Photo story

Churchill's First World War

Winston Churchill had a varied career during the First World War. At the outbreak of war in 1914, Churchill was serving as First Lord of the Admiralty. In 1915 he helped orchestrate the disastrous Dardanelles naval campaign and was also involved in the planning of the military landings on Gallipoli, both of which saw large losses.

Following the failure of these campaigns, Churchill was demoted and resigned from government. He became an officer in the Army and served on the Western Front until early 1916.

In 1917, under Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s coalition government, Churchill was appointed Minister of Munitions, a position he held until January 1919.

In 1919, shortly after the end of the war, he was appointed Secretary of State for Air and War. In this role he attended peace talks in Paris in 1919. He was not involved in the peace process itself but took part in discussions about the shape of the post-war world. He held this position until 1921.

Here are six images that trace Churchill’s career across the First World War.

  • Visiting Kent as First Lord of the Admiralty, May 1914

    Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 - 1915, in front of Short Type S.38 Biplane.
    Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 - 1915, in front of Short Type S.38 Biplane.
    CH 4778

    Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 - 1915, in front of Short Type S.38 Biplane (a.k.a. Short S.77), No. 66, of the Naval Wing of the Royal Flying Corps, during a visit to Eastchurch, Kent.

  • Behind the Front Line as an Officer in Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars, December 1915

    Major Winston Churchill, wearing a French steel shrapnel helmet, stands in front headquarters of XXXIII Corps, French Army.
    Major Winston Churchill, wearing a French steel shrapnel helmet, stands in front headquarters of XXXIII Corps, French Army.
    Q 49305

    Major Winston Churchill, wearing a French steel shrapnel helmet, stands with General Emile Fayolle and other officers including Captain Edward Spears (third from left) at the headquarters of XXXIII Corps, French Army, while visiting the French front line on 15 December 1915.

  • Inspecting a production line as Minister of Munitions, October 1918

    Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill inspects a production line for heavy guns on a visit to Beardmore'’s Munitions Works.
    Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill inspects a production line for heavy guns on a visit to Beardmore'’s Munitions Works.
    Q 84086

    Winston Churchill inspecting a production line for heavy guns during a visit to Beardmore'’s Munitions Works in Glasgow on 8 October 1918 as Minister of Munitions, a position he held from 1917 - 1919.

  • Meeting the workers while Minister of Munitions, October 1918

    Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill meets women war workers at Georgetown's filling works near Glasgow.
    Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill meets women war workers at Georgetown's filling works near Glasgow.
    Q 84077

    Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill meets women war workers at Georgetown's filling works near Glasgow during a visit on 9 October 1918.

  • Watching troops on parade as Minister of Munitions, October 1918

    Winston Churchill as Minister of Munitions watching the March Past of the 47th Division.
    Winston Churchill as Minister of Munitions watching the March Past of the 47th Division.
    Q 11429

    Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill on the Grand Stand in the Grande Place at Lille watching the March Past of the 47th Division in October 1918.

  • Attending the Paris Peace Conference as Secretary of State for Air and War, June 1919

    Winston Churchill photographed with delegates during the Paris Peace Conference 1919.
    Winston Churchill photographed with delegates during the Paris Peace Conference 1919.
    Q 14993

    Winston Churchill photographed with delegates at the Paris Peace Conference 1919. Churchill was not involved in the peace process itself but as Secretary of State for Air and War he took part in discussions about what the world should look like now the war was over.