Churchill war ministry

The Churchill war ministry was the United Kingdom's coalition government for most of the Second World War from 10 May 1940 to 23 May 1945. It was led by Winston Churchill, who was appointed Prime Minister by King George VI following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain in the aftermath of the Norway Debate.

Churchill war ministry
Winston Churchill on 2 August 1944
Date formed10 May 1940 (1940-05-10)
Date dissolved23 May 1945 (1945-05-23)
People and organisations
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Deputy Prime MinisterClement Attlee (1942–1945)
Total no. of members223 appointments
Member parties
Status in legislatureMajority (coalition)
604 / 615(98%)
Legislature term(s)37th UK Parliament
Incoming formationNorway Debate
PredecessorChamberlain war ministry
SuccessorChurchill caretaker ministry

At the outset, Churchill formed a five-man War Cabinet which included Chamberlain as Lord President of the Council, Clement Attlee as Lord Privy Seal and later as Deputy Prime Minister, Viscount Halifax as Foreign Secretary and Arthur Greenwood as a minister without portfolio. Although the original war cabinet was limited to five members, in practice they were augmented by the service chiefs and ministers who attended the majority of meetings. The cabinet changed in size and membership as the war progressed but there were significant additions later in 1940 when it was increased to eight after Churchill, Attlee and Greenwood were joined by Ernest Bevin as Minister of Labour and National Service; Anthony Eden as Foreign Secretary – replacing Halifax, who was sent to Washington D.C. as ambassador to the United States; Lord Beaverbrook as Minister of Aircraft Production; Sir Kingsley Wood as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Sir John Anderson as Lord President of the Council – replacing Chamberlain who died in November (Anderson later became Chancellor after Wood's death in September 1943).

The coalition was dissolved in May 1945, following the final defeat of Germany, when the Labour Party decided to withdraw in order to prepare for a general election. Churchill, who was the leader of the Conservative Party, was asked by the King to form a new, essentially Conservative, government. It was known as the Churchill caretaker ministry and managed the country's affairs until completion of the general election on 26 July that year.