New and forthcoming releases: ‘From Reason to Revolution 1721-1815’

It was only seven months ago that I composed the first post for this blog, announcing the imminent release of the first ‘From Reason to Revolution’ title. Now, the first four titles are in print and books number five and six are at the printers’ and will be available imminently; by the end of the year, as further titles continue to release, the total of books in print will have risen to eleven.

The selection of titles making up the first year’s releases should give a pretty good idea of what to expect for the series looking on into 2018 and beyond. We have heavyweight monograph studies of battles and campaigns, on land – Prestonpans 1745 – at sea – the blockade of Brest 1793-1815 – and amphibious – the West Indies 1794. We also have first-person eyewitness accounts, including material translated from Russian and French as well as English-language classics, all of it accompanied by notes and commentary to place the historical material in context.

Falling somewhere between these two categories are Neil Cogswell’s two volumes based on the papers of Horace St Paul. St Paul recorded his personal impressions of service with the Austrian Army in the Seven Years War, but he was also conscious that he was writing history and sought to add other material as well, to which Neil as editor has added yet more. The first of these titles, Lobositz to Leuthen, has received much praise since its release as the first title in the series, and the second volume, Olmütz to Torgau will complete the year’s releases as book number eleven when it comes out in November.

Lastly, the year’s releases include two significant works of uniformology. One is a reproduction of a primary source – the Spanish Estado Militar of 1800 – not previously seen in print; the other is the product of years of research into the uniforms and organisation of the French Army of the Orient in Egypt and reproduces colour plates from the extensive collection of the author, Yves Martin.

Looking ahead to 2018, all these themes within the series continue to be developed. Three different campaign studies will address three different campaigns in the Low Countries – those of 1745, 1793-’95, and 1799 – emphasising that this was still very much the ‘Cock-pit of Europe’ for much of the long-eighteenth century. Our delayed study of the uniforms of the Dutch army of this era is also now slated for 2018 release, along with similar volumes dealing with the armed forces of the Elector Frederick August II of Saxony, a ruler who found himself unenviably caught between the power of Austria and Prussia and whose lands were turned into battlefields nearly as frequently as those of the Dutch. We shall also be breaking new ground, however, with the first titles to deal with the American Revolutionary War due for release, along with our first biography in the shape of a study of the life and times of Sir George Murray, Wellington’s de-facto chief-of-staff for much of the Peninsular War.

Already we are looking on into 2019 and beyond when it comes to scheduling new titles, having received so many fascinating proposals of which would-be readers will be able to learn more in due course either via this blog or via the series Facebook page. Do please also use the latter to give feedback on titles that you have enjoyed, to suggest new topics, or simply as a means of contacting others with an interest in the warfare of the eighteenth century. Notwithstanding the variety of topics already slated for coverage, there are still many gaps to be filled and anyone interested in contributing to the series themselves is most welcome to contact me at andrewbamford18@gmail.com to discuss their ideas.

Lastly, plans are currently being made for the first series conference. This will take place in the spring of 2018, with the papers subsequently being published as part of the series. Again, watch this space and the Facebook page for further details.

Andrew Bamford, Series & Commissioning Editor

*Summer Savings, limited time only* Save 35% on any title in the From Reason to Revolution Series 1721-1815 when you buy direct from Helion before midnight on Friday 18 August. Offer applies to pre-orders. No money will be taken until the day the book is published!

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Drawing Maps for the Victorio Campaign of 1879-1881

By Dr R.N. Watt – The University of Birmingham

Maps and diagrams can speak a thousand words. Good maps can make a huge contribution to transmitting a historic narrative effectively. Conversely, poor maps, or no maps at all, will cripple any attempt to deliver a coherent account of the Victorio Campaign.

One of my frustrations with existing literature is that maps of the Apache Wars are usually not very clear and/or incorrect. Places can be named in the text but not marked on the relevant map. I did not want this to be an issue with my history of the Victorio Campaign.

However, drawing one’s own maps is a daunting task. I had not attempted anything like this before, but my purchasing power did not extend to the realm of the professional cartographer.

