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My Early Life, 1874-1904
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BRITISH HISTORY > * ARCHIVE: MY EARLY LIFE - #6 - 08/04/08-08/10/08

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

For the week of August 4th through and including August 10th, we are reading the next 50 pages of My Early Life. This thread will discuss the following chapters (XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV: pages 268 through 317). We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers.

There are already five (5) previous chapter "no spoiler" threads devoted to the previous chapters. This thread will be kicked off on August 4th.

We are happy to have your participation.

You can always still get your book and post to the specific thread where you happen to be. There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

August 4
Chp. XXI. I Escape from the Boers - I - 268
Chp. XXII. I Escape from the Boers - II - 286
Chp. XXIII. Back to the Army - 298
Chp. XXIV. Spion Kop - 307

Just as a reminder, this is a no spoiler thread; various supplemental threads are opened up for "open discussion" and there is also the Off-Topic Cafe for discussions that may veer off of Winston Churchill altogether.

Thank you,

Bentley







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OLDESQ POSTED:

I think more than any part so far this section of My Early Life gives us confirmation that WSC was truly an unusual man.



message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 20, 2008 10:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

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BENTLEY POSTED:

Oldesq wrote:

I think more than any part so far this section of My Early Life gives us confirmation that WSC was truly an unusual man.

_____________________________________________________________

Yes, he was and brave too. Here is an interesting account and then a little more information on the Grimshaws - Cecil Grimshaw was one of the Boer War diarists and some interesting and sad photos of him with his family. He chronicled the Churchill escape.

Some of the photos may go beyond the years of these group of chapters even though he chronicles the Boer War and Churchill's escape here. Be forewarned (Potential Spoiler) The actual diary is very interesting because you see the written words concerning the event in Grimshaw's handwriting.


http://www.grimshaworigin.org/WebPage...

http://www.grimshaworigin.org/Webpage...



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OLDESQ POSTED:

Bentley, as always, thank you for the interesting links.

One thing I would like to explore is WSC's arguments before the Boer Authorities that he was a non-combatant. (p. 268) Do you think he truly believed this or was it an expediency to try to avoid imprisonment? In my opinion he was a combatant and I think this was a cynical argument.

Regarding the actual escape, I must say that Gilbert is much less kind to the two comrades (Haldane and Brockie) that were to accompany WSC than he himself is in making the account. Gilbert suggests that the two comrades had every opportunity that WSC had but failed to take advantage of the situation.

Interesting that Churchill quotes Danton the French revolutionary "orator of the streets" to himself "Toujours de l'audace" the full quote from the Speech in the Legislative Assembly, 1792 being 'L'audace, et encore de l'audace, et toujours de l'audace- attack, attack again, always attack. (p. 272).


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 20, 2008 10:46PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

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BENTLEY POSTED:

You are welcome; getting back to the above point. This was definately (MHO) a way to try to avoid imprisonment and he was a combatant. It was a ploy and maybe he tried to believe it himself. I am not so sure I would use the word cynical; I think he was trying to dupe the Boer Authorities or steer them into thinking that he was just a neutral journalist just performing his humanitarian effort (lol).

Winston has been constantly guilty of either making himself look worse or in some instances trying to whitewash or making himself appear guileless or the innocent injured party. He goes back and forth between these two extremes.

Still like him; I would have been sitting around with the Byrd family thinking he was a hoot.





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OLDESQ POSTED:

I agree that it was a ploy but I don't see that tone in My Early Life- the wink and the nod are missing- don't you think? I guess I could agree that he may have tried to convince himself but what a waste given the derring do of the previous Chapter!



message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 20, 2008 10:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

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BENTLEY POSTED:

I actually did see that tone in My Early Life (but Churchill has a light touch when doing it). I do not know whether he was always giving the reader a wink and a nod; I had a feeling many times that something deeper was happening when he was writing this specific book; a purging of sorts; sort of journaling to let go of the past memories and hurt in some instances; of letting go of the fond memories of men departed lost in battlefields with maybe even a slight premonition of things to come. It was eerie in some spots.
But I can see your point as well.

Bentley




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OLDESQ POSTED:

Is it me or do you think WSC and company were particularly well provisioned for the escape?

