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Remembered Today:

W.S.Churchill`s Sandhurst Admission


PhilB
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In the recently shown film "Young Winston", WSC is berated by his father for only performing well enough in the entrance exams to get onto a cavalry course at Sandhurst, which he entered in 1893. Lord Randolph apparently wished him to go to a prestigious foot regiment. Can anyone confirm that standards were higher for infantry (& possibly engineers and artillerymen elsewhere)? I`d rather got the impression that cavalry places at RMA were more sought after and therefore more competitive.

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It cost a family a small fortune to equip and support a cavalry officer so there was fiercer competion for infantry places.

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Roy Jenkins' biography of Churchill says:

"Harrow was not particularly good at preparing Churchill for the RMA Sandhurst. He had to make three attempts...[and eventually] succeeded in being accepted for a cavalry cadetship. This had the advantage of demanding fewer marks than an infantry one, and the disadvantage that life in a cavalry mess was considerably more expensive."

Curchill did well at Sandhurst and was commissioned into 4th Hussars in February 1895. He later served with the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars.

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This had the advantage of demanding fewer marks than an infantry one, and the disadvantage that life in a cavalry mess was considerably more expensive."

And Lord Randolph Churchill was perpetually short of the necessary

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Any suggestions as to why fewer marks would be required for a cavalry cadetship? Simply less competition? Whichever way you explain it (assuming they`re all taking the same exam), it indicates that infantry cadets were somewhat smarter, in the exam passing sense, than cavalry cadets. Which makes it ironic that cavalrymen tended to fill top jobs?

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Cavalry men came from wealthier families with more influence. But did all the top jobs go to cavalry types? Kitchener was commissioned in the RE, Wilson in the Royal Muster Fusiliers, Birdwood in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, Montgomery-Massingberd was originally RFA, Jacob started in the Indian Staff Corps. All held general rank in WW1 all made it to Field Marshal. French may have become a cavalry man but started in the Royal Navy!

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Just passing through but did not the Gunners and the Sappers pass out (in a separate system to the cavalry and the infantry) from the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich? Sandhurst in Churchill's time was the home of the Royal Military College. Both were amalgamated after WW2 into Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, a pretty classic naming compromise.

My memory of FM Montgomery's autobiography was that it was the order of merit on passing out that was important at RMC although perhaps sponsorship was necessary from a regiment to begin with in gaining a cadetship. Wasn't there some discussion on how the best qualified got to serve in the Indian Army as the most financially advantageous option?

Ian

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Quite right Ian, RMA Woolwich was for gunners and sappers. The academic syllabus was somewhat different as well.

TR

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ May 18 2008, 09:24 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Which makes it ironic that cavalrymen tended to fill top jobs?

How top is top?

Secretary of State: RE

CIGS: Infantry x 3

CinCs theatre of war:Infantry x 7, cavalry x 3, Arty x 2

Army Commanders: Infantry x 4, cavalry x 5, Arty x 1

Corps commanders 1918: cavalry x 1 out of 17 posts

Div. commanders 1918: cavalry x 5 out of 51 posts.

My stats. are from a tainted source to some [Terraine], but this is not opinion, it is apparently fact.

Inconvenient, no doubt, to the myth.

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Of top battlefield commands, (C in Cs & Army Commanders) 11 infantry, 8 cavalry. Not bad when infantry outnumbered cavalry by at least 20 to 1. Even taking all your figures, it means 14 cavalry and 76 infantry. I`m happy to accept that those figures show cavalry bias.

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I may have been a little economical with the facts in that last post. I assume the number of cavalry/infantry officers was proportional to the total numbers of cavalry/infantry. In 1914, there were 310,190 infantry & 46,496 cavalry - 1 cav to 6.67 inf. In 1918 there were 1,804,025 infantry & 75,342 cavalry - 1 cav to 23.9 inf. I`ve included Guards & MGC Inf with infantry and Household Cav & Yeomanry with cav. MGC Cav I`ve left out as I didn`t know where to put them. (There were 576 in 1914 and 7883 in 1918).

It would be fair to say that the proportions of cav/inf among higher ranks should be proportional to the 1914 figures rather than 1918. I still think that leaves a cavalry bias - markedly in the C in Cs and Army Commanders?

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