Young Winston Churchill as a Subaltern
in the 4th Hussars, February, 1895

B-P on Young Winston Churchill

From Baden-Powell, Indian Memories, 1915. Chapter III. The Sport of Kings and the King of Sports:

The inter-regimental polo tournament is the great event of the year for all regiments in India, and on one occasion it was held at Meerut while my regiment was stationed there. All the teams visiting the place for the occasion naturally made use of our mess, and we formed a very large and happy family. On the night after the final tie had been decided, we had a grand dinner to signalise the event. The health of the winning team was drunk collectively and individually with all honours, and each member of it in turn tendered his thanks to the assembled company. Then the winning team proposed the health of the losers, and they naturally returned their thanks in a similar way, and proceeded to propose the toast of the runners-up, and so it went on during the greater part of the evening until every team in the place had had its health proposed, and speeches had been made without number, all harping on the one topic of polo.

When all was over and a sigh of relief was going round, there suddenly sprang to his feet one of the members of the 4th Hussars’ team, who said: "Now, gentleman, you would probably like to hear me address you on the subject of polo!" It was Mr. Winston Churchill. Naturally there were cries of: "No, we don’t! Sit down!" and so on, but disregarding all their objections, with a genial smile he proceeded to discourse on the subject, and before long all opposition dropped as his honeyed words flowed upon their ears, and in a short time he was hard at it expounding the beauties and the possibilities of this wonderful game. He proceeded to show how it was not merely the finest game in the world but the most noble and soul-inspiring contest in the whole universe, and having made his point he wound up with a peroration which brought us all cheering to our feet.

When the cheering and applause had died down one in authority arose and gave voice to the feelings of all when he said: "Well, that is enough of Winston for this evening," and the orator was taken in hand by some lusty subalterns and placed underneath an overturned sofa upon which two of the heaviest were then seated, with orders not to allow him out for the rest of the evening. But very soon afterwards he appeared emerging from beneath the angle of the arm of the sofa, explaining: "It is no use sitting upon me, for I’m india-rubber," and he popped up serenely and took his place once more in the world and the amusement that was going on around him. I have often remembered the incident on occasions since then when in politics or elsewhere he has given proof of his statement.

Other incidents followed on that cheerful evening, such as polo pony races over jumps made up of furniture round the billiard room, and a musical ride on camels in the ante-room, but none of them made such an impression on my memory as did the first great speech of the future First Lord.

From Baden-Powell, Indian Memories, Chapter III: The Sport of Kings and the King of Sports (1915, revised, 1924)

  "B.-P." from Great Contemporaries by Sir Winston S. Churchill. Perhaps one of the finest portraits of the significance of the life and work of Sir Robert Baden-Powell.
From: Baden-Powell, Memories of India, 1915.
  Forward by Sir Robert Baden-Powell
  Chapter VIII. When the Tribes are Out. The Afghan War—The Great March—Ordered up to Kandahar—A Warlike Atmosphere—The Expedition of I842—The Camel and His Ways—Kandahar—A Dangerous City—Theatricals Under Difficulties—A Serious Mistake—Afghan Nerve—Attacked by Ghazis —The Crack of Doom—The Field of Maiwand—A Broken Square—A Heroic Chaplain—A Narrow Escape
  Chapter IX. The Aftermath of War. The Image of War—Patrols and Picnics A Curious Superstition—Jock Fights a Wild Cat—Afghan Depredations—Relics of Alexander the Great—Camp Rumours —Abdurrahman Waits—The Horses Stampede—A Subaltern’s Opinion of the Government—A Study in Contrasts—Rifle Stealing—An Ingenious Plan—Further Losses—I Shoot Myself—I Hear my Death Announced —Digging for the Bullet—Convalescence—Stalked by a Leopard—A Rough and Tumble
  Chapter XI. Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright. A Possible Interrogation—I Go in Pursuit of Tigers— Smith-Dorrien at Work—The Party Meets—The Old Hands—A Native Weakness—How to Beat for Tigers— A Dead Enemy—A Native Village—Nearly a Fatality— Camp Literature—I Become Doctor—I Get a Bear— Camp Life—A Tiger’s Wings—The Mahout—The Tables Turned—Table Delicacies—Jungle Yachts— The End of the Ghost
  Chapter XII. A Frontier Row. The Value of the North-West Frontier—Village Warfare —Readiness and Efficiency—How an Irishman Got a Dog and a Breakfast for Nothing—Trouble in the Buner Country—The Subaltern in War-time—The Pessimistic Afridi—A Terrified Jehu—Sniping—The Morning of the Fight—Sir Bindon’s Dispositions—The Artillery Triumphs—Touching the Button—Rock-rolling—An Exciting Race—The Bravest Man I Ever Saw—The Enemy in Retreat—An Exhausting Climb—The Tribute of a Foe—The Trophies of War—Our Casualties
  Chapter XIV. The Elephant as Gentleman. Sentiment About the Elephant—His Mathematical Mind—"Dandelion’s" Idiosyncrasies—Her Courage in the Face of an Enemy—The Elephant Who Died—A Problem in Sanitation—The Jungle Ship—Sea Legs— The Genius of the Elephant—His Timidity—Jock’s Victory—The Duchess of Connaught’s Adventure— The Elephant’s Caution—He Utilises Human Material— A Malefactor Flogged by Elephants—The Elephant in War—An Elephant Fight

  The Baden-Powell Library
A Selection of excerpts from the works of Sir Robert Baden-Powell and works relating to his life and career.
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