What I hope to show you here is how I drew the map for a single episode of the Victorio campaign where the Apaches attacked a specific area of New Mexico between 10 and 13 October 1879.

The first step is to determine the overall extent of a master map which would cover the entire campaign. To do this effectively, one needs to have finished writing the narrative. The next step was to purchase the relevant professional maps in a standard scale which would show sufficient detail to give a good idea of the physical geography of the area.

Checking the maps online, I decided to purchase the 1:250,000 scale maps. This was complicated by the fact that this overall map would need to cover both sides of the US-Mexico border between Eastern Sonora and Chihuahua in Mexico and Eastern Arizona, Western New Mexico and Western Texas in the USA. Thus, I had to purchase the maps from the US and Mexico Geological Survey. The creation of a Master map of the Victorio Campaign would allow me to create a single scale grid system which would allow me to zoom in on specific episodes of the campaign where no matter the grid size on each individual map, the scale would be the same.

Diagram 1

Taking one of the 1:250,000 scale maps and using a ruler and a calculator, I determined that the map showing Las Cruces and the surrounding area of New Mexico (Diagram One) could be divided into a four by seven square grid where each individual grid measured approximately 27.5 km. Thus the map in Diagram One covers an area of 110 km by 192.5km. I checked these measurements with all the maps I had purchased and confirmed that they also fit this pattern. The maps were laminated and I carefully drew the grid pattern with a fine permanent marker pen.

Diagram 2

This allowed me to construct a simple blank grid pattern diagram which would cover the whole campaign area (Diagram Two). Each individual map I had purchased was given a code letter (A through to V missing out ‘I’ as I also numbered each individual grid square and ‘I1’, ‘I2’ could be read as all numerals). This resulted in a pattern of 27 vertical squares by 21 horizontal squares which covered an overall map area of 742km by 577.5km.

The map from Diagram One corresponds to the area marked H1 to H28 on Diagram Two. Knowing what specific maps were required for the book allowed me to plot them on this grid system so that I could determine the number of 27.5km by 27.5km grid squares which would be required for each map.

Diagram 3

Where the map for 10-13 October 1879 was concerned, this involved quite a small area on the master grid plan. At first glance, this would involve four grid squares from the map shown in Diagram One. (See Diagram Three). However, closer examination of the map shown in Diagram One suggested that my original grid system did not quite fit the required area so I re-drew the 27.5km by 27.5km grids to fit the required area of the map. (See red outline on Diagram Four).

Diagram 4

My final involvement was to hand draw in pencil all the geographic features. Once satisfied, I then finalised these using very fine point felt pens.

I then added the details of the locations of ranches and the movement of the Apaches and their enemies on the map.

Again this was done in pencil and finalised with coloured felt tip pens to produce Diagram Five.

Diagram 5

 

I then typed up a map key in Word, printed it off and added this to Diagram Five. I scanned the finished copy into my computer and submitted this to Helion.

While, I was pleased with Diagram Five, the final version, produced by George Anderson from this diagram for Helion, is outstanding. (See Diagram Six).

Diagram 6

One final thought: I purchased the maps from the USA and Mexico Geological Surveys in 2009-10.

It did not occur to me that buying maps from both sides of the border might cause some interest in those waging the War on Drugs etc. in the USA and Mexico.

I never received any indication that Homeland Security may have had a brief interest in one Dr RN Watt. They will have quickly realised my interest was accounting historic warfare and not plotting contemporary villainy…

‘I Will Not Surrender the Hair of a Horse’s Tail’. The Victorio Campaign 1879 by Robert Watt is available to preorder here

 

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Victorio’s Last Victory: The Goodsight Mountains Fight, 7 September, 1880

By Dr R.N. Watt – The University of Birmingham

This starts with a map I found in the National Archives, Washington D.C., in June 2014. It concerned what I had thought to be a minor skirmish between a detachment led by Captain Leopold O. Parker, Fourth Cavalry and a small raiding party of Apaches. This map (pictured left) was accompanied by several reports of which I had not previously been aware.

