Winston Churchill’s half-smoked cigar to light up Shrewsbury auction

A cigar half smoked by Britain’s wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill is set to light up an auction in Shropshire next month and could fetch up to £2,500.

A cigar half smoked by Britain’s wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill and associated photograph and letter valued at up to £2,500
A cigar half smoked by Britain’s wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill and associated photograph and letter valued at up to £2,500

The cigar, with its distinctive red and gold Winston Churchill band, together with associated photographs and a letter from his secretary on House of Commons headed notepaper, have been consigned to fine art auctioneers Halls’ two-day country house auction in Shrewsbury on April 26 and 27.

Churchill, who led Britain to victory in the Second World War, served as Conservative Prime Minister twice from 1940 to ’45 and from 1951 to ’55.

He half smoked the cigar before boarding an aeroplane at Le Bouget Airport, Paris on May 11, 1947 after spending three days in the French capital. A photograph in the lot shows Churchill standing in the doorway of the Avro York MW101 aeroplane smoking the cigar.

“He stubbed out the cigar in an ashtray after boarding the plane and it was taken into protective custody by Corporal William Alan Turner, Air Quartermaster with 24 Squadron Transport Command, who was a member of the cabin crew that flew Churchill and his wife from RAF Northolt to Paris and home again,” said Andrew Beeston, Halls’ senior auctioneer and valuer.

“The cigar remained in late Corporal Turner’s possession and must have been a topic of conversation for many years. Had it not been half smoked by the great man, the value would have been much less and the photograph supports the provenance.”

In addition to the photograph signed by Churchill, the letter from his secretary refers to returning three album pages containing 14 photographs of his visit to Paris from May 9 to 11.