A HALF-smoked cigar puffed on by wartime leader Winston Churchill more than 50 years ago could fetch £1,000 at auction in Dorchester.

The chewed end of a fat cigar that Churchill smoked in his hospital bed is to go under the hammer at Duke's.

The cigar was collected by a student nurse as a gift for her younger brother after it was stubbed out by an 87-year-old Churchill as he recuperated in hospital after fracturing his hip in 1962.

The nurse wrapped it in a Middlesex Hospital Soiled Dressing Disposal Bag and it has remained there ever since.

It is now being offered by Duke’s at its sale on October 15.

Churchill sustained his injury while holidaying in Monte Carlo where he fell out of bed.

He was flown back to London in an RAF VC10 jet at the request of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

He spent several weeks recuperating in the Woolavington Wing for private patients at Middlesex Hospital.

His recovery was slow as he contracted bronchitis and pneumonia which in turn led to thrombosis.

It was widely anticipated that he would not survive the ordeal at his advanced age.

Timothy Medhurst, auctioneer at Duke’s, said: “This cigar marks a pivotal moment for Sir Winston Churchill.

“Churchill had already experienced many injuries and to have such a devastating injury occur at such an old age was a threat to his stalwart ‘British Bulldog’ image.

“Though Churchill largely relied on his walking stick by the time this broken hip occurred, the operation to fix the fracture would have a caused a shortening in his leg and photographs following 1962 always show Churchill leaning on his iconic walking stick.

“This injury in 1962 was also a poignant moment in Churchill’s personal life – his beloved poodle Rufus II died whilst he was in hospital recovering."

Mr Medhurst added: "It is not surprising that Churchill’s cigar smoking in his hospital bed was widely recorded.

“This year marks the 50 year anniversary of Churchill’s death – the cigar is something we all associate with Churchill, one of the greatest leaders in history.

“We expect there to be great interest in it. It could sell for thousands.”

Churchill summed up his love of cigars when he said: “Smoking cigars is like falling in love.

“First, you are attracted by its shape; you stay for its flavour, and you must always remember never, never to let the flame go out!”

The lot has a signed declaration from the nurse who took it from the ashtray to give to her brother, the vendor.