I had seventy-five pounds in my pocket and four slabs of chocolate, but the compass and the map which might have guided me, the opium tablets and the meat lozenges which should have sustained me, were in my friends' pockets in the State Model Schools

Maybe the world has changed but why were they able to keep the compass and the map. And though WSC complains about the chocolate not satisfying- I am amazed that he has it at all much less 4 slabs.




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OLDESQ POSTED:

Were you familar with the reference to character Paul Bultitude in Vice Versa? (p. 273). After researching the reference, I think it had more than one meaning for Churchill. The novel was made into a silent film of the same name in 1916 and concerns a Father who seeing his son's dread of returning to boarding school tells him that his own boarding school days were some of his fondest. A magic rock (part of an uncle's travels to India) will grant the holder one wish. The son and father switch places and now the son (in the father's body) won't reverse the switch. So Bultitude goes to boarding school and the son to the office. As one can gather from MEL, Bultitude escapes the boarding school!



message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 20, 2008 10:56PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

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TIMBUKTU POSTED: (VANESSA)


bentley wrote:

You are welcome; getting back to the above point. This was definately (MHO) a way to try to avoid imprisonment and he was a combatant. It was a ploy and maybe he tried to believe it himself. I am not so sure I would use the word cynical; I think he was trying to dupe the Boer Authorities or steer them into thinking that he was just a neutral journalist just performing his humanitarian effort (lol).

Winston has been constantly guilty of either making himself look worse or in some instances trying to whitewash or making himself appear guileless or the innocent injured party. He goes back and forth between these two extremes.

Still like him; I would have been sitting around with the Byrd family thinking he was a hoot.

___________________________________________________________

I agree that it was a ploy but I don't see that tone in My Early
Life- the wink and the nod are missing- don't you think? I guess I could agree that he may have tried to convince himself but what a waste given the derring do of the previous Chapter!

Message Edited by Oldesq on 08-04-2008 10:09 AM

_____________________________________________________________

I actually did see that tone in My Early Life (but Churchill has a light touch when doing it). I do not know whether he was always giving the reader a wink and a nod; I had a feeling many times that something deeper was happening when he was writing this specific book; a purging of sorts; sort of journaling to let go of the past memories and hurt in some instances; of letting go of the fond memories of men departed lost in battlefields with maybe even a slight premonition of things to come. It was eerie in some spots.
But I can see your point as well.

Bentley
____________________________________________________________

I'll have to go back and re-read that part because I thought he was saying the literal truth, he was not there as a soldier but as a journalist. It reminded me a little bit of when journalists are held hostage in other countries and called "spies". They may not be "spies" in the sense that they're working for the CIA, so they can honestly say no, they're not professions "spies". But the job of a journalist is to gather information so in that sense I suppose the accusation is true, especially in countries that have a lot to hide!



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OLDESQ POSTED:

There have been several references in the book that suggest a kind of magical superstition or WSC's belief in his own perceptive powers but we get the strongest example by far in this section of MEL. Here WSC tells us how he received an answer as to how to make his way from the wilderness during his escape (p. 280):

Suddenly without the slightest reason all my doubts disappeared . . . I just feel quite clear that I would go to the Kaffir kraal. I had sometimes in former years held a 'Planchette' pencil and written while others had touched my wrist or hand. I acted in exactly the same unconscious or subconscious manner now.

For those of you unfamiliar with a Planchette pencil, it is similar to a Ouija Board triangular indicator but uses a pencil to spell out words rather than an Ouija Board to point to. Regardless of whether you believe that such devices can assist us, I find it fascinating to remember that WSC is relating this story to us at a difficult period of time in his life. I find it a highly unusual tale in the ultimate in vanity the autobiography!




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OLDESQ POSTED:

Timbuktu,

Oh, I agree that he was sent there as a journalist and not as a member of the armed forces but I thought that all changed when he took charge of the situation, commandeered the engine, directed firing and arranged for the train to ram the derailed cars with a group of volunteers. And as for not being armed- WSC writes, ""That morning I had taken with me, Correspondent-status notwithstanding, my Mauser pistol. I thought I could kill this man, and after the treatment I had received I earnestly desired to do so. I put my hand to my belt, the pistol was not there. When engaged in clearing the line . . . I had taken it off." (P. 252).




