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Finest Hour|Fall 2018
125 Years ago Autumn 1893 • Age 19 “Sandhurst Has Done Wonders for Him”
MICHAEL McMENAMIN’S

Once Winston was at Sand-hurst, Lord Randolph’s previously caustic attitude towards his son appears to have softened. After taking Winston to Tring, Lord Rothschild’s country estate, Lord Randolph wrote a letter on 24 October to his mother Frances, the Duchess of Marlborough: “I took Winston to Tring on Saturday….He has much smartened up. He holds himself quite upright and he has got steadier. The people at Tring took a great deal of notice of him but [he] was very quiet & nice-mannered. Sandhurst has done wonders for him. Up to now he has had no bad marks for conduct & I trust that it will continue to the end of term. I paid his mess bill for him…so that his next allowance might not be [encroached] upon. I think he deserved it.”

While there is no record that he ever had Lord Randolph’s new-found sentiments expressed to him directly, Winston nonetheless appreciated his father’s changed attitude and wrote in My Early Life that “Once I became a gentleman cadet I acquired a new status in my father’s eyes, I was entitled when on leave to go about with him, if it was not inconvenient.” This included “Tring, where most of the leaders and a selection of the rising men of the Conservative Party were often assembled,” and meeting Lord Randolph’s racing friends, who provided “a different company and new topics of conversation which proved equally entertaining.”

Nevertheless, while Churchill was thrilled to accompany his father (“In fact to me, he seemed to own the key to everything or almost everything worth having”), a more mature Churchill was able to reflect in My Early Life that his father’s attitude had not softened nearly so much as the young Winston would have liked: “But if ever I began to show the slightest idea of comradeship [emphasis added], he was immediately offended; and when I once suggested that I might help his private secretary to write some of his letters, he froze me into stone.”

100 Years ago Autumn 1918 • Age 44 “Winston Began Sulky”

While Churchill publicly warned on 7 October against the possibility of “the speedy termination of the conflict,” the Great War was indeed coming quickly to an end, and Churchill knew it. The Armistice was signed the following month.

As Martin Gilbert wrote in Churchill, A Life, “The struggles of war were over, the conflicts of peace had begun.” No one knew this better than Churchill, whose first conflict began a few days before the war ended. His unlikely adversary was his close personal and political friend Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

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