From the Archives

Winston Churchill at Roehampton Club 

One of the greatest figures from the 20th Century was a Member of Roehampton Club. He had met the founders of the Club in India playing Polo. This early connection between the Miller brothers and Winston Churchill was featured in the Centenary Book by Elizabeth Hennessey and according to the book, it was Edward Miller who befriended Churchill in India following his exploits as a leading Polo player for the 4th Hussars winning the Inter Regional Polo Tournament.

In one particular example of his military adventures in this part of the world, he had heard that three brigades of the British Army were going to fight against a Pashtun tribe in the North West Frontier of India and he asked his superior officer if he could join the fight. He fought under the command of General Jeffery, who was the commander of the second brigade operating in Malakand, in the Frontier region of British India. Jeffery sent him with fifteen scouts to explore the Mamund Valley; while on reconnaissance, they encountered an enemy tribe, dismounted from their horses and opened fire. After an hour of shooting, their reinforcements, the 35th Sikhs arrived, and the fire gradually ceased and the brigade and the Sikhs marched on. Hundreds of tribesmen then ambushed them and opened fire, forcing them to retreat. As they were retreating four men, including Churchill, were carrying an injured officer but the fierceness of the fight forced them to leave him behind. The man who was left behind was killed before Churchill’s eyes and had a deep effect on him writing afterwards on his experience. During his time in India, Churchill acquitted himself in the field with distinction.

Following his return to England, Churchill applied to join the Roehampton Club in 1905 sponsored by two of the Miller brothers and continued his polo career at the Club until the start of the First World War. His address at the time of his application was 105 Mount Street in London. The same address appears in a subsequent application form for Oswald Mosley who also joined the Club in 1920 shortly before making himself known as the leader of the British Fascist Party. At one point in time, both personalities were in the Conservative Party, but Mosley was critical of Churchill’s policies leading him to set up his own party. The recent series of Peaky Blinders shown on TV also covers this period of history when the lives of these two famous individuals were intertwined.

Steve Riedlinger – Club Archivist