Winston Churchill as Indiana Jones: Adventures in the Age of Empire



Hear the name Winston Churchill, and what comes to mind? Most likely, it’s Churchill the war leader with his ever-present cigar, bulldog scowl, and never-surrender spirit. But long before Churchill’s Finest Hour, there was Winston Churchill the young adventurer.

Between 1895 and 1900, Churchill covered wars of empire in Cuba, India’s North-West Frontier, the Sudan, and South Africa as a correspondent for several London newspapers. In September, Da Capo will publish my book Winston Churchill Reporting, which details this rollicking period in Churchill’s life. Consider it Winston Churchill as Indiana Jones.

Churchill’s dispatches are vivid, graphic, and make for compelling reading. Although he published some of his articles in book form, I wanted to rely on his reports as they originally appeared.

As a war correspondent for the Morning Post in 1898, Churchill was attached to General Kitchener’s army and followed the Anglo-Egyptian re-conquest of the Sudan. At the Battle of Omdurman, Churchill was commissioned with the 21st Lancers and took part in an epic cavalry charge against several thousand enemy Dervish.

We can see exactly how he described it in this report, printed in the Morning Post on September 29, 1898:


Equally vivid is his detailing of the bloody aftermath, which appeared in the Morning Post on October 6, 1898:


In 1899, Churchill was again reporting for the Morning Post, this time from the South African battlefields of the Second Boer War. It was here he made an international name for himself after being captured and then escaping from an enemy Prisoner of War camp.

In January 1900, he was present at the disastrous Battle of Spion Kop. This article was published in the Morning Post on February 17, 1900. It’s yet another example of his gripping journalism:


I’ll post more details on the book throughout the year!

(The blog first appeared on the website for the British Newspaper Archive.)

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