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Foreign Policy Analysis
Churchill Was a Drunk… or Was He? – Doped WW2 Leaders Part 2

Churchill Was a Drunk… or Was He? – Doped WW2 Leaders Part 2

There’s no way of sugarcoating it; Winston
Churchill was a drunk. Or was he? I’m Indy Neidell and this is a World War Two special episode Winston Churchill is different things to different
people. To some, he is the greatest patriot Britons
have, leading them through their darkest hour with the imperial majesty of a lion. To others, a hopeless reactionary committed
to a racist and aristocratic worldview form the nineteenth century. But something everyone can agree on when it
comes to Churchill is that he loves to drink almost as much as he loves the British Empire. In fact, some people even say he is a high-functioning
alcoholic. Winston himself enjoys this image; playing
up to it when he can. But how much of a drunk is he? Find out in this special episode about the
very special relationship between a prime minister and his drink. You’ve probably heard some of the famous
drunk Winston stories. Perhaps the most infamous is the perhaps apocryphal
story when a female M.P. tells Winston he is disgustingly drunk, and he retorts: “yes
I am, and my dear you are ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly’”. Now, stories like this are shrouded in a kind
of he-said/she-said mystery. But you can’t ignore the fact that there
is spirit-soaked trail of them running along his entire career. He really begins to develop a need for alcohol
during his time in India Though also an army officer, he joins the
Malakand Field Force in India as a journalist in the 1890’s. He finds the heat almost unbearable, with
water only being drinkable if cut with lime juice or whisky. Guess which one Churchill chooses. Before this point, he hadn’t ever really enjoyed
the spirit, but this experience ignites a lifelong relationship with it. Throughout his working life, Churchill will
now always be seen nursing a whiskey and soda. In 1931 he visits the States. Now, if you’ve been following our B2W series
on our TimeGhost channel, then you’ll know that America is still in the prohibition era. This doesn’t stop Churchill, who smuggles
a healthy supply of scotch. In New York he gets himself hit by a cab. He is rushed to hospital but only suffers
from a few cuts and bruises. Nevertheless, he still manages to get his
physician to secure him a prescription for more whiskey so that he can “deal” with
any pain. And Churchill by no means limits himself to
one spirit. His daily routine is to wake up early and
go over administrative matters in bed. Alongside this, he will have an ample breakfast
accompanied with a good bit of German white wine that the Brits call Hock. The rest of the morning, he nurse his trademark
whisky and soda, and then at lunch he gets really creative. A wine and sherry blend is sometimes drunk
before eating. If beef is on the menu, he’ll usually have
a good bit of beer. If stilton is present, he’ll treat himself
to some port. A bit of brandy never goes amiss after he’s
finished and he also reportedly always has liqueur handy if he wants to spice up his
coffee. But there is one tipple that he is really
passionate about. He loves it more than whisky, he loves it
more than the colonies, he loves it more than cigars. It is that sparkling wine named after the
idyllic region it is made in: Champagne. His favorite brand is the Pol Roger, which
he has ordered by the literal caseload since the early 1900’s.At dinner, it is reported
that he drinks this by the bucket. Later on life, he will admit that he could
not live without champagne, declaring that in victory it is deserved and in defeat, it
is needed. So this all sounds like Churchill spent most
of his life in the bottle. And his boozy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners
certainly are infamous, with the amount he consumes in one sitting a point of wonder
for any who witness it. But is he an out of control alcoholic? Well, it’s actually a little more complicated
than that. You see, while he can certainly put it away,
it is rare for anyone to see Winston off his tits. And when you look into it a bit more closely,
you can see why. For one, his drinking sessions are usually
alongside huge meals over long periods. The sumptuous food and frequent conversations
no doubt dilutes the oceans of alcohol entering his system. And those “bucket-loads” of champagne? Well, he actually “only” drinks a pint
of the stuff during meals. That may seem like a lot, but considering
his lunches take around two hours to finish, he levels his inebriation. As a matter of fact, in one of his frequent
musings on his beloved beverage, Churchill advices moderation in its consumption. In his account of the Malakand Field Force’s
campaign, he tells readers that: “A single glass of champagne imparts a feeling of exhilaration. The nerves are braced, the imagination is
agreeably stirred, the wits become more nimble. A bottle produces a contrary effect. Excess causes a comatose insensibility. So it is with war, and the quality of both
is best discovered by sipping.” And as for those regular scotch and sodas. Well, in reality, they are a lot more soda
than scotch. His private secretary will recall later in
life that “it was really a mouthwash. He used to get frightfully cross if it was
too strong.” Here’s the thing though, this ‘moderation’
is by normal standards not moderate, right. So how does he do it. Well, it’s safe to say that he’s an alcoholic
and a level drinker. Now, the body gets used to alcohol, so when
you drink all the time it will take much more booze to get you visibly drunk. Most of us pass out when we start approaching
2 pro-mille blood alcohol levels. Level drinkers can have above 4 pro-mille
and still walk, talk, and act as if they were sober. So by any medical definition, Churchill indeed
abuses alcohol. But he’s not actually as much of an out
of control drunk as you might think. Indeed, Churchill himself writes in his 1930
that “I had been brought up and trained to have the utmost contempt for people who
get drunk.” So, where does this image come from? Well, Churchill actually kind of enjoys it,
no doubt believing it strengthens his manly credentials. And he never misses an opportunity to play
up to it. He has a running joke with Frederick Lindemann,
his chief scientific wartime advisor. If the two men are in a dining room, Churchill
will exclaim: “Prof! pray calculate the amount of wine, champagne and spirits I have consumed
in my life and indicate how high they would reach in this room.” Lindemann will then get out his slide rule
and respond that unfortunately, it would be little more than a few inches, to which Churchill
will reply “how much to do, how little time remains!” So the whole thing is clearly a bit of a joke
to him. When he left active service as an officer
in 1916, he told his old troops that “Whatever else they may say of me as a soldier, at least
nobody can say I have ever failed to display a neat and proper appreciation of the virtues
of alcohol.” So like in a lot of things, the legend is
a bit more exciting than history. Nonetheless, there is no question that Churchill
consumes immense amounts of alcohol, and likes to remind people that he does so every chance
he gets. The reputation he has made for himself is
already being seized upon by Nazi propagandists. Though in 1940 their campaign against him
is only just getting started, the Nazi’s are already portraying the British prime-minister
as a drunken fool. And despite it all, this whisky-swilling aristocrat
is still somehow managing to lead his country through the Blitz. But let’s also not forget that like his
drinking is by 21st century standards an unhealthy addiction that defies moral standards, so
were many of his politics. For all of his achievements Churchill was
an instrumental figure in a racist, imperialist system, that subjugated, and at the least
accepted the death of millions to forward the interests of white British society.