 

Summary of Events 6-8 September, 1880

On the evening of 6 September, 1880, Captain Hale in command of his company of Sixteenth Infantrymen, escorting a group of surveyors/engineers for the AT & SF Railroad, found the remains of a stagecoach two miles from their camp. They also discovered the driver and one passenger killed. Hale immediately sent a courier westwards to Fort Cummings who arrived around 11pm that night. It was assumed that the perpetrators were Apaches from Victorio’s following.

Colonel George P. Buell immediately ordered Major Noyes to take his company and 10 Apache scouts south to the Florida Mountains to intercept the Apaches (should they have gone in that direction). At the same time, Buell ordered Captain Parker to take his company eastwards to the scene of the attack and to take up the trail of the assumed Apache raiders. Both companies departed Fort Cummings between midnight and 12.30am on 7 September, 1880.

Parker reached Hale’s camp during the hours of darkness. He waited until first light before proceeding to the site of the ambush where they found the body of an additional passenger. Apache scouts confirmed that the perpetrators were Apaches. His scouts also determined that the raiders had come up from the south and had also departed southwards.

At 8am Parker sent his scouts in pursuit – they having estimated that they were pursuing 10 to 15 Apaches – and followed with his company. However, he reported that his scouts appeared to be reluctant to pursue the trail and several times overtook them and questioned them as to the number of Apaches they were pursuing. Parker does not mention this in his report, but the implication being that he was concerned that this reluctance to pursue the trail might reflect a stronger force of Apaches being present. However, the scouts reiterated their estimate.

By around 11am, Parker’s command was starting to ascend a very gentle ridge between higher hills. When he stopped to consult with his scouts again, he received a volley from his left and centre at a range of between 45-50 yards, immediately followed by a volley from his front and right from a large number of concealed Apache warriors. Two Apache scouts and one soldier were instantly killed and another three soldiers were wounded. Lt. James Lockett, in his first action, was even closer to the Apaches and had his horse wounded and received between three and four bullet holes through his coat but was miraculously not hit by hostile fire.

Confusion reigned and the surviving Apache scouts retreated (or in Parker’s words ‘disappeared’ along with their interpreter and mule packer) and took no further part in the battle. Parker rallied his company after a retreat of about 150 yards. After organising horse holders he had about 30 troops available and deployed them in a skirmish line. Each man was 10 yards apart so the skirmish line was approximately 300 yards wide. The line advanced and, as they came within easy range, the Apaches opened up a heavy fire.

Parker noted that the Apaches were still flanking him on both sides which indicated a force considerably larger than the 10 to 15 Apaches whose trail they were following. Parker fell back and re-aligned his skirmish line to the right in order to attack the slightly higher ground but again found the Apaches to be flanking him on both sides and in no mood to vacate their positions.

Moreover, he and one of his sergeants realised that some of the Apache warriors were using adjacent arroyos in an effort to not only surround his skirmish line but to threaten his horse-holders that had been sent to the rear with the company’s horses. Parker withdrew and regrouped again, making a final advance with his skirmish line. Finding that the Apaches were still willing to hold their positions to his front and simultaneously making efforts to surround the skirmish line, Parker withdrew to his horses and withdrew to a ridge a mile-and-a-half distant.

Parker then withdrew towards Hale’s company having sent in a courier to ask for their help. Realising the strength of the enemy, he decided that Hales 25 men might be vulnerable to an attack and withdrew about eight miles until he joined them.

As one can see from the summary of the overall operation below and the appended reports, Buell – on receipt of the news of Parker’s ambush – organised a battalion of Ninth Cavalry and a battalion of Fifteenth Infantrymen (the latter loaded in wagons), from the large garrison at Fort Cummings to go to the rescue.

This map was drawn by the author and is based upon the 1:250,000 US Geological Survey Map. Each grid square measures approx. 27.5km by 27.5km. The original was drawn on A3 paper so it is recommended that the reader use the zoom to enlarge the picture to a more readable magnification.

