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Memories Of Forty-Eight Years’ Service [Illustrated Edition]

Length: 433 pages10 hours


The memoirs of a veteran general of the British army who fought through the heat of the South African kopjes and plains to the mud, rain and misery at Ypres. Illustrated with 11 photographs and 27 maps and plans.
He fought in many of the Imperial wars in Africa, and was distinguished as one of only five British officers to escape the utter slaughter at the battle of Isandlwana in 1878 during the Zulu War.
His enduring modern fame rests on his achievements during the First World War, when he was selected to command one of the two corps of the small British Expeditionary Force in 1914 by Lord Kitchener, firmly believing that Smith-Dorrien would stand up to the commander Sir John French. As the B.E.F. struggled back through Belgium in the face of German forces that greatly outnumbered their own troops in 1914, the strain on the men began to show; they thought that they had outfought the Germans at the battle of Mons, but physically they could not fight and outmarch their foes. Seeing the tired and resentful expressions on his men’s faces, Smith-Dorrien came to a fateful decision: the safe retreat of the footsore B.E.F. could only be carried out if the Germans were slowed down. In defiance of his orders from Sir John French to keep going, he gathered as many of his soldiers as could stand and fought a brilliant rearguard action at Le Cateau, now regarded as pivotal in saving the B.E.F. from piecemeal destruction. Castigated in public and in private military circles for his decision at the time, he accelerated his downfall by his forthright attitude to his superior, Sir John French. After pointing out the flaws in French’s wasteful tactics following a particularly disastrous counterattack at Ypres, Smith-Dorrien had gone too far and was sent home under the excuse of “ill-health”, never to hold a field command again.
His memoirs are detailed, exciting and a good balance to the highly inventive writings of Sir John French.

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