Action

The Cavalry Officer

Churchill left Harrow School in 1892 and went to a ‘crammer’ to help him pass the entrance exam into the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, which he eventually did on the third attempt in 1893. He found life at Sandhurst much more suited to his temperament and talents than school life. Military topics such as tactics and fortifications were far more appealing to him than mathematics and he was a skilled horseman. The practical nature of the course appealed to him and he passed with credit in December 1894, twentieth out of a class of one hundred and thirty.

In February 1985, Churchill joined the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, a fashionable cavalry regiment, as a 2nd Lieutenant, as a way of gaining some experience before working his way into politics. Churchill’s regiment, the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, amalgamated with the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars in 1958 to form the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars. After further cuts in 1993, the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars amalgamated with the Queen’s Own Hussars (formerly the 3rd King’s Own Hussars and 7th Queen’s Hussars) to form the Queen’s Royal Hussars.

It is a fine game to play – the game of politics – and it is well worth a good hand – before really plunging.
Churchill, in a letter to his mother, 16 August 1895

Read More >

South Africa The POW escapes and makes his way to Durban

In his last youthful military adventure, Churchill joined British forces in the Boer War. Churchill set off, armed with the important things in life – sixty bottles of spirits, twelve bottles of Rose’s Lime Juice and a supply of claret – and arrived in Cape Town late on 30 October 1899.

He was famously captured only two weeks later by the Boers when the armoured train on which he was travelling in Boer-occupied territory was ambushed and derailed. He made a dramatic escape the following month, making his way to Durban, with the Boers offering a reward of £25 for the recapture of their well-known prisoner, ‘dead or alive’. His dispatches from the Boer War were republished as two books, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria (1900) and Ian Hamilton’s March (1900).

Read More >

Sudan Churchill was posted to server under General Kitchener

Desperate to join the army reconquering the Sudan, lost following the death of General Gordon in 1885, Churchill managed to obtain a temporary commission as a Lieutenant with the 21st Lancers while again also serving as a war correspondent, this time for the Morning Post.

In August 1898 he travelled up the Nile with the expeditionary force under General Kitchener.

Read More >

Politics Interferes – Briefly Churchill becomes the highest paid war corresponent of the day

With all his writing and journalism gaining the attention of the political authorities (due in no small part to a promotion of his activities by his mother Lady Randolph), he resigned from the army in April 1899. Politics beckoned.

He had already spoken at a few political meetings in the Autumn of 1898 and attempted to enter Parliament as a Conservative, but failed – by a small margin – at the by-election in Oldham in 1899. But more action was to beckon. A serious colonial war had begun in South Africa and Churchill managed to secure another lucrative assignment to report on the war for the Morning Post. The contract he negotiated with the newspaper, a salary of £250 a month and all expenses paid, made him the highest-paid war correspondent of the day.

Read More >

India and the North West Frontier

Back home in Britain, in 1896, Churchill did all he could to get posted to Egypt or Matabeleland in South Africa, where he could see some action and get noticed – to no avail. He eventually sailed to India with his regiment in the Autumn of 1896.

Confined to a life of polo and military routine in Bangalore, he eventually took matters into his own hands and, armed with a contract as a war correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, travelled to the North West frontier to join the Malakand Field Force. Here he did find himself in danger. Although the fighting on the north-west frontier against the Afghan tribes in 1897 couldn’t really be called battles, there was a real risk of being killed and Churchill had several narrow escapes.

Read More >

Cuba Churchill was able to get himself posted to Cuba as an observer

Churchill had a period of leave and managed to obtain his first assignment as a war correspondent for the newspaper. He was reporting on the rebellion against Spanish rule by guerilla rebels in Cuba when he first came under fire. It was also in Cuba that he first refined his well-known taste for fine Cuban cigars. He was attached to the Spanish forces as an observer but his writings reveal considerable sympathies for the Cuban rebels.

Read more about Churchill’s time in Cuba here.

