the best insurance policy that we ever had.

Sadly, insofar as politicians go these days, we are definitely underinsured.

Cue favourite anecdote:-

Late 1940.

My old dad was being 're-roled' from light ack-ack (because they hadn't got enough Bofors guns, although there was fair stockpile of ammo), onto 3.7" high angle guns (of which they had an ample sufficiency but limited ammo. Nothing changes). This was at a camp up near the Wash.

Winston Churchill came to inspect the camp and was given a tour of the gunsites. At that time WRAC were being trained to work the Sperry predictors and the height finders. These devices were located centrally within an arc, formed by the gun positions, so that all the height and fusing info could be passed readily to the ammo pits and the guns.

Winnie did the usual nosing around and then asked,
'Where are the toilets?'
'Over there, sir,' said the battery commander, indicating a hut on the skyline.

Winnie grunted, walked around the gunpit and, with total unconcern, proceeded to p*ss all over the sand bags.

He buttoned up, indicated the blushing WRACS, and said,
'I'm an old man! I can't run all that way when I want to pass water and neither can these young ladies! Build it closer!'

A great man for detail!

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