February 10, 2015

Maneuvers of the Kaiser’s Army

Winston Churchill 1903Winston Churchill 1903 © National Portrait Gallery, LondonFacing a long autumn. WSC wangled an invitation to attend German Army maneuvers in September. In the interim he went to Deauville, staying with Sir Ernest Cassel. He reported he was living an idle and dissipated life, gambling until five in the mornings — but he left about £260 (then $1,250) ahead. At Trouville he played on a British polo team which played a French team, but lost to another British team by a goal. Then it was on to Switzerland where, “…in perfectly glorious weather.” he climbed a number of Alps — including the 9625-foot Eggishorn.

At the maneuvers he was impressed by the discipline of the German Army but thought that it did not show appreciation for the deadly power of modern weapons. (The Germans reached the same conclusion and began to change their tactics.) Kaiser Wilhelm chatted with WSC for 20 minutes, mostly about the Boer War and a rising of natives in German South West Africa. The Kaiser later sent WSC pictures of the maneuvers and Churchill responded with a copy of Lord Randolph Churchill.

In Moravia, WSC hunted partridges and hares at Baron de Forest’s palace in Eichhorn: in Vienna and Venice he bad a quiet week, followed by a tour with Lady Helen Vincent and Murial Wilson in Lionel Rothschild’s motorcar, at the blinding speed of 40 mph.

Churchill’s cousin Sunny (later 9th Duke of Marlborough) and his wife Consuclo — two of WSC’s dearest friends — separated. Divorce was unthinkable: Consuelo moved into London. Winston’s father-in-law, George Cornwallis-West, lost £8000 to an unscrupulous lawyer and went broke. Winston and Jack loaned him a little money, arranged a secret loan from West’s estranged brother-in-law, the Duke of Westminister.

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He also attended a fateful party, where he and Eddie Marsh first laid eyes on a young lady named Clementine Hozier, later to be Mrs Winston S. Churchill. 

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