Having unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary by-election at Oldham in July, Churchill looked about for some other opportunity to advance his career. On 12 October 1899, the Second Boer War between Britain and the Boer Republics broke out and he obtained a commission to act as war correspondent for The Morning Post with a salary of £250 per month. He rushed to sail on the same ship as the newly appointed British commander, Sir Redvers Buller . After some weeks in exposed areas, he accompanied a scouting expedition in an armoured train, leading to his capture and imprisonment in a POW camp in Pretoria (converted school building for Pretoria High School for Girls ). His actions during the ambush of the train led to speculation that he would be awarded the Victoria Cross , Britain's highest award to members of the armed forces for gallantry in the face of the enemy, but this was not possible, as he was a civilian.