Back home in Britain, in 1896, Churchill did all he could to get posted to Egypt or Matabeleland in South Africa, where he could see some action and get noticed – to no avail. He eventually sailed to India with his regiment in the Autumn of 1896.
Confined to a life of polo and military routine in Bangalore, he eventually took matters into his own hands and, armed with a contract as a war correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, travelled to the North West frontier to join the Malakand Field Force. Here he did find himself in danger. Although the fighting on the north-west frontier against the Afghan tribes in 1897 couldn’t really be called battles, there was a real risk of being killed and Churchill had several narrow escapes.
The campaign became the topic of Churchill’s first book, published in March 1898 – The Story of the Malakand Field Force – in which Churchill discusses topics of relevance to the situation in Afghanistan today and which Coughlin cites as ‘required reading for military commanders on the ground, both British and American’.