Stories and Traveltips

ID #4174

Winston Churchill, Midlands, Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Twenty-five year old Winston Churchill, cavalryman and newspaper correspondent for the London Morning Post, arrived in Estcourt in 1899 where the British troops were waiting to march on Ladysmith.  Churchill was later to describe Ladysmith as “the poor little persecuted town – famous to the uttermost ends of the earth”.  Also Churchill commented that “the individual Boer, mounted, in suitable country, is worth four or five regular soldiers”.  “The only way of treating them is to get men equal in character and intelligence as riflemen or, failing that, huge masses of troops…there is plenty of work here for a quarter of a million men and South Africa is well worth the cost in blood and money”. “Are the gentlemen of England all out fox hunting?”  “For the sake of our manhood, our devoted colonists and our dead soldiers, we must persevere with the war”. 

Churchill’s Boer War exploits were to lay the foundation for the future British Prime Minister’s national reputation.  He did not have to wait long for action.  In November 1899, he joined an armoured train reconnaissance towards Colenso where Boer patrols had been spotted.  The train was ambushed ten miles north at Frere. The line had been blocked by a huge stone that caused the train to derail. Churchill was captured and taken prisoner of war.  He did not stay captive very long however.  Within two months he had escaped and was back on another attempt at relieving Ladysmith.  General Joubert, not overly concerned about Churchill’s escape, offered less cash reward for his capture than the British officers were paying for a bottle of Scotch. He reportedly commented that “Hy is net ‘n klein koerant-skrywertjie” (He is just a little journalist). AOWinston

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Last update: 2014-05-14 01:50
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.2

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