Do you beleive in destiny? A predetermined fate that the universe holds for just a few special individuals who walk this Earth?
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Do you believe in destiny? A predetermined fate that the universe holds for just a few special individuals who walk this Earth? A destiny that beckons, not before, not after, but at just the right moment in history? The precise moment when great upheavals herald the possible destruction of all that is good and sacred?
On the 30th November 1874, a child was born into an aristocratic family in England; he was the latest descendant of the Dukes of Marlborough. As a boy, he would develop a lifelong love of soldiering, and all things military. A disappointment to his stern and distant father, he would prove not be the scholarly prodigy that the family had hoped for. Instead he grew into adolescence, as an outspoken, difficult and unpopular young man. Always headstrong, and seemingly unconcerned with the feelings of others, he kept mostly to himself. He believed it was his destiny was to one day do great and heroic deeds. The masters at all of the schools he attended however would despair at his poor academic record and the rebellious nature, of this sturdy red haired, boy who spoke with a lisp.
In 1893 after three attempts, he managed to gain entry into Sandhurst military college. He joined the cavalry mainly because the required entry grade was lower than that of the infantry. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 4th Queens own Hussars …he made an excellent horseman! The pay for a second lieutenant was nowhere near enough to keep him in the fashion to which he believed he was entitled, and as such he was constantly in debt and living way beyond his means.
Not only did he fancy himself as a warrior, but he also fancied himself as a bit of a writer. And as such he began to supplement his income with the money he earned as a war correspondent. In 1895 he was commissioned by the Daily Graphic newspaper to cover events in the Cuban civil war. Whilst observing Spanish military operations on his 21st birthday, he came under fire for the first, but certainly not the last time in his life. Exhilarated by this first real soldiering experience, and awarded a medal by the Spanish government, he returned from Cuba with a lust for soldering, and a lifelong love of Cuban cigars.
In 1896 he transferred to India where he proved to be one of the best polo players in his regiment, and it was here, in India, where he began to become noticed as a war correspondent. For the time being, there were no rules about soldiers working as news correspondents, but this would change.
He courted danger without fear, or concern for his own safety. His bravery though sometimes reckless was never in doubt, and he seemed to live for the exhilaration of battle, having the belief that he would come to no harm as he was destined to do great things, and his time hadn’t yet come.
Whilst in India, he learned that three brigades were to travel to the Northwest frontier to fight against the Pashtuns. He immediately requested permission to join them. Whilst on patrol his scouts came across an enemy tribe, a fierce firefight took place, and where it not for the arrival of Sikh reinforcements, the day could have ended very differently. He published the story of the battle of Malakand as well as writing newspaper articles for The Pioneer and the Daily Telegraph.
His next transfer took to him to Egypt, where he was to command a troop of cavalry, in what would be the battle of Omdurman. Destiny’s guiding hand could not be seen at the time, but he arrived late, and his posting was given to Lieutenant Robert Grenfell, who happily wrote home telling his family of his good fortune. Instead of his original posting, he joined another troop of the 21st Lancers and rode in what has been called the last cavalry charge of the British Empire. He was lucky to survive; his regiment was ambushed by a much greater force. From a troop of 300, 71 officers & men were killed along with 119 horses. The troop which was to be his, now commanded by, Lieutenant Grenfell was overrun by the enemy and suffered the worst casualties of the battle; Lieutenant Grenfell was hacked to death.
The Morning Post had commissioned him to write about the war in the Sudan and by 1898 he had returned to Britain and begun work on his two volume work, called The River War.
When the second Boer war erupted in 1899, he travelled to South Africa, this time as a civilian correspondent for The Morning Post. The British were using an armoured train in daily runs down to the besieged town of Ladysmith, trying to gather intelligence on Boer activity. Incredibly, the train was sent at the same time every day, it was just a matter of time before the Boer army captured it. Seeing a red hot chance to report on the siege of Ladysmith first hand, he gained permission to join the train. Armed with a notepad and pencil, a Mauser pistol and several clips of ammunition he departed upon what would become much more than an everyday train ride. The Boer army hijacked the train and a hotly contested gun fight began. The train was stuck in a cutting whilst Boer soldiers poured an ungodly hail of hot lead from above. Men all over were dropping from the deadly fire he knew that to stay put was certain death, he rushed forward amid a hail of hot led, to the engine and ordered the engineer to back the train up. It was too late; they were captured and imprisoned by the Boers. After about three weeks in captivity, he managed to escape, and embarked upon a dangerous trek across enemy territory to finally reach safety in Portuguese East Africa.
Back in Britain in 1900, he stood a second time for a seat in parliament; he firmly believed that a successful politician needed to have been tested by the rigours of battle in a way that only a soldier can know. All of his life he felt he had a destiny to do something great for Great Britain and by 1911 he was made first Lord of the Admiralty. Surely now, his time had come? He was instrumental in a great number of military initiatives including replacing coal powered war ships with oil power, the concept of the battlefield tank, as well as air force development. However, during the Great War, his role in the disastrous Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns of 1915 would cost him his position. This was not going to be his moment in history after all. Utterly devastated, he was forced to resign, but determined to show his metal, he returned to the army and commanded a regiment of the Royal Scott’s Fusiliers in the trenches on the Western Front. It was here, forged in the furnace of hellfire and mud, that through his undisputed bravery, and skill as a soldier and commander, he managed to repaired his battered reputation.
After the war he returned to politics and settled into the rigours of political life. During the 1930s with the change of government, he entered a political exile, out of office, & shunned by many in influence, it was the lowest point in his life. The world was changing, and with the rise of fascism, he called upon England to resist the growing power of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, but to no avail. The world watched on hopelessly as the Nazis grew in strength. Britain, due to its disarmament, after the Great War, and the weakness of its politicians, was in no position to stand up to a powerful and re-armed Germany, then in 1939, Hitler invaded Poland and an unprepared Britain declared war on Germany.
In 1940 after early failures by the British military in Norway, the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain stood down, and the only man left in the country with the courage, strength, tenacity and knowhow, to take on Adolf Hitler’s war machine was finally called to lead. Not before, not after, but at just the right moment in history the old soldier answered his call to destiny, Winston Churchill, became the Prime Minister of Britain.