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Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
TIMBUKTU POSTED IN RESPONSE TO OLDESQ:

Oldesq wrote:

There have been several references in the book that suggest a kind of magical superstition or WSC's belief in his own perceptive powers but we get the strongest example by far in this section of MEL. Here WSC tells us how he received an answer as to how to make his way from the wilderness during his escape (p. 280):

Suddenly without the slightest reason all my doubts disappeared . . . I just feel quite clear that I would go to the Kaffir kraal. I had sometimes in former years held a 'Planchette' pencil and written while others had touched my wrist or hand. I acted in exactly the same unconscious or subconscious manner now.

For those of you unfamiliar with a Planchette pencil, it is similar to a Ouija Board triangular indicator but uses a pencil to spell out words rather than an Ouija Board to point to. Regardless of whether you believe that such devices can assist us, I find it fascinating to remember that WSC is relating this story to us at a difficult period of time in his life. I find it a highly unusual tale in the ultimate in vanity the autobiography!

_____________________________________________________________

Yes, Odesq, this blew me away! Seemed so out of character for him.



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TIMBUKTU POSTED IN RESPONSE TO OLDESQ:

Timbuktu1 wrote:

I'll have to go back and re-read that part because I thought he was saying the literal truth, he was not there as a soldier but as a journalist. It reminded me a little bit of when journalists are held hostage in other countries and called "spies". They may not be "spies" in the sense that they're working for the CIA, so they can honestly say no, they're not professions "spies". But the job of a journalist is to gather information so in that sense I suppose the accusation is true, especially in countries that have a lot to hide!

Timbuktu,

Oh, I agree that he was sent there as a journalist and not as a member of the armed forces but I thought that all changed when he took charge of the situation, commandeered the engine, directed firing and arranged for the train to ram the derailed cars with a group of volunteers. And as for not being armed- WSC writes, ""That morning I had taken with me, Correspondent-status notwithstanding, my Mauser pistol. I thought I could kill this man, and after the treatment I had received I earnestly desired to do so. I put my hand to my belt, the pistol was not there. When engaged in clearing the line . . . I had taken it off." (P. 252).
______________________________________________________________

I guess i just took that to be his old soldier instincts taking over. He knew they were in trouble and he knew how to take command and restore order. But he really had no official license to do so. Sort of like a retired cop seeing a mugging. Or a retired Dr. helping an injured person. They have the skill but no real authority. Now that I think about it, I wonder what the law says about that. Is a retired Dr. treated as a Dr. would be? I don't think a cop would be held to account in the same way.


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TIMBUKTU POSTED:

I just finished "Escape II". I had a sense of "deja vue". All the talk of escaping the Nazis, this chapter was very reminiscent of the tales I've heard. The combination of courage, and judgement and just dumb luck that saved people's lives. Most of all his description of how it felt to be "hunted". How it was so much more horrible than actually fighting the enemy. But then... where have I heard this tale before? Odysseus! His time in the cave, his escape hidden by bales of wool (sheep)? All of the twists and turns, the guile, ending in triumphant survival. This is a classic tale!
BTW, I have often had dreams of this kind myself, being chased. Escaping danger. Anyone else here have that? It feels as though it's some kind of primal experience.




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TIMBUKTU POSTED:

When I made the connection to Odysseus, however, I realized that something was missing in Churchill's tale. No women! Maybe it's his Victorian reserve, or maybe it's in deference to Clementine, but it made me wonder if he was censoring or not.



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BENTLEY POSTED:

In Chasing Churchill, the bodyguard of 18 years, related that he thought that Churchill had psychic abilities and did or said things like he had had a premonition ahead of time. Who knows. He was eccentric; we know that. He also predicted when he was a young man that he would die on the same day as his father did; repeated it to a number of people during his lifetime and then proceeded to do just that.

This is strange isn't it; he also told his bodyguard when he was so worried about his safety that this was not his time and that everything would be alright; he was destined to do certain things in his lifetime and that is what his life was about.
I think this proves he was eccentric; and that maybe he suffered some times from megalomania; or if you believe in the Planchette pencil - he was "psychic". I guess he could have also started the Psychic Hotline in the UK (that probably would have been a money maker too - since he succeeded at everything he did).

Bentley





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TIMBUKTU POSTED:

Well, he did have several severe head injuries in his youth. I've been looking for some problems as a result, perhaps that explains it! Just joking, (sort of ).



message 19: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Sep 20, 2008 11:11PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

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BENTLEY POSTED:

Note: We are trying to figure out Winston Churchill's relationship to spiritualism and his account during the Boer War when he escaped. The following was documented later on but does support the theory that he was dabbling into spiritualism, etc.

