Any Historians About?

Stumbled upon this whilst meandering around the web. It starts off as a blog post highlighting the number of (US) politicians who are pro-war but have never actually served in the forces. Further down the comments though some muppet claims that Winston Churchill never saw action on the two-way range.

I'm not a military historian but I was of the impression that Churchill took part in the Battle of Omdurman (or something like that) and commanded troops at the front in WW1.

Anyone more knowledgable than me shine some light?
He did indeed serve at the front.

During his army career Churchill saw combat on the Northwest Frontier, in the Sudan and during the Second Boer War, during which he also gained fame and notoriety, as a war correspondent. He also served in the British Army on the Western Front and commanded the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
Definately was at Omdurman.

also I think he was captured during the Boer war and escaped with a bounty on his head.
After being educated at Harrow he went to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. Churchill joined the Fourth Hussars in 1895 and saw action on the Indian north-west frontier and in the Sudan where he took part in the Battle of Omdurman (1898).

After leaving the British Army in 1899, Churchill worked as a war correspondent for the Morning Post. While reporting the Boer War in South Africa he was taken prisoner by the Boers but made headline news when he escaped. On returning to England he wrote about his experiences in the book, London to Ladysmith (1900).

Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty in October 1911 where he helped modernize the navy. Churchill was one of the first people to grasp the military potential of aircraft and in 1912 he set up the Royal Naval Air Service. He also established an Air Department at the Admiralty so as to make full use of this new technology. Churchill was so enthusiastic about these new developments that he took flying lessons.

On the outbreak of war in 1914, Churchill joined the War Council. However, he was blamed for the failure at the Dardanelles Campaign in 1915 and was moved to the post of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Unhappy about not having any power to influence the Government's war policy, he rejoined the British Army and commanded a battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front. Troops were at first uneasy and lacked confidence in him. Gradually he began to earn their respect.


Now with limited power in Cabinet, post the Dardenelles debacle, Churchill decided to go to the trenches himself. In November 1915 Churchill landed in France to serve in the Grenadier Guards as a Major. By New Year he was in charge of the 6th Battalian Royal Scots Fusiliers - a body of men who had experienced a very tough time. By all accounts (not just his own) Churchill was an extreme success - and his men loved and admired him. Churchill was very hands-on, personally courageous, unconventional, sociable, nothing was too much trouble for the former cabinet Minister - he trained his men thoroughly...and made it fun, or as much fun as possible. It was here amongst the mud and death that Churchill took up painting with enthusiasm, this hobby became a life long passion. When his regiment amalgamated with another there was no longer was any need for Churchill (the equivilant officer from the other regiment was senior by some months to Winston). To be honest this was the excuse Churchill needed to get back into politics - he had for some weeks decided that he would have more influence from London than from within the trenches.

He also wore a French Army helmet [WTF, that was Winnie :wink: ] ... I had a quick look for the well-known photograph without success.
i believe you are referring to this.."@ Ric

Actually this post has reminded about what my grandfather said about Churchill, he never served in a front line combat unit in his life but was in love with war, and like McCain was a a former POW and serial embellisher of the facts. He betrayed British soldiers time and time again, especially in the Middle East (Churchill’s folly). All these warmongering fantasists are Zionists.

steph - April 9, 2008 at 4:01 pm "

although her pic is rather good looking she cant be more wrong..
"In 1895, Churchill travelled to Cuba to observe the Spanish fight the Cuban guerrillas; he had obtained a commission to write about the conflict from the Daily Graphic. To his delight, he came under fire for the first time on his twenty-first birthday.[25]"
and again.. "While in the Sudan, he participated in what has been described as the last meaningful British cavalry charge at the Battle of Omdurman in September 1898."

there are other instances where he has been recorded as taking part in the fighting. For example in 1897 when he was posted in India on an operation in Pakistan.

PS : not a historian but hope I helped.


Not a French Helmet but here he is

Unfortunately, Rob and Steph on that site have the same approach to history as the (in)famous Denis Winter - if the primary source doesn't support their preconception, they ignore it or claim that it's valueless...


Book Reviewer
Just as an aside I looked this up off another thread

Just as a comparison Thatchers cabinet in 1982 (Falklands) v Blair's in 2003 (Iraq)

Margaret Thatcher: Prime Minister (Married to Dennis - Major Royal - Engineers 2 x Mid's)
William Whitelaw MC: Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for the Home Department (Army - Guards Armoured - Major )
Geoffrey Howe: Chancellor of the Exchequer (Army -Royal Sig - Lieutenant)
Leon Brittan: Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Francis Pym MC: Lord President of the Council (Army - 9th Lancers - Captain)
Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone: Lord Chancellor (Army - Rifle Brigade - wounded)
Humphrey Atkins: Lord Privy Seal (Royal Navy 1940 - 1948)
Lord Carrington MC: Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Army - Grenadier Guards - Major)
Peter Walker: Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
John Nott: Secretary of State for Defence (Army - Gurkha Rifles - Malaya)
Sir Keith Joseph MID: Secretary of State for Education and Science (Army - Royal Artillery - Captain wounded - Italy)
Norman Tebbit: Secretary of State for Employment (RAF - pilot)
Nigel Lawson: Secretary of State for Energy (Royal Navy - National Service)
Michael Heseltine: Secretary of State for the Environment (Army - Welsh Guards - National Service)
Norman Fowler: Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Army 2nd Lt Essex Regiment - National Service)
Patrick Jenkin: Secretary of State for Industry
Baroness Young: Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
James Prior: Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Army - Royal Norfolk Regiment)
Cecil Parkinson: Paymaster-General (RAF - NCO - National Service)
George Younger: Secretary of State for Scotland (Army - Korea)
John Biffen: Secretary of State for Trade and President of the Board of Trade
David Howell: Secretary of State for Transport
Nicholas Edwards: Secretary of State for Wales