Read More >

Churchill and the Silver Screen: Film Turns the Tide

Finest Hour 174, Autumn 2016 Page 30 By David Lough David Lough is the author of No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money (2015). He received the International Churchill Society’s 2016 Somervell Award for Outstanding Original Contribution to Finest Hour. Note: All sums of money earned by Winston Churchill from film are given in the […]

Books, Arts, & Curiosities – The War at Sea

Finest Hour 172, Spring 2016

Page 46

Review by Kevin D. McCranie

Jonathan Dimbleby, The Battle of the Atlantic: How the Allies Won the War, Viking, 2015, 560 pages, £17. ISBN 978-0241186602


Battle of the AtlanticThe Battle of the Atlantic, the longest sustained campaign of the European theater in the Second World War, began with the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939. It continued to rage right up to the German surrender in 1945. Yet, the term “Battle of the Atlantic” is a misnomer, according to Jonathan Dimbleby. Rather than a traditional Trafalgar-like battle, the Atlantic struggle encompassed a series of naval campaigns over an expansive geographical region from the icepack in the Arctic deep into the vastness of the South Atlantic. The primary German weapon was the U-boat. The desired victim was merchant shipping with the object of attacking Britain’s greatest vulnerability: its critical dependence on resources coming from overseas.

The subtitle of Dimbleby’s book, How the Allies Won the War, is certainly provocative but reflects his thesis that the Atlantic battle was the decisive struggle in the war. To prove his point he quotes President Franklin Roosevelt: “I believe the outcome of this struggle is going to be decided in the Atlantic” (xxvi). Nothing, to Dimbleby, more clearly explains the battle’s significance. He maintains that nearly everything else in the war was contingent upon the grinding, attritional campaign occurring in the stormy waters of the Atlantic.
Read More >

Books, Arts, & Curiosities – Our Man at the Front

Finest Hour 172, Spring 2016

Page 40

Review by Chris Sterling

Simon Read, Winston Churchill Reporting: Adventures of a Young War Correspondent, Da Capo Press, 2015, 309 pages, $26.99. ISBN 978-0306823817


Winston Churchill ReportingRead, a former California journalist born in England, begins his book with a clear disclaimer: “I don’t consider this a biography or a work of history—though it contains elements of both. It is, instead, a true tale of adventure featuring Winston Churchill in the starring role. When writing the book, I described it to friends as ‘Winston Churchill as Indiana Jones’” (ix). And therein lies both the appeal and drawback of this latest addition to the ever- growing “Churchill and _____” shelf.

Read’s breezy style stitches together the adventuresome story of Churchill’s first four wars on which the initial newspaper columns and several of WSC’s early books are based. These include his trip to Cuba to observe Spanish forces fighting rebels (1895–96), the fighting role of the Malakand Field Force in what is now Pakistan (1897), the “river war” in Sudan (1898), and the bitter South African Boer War on which Churchill reported (1899–1900). In all save the first, Churchill was also a serving officer in the British Army, an odd combination that raised eyebrows.

Churchill’s “lucky” placement in four such widespread conflicts over less than five years was no mere happenstance. His well-connected mother Jennie opened the right London doors to reach key government and army officials who surrendered to her charm and persuasion, often against their own better judgment. The seeming Churchill luck created more than a bit of envy and jealousy among many of the soldiers with whom he served.
Read More >

Books, Arts & Curiosities – Churchill and the Sport of Kings

Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 43

Review by Bill Dwyre

Fred Glueckstein, Churchill and Colonist II: The Story of Winston Churchill and His Famous Race Horse, iUniverse, 2014, $22.95.
ISBN 978-1491749722


Churchill and ColonistIt is refreshing to learn that not all of Winston Churchill’s races were political. We discover this in a recent book written by New York writer and frequent author on all subjects Churchillian, Fred Glueckstein.

In Churchill and Colonist II we discover that the British prime minister who walked side-by-side with us through the horrors of the Second World War dearly enjoyed walking into a horse race winners’ circle, or, for that matter, into the clubhouses of England’s racetracks.

Colonist II was a grey horse, and not a particularly pretty one, who was purchased by Churchill when the former prime minister was seventy-five. It was not Churchill’s first foray with horses—he had ridden joyfully at prep school and in the military—but it came at a time when his postwar political fortunes had dipped and so had his general mood. His son-in-law, Christopher Soames, saw the gloom and the need to address that. So he found Churchill a horse, Colonist II, and a love affair began.
Read More >

Join Now

Join NowPlease join with us to help preserve the memory of Winston Churchill and continue to explore how his life, experiences and leadership are ever-more relevant in today’s chaotic world. BENEFITS >BECOME A MEMBER >

WinstonChurchill.org

The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.