Regarding Winston Churchill (Spiritualism/Psychic?)

I have found a picture of Winston Churchill in 1908 being allegedly inducted and photographed at Blenheim Palace being installed into the Albion Lodge of the Ancient Order of Druids in 1908. (This is the oldest existing neo-Druid organization). You know the Stonehedge worshippers of old.

He also allegedly was very friendly and visited a Helen Duncan in her cell (Helen Duncan was a medium) who ran into problems with the police because of British Witchcraft laws in 1951. He had been very friendly with her for many years.

One of the first things that Winston Churchill repealed when he became prime minister again were these laws as a promise to help her. There is even an official letter with Winston asking about the tomfoolery related to Helen. I could post these sites but they are readily available. Additionally, his bodyguard of 18 years also spoke of his psychic capabilities. I think Winston thought of himself as rather a medium. The following is interesting if it loads.

http://www.helenduncan.org.uk/article...

I think he was an eccentric in the extreme.

Maybe he was just being political and had his picture taken with the Druids but he is in the picture even though he is not dressed in robes like many of the others are.




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BENTLEY POSTED:

By the way, he was also a Free Mason.


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TIMBUKTU POSTED (VANESSA):

When I first read his account I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought that perhaps he was describing something that can happen to someone under extreme pressure. It's easy to become spiritual/superstitious when your life is on the line. But the odd thing was that not only did he experience this but he tells us about it. Seriously.

Nancy Reagan turned to astrology in a desperate effort to keep her husband "safe". But she was smart enough to keep quiet about it and kind of apologize for it after it came out. And she wasn't the president.

When you think about it maybe it was this over the top belief in himself that gave him the strength to do what needed to be done.




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BENTLEY POSTED:

That is exactly what historical analysts say and psychoanalysts. I gave him the benefit of the doubt too until I started reading the other and when I saw the picture - well....

He dabbled in many things that interested him and I guess that spiritualism was one of them. The Dream which is another one of his works shows these side interests. I do not think that he thought that there was anything odd at all about any of this.
He was very much one of a kind. Why you would even tell the world about it yourself is something quite different; you are correct. A very revealing book.

Bentley



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Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
OLDESQ POSTED:

One thing that I think is very interesting is what is missing from Churchill's account of his escape from Pretoria, that being that he left a note behind. IMHO the note could have been interpreted in two ways. First, it purported to assure the command that he had not been assisted in his escape and that he was treated well, but, second, it had a stick in your eye taunt. I don't have Gilbert with me right now so I will dig up the contents of the note later. Do you wonder why he omitted that?

Also, I saw that in April 1900 Captain Haldane (one of the original escape comrades) and a Lieutenant LeMesurier made daring escapes from Pretoria filled with near-misses as well. I am surprised that Churchill didn't share a small aside with us that Haldane eventually got out.





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BENTLEY RESPONDED TO OLDESQ:

Oldesq,

I would be very interested in seeing the note or hearing of its contents; I am only surmising the tone based upon your post.
It could have been that he wanted the command to know that he was safe and had not been killed indiscriminately (possibly if you believe someone's note); but it would have been left in his own handwriting giving it credibility or...

It could have been look at me; I am going to be a great hero and I am very clever and here is a note which you can publish at a later date.

He certainly knew how to market himself and this escape paved the way for his illustrious career didn't it. And as far as sharing the limelight; I am not sure what to say about that; because many times he has done that. Maybe it was just an oversight. I wonder sometimes at the things he puts in and the things he leaves out.

In the Sandhurst chapter, did he ever mention that he was eighth in his class there; maybe it just slipped my mind. But I heard that elsewhere in the Buchanan book! Sometimes he seems to toot his own horn and other times I am not so sure; he seems to be diminishing himself in his own eyes and others.

~Bentley




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TIMBUKTU RESPONDED: (VANESSA)

Yes, I think I do remember that he did well at Sandhurst. I think he was trying to say that when he was interested and motivated he was capable. BTW, I just heard John McCain on the View repeating that he graduated 5th from the bottom at Annapolis. I've heard him say this several times and each time I'm left wondering why is he advertising this?



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BENTLEY POSTED:

I do not remember the chapter giving his class standing though. I do remember that he mentioned that he was capable when interested.

