Magazine Sneak Peek!: Winston Churchill's Incredible Prison Break
Last week, The New York Times reported that journalist David Rohde, who had been kidnapped by the Taliban and held for 7 months in the mountains of Afghanistan, escaped with a fellow captive by jumping over a wall and then trekking to meet up with Pakistani army officials. The story is utterly fascinating, and it almost reminds me of Winston Churchill's crazy escape back when he was a journalist during the Boer Wars.
Winston Churchill's Incredible Prison Break
In 1899, Great Britain found itself in South Africa warring with the Boers—South Africans of Dutch descent. One of the British journalists covering the war was an adventurous 24-year-old named Winston Churchill, who loved combat so much that he became a war correspondent after his discharge from the army. On November 15, the Boers captured Churchill and threw him into a POW camp in Pretoria. Immediately, he began closely monitoring the guards and realized that there was a gap in their routine when no one was watching the 10-ft. wall surrounding his building. So, Churchill decided to make a break for it. But first, he needed to settle some accounts. Being the gentleman that he was, he paid his bill with the Boer shopkeeper who'd sold him tobacco, and he wrote a note of thanks and apology to the Boer Minister of War, who'd also befriended him. Then he scaled the wall.
Upon escaping, Churchill ran to a nearby villa, where he waited until he was able to hop on a passing train. For several more days, he followed the rail lines, sleeping in ditches, stealing food where he could, and fishing newspapers out of trash bins to read about the manhunt pursuing him. Six days later, Churchill made the last leg of his journey when he crept onto a train headed for the Portuguese colony at Delagoa Bay. The ride took him 250 miles east to the Mozambique coast, where he crossed the border into freedom. Churchill's daring escape did wonders for his name. It made him a celebrity in England and helped launch his political career.
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