A bravery medal awarded at the behest of Winston Churchill to a train driver who tried to save the future Prime Minister from being captured during the Boer War has come to light.
A young Churchill roused wounded driver Charles Wagner and engine firemen Alexander Stewart into action after their armoured train was attacked and derailed by enemy soldiers.
Churchill, then a newspaper war correspondent, talked Wagner out of fleeing the scene and remain in his engine cab in order to clear the blocked line.
Winston Churchill, pictured on a horse during the Boer War, promised a train driver he would guarantee his bravery was honoured if he managed to take his train carrying British troops to safety despite being under attack
Churchill, who was a journalist during the war urged engine fireman Alexander Stewart, right, and engine driver Charles Wagner to keep their locomotive running while under attack
The incident happened as Boers derailed an armoured train in Chieveley in 1899. Churchill was captured by the Boers, but 60 of the 100 British troops escaped on the train
Under heavy fire, he and Stewart spent 50 minutes keeping the engine running so it could heave and shove overturned carriages out of the way.
The train steamed away with about 60 of the 100 British troops on board.
Unfortunately Churchill was not one of them as he had been shot at and then captured by a Boer soldier on horseback in the attack.
Six weeks later the 25-year-old escaped captivity by climbing over a latrine wall. He stowed away on a freight train and hid in a mine to avoid re-capture.
His escape was celebrated back in Britain, helping him to later move into politics.
Ten years after the hair-raising ordeal while Churchill was Home Secretary, he made good on a promise he had made to the two men at the height of the attack and saw they were each awarded the Albert Medal.
Stewart’s decoration was sold by his family over 20 years ago and has now been put up for sale in London for £20,000.
A spokesman for auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb said: ‘Churchill’s reputation for daring was established by the ambush of the armoured train and his subsequent escape from captivity.
‘He became a nationally-known figure and he acknowledged that the episode smoothed his path to becoming a Member of Parliament.
‘So it was appropriate that as Home Secretary a decade later Churchill ensured that Alexander Stewart and Charles Wagner, the train’s locomotive crew, received what was then the highest award for gallantry open to civilians.
‘Not only did he honour his promise to them but he also acknowledged their part in making him famous.’
Churchill promised both men that their bravery would be recongised by the British government and after becoming Home Secretary a decade after the attack, he ensured that the men both received bravery medals
Alexander Stewart, left, received the medal, right, which outlines his gallantry in detail
In November 1899 Churchill was travelling with the Durham Light Infantry on an armoured train on a patrol when it came under mortar fire by Boer soldiers at Chieveley, near Durban, South Africa.
Three carriages had overturned and blocked the rest of the train from retreating.
The British troops returned fire while Churchill ran to the engine to find Wagner, bleeding heavily from a head wound, running away.
Churchill told Stewart that ‘no man is hit twice on the same day’ and that a ‘wounded man who continued to do his duty was always rewarded for distinguished gallantry’.
Churchill spent the next hour running up and down the outside of the train giving orders to the engine crew while they shunted the wreckage out of the way.
Eventually the Boers infiltrated the track and Churchill found himself confronted by two of them with their rifles aimed at him from 100 yards.
He ran in the opposite direction while being shot at as he did, with bullets missing him by inches.
He planted himself into the grass bank and again was fired at before he scrambled up and over the ridge.
As he made a dash towards a river one of the Boers on horseback galloped up to him and held him at gunpoint.
After his escape Churchill made a point of visiting Stewart at his railway yard to thank him in person.
His Albert Medal is being sold in London on May 9.