Several of the characters in Churchill’s Abandoned Prisoners will reappear in my next book, which is due to be published after Lockdown. These include journalists, diplomats, politicians and soldiers such as Brian Horrocks.
After he returned from Russia and picked up the Military Cross he had been awarded in 1920, his career in the following decade was remarkably similar to thousands of British Army officers who served in the 1980s, alternating his postings between the British Army of the Rhine and counter-insurgency operations in Ireland, which he described as “a most unpleasant form of warfare”.
One of his highlights was representing Britain at the 1924 Paris Olympics, where he competed in the Modern Pentathlon, a gruelling multi-discipline sport that involves show-jumping, fencing, running, swimming and shooting. However, this was trumped when he joyfully married Nancy Kitchin four years later.
As a slightly slow starter, he did not attend Staff College until he was 35 years-old, but his progress afterwards didn’t suggest that he would become such a meteoric success in World War II and end up commanding three different corps in North Africa and XXX Corps in North West Europe.
I wonder what he would have thought of the British Army being reduced to less than the size of one of these corps!