Churchill At The Front : January 1916

Finest Hour 153, Winter 2011-12

Page 42

Churchill At The Front : January 1916

Out of the first car came this well-known figure dressed in a long, fine-textured waterproof. he was wearing a poilu helmet and a Sam browne belt holster with a revolver stuck well into it. he was followed by his staff, and I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the second car, which was piled high with luggage of every description.To my horrified amazement, on the very top of all this clutter was a full-length tin bath.What the hell he was going to do with all this I couldn’t think.This very well-known figure came forward, gave a warm handshake, and introduced himself as Lieutenant Colonel Winston Churchill.

After his arrival, all sorts of military and VIPs came to visit us. The military types came along mostly, I think, to see if there was anything they could criticise about his duties as a battalion commander, but they didn’t find much. I do remember one voice being raised.

The brigadier came up late one afternoon and spotted a gap in the parapet that had been made that day. It had only been repaired the night before and the little brigadier turned to the CO and said, “Look here, Colonel Churchill. This is a very dangerous thing, to leave this gap unprotected.” And the Colonel, turning and fixing him with his piercing eyes, said, “but you know, Sir, this is a very dangerous war.”

Recollection by Jock McDavid, Churchill’s adjutant in the 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers, from Max Arthur, Forgotten Voices of the great War (Ebury Press), by kind permission of the author. —PHC

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