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Death of a Little Bit of a Newspaperman by Steve Payne

Author says: what if Winston Churchill's Boer adventure had ended in disgrace and humiliation at Komati Poort? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

December 12th 1899,

on this day The Morning Post's war correspondent Winston Churchill (pictured left and below, right) sneaked out of the Pretoria High School for Girls where Boer Free Staters had locked up the surviving members of the Chieveley raid. The twenty-five year old aristocrat vaulted a wall behind the latrines and waited in an outer garden before making good his escape.

"Englishman 25 years old about 5 foot 8 inches tall medium build walks with a slight stoop. Pale features. Reddish-brown hair almost invisible small moustache. Speaks through his nose and cannot pronounce the letter S. Had last a brown suit on and cannot speak one word of Dutch. " - Boer Police ReportFearing that a successful escape would be showcased in the British media as dashing adventurism, a price of twenty-five pounds was put on his head. Yet a more balanced view was taken by the Commandant of the Boer Forces, General Joubert. He actually offered less cash reward (27 shillings) for Churchill's recapture than the British officers were paying for a bottle of Scotch. "He is just 'n klein koerant-skrywertjie (a little bit of a newspaperman)" he said dismissing Churchill.

Meanwhile Churchill had stowed away on a coal train heading east in the direction of Mozambique. Desperate with hunger by the time the train stopped at Clewer, he knocked on a carriage door in search of food. The door was opened by John Howard, the manager of the Transvaal and Delagoa Bay Colliery. Howard agree to hide Churchill in the underground stables of the mine, and then later behind some packing cases in the office.

"This could have handed "Der Fuhrer" the keys to Buckingham Palace..." - reader's comment"I don't know if this would have destroyed Churchill's political chances, but it would have hurt them. At the same time, this sort of humiliating setback might have been just the thing to teach him a little humility, if such a miracle could ever have happened. If it averted Gallipoli, it might have been well worth it.- reader's commentWith Boer forces searching high and low, Howard hid Churchill under coal sacks on a train and attempted to smuggle him across the border into neutral territory.

Despite Howard's willingness to bribe guards at numerous points of discovery, their luck finally ran out at Komati Poort, the station at the boundary between the Transvaal and Portuguese East Africa. A close search of the train revealed Churchill, who had been surviving entirely on chocolate.

"Churchill always bore the ability to bounce back pretty well. He might not have made Prime Minister ever, but he could've done all right and would have given his all in WW2, wherever he was." - reader's commentTwo days after his second arrest, the British consul at Delagoa Bay sent a telegram to the British Foreign Office containing the coded phrase "Goods lost in transit".

The next day the front page of the Morning Post carried a feature article on the cowardly Churchill, who, by making a solitary escape, had prevented his combatant colleagues from making a general attempt. Most shocking of all, perhaps, amongst the surviving members of the Chieveley raid was an aristocratic North West frontier acquaintenance, Captain Haldane who later published a reputation destroying account of Churchill's misdeeds.

Author says to view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the Today in Alternate History web site.

Steve Payne, Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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