Winston Churchill Attends Royal Military College at Sandhurst

Never a strong scholar, the boy Winston rebelled against learning and refused to study what did not interest him.

He was, Peter de Mendelsson (The Age of Churchill) reveals, at the bottom of his form at Harrow for four and a half years. Only one thing seemed to engage him – playing in his room with battalions of toy soldiers, manoeuvering them, and making cavalry charges. Lord Randolph asked his son if he would like to go into the army. Winston agreed without hesitation. In My Early Life Churchill himself admits: “The toy soldier turned the current of my life.” That he had made the right move was evident from his results at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy. According to Richard Armstrong (Finest Hour – 1962), he entered at the bottom of his class, yet finished eighth out of 150.

After Churchill left Harrow in 1893, he applied to attend the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. It took three attempts before he passed the entrance exam; he applied for cavalry rather than infantry because the grade requirement was lower and did not require him to learn mathematics, which he disliked. He graduated eighth out of a class of 150 in December 1894, and although he could now have transferred to an infantry regiment as his father had wished, chose to remain with the cavalry and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 4th Queen's Own Hussars on 20 February 1895.