Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Liaison, 1914

El Jefe’s readers possibly know that the Jefe enjoys reading military history. Lately, I have been reading Major-General Sir Edward Spears’s memoir Liaison, 1914 – the general’s account of his experiences as a British cavalry lieutenant (and intelligence officer), assigned to the staff of the French Fifth Army during the opening campaign of World War I.

Despite his (then) junior rank, Spears had tremendous influence: his credibility with both the British and French high commands doing much to insure these allies cooperated, after a fashion, in the early days of the war. Spears continued, in one position or another, as a liaison officer between British and French high commands throughout the First World War; ending it as cabinet liaison between the French and British war cabinets. During all this activity, he was wounded four times, mentioned in dispatches, and found time to marry an American heiress.

Spears, a great friend and supporter of Sir Winston Churchill, played a similar role in the Second World War, serving for a time as the go-between between the Churchill government and DeGaulle’s Free French.

Spears, fortunately, was a superb writer. Liaison, 1914, is his account of the opening campaign of World War I. I will have a fuller review later, perhaps, but if you are at all interested in this period, or in military history, take my word for it you should beg, borrow or steal a copy.
UPDATE: I had a rather lengthy quotation in here, but upon thought, removed it, as I don't wish to offend any copywright holders.

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