The Unknown Warriors

Young Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill will always be remembered for leading the country to victory during WWII. However, he was in his 60's when he was Prime Minister. So what made him the man he was? Here are some fascinating facts about Winston Churchill's youth.



Winston Churchill was born in November 1874, at Blemheim Palace in Oxfordshire. He was from an aristocratic family the Spencer-Churchills, who were descended from the Duke of Marlborough.


Between the ages of two and six he lived in Dublin, as his grandfather had been made Viceroy and his father Private Secretary. He used to play in Phoenix Park with his nanny.

















































He attended Harrow School and was the school fencing champion. He did well in the subjects of History and English. He also joined the Harrow Rifle Corp.


His father died at the age of 45 in 1895, this made Winston beleive he would also die young which might explain his urge to achieve at a young age. However he was to live until the age of 90, double the age of his father.


He joined Sandhurst Military Academy after finishing school in 1893 after three attempts. He joined a cavalry regiment and was commissioned as a Cornet (2nd Lieutenant) in the 4th Hussars.


To make extra money Churchill was interested in writing dispatches from wars for the newspapers. He got an offer of some work for the Daily Graphic, he went to Cuba and witnessed them fighting the Spanish. On his 21st birthday to his great excitement he came under fire for the first time. It was on his visit to Cuba that he tried cigars and smoked them for the rest of his life.


In the autumn of 1896 he got a chance to fight in India, up in the North West Frontier. He was sent on a scouting mission up a valley and was involved in fierce fighting with a local tribe. He saw an injured soldier left behind slashed to death. He wrote about his experiences in a book about the siege of Malakand, which was published in 1900. He received £600 from the publisher, which in todays money would have been worth a lot more.


This was followed with a posting to Egypt and in 1898 he took part in the last large Cavalry charge of the British military at the Battle of Omdurman in Sudan. He was also war correspondent for the Morning Post and the following year his book 'The River War' about the experience was published.


He resigned from the Army in 1899 and had his first foray into politics, standing as a parliamentary candidate in a by-election in Oldham after the death of the sitting MP, which he lost.


The Boer War broke out that year and Winston was given the job of war correspondent for the Morning Post again. Whilst covering events he was taken prisoner of war and locked up in Pretoria. He made a daring escape and travelled 300 miles to safety. He continued as a war correspondent but also joined the Army again and was commissioned into the South Africa Light Horse and took part in the relief of the Siege of Ladysmith and took back Pretoria.


In 1900 he returned to Britain and another of his books was published 'London to Ladysmith'. In the same year there was a General Election and Winston Churchill stood again as a candidate in Oldham. This time he won, his political career had begun.


He resigned from the regular Army but did join the Territorial Service and was

promoted to Major in the Henley Squadron of the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars.


He met his wife Clementine in 1904 at a ball held at the residence of Earl Crewe and they got married four years later.


In 1908 he introduced the Trade Boards Bill, which set up the first minimum wage in Britain. He was in favour of a referendum to decide whether women should be given the vote.


In December 1910 Jewish Anarchists from Latvia had been carrying out a raid of a jewellers in the East End when they were disturbed by the police. They killed 3 of the policemen. A couple of weeks later an informant tipped off the police that possibly two members of the gang were hiding out in a house on Sidney Street. On the 2nd of January at dawn over 100 police officers surrounded the street, the criminals had loads of ammo and the police came under heavy attack. Winston Churchill was the Home Secretary at the time and went down to see the events for himself. He ordered that the Scots Guards were brought in to assist the police.


Some accounts say a bullet went through Winston Churchill's top hat during the exchanges of fire. The house eventually caught fire and the Fire Brigade were ready to go into the building but Churchill stopped them. He later said  "I thought it better to let the house burn down rather than spend good British lives in rescuing those ferocious rascals' The men inside the house never came out alive.


In the 1913 Mental Deficiency Act he was in favour of sterilising the 'feeble minded' however this did not pass instead they were to be put in institutions.


When World War One started he was First Lord of the Admiralty, a post he had been in from 1911. He was in this role when the disaster at Gallipoli took place and had to step down from the position. Eager to restore his reputation he volunteered to go to the Western Front, after a short time in the Grenadier Guards he was made a Lt Colonel in the 6th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers (part of the 9th (Scottish) Division).














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