Monday, February 11, 2008

The Churchill Series - Feb. 11, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Excerpts from a Times of London article, Winston Churchill, soldier and journalist, describing his early life as a soldier and journalist:

Winston Churchill’s early life was dominated by the Army and by journalism.

At the age of 20, in February 1895, he was commissioned in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars.

The military year was divided into seven months’ summer training and five months’ winter leave, during which young officers were expected to gain experience by joining a suitable military campaign.

Since early summer, the Spanish authorities in Cuba had been hard-pressed by rebels, and 80,000 reinforcements had been sent to suppress the rebellion.

Seeing an opportunity to witness some real military action, Churchill and a fellow subaltern, Reginald Barnes, went to Cuba in October and attached themselves to General Suarez Valdez.

On November 30, his 21st birthday, Churchill witnessed his first action: “For the first time I heard shots fired in anger, and heard bullets strike flesh or whistle through the air.”

The following year, 1896, Churchill’s military career took him to India, where he (joined a field force) under Sir Binden Blood to tackle the revolt of the Pathan tribesmen on the Indian frontier.

By August 1897, he was with the force at Malakand, on the Indian border (now part of Pakistan) with Afghanistan.
Pathans are a tribal people we refer to as Pashtuns. They inhabit the border area of what is now southeastern Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan. Many believe Osama bin Laden is hiding somewhere in that area.

Churchill’s experiences in the fighting there formed the basis for his first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force , published in 1898..

The Times article, Winston Churchill, soldier and journalist, was published September 10, 2001.