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This photograph was taken at the German Imperial Army manoeuvres (Kaisermanöver) of September 1906, held near Breslau in Silesia. The mounted officer wearing the peaked Forage Cap, dressed in the blue Undress uniform of a Major of the ‘Oxfordshire Imperial Yeomanry (Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars)’ is none other than Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, who was present as an observer on behalf of the British government; at this time, Winston Churchill was a junior minister in the British government, namely Under-Secretary of State at the Colonial Office.


During the course of the manoeuvres, Churchill met and spoke to Kaiser Wilhelm II for about 20 minutes. Churchill later noted that the Kaiser had little conception of the power of modern weaponry, and its potential effect on the dense formations utilised by German infantry.


Winston Churchill had served as a cavalry officer in the Regular Army between 1895 and 1899, as a subaltern with ‘4th (The Queen’s Own) Hussars’. In 1899 he resigned his commission, to concentrate on journalism and a political career. During the Second Boer War, after famously escaping from Boer captivity, Churchill served between January and July 1900 as a Lieutenant in the ‘South African Light Horse’ (a mounted infantry regiment recruited from British settlers in southern Africa).


Returning to the United Kingdom, and having been elected a Member of Parliament, Churchill joined the ‘Oxfordshire Imperial Yeomanry (Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars)’ in 1902, having strong family links with the regiment. The ‘Yeomanry’ (its regiments being styled ‘Imperial Yeomanry’ between 1901 and 1908) was the designation of the cavalry element of the United Kingdom’s home defence forces: in 1908 these forces became more closely integrated, as components of the newly established ‘Territorial Force’. Commissioned into the Oxfordshire Imperial Yeomanry as a Captain, Churchill was promoted to Major in 1905, and remained active until 1912, after which time his political career made it difficult to commit time to the regiment. Nevertheless, Churchill remained an officer of the Oxfordshire Yeomanry, and in 1916, after his resignation from government, Churchill briefly resumed his military career, although as commanding officer of an infantry battalion of the Regular Army.


In 1922, the ’Oxfordshire Yeomanry (Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars)’ was reconstituted as a Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery (Territorial Army), into which Major Churchill was transferred in 1923. However, after 22 years service in the Auxiliary Forces/ Territorial Force/ Territorial Army, Churchill finally resigned his commission in 1924.




Edited by cmf
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