Parker was subsequently criticised for not keeping in contact with the Apaches and I would agree with Dudley and Buell that his retreat of eight miles was excessively cautious. Equally, Buell’s statement that had Parker remained in contact with the Apaches until the arrival of the reinforcements from Fort Cummings would have led to the destruction of the Apaches is ludicrous. Faced with such opposition, the Apaches would have simply scattered. Parkers’ decision to withdraw from the fight was correct.

The mere fact that the Apaches were holding their line and then going on the offensive round both of his flanks suggests that they had weighed the odds and found that both their numbers and the terrain were heavily in their favour. If this is the case, and Parker’s surviving scouts later estimated that they had been attacked by Victorio’s main following, which could mean that Parker, with just over 40 troopers, was facing as many as 80 to 100 experienced Apache warriors.

This engagement constitutes Victorio’s last military success against the US army before being trapped and killed at Tres Castillos by Mexican state troops on the 14/15 October, 1880.

  Date Event
1. 6 Sept. A Stagecoach is ambushed and the occupants killed 16 miles east of Fort Cummings. The wreckage is discovered by a detachment of 16th Infantrymen escorting a railroad survey team. Their commander, Capt. Hale, sends a courier to Fort Cummings who arrives there at 10pm.
2. 6/7 Sept. At midnight Capt. Parker, with Co. A., 4th Cavalry and 10 Apache scouts proceeds from Fort Cummings to the site of the ambush. He is ordered to pursue the hostile Apaches from that point.
3. 6/7 Sept. At 12.30am Major Noyes departs Fort Cummings with Co. H., 4th Cavalry and 10 Apache Scouts for the Florida Mts. in an attempt to intercept the Apache raiders, should they make for that point. He is also ordered to contact Lt.’s Maney and Goodwin who are currently scouting in this area with their Apache scouts and put them in pursuit of the Apaches. He arrives at the Little Floridas at dawn and works his way down the Floridas but find insufficient water and returns to the Little Floridas.
4. 7 Sept. Parker’s detachment reaches the site of the ambush. At 8am he pursues the trail southwards, probably along the eastern side of the Goodsight Mts. until, at approximately 11am, he is ambushed at the southern end of these Mountains. He loses three men killed and three wounded in the ambush. Parker sends a courier to Capt. Hale requesting that he telegraph for reinforcements from Fort Cummings. Unable to shift the Apaches from their positions on the ridge Parker pulls back approximately 8 miles to regroup.
5. 7 Sept. This request is received at about 1.30pm and Lt. Col. Dudley mounts up a large battalion of the Ninth Cavalry and sets out at about 2.15pm. Col. Buell also mounts some Fifteenth Infantrymen in wagons and sets off with them on the road at 2.45pm.
6. 7 Sept. Capt. Hale marches to the aid of Parker and arrives just before the Ninth Cavalry arrive from Fort Cummings.
7. 7 Sept. On the approach of reinforcements the Apaches scatter and re-congregate at a nearby camp in a canyon running down out of the Goodsight Mountains.
8. 7 Sept. Col. Dudley takes command and pursues the Apaches to a point two miles beyond their camp before darkness makes if impossible to follow the trail.
9. 7 Sept. Seeing that they are still being pursued, the Apaches poison the water at their camp using horse entrails and then retreat into Mexico. They are earlier spotted by Dudley, from the southern escarpment of the Goodsight Mountains, 15 miles distant making for Mexico.
10. 7/8 Sept. Major Noyes, finding no signs of Apaches in or around the Florida Mts., is met by a courier from Buell and ordered to march to the Goodsight Mountains. By dawn on the 8 September he was approximately 10 miles from these mountains.
11 8 Sept. Buell and Dudley return to Cummings via Hale’s railroad surveying camp. They are joined by Major Noyes who, on reaching the Goodsight Mountains, had spotted their dust and followed them. Buell and Dudley had both concluded that to pursue the Apaches further would be futile given their lack of supplies sufficient to sustain a prolonged pursuit of Victorio. It would also involve a premature entry into the Republic of Mexico.

Finding the Battlesite

The map I recently unearthed in the archives (see below) gives a very clear indication of the broad location of the engagement and pinpointed it at the southern end of the Goodsight Mountains. This was already clear from the reports of which I was aware. Nevertheless, the specific details given of the hills immediately surrounding the site suggested to me that there should be a good chance of spotting the exact location on the modern maps.

