Object of the Week: A pistol owned by Winston Churchill during World War Two

By Culture24 Reporter | 02 December 2015

In the week when Winston Churchill would have been 141, we bring you his pistol

A photo of a large grey and brown pistol from the 1940s
© Bonhams
This pistol - a remarkable link to Churchill’s war years - was one of a number of firearms he owned while serving as Prime Minister during the war.

Much blued finish, the left side of the slide is stamped Webley & Scott Ltd, London & Birmingham, 7.65mm & .32 Automatic Pistol, the butt with diamond pattern ebonite grips. The left has a small chip and the right side has a larger chip missing, with a magazine missing a three-inch barrel of contemporary Birmingham nitro proof.

A black and white photo of a man in an overcoat using a machine gun
Churchill using the Sten Mk III sub-machine gun, which was also part of his collection© Bonhams
These guns were adopted by Scotland Yard for use on close protection details in 1911. Walter J Thompson, Churchill's most famous bodyguard, carried one during his 18 years of service beside the Prime Minister.

It is believed that there were some 20 failed attempts to assassinate Churchill during the war, including one involving a bizarre exploding chocolate bar.

A black and white photo of a man in an overcoat using a machine gun
Churchill's grandson, Winston Spencer-Churchill MP, kept the pistol in a cardboard carton© Bonhams
One of the alleged attempts against his life is known as Operation Long Jump (Unternehmen Weitsprung) – an SS-led plan to simultaneously assassinate Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt and Churchill at the 1943 Teheran Conference during World War Two. The plot was foiled after being uncovered by the Soviets.

Auctioneers selling the self-loading weapon set an estimate price of £2,000-£3,000. It is taken from Churchill’s private collection, which also includes a presentation Sten Mk III sub-machine gun, which he was famously photographed with during the war.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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Latest comment: >Make a comment
Apples and oranges. Churchill was involved in battles in Africa. This weapon was for personal self-defence. In other words, close range.
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