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MEMORIES OF FORTY-EIGHT YEARS SERVICE
GENERAL HORACE SMITH-DORRIEN


British General Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien is famous for his part in two famous events; the Battle of Isandhlwana in 1879, and the Battle of Le Cateau in 1914. At Isandhlwana, he was one of only five soldiers to survive the Zulu Army's envelopment of an invading column of British troops. At Le Cateau, he successfully guided the Second Corps of the British Expeditionary Force in France through one of the most difficult operations possible, that of a fighting withdrawal.

In 1915, as the vicious trench fighting of the western front heated up, he was one of the first senior Allied officers to request a change of methods in order to reduce the appalling casualties already being suffered. Instead of being encouraged in his efforts, he was removed from command by his less than imaginative superior, Sir John French. It will never be known how differently the war in the trenches might have developed had Smith-Dorrien remained on the scene. But the loss of such a capable commander of long experience most likely caused more hardship than otherwise might have occurred.

The excerpts below are from Smith-Dorrien's 1925 book Memories of Forty-Eight Years Service. This 500 page memoir begins with his service as a young man in Africa during the Zulu War, moves on to Egypt, India, Malta, further African service during the Boer War, and finally his famous tour of duty in Belgium and France during World War One. Note that due to its great length and the wide variety of subjects, select chapters will be presented in regular installments.



1. The Zulu War
Chapter 1a · Chapter 1b · Chapter 1c · Chapter 1d · Chapter 1e


2. Egypt
Chapter 2a · Chapter 2b


9. South African War
Chapter 9a · Chapter 9b · Chapter 9c · Chapter 9d ·


24. The Retreat from Mons : Le Cateau
Chapter 24a · Chapter 24b · Chapter 24c · Chapter 24d · Chapter 24e · Chapter 24f · Chapter 24g · Chapter 24h


25. The Marne : 1914
Chapter 25a · Chapter 25b

 
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