I consulted with my local contacts Daniel D. Aranda and Eric Fuller, and the latter was confident that he could pinpoint the locations using this map and large scale topo maps. We (myself, Dan Aranda, Eric and Kathy Fuller) set out on 9 July, 2014, in an effort to locate the site.

Arriving at the broad location, it looked promising and we split up to look over the site. The description had mentioned bushes, soapweeds and small breastworks. At first, while I could see plenty of small bushes and soapweeds, I could not see any breastworks and no sign of spent cartridges – though the absence of the latter isn’t necessarily surprising. I eventually realised we were in the wrong spot when I crested the low ridge and found myself looking down the Goodsight escarpment to the plain some way below. While this afforded an excellent view of the Potrillo and Florida Mountains, it also demonstrated that I had clearly gone too far south.

Photo 1

Dan and I spent about an hour casting back down and along the low ridge. Dan found signs of what looked like metal detecting but the immediate area still did not look right to me. I sat down with the map and once again tried to match up the surrounding hills. looking back north from where I was sitting I saw a very low hogback coming down from what I think is the small hill to the left and below the crossed sabres on the map.

If I am correct then we had actually driven through the ambush site and parked just beyond the centre-right (from the Apache point of view) of the ambush position. Having arrived there, travelling in the broad line of march taken by the army, and not noticing the spot, shows what a good potential ambush position this might constitute.

Photo 2

I climbed to the top of this hill and looked at the map again and could fit all the hills marked to the west, south and east of the crossed sabres. However, the hill to the left and north was present but appears to be bigger than marked on the map. That was the only anomaly between the map and my looking around the site.

Moreover, while we could not see any constructed breastworks, there were along the top of this hill a number of natural low outcroppings which would have provided perfect cover for prone Apache marksmen. (See Photos One and Two above).

Photo 3

Photo Three (left) is taken from the same high ground but overlooks the area where I think Parker withdrew after he was first attacked (Red solid arrow marking rally point).

The Blue arrow outlines his suspected line of retreat.

The Green Line shows one of the flanking arroyos where the Apaches started to infiltrate around Parker’s right flank when he subsequently moved forward with his skirmish line.

Photo Four (below) is taken from almost the top of the ridge on the edge of the Goodsight escarpment, looking north down to the Apache positions. The cloud shadow actually marks where I think the Apache positions were (pure accident on my part as I took this picture about an hour before I spotted what I thought to be the ambush site).

The Red arrow marks the hill with the natural breastworks.

Photo 4

The Yellow line marks the low hogback which I think the Apaches also used for cover. This also extends into a low arroyo which the Apaches could use to work their way around Parker’s left flank.

The Green arrow marks Parkers’s probable line-of-march into the ambush.

Photo 5

 

Photo Five (left) is taken from lower down the ridge looking north. One can see how the hill drifts down into a quite innocuous hogback which the Apache warriors could have used for cover.

Photo Six (below) is broadly looking south and gives Parker’s view of the ambush site as he approached from the north. The terrain does not look dangerous and the crest of the hill beyond the Apache positions is just visible.

Photo 6

The Red arrow marks the hill with the natural breastworks and the blue line marks the broad location of the Apaches hidden behind the hogback: but note that the lie of the land from where this photo was taken actually hides the hogback from view until one moves into very close proximity. It should be recalled that we travelled through this position without spotting its potential.

Reconstruction of Parker Fight, 7 September, 1880.

 

Key Description.
A Point where Parker’s detachment was probably ambushed
B Apache Positions
C Arroyo to Parker’s left
D Arroyo to Parker’s right
E Rallying point after the ambush
F Spot where Parker probably stationed his horse holders.
G Parker’s first advance
H Parker’s second advance
I Parker’s third advance
J Possible location of Apache Camp
K Direction of water ‘rock tanks’ at the bottom of Goodsight Mountains escarpment

 

‘I Will Not Surrender the Hair of a Horse’s Tail’. The Victorio Campaign 1879 by Robert Watt is available to preorder here

 

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Tom Cooper on “the most colourful volume about military flying in the Middle East – ever”

Hot Skies Over Yemen. Volume 1

One might wonder: what is driving one into painstaking, years-long research about air forces and air warfare in such a ‘corner’ of the world as Yemen?

