Author Nicholas Hagger tells the Guardian Series about the visit of Winston Churchill to Loughton in 1945, of which he was an eyewitness, and how Churchill set up Iraq, where Nicholas worked in 1961.
The Allied forces landed in France on D-Day, 6 June 1944. A year later a UK General Election was called and Parliament was dissolved on 15 June 1945. Churchill toured his constituency (which during the war included Loughton, Chigwell and Epping until the boundary was changed for the 1945 Election) on Saturday June 25, 1945.
He spoke at Woodford and then at Buckhurst Hill. He came to Loughton in the late morning and spoke near the War Memorial at King’s Green in front of the King’s Head, across the road from the cricket field. Mrs. Churchill stood beside him in drizzle.
I was there. I was just six and was near enough to touch his right hand, which held a round microphone. An article on June 20, 1945 in the West Essex Gazette (as our paper was then called) is on my study wall. It has a picture, and my mother has arrowed “Nicholas” and “Mr and Mrs. Allwood” (the Methodist Church Minister at that time who took me to hear him).
Churchill congratulated his constituents on looking so fit after all they had endured from rockets and flying bombs (six of which fell on Loughton cricket field in March 1944, leaving a crater near the corner of the High Road and Trap’s Hill in full view from where he was standing).
The article says: “In response to the cheering crowd, he gave the V sign. He showed interest in a streamer outside a Loughton shop displaying the words, ‘Hitlers come, Hitlers go, but there’ll always be a Churchill.’ There was a large crowd at King’s Green, Loughton, and the Prime Minister’s arrival was greeted by a fanfare, sounded by Mr W.T. Garrett of the King’s Head. The crowd then lustily sang, ‘For he’s a Jolly Good Fellow’.
“A welcome to the urban district was given by Mr F.S. Foster, J.P., C.C., chairman of the Chigwell Urban District Council and a prominent supporter of the Conservative cause. There was a rush to get near the car, people even climbing up the War Memorial to get a better view. Mr Churchill spoke of the difficult problems in the political sphere which lie ahead. He said that if he was called away during the Election, Mrs. Churchill would take his place in the constituency.”
The West Essex Gazette article covering the visit at the time
He then went to Chigwell for lunch. My grandmother, Mrs. E.G. Broadley, had written to him congratulating him on winning the war and his reply , handwritten on House of Commons notepaper about this time, says: “I thank you sincerely for yr ty [your truly] kind message to me wh [which] I have received and read with great pleasure. Winston S. Churchill 1945.”
Churchill was called away. The Election took place on July 5 but some polls were delayed until July 12. He was called away to the Potsdam conference, which began on July 17 and lasted until August 2. The Election result was declared on July 26: a 12-per-cent swing to Labour, which had a majority of 145 seats. So Churchill left Potsdam in mid-conference, and was replaced by the new Prime Minister, Clement Attlee.