When Churchill was a working as a war correspondent for The Morning Post in 1899, he was sent to South Africa to cover the Boer War. Whilst there, the armoured train he was travelling on with British troops was ambushed by a Boer commando force, who partially derailed the train and then attacked for over an hour. Churchill helped load the wounded on to the still working train, which then escaped, however, Churchill himself was captured by a Boer, which later was rumoured to be Louis Botha, the future Prime Minister of South Africa. Churchill was taken to Pretoria and held with other British officers, two of which he colluded with to escape to Portuguese East Africa. He watched the guards closely and realised there was a gap routine, and so on 12th December 1899 he made his escape, scaling the wall and landing in some shrubs, where he waited for the other two men. However, they did not follow as the guards had become suspicious, so Churchill was left to make it alone, without the compass and a lot of the rations for the journey. Needless to say, after hiding himself on a train with a vulture, wandering for hours across the unfamiliar landscape, and then through desperation knocking on a door to ask for food (which luckily turned out to be the home of an Englishmen) Churchill eventually made his way to freedom, only to then return to the front to take part in the Battle of Spion Kop. He also, along with his cousin the Duke of Marlborough, rode back into Pretoria, to the prison camp where he had been held, and demanded and received the surrender of the guards, holding his hat aloft to announce to the prisoners that they were now free. This whole adventure and escape made Churchill a celebrity back home and helped his political career considerably.
Prisoner of War Great Escape (2/20)
Submitted to "20 Fascinating Facts about Sir Winston Churchill"