Walter H. Thompson
Detective Inspector
Inspector is both a police rank and an administrative position, both used in a number of contexts. However, it is not an equivalent rank in each police force.- Australia :...

 Walter Henry Thompson BEM
British Empire Medal
The Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service, usually known as the British Empire Medal , is a British medal awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown...

 (3 December 1890 – 18 January 1978) was the bodyguard
A bodyguard is a type of security operative or government agent who protects a person—usually a famous, wealthy, or politically important figure—from assault, kidnapping, assassination, stalking, loss of confidential information, terrorist attack or other threats.Most important public figures such...

 of Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 for eighteen years between 1921 and 1945, being recalled from semi-retirement running two grocer's shops by a telegram from Churchill on 22 August 1939 reading "Meet me Croydon Airport
Croydon Airport
Croydon Airport was an airport in South London which straddled the boundary between what are now the London boroughs of Croydon and Sutton. It was the main airport for London before it was replaced by Northolt Aerodrome, London Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport...

 4.30pm Wednesday." Although at that time Churchill had no official position in government, as the leading anti-appeaser
The term appeasement is commonly understood to refer to a diplomatic policy aimed at avoiding war by making concessions to another power. Historian Paul Kennedy defines it as "the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and...

 he was aware of the prevailing risk to his life from assassins (particularly the Nazis) and engaged Thompson to protect him in the pay of £5 per week (Approximately £880 as of 2010). Thompson resumed his official duties with Scotland Yard
Scotland Yard
Scotland Yard is a metonym for the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service of London, UK. It derives from the location of the original Metropolitan Police headquarters at 4 Whitehall Place, which had a rear entrance on a street called Great Scotland Yard. The Scotland Yard entrance became...

 when Churchill rejoined the Cabinet on the outbreak of war.

During his time with Churchill, Thompson travelled over 200,000 miles and is reported to have saved Churchill's life on some 20 occasions, including times when Churchill's own foolhardiness exposed him to danger from shrapnel
Fragmentation (weaponry)
Fragmentation is the process by which the casing of an artillery shell, bomb, grenade, etc. is shattered by the detonating high explosive filling. The correct technical terminology for these casing pieces is fragments , although shards or splinters can be used for non-preformed fragments...

 during the Blitz
The Blitz
The Blitz was the sustained strategic bombing of Britain by Nazi Germany between 7 September 1940 and 10 May 1941, during the Second World War. The city of London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 76 consecutive nights and many towns and cities across the country followed...

, plots by the IRA
Irish Republican Army (1922–1969)
The original Irish Republican Army fought a guerrilla war against British rule in Ireland in the Irish War of Independence 1919–1921. Following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty on 6 December 1921, the IRA in the 26 counties that were to become the Irish Free State split between supporters and...

, Indian nationalists, Arab nationalists, Nazi agents, Greek Communists and the deranged. The stress of his duties during his time with Churchill caused Thompson to suffer a breakdown, which took him away from Churchill, but within weeks, Thompson had recuperated and returned to his duties. The stress of the job, compounded by long absences away from his family, led to the dissolution of Thompson's first marriage in 1929; during the war he married Churchill's junior secretary, May Shearburn.

In June 1945, with Churchill out of office and Thompson about to retire for a second time from the Metropolitan Police
Metropolitan police
Metropolitan Police is a generic title for the municipal police force for a major metropolitan area, and it may be part of the official title of the force...

, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police
Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis is the head of London's Metropolitan Police Service, classing the holder as a chief police officer...

 and Downing Street
Downing Street
Downing Street in London, England has for over two hundred years housed the official residences of two of the most senior British cabinet ministers: the First Lord of the Treasury, an office now synonymous with that of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and the Second Lord of the Treasury, an...

 decided that it would be improper for him to publish his memoirs for the foreseeable future and threatened Thompson with the loss of his police pension if it was published, even though he had nearly completed a 350,000 word manuscript. An expurgated version, I was Churchill's Shadow was published in the 1950s, but the full manuscript was discovered only after Thompson's death, by his great-niece Linda Stoker.

For his service in protection of Churchill and to his country, Thompson was awarded the British Empire Medal
British Empire Medal
The Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service, usually known as the British Empire Medal , is a British medal awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown...

 in 1945.

Thompson died of cancer on 18 January 1978, aged 87 years.

The manuscript was published in 2005, together with a 13-part television series, on UKTV History
UKTV History
Yesterday is a television channel broadcasting in the United Kingdom as part of the UKTV network of channels. The channel originally launched on 30 October 2002 and relaunched in its current format on 2 March 2009. The channel is available on satellite through Sky, cable services primarily through...

, with Dennis Waterman
Dennis Waterman
Dennis Waterman is a British actor and singer, best known for his tough-guy roles in television series including The Sweeney, Minder and New Tricks.-Early life:...

 reciting excerpts from Thompson's journal
A diary is a record with discrete entries arranged by date reporting on what has happened over the course of a day or other period. A personal diary may include a person's experiences, and/or thoughts or feelings, including comment on current events outside the writer's direct experience. Someone...

(originally broadcast between November and December 2005). On DVD, the documentary series is entitled Churchill's Bodyguard.
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