Leeds nostalgia: Leeds veterans of Battle of Omdurman

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Dateline August 28, 1948: Sunday (September 2, 2018) will mark the 120th anniversary of the Battle of Omdurman, which we alluded to briefly last week. This was the battle in which a young Winston Churchill took part, under the command of Lord Kitchener.

A report in the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer from August 28, 1948, said veterans of that battle, anticipating the event by a week, met at the Griffin Hotel, Leeds to celebrate what was a resounding victory for the British.

Winston, who was an officer of lower status, was also correspondent for the Morning Post.

His biographer, Lewis Broad, described the moment thus: “From the moment when the trumped sounded ‘Right wheel into line’ and the trotting troops broke into a gallop - the expectancy of the approach, the confusion of the collision, the thrusting of swords of the enemy, the stabbing spears - and then through on the farther side. Winston emerged unscathed and as he saw two or three riflemen aiming their weapons at him, he experienced for the firsts time the gnawing sense of fear.”

Though victorious for Churchill and Kitchener, it was by no means a bloodless battle. Of the 310 officers and men of the 21st Lancers, five officers and 65 men were lost, killed or wounded, along with 120 horses - almost a quarter of the regiment’s strength.

And finally, there was a warning, of sorts, to Leeds folk who wanted to visit Morecambe for a holiday. Apparently, a man-made sandy beach was being washed back into the sea. The report said that almost 3ft of sand had been “pumped” ashore by dredgers in June (at a cost of £5,000) in a bid to cover their naturally stony beach. Lots more children ended up playing on the beach. However, cross-tides was washing it all back into the sea and they expected it all to be gone in weeks.