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Young Soldier

Proceedings of the International Churchill Societies 1994-95

The Honorable Celia Sandys
Calgary, Alberta, 23 September 1994
I AM greatly attracted to this country;" Winston Churchill wrote to his wife in 1929. I have only been here for two days but already I understand why my grandfather was drawn to the beauty and warmth of Canada.

I am most grateful to the International Churchill Society; Canada and The Sir Winston Churchill Society of Calgary fin inviting me here and am honoured to be asked to address you this evening. It is a great treat to have the chance to spend these few days with my aunt, although the pleasure is somewhat tempered by my apprehension at having to make this speech in the presence of one who is so much closer to the subject than I am myself

It was while at Sandhurst that the young Winston Churchill decided to make his debut in the political arena. He planned to make his first public speech at a meeting organised to combat the purity campaign of the prowling prudes, a group of women who were determined to outlaw alcohol from the music halls. In My Early Life he recalled the occasion: ‘As I never attempted to speak in public it was a serious undertaking. I wrote and rewrote my speech three or four times over and committed it in all its perfection to my memory." In the event, only the organizer of the meeting turned up and as Winston related:

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Douglas S. Russell

Boston, 28 October 1995


churchill 4th hussars"TWENTY to twenty five, those are the years." So wrote Winston Churchill in his autobiography in 1930, as he looked back on his life from the five-tiered summit of middle age.  He saw combat on three continents, won four medals and an order, was mentioned in despatches, wrote five books, gained international fame, and won a seat in Parliament, all before his twenty-sixth birthday.

Those were the years, indeed. Biographers often remark on the long span of Churchill’s political career and his great years as prime minister. I am struck by how early in life he began to achieve success and recognition—by how well he did, so soon. My forthcoming book with the above title is the story of the military aspect of Churchill’s early years.

Churchill began his military career in 1895. In the United Kingdom, Queen Victoria, Empress of India, was on the throne, her Diamond Jubilee to be held in 1897. At that time the British Empire covered one-quarter of the earth's land surface, its 380 millions of inhabitants lived on every continent and on the islands of every ocean. The sun truly never set on the Union Flag. It was a world without radio or television, without automobiles, radar, fax machines or computers. It was a time, as William Manchester has written, "before the Wright Brothers began the annihilation of distance" with the invention of the airplane.

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Richard M. Langworth

Finest Hour No. 105  Winter 1999-2000

Portions of this article are excerpted (omitting technical details and appraisals) from the author's book, A Connoisseur's Guide to the Books of Sir Winston Churchill.

I often wish modern writers who say Churchill was a racist would read his conversation with his Boer captors in London to Ladysmith. This was--remember--1899, when every Englishman alive supposedly believed in the utter supremacy of the white race, English branch.

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Excerpt from The Orders, Decorations and Medals of Sir Winston Churchill by Douglas S. Russell

As a young man, Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill set out to become a hero. In the event, he exceeded everyone's expectations, save perhaps his own. Churchill was the recipient of a remarkable variety of honors and awards. Few statesmen have received so many honorary degrees, freedoms of cities, honorary citizenships and memberships. Few have been named honorary citizens of the United States. Although several received the Nobel Peace Prize, none save Churchill received the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Among Churchill's honors are 37 orders, decorations and medals received between 1885 and 1963. Readers have surely noticed photographs of him at various stages of his career in military uniform or court dress wearing rows of colorful ribbon bars or a long row of medals. Reading and research over the past 12 years has brought to light much information and detail concerning these awards about which little was published before.

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