19 years later
Blair's Cabinet

Tony Blair : Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, and Minister for the Civil Service:
John Prescott : Deputy Prime Minister
Gordon Brown : Chancellor of the Exchequer and Second Lord of the Treasury
The Lord Irvine of Lairg : Lord Chancellor
Robin Cook : Lord President of the Council & Leader of the House of Commons
The Lord Williams of Mostyn : Lord Privy Seal & Leader of the House of Lords
Andrew Smith : Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Jack Straw : Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Univercity CCF - opted out claimed - conscientious objection". )
David Blunkett : Secretary of State for the Home Department
Margaret Beckett : Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Stephen Byers : Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions
Alan Milburn : Secretary of State for Health
Geoff Hoon : Secretary of State for Defence (CCF - 1967 - 70)
Alistair Darling : Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Estelle Morris : Secretary of State for Education and Skills
Patricia Hewitt : Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Minister for Women and Equality
Tessa Jowell : Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Clare Short : Secretary of State for International Development
John Reid : Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Helen Liddell : Secretary of State for Scotland
Paul Murphy : Secretary of State for Wales
Charles Clarke : Minister without Portfolio and Labour Party Chairman
Hilary Armstrong : Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and Government Chief Whip
Lord Goldsmith: Attorney General

I couldn't care less about Tory v Labour but it is interesting to see the changes in 20 years
Who would you rather sent you off to fight some one whose been at the sharp end or some one whose Defence Minister who predicts that we woulkd be out of AFG in 3 years without firing a shot?(7 million rounds later)
Some missing from the list of Tories - David Howell was a Guards officer from 1954-56

Patrick Jenkin served with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders from 45-48

John Biffen was in the RE

Nicholas Edwards (now Lord Crickhowell) was a subaltern in the RWF.

I think that Peter Walker may also have done national service. Loathe though I am to be the slightest bit fair to Blair's government of no talents, the fact that the the 1982 cabinet were all old enough to do national service - although I think Leon Brittain deferred and was at University when conscription ended - slightly skews the figures. I can't help thinking that several of the 1997 mob would have tried to find some way of avoiding their national service, though...
I thought Dennis Thatcher was a Gunner? (and got as far as Brigadier?)
HPF - Denis T joined the TA in 1938 as an officer in 34th (Queen's Own Royal West Kent) Searchlight Battalion, Royal Engineers and was an AA gunner. He demobbed in 1946 as a Major.
Archimedes said:
HPF - Denis T joined the TA in 1938 as an officer in 34th (Queen's Own Royal West Kent) Searchlight Battalion, Royal Engineers and was an AA gunner. He demobbed in 1946 as a Major.
Oh well - about 25% right ........... not bad for me 8)
Dennis Thatcher demobbed in '46 but continued as a TA gunner thereafter...
Excellent!!! It's going up :)


Book Reviewer
Sorry was away lookin for it
I agree with Archimedes that the Tatcher cabinet were of an age that would have done war time and National service.
I can't help thinking then that a stint as a military man was almost a pre requisite to becoming an MP
It's also I imagine a bit harder to send the nation to war if your husband or fellow cabinet members have been there and are fully aware of what it entails
Although I am willing to bet that Blair thought this was going to be his good war
We arrive the Iraquis carry on like the Dutch when they were liberated we let the yanks build a Starbucks and a Macca D's on every corner come home to a hero's welcome ala returning Falklands scenes and he goes down in history as Thatcher and Churchills equal

Dennis Thatcher (abriged)

On a business trip to Germany in 1937, Thatcher watched the Hitler Youth marching through the streets, telling his father on his return: "It's not a question of if there'll be a war, but when. I might as well go and get trained."

In October 1938 Thatcher was commissioned 2nd lieutenant with the 34th (Queen's Own Royal West Kent) Searchlight Battalion, Royal Engineers, based at Blackheath. On the outbreak of war the following year, he was assigned to anti-aircraft duties in Kent
Just three days after the death of his father in June 1943, Denis Thatcher embarked for Sicily with the HQ of 73 Anti-Aircraft Brigade, which was to provide protection for the rear of Montgomery's Eighth Army in Operation Husky, the invasion of Italy. At this stage based at Taormina, he and his comrades were some way behind the action. He remembered that the officers' liquor allowance was one bottle of whisky a month.

When he landed on the mainland in October 1944, so little seemed to be happening that he and a friend took a week's leave, borrowing a Jeep to go on a brief "tour" of Italy. He was then transferred to Marseilles, to serve with the US 7th Army.

Because of the devastation left behind, Thatcher and his men had to set up headquarters in a bank and live in a bar ("damn near the red light district"). He helped to extradite captured Poles who had been interned in Switzerland, and to move the 5th Canadian Division without allowing the Germans to detect where the reinforcements were headed.

There was an improvement when Thatcher was able to move from the bar into a "very pukka" chateau, where he and his friends overcame the liquor drought by producing their own gin, mixing alcohol with the juice from juniper berries in the bath:

"A mouthful of this stuff nearly blew our heads off. That was easily solved - we turned the tap on and watered it down. It was still terrible stuff and tasted like hell, but it was gin. The Americans had fruit juice in their rations. . . So when our guests came to the chateau, we grandly offered them 'gin and jungle juice', as if it were the most sophisticated cocktail on earth."

Thatcher was twice mentioned in dispatches, and in 1945 was appointed MBE (military) for his initiative and organisational skills. He was demobilised in 1946 with the rank of major, and returned to the family firm. Later he credited the Army with teaching him "to think" and "the elements of leadership".

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