Biography of Jailbreaker Winston Churchill Part 2

About the English jailbreaker Winston Churchill, biography and history of the man who escaped from numerous prisons.

BUSTING LOOSE--INCREDIBLE ESCAPES

Winston Churchill

Ahead, Churchill faced 300 mi. of hostile Boer country before he would reach neutral ground at Delagoa Bay in Portuguese East Africa. It was a journey he planned to complete without map or compass, at night, and unable to speak a word of either Dutch or the native dialect (Xhosa). A half mile south of the camp, Churchill came to a railroad track. Blindly, he elected to turn left. Evading the Boer pickets who had been placed at the bridge trestles, he stumbled along for two hours until he reached a station. He hid near its platform for another hour, then jumped aboard a train that stopped momentarily to unload goods. Once inside, he went to sleep on a pile of coal sacks. At the first light, aware that he would be retaken if he waited until the train reached its destination and was unloaded, he leaped off and struck out to the east, in the direction of the sunrise.

Sleeping by day, Churchill went on at night through the swamps, the high grasses, and across the shallow streams paralleling the rail line. With dogged determination he plodded along until he finally saw lights, which turned out to be the furnace fires from the Transvaal Collieries, a coal mine. He knocked boldly on the door of a house at the minehead. Churchill was reluctantly allowed in by the occupant, who was somewhat startled by his unannounced caller. At first claiming he had fallen from the train, Churchill finally confessed that he was an escaped prisoner and asked for help. He was amazed to learn that he had chosen the only British-occupied house for 20 mi. around. The mine's manager, John Howard, agreed to hide Churchill, although it meant he would be shot for treason if he were caught. Quickly, he hustled Churchill down the main shaft of the mine and left him there for two days, providing him from time to time with food and water.

Further arrangements were made with a Dutchman named Charles A. Burnham--sympathetic to the British--to transport Churchill to Delagoa Bay, hidden amidst the bales of wool being loaded on a freight car. The train eventually chugged into Komatipoort, the Boer frontier station, then on to Lourenco Marques, in Portuguese territory. After three days Churchill left his hiding place on the train and followed Burnham (who was waiting for him) to the British consulate.

There he overcame his final obstacle--the consulate secretary. Advised by the irritated civil servant to come back later, at a more appropriate hour, Churchill lost his temper and demanded to see the consul. One mention of his name was enough to gain an immediate audience. By the time Churchill returned to Durban he had become a popular hero. The escape brought him instant recognition, embarking him upon the illustrious political career that eventually led to his fame as one of the 20th century's greatest statesmen-politicians.

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