100 comments on “Churchill Was a Drunk… or Was He? – Doped WW2 Leaders Part 2

  1. We make an effort to approach history as unbiased as possible. The result is what we think is a balanced videos on Churchills alcohol (ab)use. For those of you who are new here, we are following World War Two Week by Week, in which we do pay a lot of attention to all those smaller but still significant events. If you would like to watch the series, make sure to subscribe and to click here to start watching from episode one:

    The TimeGhost team.

    STAY CIVIL AND POLITE we will delete any comments with personal insults, or attacks.
    AVOID PARTISAN POLITICS AS FAR AS YOU CAN we reserve the right to cut off vitriolic debates.
    HATE SPEECH IN ANY DIRECTION will lead to a ban.
    RACISM, XENOPHOBIA, OR SLAMMING OF MINORITIES will lead to an immediate ban.

  2. One of my history professors was ex army intelligence. He was an expert on Winston. He stated that he could hold his drink, and he learned to do this in India where drinks were dangerous unless spiked with alcohol.

  3. So Churchill wasn’t drunk, just sort of buzzed. Also does anyone else think Indy’s Churchill impersonation sounds like Darth Sidious?

  4. I resent the term "white British society". "Race" in my mind a very American concept, Britain was majority BRITISH, not white, and it was British when the Windrush generation came in from the colonies. To say "white british society" implies that a Frenchman would have been welcome to enter it (haha!) or that the emerging colonial rights and ranks meant the officers from the colonies weren't British (of course, they are the heroes of Britain).

    Colour dominates the American psyche, at least I think, because there is so much ambiguity ethnically between "the Whites" that heritage for the populace becomes a distinction only in colour – white and black.

    British is an idea above all else, for an imperialist then and for an imperialist now! 🙂

  5. Heh, my name is, Roger, & I hate champagne…I love whiskey, but, I know better…..A light beer, food enough, don’t drive, bathe now, & again, & cannabis…Lots of cannabis….Live forever, unless you hook up with a female… No offense meant✅

  6. @4:10– Of all the horrors documented in warfare, the worst is any reference to Winston Churchill being "off his tits". I've survived stories of such atrocities as Nanking, death marches, concentration camps and YouTube demonetization, but now I'm reeling in horror over imagined images of Winston's man boobs. War is indeed hell..

  7. The historical background is often more complex than a simple public image. That’s what makes history interesting👍

  8. Churchill was an incredible character and an incredible leader. If he achieved all that he did drunk or sober, you can’t take that away from him. Personally (and I’ve read three Churchill bios) I think he just had a way to adjust to the alcohol and it never seemed to impair his judgement.

  9. I can totally sympathize with the "need for alcohol in India" as it can be an effective countermeasure against the typical diarrhea and stomach diseases you easily get in those places.

