Churchill’s horses

07/02/2012

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.

.A little history about the man himself: Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, (November 30, 1874 – January 24, 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.  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’

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 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. (see 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. This is from another article:

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. [source]

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 argument. Something simply had to be done, and so he spoke up. He did something. I’m incredibly thankful for the example this amazing man 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.

23 responses to Churchill’s horses

  1. 

    thanks for sharing, Human history runs like water, following the path of least resistance. However, some men and women take a stand and change history. Churchill was one of those men.

    • 

      Beautifully put. Yes, he was one of those rare individuals who, instead of flowing with the current, stood strong as a boulder, and changed the flow of the river. Thank you so much for your comment.

  2. 

    What a special post, Gina. Thank you for taking the time to research and write such a moving article about a little known aspect of this great man. And the fact that he was successful in getting those war heroes back, warms my heart. Awesome…Hugs, Cathy

    • 

      Thank you Cathy! It delights me that this story warms your heart as it did mine. It is my pleasure to sing out about all the good deeds that so many people are doing (and have done). When I found this ‘side story’ about SWC it made my heart sing to share about it. Thank you for your supportive comments. Hugs, Gina

  3. 

    I love learning about these types of small, personal stories that really make all the difference in how you see a person. It’s so refreshing to see that a political leader found in his heart a desire to do something because it was the right thing to do and not because it would have benefited him to do so. Thanks so much for sharing, Gina. 🙂

  4. 

    Love this post and love Winston Churchill..One of my favorite leaders of all time 😉

  5. 
    julia christine stephen 07/03/2012 at 7:14 am

    Churchill was always considered a hero in my family…my father, all his brothers, and my mothers brother served in WW2. he was a truly amazing human being 🙂

    • 

      Wow! What a wonderfully patriotic family you have. Yes he was an amazing human being. I am delighted to hear from you here, and I thank you so much for your comment!

    • 

      Hi again Julia, I wanted to come over and visit, but your blog is not up. All your beautiful glassworks! Is it just down while you do some ‘construction’??? Hope to see you back soon!

      • 
        julia christine stephen 07/03/2012 at 10:38 am

        I have no idea why you can’t see my blog…I haven’t gone anywhere 🙂

        • 

          Oops! But what a relief!! Ok please allow me to explain 🙂 In the Comments section here, in the Dashboard, you know how you can see your commenter’s email and WordPress site? Right here it is saying ‘juliastephen.wordpress.com’. I am looking right at it. However upon clicking on it (which I often do as a quick way to visit my commenters) I am told it no longer exists/has been deleted by the owner. Yikes! So I hovered over your Gravatar which also says you are ‘juliastephen’. So that is where I went wrong, by trying to click on the link provided by WP. Luckily I visit you often enough that my History in the computer remembers your address so I only have to start to type ‘julia’ and it auto-fills for your correct site of ‘juliachristineglass’. I wish WP would/could update what shows with your comments though. Hugs! Gina

  6. 

    Powerful and beautiful post, Gina. My favorite line:

    “Let’s listen to our hearts, and do what we can.”
    Sounds like a great motto for life!

    Russ

  7. 

    Thanks for sharing this Gina. I was particularly struck by what you wrote, “Even writing a strongly worded letter can ripple outwards and do more good than we may have thought. ” When we feel moved and inspired, we really need to act on it, with or without the assurance of an outcome, desired or otherwise. We really just gotta do what we gotta do. Thanks again Gina and much blessings!

    • 

      I am so glad you shared this particular line, because it means so much that you picked up on my reason for sharing about him in this post. He didn’t hesitate ~ he just did what he had to do. And we can do that. We need to do that. You have worded it perfectly here in your comment, how we really need to act on the impulse to help, “with or without the assurance of an outcome”. It is always wonderful to hear from you Nadine Marie. Thank you so much dear one! Blessings, Gina

      • 

        You’re most welcome Gina dear! It is wonderful to read your inspiring posts and feel the connection. If you and I were living in close proximity, I would have already invited you for tea by now! 🙂 Take care and much blessings!!!

  8. 

    I especially like the quotes from Churchill, so inspiring.