Raab Offers for Sale Winston Churchill’s Original POW Letter
The original historical document, valued at $85,000, was given by the young imprisoned Churchill to his captor
Scrawled in pencil during Churchill’s captivity and mentioned by him in one of his own books, it remained for generations in South Africa, where Churchill wrote it
The Raab Collection announced today that it is offering for sale an important piece of history related to the life of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, his original Prisoner of War note to his captor, showing the warm relationship that developed between captor and prisoner. It is valued at $85,000.
“This is a remarkable and revealing glimpse into the life of Winston Churchill and one he thought was so important he wrote about it decades later,” said Nathan Raab, President of the Raab Collection and author of the newly released, best-selling book, The Hunt for History (Scribner). “This episode is a significant moment in the life of the future Prime Minister, one that launched his political career.”
Historical background: During the Boer War in South Africa, 24-year old Winston Churchill was a correspondent for the Morning Post newspaper, and he immediately set out for the war zone to cover the conflict. He did everything in his power to reach the front. The only way he could even get close to the front was by boarding an armored train sent out for reconnaissance every day. This train derailed and he was captured and then detained by a man named Spaarwater, who took great care with the young captured Churchill. As Churchill wrote in his book, after he was handed over to the police, “Then we said ‘good-bye,’ and I gave [a guard] and Spaarwater, a little slip of paper setting forth that they had shown kindness and courtesy to British prisoners of war, and personally requesting anyone into whose hands the papers might come to treat them well, should they themselves be taken by the Imperial forces.”
The historical document being offered for sale by Raab is that original piece of paper.
Volksrust, November 17, 1899. “The bearer, Mr HG Spaarwater, has been very kind to me and the British officers captured in the Escort armoured train. I shall be personally grateful to anyone who may be able to do him any service should he himself be taken prisoner. Winston S Churchill.”
The Spaarwater family retained this memento for many decades. We obtained it from South Africa, the owner trekking 230 miles to ship it. A search of public sale records going back 40 years shows that the last time something of this nature relating to Churchill’s imprisonment in the Boer War came up was over 30 years ago. There has never to our knowledge been another Churchill POW document to reach the market.