The Rake

THE LEGEND THAT WILL NEVER DIE

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November 30, 1895 was a hot day in Cuba. Arroyo Blanco, a small village in south central Cuba, was the scene of fighting between Spanish troops and rebel Cuban forces. It was Winston Churchill’s 21st birthday, and a birthday present was to come in the form of gunfire. “There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at with no result,” he would later say.

How Churchill got to Cuba is an interesting story. Recently commissioned in the army, Winston was bored. In 1895 there was very little action in which a young officer could shine. Churchill, above all, wanted a reputation for bravery. Looking around the map, it seemed that only in Cuba was there any fighting taking place. The young cavalry officer used his influence to get himself attached to a Spanish regiment, which was then given the forlorn task of defeating the Cuban freedom fighters. Young Winston would leave Cuba in December 1895. He spent only a month

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