Yes, why would someone advertise something like that; is he trying to compete with Bush or appeal to the group in Americana who appreciate their leaders not being intelligent.

Why would you want an unintelligent leader; it beats me. Getting back to Churchill; I have always thought him a very intelligent and gifted man; though after these chapters an eccentric one.

~Bentley




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Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
TIMBUKTU POSTED:

Page 59

My course at Sandhurst soon came to an end. Instead of creeping in at the bottome, almost by charity, I passed out with honours eighth in my batch of a hundred and fifty. Imention this because it shows that I could learn quickly enough the things that mattered. It had been a hard but happy experience




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BENTLEY RESPONDED TO TIMBUKTU:

I wondered whether I had missed it; so he did acknowledge it; but what about that he could learn quickly enough the things that mattered; I think that Harrow tried to teach him what mattered too. Thank you Timbuktu; I thought that it must have been mentioned somewhere.



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OLDESQ RESPONDED TO BENTLEY:

I think it was military strategy (Sandhurst) versus Latin and Greek (Harrow).



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TIMBUKTU RESPONDING TO OLDESQ:

Right. Remember his lesson about addressing a "table" in the proper Latin form?



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BENTLEY RESPONDING TO OLDESQ:

More than likely; although there were other subjects he could have excelled in at Harrow; it is funny he spurned Latin and Greek from what I recall yet yearned later on for what he had spurned. I think he always felt as an adult that he had missed out; even though he became a self made man with the books his mother sent him. Curious; I always thought that this omission in his education made him feel inferior in some way like he did not measure up.



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OLDESQ RESPONDING TO BENTLEY:

Don't we all experience those feelings though? Even on those subjects that I feel very informed about I always think others may know more than I do. Although I must say that I am good at faking it because people are amazed when I express those self-doubts aloud.



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TIMBUKTU RESPONDING TO OLDESQ:

Yes. I think it takes maturity to realize the importance of an education.



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BENTLEY RESPONDING TO OLDESQ:

Oldesq, I do not know you well at all; but I suspect all of the self doubts we all have originated in child hood (not that our parents did not do the best they could) but they were more than likely exacting and sought perfection. I think in my case I tried to always live up to the ideal. Nobody would realize that about me either. But surprisingly enough, there are many people who do not have these self doubts at all and feel very entitled and superior. Believe me, there are a lot of them out in the world.



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BENTLEY RESPONDING TO TIMBUKTU:

Timbuktu1 wrote:

Yes. I think it takes maturity to realize the importance of an education.

___________________________________________________________
I agree with that too.




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OLDESQ REPLY TO BENTLEY:

Bentley,

Sorry but it took me some time to find the contents of the note that WSC left behind on his escape. I truly cannot tell if he is being tongue in check or respectful but I think the circumstances say even more than the note itself- the note was in the Ladysmith book rather than the Gilbert:

While I was looking about for means, and awaiting an opportunity to break out of the Model Schools, I made every preparation to make a graceful exit when the moment should arrive. I gave full instructions to my friends as to what was to be done with my clothes and the effects I had accumulated during my stay; I paid my account to date with the excellent Boshof; cashed a cheque on him for 20l.; changed some of the notes I had always concealed on my person since my capture into gold; and lastly, that there might be no unnecessary unpleasantness, I wrote the following letter to the Secretary of State:
States Model Schools Prison: December 10, 1899.

Sir,—I have the honour to inform you that as I do not consider that your Government have any right to detain me as a military prisoner, I have decided to escape from your custody. I have every confidence in the arrangements I have made with my friends outside, and I do not therefore expect to have another opportunity of seeing you. I therefore take this occasion to observe that I consider your treatment of prisoners is correct and humane, and that I see no grounds for complaint. When I return to the British lines I will make a public statement to this effect. I have also to thank you personally for your civility to me, and to express the hope that we may meet again at Pretoria before very long, and under different circumstances. Regretting that I am unable to bid you a more ceremonious or a personal farewell,

I have the honour, to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
WINSTON CHURCHILL.

To Mr. de Souza,
Secretary of War, South African Republic.
I arranged that this letter, which I took great pleasure in writing, should be left on my bed, and discovered so soon as my flight was known.




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BENTLEY RESPONDED TO OLDESQ:

Oldesq, I am with you on this one; I honestly cannot tell. But thank you for posting; it is a most interesting letter to write to you captor.

~Bentley




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