WWI: Fifty two months, fifty two posts – 6 – Advice from Churchill

Yesterday the United Kindgom remembered the life and death of Winston Churchill. This is my small commemoration of a man who, rightly or wrongly, shaped the face and fate of my county in so many ways.

When WWI broke out, Churchill was a member of the Cabinet, holding the position of First Lord of the Admiralty. Although he did not mastermind the disasterous campaign in the Dardanelles (which is now most remembered for the assault at Gallipoli) he was its champion and accepted full responsibility for its failure; a failure that resulted in him being forced out of both the Cabinet and the government as a whole.

Believing his political career to be finished, he requested a position in the Army and was posted to the Western Front, as a Lieutenant Colonel in the 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers, in November 1916.


I do not wish to discuss Churchill’s time at the front, nor his time in the Admiralty. I also don’t want to look, yet, at the Dardanelles, since I’ll be covering that in other posts this year. Instead I am simply going to share the words of advice he offered to the officers under his command whilst he served at the front.

I share them without comment, because I think they speak for themselves:

Don’t be careless about yourselves – on the other hand be not too careful.

Keep a special pair of boots to sleep in and only get them muddy in a real emergency.

Use alcohol in moderation but don’t have a great parade of bottles in your dugouts.

Live well but do not flaunt it. 

Laugh a little and teach your men to laugh – great good humour under fire – war is a game that is played with a smile. If you can’t smile, grin. If you can’t grin, keep out of the way till you can.

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