Britain marks 50th anniversary of Churchill's death

Britain on Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill, the iconic cigar-chomping prime minister who led his nation in defying Nazi Germany during World War II.

Churchill, who died aged 90 on January 24, 1965, was Britain's prime minister through the war years of 1940 to 1945, and again in peacetime from 1951 to 1955.

Prime Minister David Cameron led tributes, describing Churchill as the country's "greatest ever prime minister" in a video tribute in which he called on people to share their favourite Churchill quotations on social media.

"Churchill was our greatest ever prime minister and we owe him everything. In May 1940 that crucial decision to fight on against Hitler saved our country and arguably saved the world."

"I think this year we should also all remember the many great things that he said."

Cameron quoted from Churchill's "we shall never surrender" speech.

"My favourite quotation from Churchill is the one he made shortly after that momentous decision in May 1940: 'We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be.

"We shall fight them on the beaches, we shall fight them on the landing grounds, we shall fight them on the streets and in our fields, we shall fight them in the hills. We shall never surrender'."

To mark his passing, personal items from Churchill's family, including the last photograph of the wartime leader, have gone on public display for the first time at his former residence Chartwell in Kent, southeastern England.

On Friday, the 50th anniversary of his state funeral, a remembrance service will be held at the Houses of Parliament in London.