Churchill Wanted Dead or Alive – Celia Sandys
In October 1899, the twenty-four-year-old Winston Churchill set sail from Southampton Docks for South Africa, where he was to cover the Boer War for the London Morning Post. The young Churchill’s exploits on the North-West Frontier of India and in the Sudan had already won him a considerable following as an intrepid war correspondent, but for sheer audacity and excitement, nothing would rival his exploits in South Africa.
Scarcely two weeks after his arrival in Cape Town, Churchill found him- self on a train, carrying out a reconnaisance mission in enemy-held territory. The train was ambushed by a Boer patrol, and even though he was present only as an observer, Churchill took charge, helping many of his companions to escape before he was captured. Taken as a prisoner of war to Pretoria, he managed to escape, quickly becoming the object of a massive manhunt. Churchill hid from his pursuers in a coal mine and was subsequently spirited across the border.
He returned to the fray, participating in the battle of Spion Kop and witnessing the relief of Ladysmith, while enthralling his readers with vivid first-hand accounts of the war’s progress. Churchill’s adventures in South Africa propelled him into the international arena, setting the stage for his political career; within three months of his return to Britain in 1900, he had become a Member of Parliament. Celia Sandys, Churchill’s granddaughter, retraced his footsteps, visiting campsites and battlefields and interviewing the descendants of those who crossed her grandfather’s path-both friends and foes. The fascinating new details she discovered combine with the thrilling events of her grandfather’s life to make Churchill Wanted Dead or Alive both a gripping adventure story and a unique insight into the early years of a man who would go on to become one of the world’s great leaders.
CELIA SANDYS is a granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill. Her mother was Churchill’s eldest daughter, Diana, and her father was Lord Duncan Sandys, the former Cabinet Minister and member of his father-in-law’s wartime government. She is married, has four children, and lives in Wiltshire, United Kingdom.