Within the realms of what can be described as ‘public conscience’ or ‘-perception’, Yemen is nowadays known as a hotbed of international terrorism; a country that is on the receiving end of frequent US air strikes flown by UAVs (sometimes by special forces too). Others might know it as a ‘place’ subjected to ‘barbaric’ bombardment by Saudi Arabia and several of its allies.

I do not know anybody who might describe Yemen as a place that would be ‘relevant’ for latest trends in aerial warfare, and even less so for future developments in this branch. It is not a battlefield revealing new tactical methods (or at least not one where the latest technologies are put to their ultimate test). At most, some knowing more about Yemen might describe it as a country with a brutal history, devastating present times, and an unclear future. Only very few people would describe military flying related to Yemen as ‘worth researching’.

Thus, I have to ask my question again: what is driving one into painstaking, years-long research about air forces and air warfare in that part of the world?

Thinking of an answer, only additional questions with similar content come to my mind, such as: what prompts one to spend days, weeks and then months and years searching for precise details about camouflage patterns and markings of specific aircraft? About the pilots flying them? About the ground crews maintaining them? About the motivation and reasons for political and military commanders ordering humans and machines into wars?

Describing this appears hard to me. For me, it’s far more than issues such as finding out exact details about camouflage patterns, or how many aircraft were shot down by what air force.

It might surprise many of readers of this blog, but for me, one of most fascinating sensations in this process is what I call ‘finalizing a book’: the last two-to-three weeks of highly intensive writing, re-writing, editing and ‘polishing’ of the manuscript before it is delivered to the publisher. In my mind, this is an exceptionally intensive period: a period when in my head, I travel to the part of the world in question, ‘visit’ the various places mentioned, ‘meet’ the people in question, ‘feel’ the heat and dust, and ‘smell’ the kerosene, smoke and exhaust gases.

This experience is something that never ceases amazing me. I enjoy it so much, it is driving me into finalizing one such project after the other.

But, it is also a period of ‘finalizing a product’: a process during which all the work is coming together… all the gaps in knowledge filled. The story gets its flow, and its results are starting to make sense. Very often, it is only then – and rather ‘all of a sudden’ – that I start understanding why the affairs in question developed the way they did; why air forces obtained the aircraft they did obtain, and why they obtained as many (or as few) as they did; why their crews were trained the way they were trained, only poorly trained, or not trained at all. Indeed, it is during this period when I find out and realize why some war erupted and why it developed the way it did.

Much more often than I could ever explain, it is during this period of time that the content of the book turns out to be entirely different than originally planned too.

When all that is said and done, there follows a period of ‘expectation’. The manuscript is delivered to the publisher – and, a few weeks or months later – the editor calls back to provide the ‘proof file’. This is like a birth of one’s child. Although often still months away from the book actually being published and thus reaching its readers, one ‘finally’ gets to see and feel the results of all the work in a ‘book form’. Although sometimes a rather stressful and troublesome period, I enjoy this one very much.

And then, once all of this is over, the book goes into print and, a few weeks later, ‘hits the stores’. Then there is the next period of ‘expectation’: one where I am looking forward for reader’s reactions.

My books are no ‘bestsellers’ – and they are never going to be any. They are read by a relatively small community of readers. Some of my readers can be described as ‘enthusiasts’: people fascinated by all the different camouflage colours and patterns applied by different air forces; people interested in individual markings of specific aircraft; people interested in specific aircraft types (perhaps their service abroad too, or in their national markings). They foremost appreciate the author’s dedication to research, their ability to find necessary sources, and then deliver his or her work with the necessary attention to the detail.

Plenty of others are ‘professionals’: people with one or the other sort of ‘professional interest’ in the topic at hand. Sadly, too few of these are professional historians. Many of them consider books of the kind I’m writing and publishing ‘too technical’. Most other professionals have their very own and very different reasons – ranging from journalism to military intelligence.

