There are so many amazing people in history to share about. Today I am celebrating Sir Winston Churchill. I most certainly do not profess to have learned and understood everything there is to know about the man who was Winston Churchill. However in researching ‘horses’ for a couple of my recent posts, I spent over a dozen hours reading about him. I learned about this amazing icon and was moved to tears by what he did to help save hard-working yet neglected horses. Please read on to learn more.
A little history about the man himself:
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century, he served as Prime Minister twice (1940–45 and 1951–55). A noted statesman and orator, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer, and an artist. He is the only British prime minister to have received the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was the first person to be made an Honorary Citizen of the United States.
In 1951, he again became Prime Minister, before retiring in 1955. Upon his death, Elizabeth II granted him the honour of a state funeral, which saw one of the largest assemblies of world statesmen in history. Named the Greatest Briton of all time in a 2002 poll, Churchill is widely regarded as being among the most influential persons in British history. ~Source: Wikipedia
Recently discovered photograph: Sitting astride his grey mount in 1899, the 26-year-old future Prime Minister is shown wearing a suit and tie and a wide-brimmed hat. It shows him with men of The South African Light Horse Regiment and on the back of the photo is written: ‘Winston Churchill after Escape’. Source: winstonchurchill.org
In preparing my two recent posts about horses, I wanted to find out more about Winston Churchill’s quotes, especially the one about the outside of a horse being good for the inside of us humans (I’ve quoted this twice, in my posts Animals, Trust and Respect and Horse Power).
I discovered there is some debate regarding whether this statement was actually made by SWC because it has not been documented as being anything Sir Winston Churchill actually said. (visit winstonchurchill.org)
However there is no doubt whatsoever that the man loved horses. During World War I, Britain purchased over one million horses to assist with the war effort by carrying soldiers, supplies, and artillery. However, after the war, many horses abroad were in danger of horrible neglect and even death. It was awe-inspiring when I learned that Winston Churchill went out of his way, and at risk to his political career, to help save the horses of war after World War I.
As a story in the Daily Mail stated:
“He secured their speedy return after firing off angry memos to officials within his own department and at the Ministry of Shipping, who had promised to return 12,000 horses a week but were struggling to get a quarter of that number back.”
One person definitely makes a difference. He certainly did for thousands of war horses after the war ended. Here is an excerpt from another article, this one at WinstonChurchill.org:
Winston Churchill was incensed at the treatment of Britain’s war-horses in 1919. War Office documents recently found in the National Archives at Kew show that tens of thousands of the animals were at risk of disease, hunger and even death because bungling officials couldn’t get them home when hostilities drew to a close.
Churchill, then aged 44 and Secretary of State for War, reacted with fury when he was informed of their treatment and took a personal interest in their plight after the 1914-1918 war.
In a strongly worded missive dated February 13, 1919, Churchill told Lieutenant-General Sir Travers Clarke, then Quartermaster-General: ‘If it is so serious, what have you been doing about it? The letter of the Commander-In-Chief discloses a complete failure on the part of the Ministry of Shipping to meet its obligations and scores of thousands of horses will be left in France under extremely disadvantageous conditions.’
Churchill’s intervention led to extra vessels being used for repatriation, and the number of horses being returned rose to 9,000 a week.
Excerpts from Source article: http://www.winstonchurchill.org/learn/in-the-media/churchill-in-the-news/1355-saving-war-horses
His story ignites a fire in my heart! He took a risk because his heart demanded it. I imagine that in his mind there was no arguement. Something simply had to be done, and so he spoke up. He did something. I am incredibly thankful for the example this incredible human being has shared with us. When we learn of an injustice in the world that really moves us, we need to follow his lead and do something. Even writing a strongly worded letter can ripple outwards and do more good than we may have thought. Let’s listen to our hearts, and do what we can.