  10. Great impression Indy! Sounded just like him!
    Try "Do it!" "I am the Senate" and "Now go… fulfill your destiny"
    Sounded a little like Churchill, too I guess

  11. The key word here, I believe, is "nursing." From what I've read he poured out a drink, then sipped it slowly over a long period. And while he always had a cigar, it was often unlit.

  12. A drunken sociopath for sure, judged by his actions AT THE TIME. His irresponsible use of Commonwealth forces, his flights of fancy {Greece, Singapore}, his response to John Curtin when he needed his troops to return and defend their home from the Japanese prior to US involvement in WW2. The over 150 thousand he sent to their deaths in the Gallipoli campaign after showing the Allies hand by shelling the Dardanelles months before. Taking credit for inventing the tank when in fact it was invented and conceptualized by Lancelot de Mole {an Australian} who had first approached the Admirallty back as far back as 1912, then also in 1914 and finally 1916. As just a very few examples of his conduct and attitude. A Scumbag Shit stirrer Sociopath who did more harm than good.

  13. Judging any figure from the past with nowadays standards is always a big mistake. Times were different, people were deferent and snowflakes had to be born yet 😂

    Whatever Churchill drank no one can disputes his ability to lead a country to defeat one of the greatest military powers of the early 1900.

  14. he was a functioning alcoholic and i guess he was never completely piss drunk….
    in any case, he was the right man, in the right place, at the right time!
    even funnier; BoJo, the recent prime-minister of the UK likes to let the people know that he's, like Churchill, "against the EU/common market", whilst Churchill in the 1950's saw the benefits of it and actually promoted it!
    maybe a nice topic to do some "after the war" series with in future, Indy…

  15. For some people Churchill is a murderous tyrant who engineered famines and laid waste to entire cities and violently oppressed workers.

  16. My father always recalls how, when his great-grandfather was taken to a hospital at the end of his life, he refused to drink water stating that "Water is for the cattle. I've never drank water in my life and won't start drinking it now". The man insisted in being given wine, but eventually had to drink the water.
    Now, this happened in Spain in the 70s. The amount of booze Churchill had a day doesn't seem that great when you consider that, back then, people may well not drink water. In many places, water was unsafe an people drank wine or beer instead.

  17. Slurred Speech was due to his ill fitting false teeth. Also British society both upper and lower classes drank more than we do today.

  18. What if Churchill didn't peace out with the Germans after 1940 because he was afraid he wouldn't be getting any more champagne from the French, and waited until 1944 for the Americans to finally have some more.

    Now that I think about it, 1940-44 must have been hard years for him, alcohol wise.

  19. I think this Reputation comes from three sources: Nazi Propaganda, his own bragging and his personal gentlemens Club, which threw infamous, ravaging parties in westminster palace.

  20. And without him tens of millions more would undeniably have died, specifically in Eastern Europe. No saints at the top I'm afraid.

  21. OMG. Best Churchill voice EVER! Please please say something funny in the Churchill voice. Like "Brexit? I just drank it!"

  22. I myself m a huge Winston Churchill advocate . For me he is the most fantastic character of the 20th century . Magnificent son of a b** it's all that ever comes to my mind when I think of Winston . The best of the best , FDR was great , but Winston was Fantastic.

  23. I once saw a video on youtube of a guy matching Churchil drink for drink for one day. I want to watch Indy do it and then film an episode

  24. Cutting the water with whiskey was safest option. A lot of waterborne diseases in those areas. I enjoy your shows. Good Luck, Rick

  25. The "you are ugly" joke, I first heard as a Dr Johnson (the dictionary guy.) There was also a baudy version involving Dr. Johnson in a carriage with two women.

  26. Indy – just curious if you have ever whipped out your Churchill impression in the bedroom? It seems like a natural for foreplay 😀

  27. Pill freak bought down Germany. Boozer glutton sunk the British Empire. Tell us about Roosevelt, Mussolini and the Japanese emperor next!

  28. As a very clever man once said: "It's not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it, if it were easy."
    Well, at least I can say that there is still hope for me.

  29. "Off his tits"… Love it! Also love the truth over legend comparison, and an honest summary of our British colonial racist history. Gotta be honest about that stuff. We were an are a great nation. But like all great nations, we also have a nefarious side…

  30. He was probably in this almost magic state of slightly tipsy all the time.
    Those people who had experienced it at least for a day will vouch, that it truly sharpens senses and wit, without discernible signs of slowed reflexes. Your mind still works good, your body is still yours to command, only world around you is somewhat more real. I can't find better description.

  31. "I never said half the stuff people on the internet attribute to me"
    – Winston Churchill
    True quote (or was that Mark Twain?)

  32. I'd prefer to think Churchill was a drunk. If not, that means he was sober when came up with Gallipoli, Dieppe, Norway, the HMS Habbakuk, the demand for Australian troops when we needed them in Kokoda (let alone ordering troops to Singapore). The list is practically endless.
    Churchill is proof the Britons are stalwarts in spite of their leaders, not because of them.

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