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Page last updated at 12:15 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 13:15 UK
Churchill the Oxfordshire Hussar
Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill was a soldier in his youth before becoming a politician

A new exhibition at the Oxford Museum explores the lesser know military exploits of Sir Winston Churchill.

In 2002 the Oxfordshire born politician was named the greatest Briton of all time in a nationwide poll.

But before he led the country to victory in the Second World War he was a hero in the army.

He had active service as a soldier and journalist in India, the Second Boer War and other battle grounds across the British Empire.

Major Hugh Babington Smith, from the Bicester-based Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust said: "It's an exhibition about Churchill as a war leader, as a solider because when he grew up he was a commission officer in the regular army.

Harry Staff and then Major Hugh Babington-Smith take Nikki Mitchell around the exhibit.

"He then actually sought out action all over the world and on his 21st birthday he wrote home - he was absolutely delighted to have come under fire in Cuba!"

Churchill continued to perform roles in the regular army until 1900 when he left to go into politics but still found time to join a territorial regiment, The Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars.

He actively served with them and briefly saw action on the Western Front in World War I but at that time, due to his ministerial duties, he had to leave the service.

Military activity remained with him all his life and he became an Honorary Colonel of the Oxfordshire Hussars until the time of his death in 1965. At his state funeral he had asked that the regiment march immediately in front of his coffin.

Churchill's cigar case
Churchill's cigar case will be on display at the exhibit

The year-long exhibition shows many items that have never been seen by the public before and there is a Madame Tussauds waxwork of Churchill with laser activated narration about his life as a soldier.

Eventually it is hoped that there will be a dedicated military museum for Oxfordshire.

By the end of this year diggers will be moving into the grounds behind the Oxfordshire Museum at Woodstock to build a brand new facility specifically for the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust.

This will house artefacts the Trust has that are currently stored at RAF Caversfield which is an active military base where it is currently difficult for visitors to get access to see the items.

Churchill voted greatest Briton
24 Nov 02 |  TV and Radio



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