I share a lot with enthusiasts and professionals alike, and can only conclude that there is hardly any bigger satisfaction for me than when all of them express their satisfaction with my work.

The final question is: what can readers expect from Hot Skies over Yemen. Volume 1?

This is foremost a story of ‘little known aircraft and little know aviators in a little known corner of the world’. It starts with early (North) Yemeni efforts to establish their own air force (dating back to the 1920s and 1930s), and then goes on with the story of the Egyptian – and then the Russian – military interventions in Yemen of the 1960s. This is set against the backdrop of British military aviation’s presence in what was then the Protectorate of Aden, (later the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, or simply ‘South Yemen’).

I dedicated at least as much attention to detail and illustrations of the growth of no less than two indigenous – Yemeni – air forces of the 1970s and 1980s, and conflicts involving them. The latter cannot really be described as ‘spectacular’, but they were still as ‘fascinating’ to research and describe as ‘surprising’ the outcome of some of wars in question was.

Perhaps the most fascinating result of the work on this book is the realisation just how colourful the camouflage patterns and markings of Yemeni aircraft were. Indeed, in regards to these two topics, I have a strong feeling that Hot Skies over Yemen, Volume 1 is likely to become the most colourful volume about military flying in the Middle East – ever.

The Volume 1 ‘culminates’ in the Yemen Civil War of 1994. This little known, bitter conflict pitted the two Yemeni air forces against each other, and ended with the demise of South Yemen. It was this war that created Yemen as we known it today: a country nominally ruled from Sana’a, but actually dominated by Saudi interests, and one that became a playground of multiple foreign powers.

Hot Skies Over Yemen. Volume 1: Aerial Warfare Over the Southern Arabian Peninsula, 1962-1994 by Tom Cooper is available to preorder here.

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For budding authors and more! OPEN BOOK 2017: The brand new Literary Festival for Hitchin – Saturday 29 July 2017

By Allan Esler Smith

I am part of the Group organising the inaugural Open Book 2017 at British Schools Museum and we have a significant ‘history’ content in the day.

Please see some detail below on one of my talks on my new book Theirs is the Glory. Arnhem, Hurst and Conflict on Film, published by Helion and Company, and then information on everything else relating to this event.

I’m really looking forward to the event and delighted to have Hugh Bicheno joining me to talk about Arnhem and Conflict on film. Hugh is an historian of conflict who has published ten books ranging from the Falklands War (Razor’s Edge) to his latest, a two-book account of the War of the Roses. He was born in Cuba and went to school in Chile and Scotland, and to the University of Cambridge. He was an intelligence officer for eight years and a kidnap negotiator in Italy and Latin America for 15. He wrote a brief account of the Arnhem campaign for the book ‘Battlefields of the Second World War’ by his lifelong friend the late Richard Holmes in 2002.

Some folk may know my side of the story:  I look after the Estate of Brian Desmond Hurst, one of the greatest film directors to come out of Ireland. Hurst directed Scrooge and Tom Browns Schooldays and 28 other films; the list includes an impressive catalogue of war films. At the top of the list is Theirs is the Glory – a 1946 film about the Battle of Arnhem. I believe it is the greatest war film ever made in the UK because it ooozes authenticity but is now rarely screened. My new book Theirs is the Glory. Arnhem, Hurst and Conflict on Film, co-authored with Arnhem expert David Truesdale, looks at how my Uncle, an infantry private, survived the slaughter of Gallipoli then trained as an artist and went on to use film as his vast canvas for interpreting and portraying warfare.

I am also talking on my other book which hit the Amazon best sellers in its category earlier this year – The Good Retirement Guide 2017. The subject is: ‘Can you retire early rich and happy?’

It’s an all afternoon event with 17 authors, an agent and lots of tips for budding authors in case you have ambitions to publish your first book. So much choice and only £4. More info about all the authors taking part can be found here, and an overview of the programme can be seen below:

12.15pm

Lifestyle Neville Davis The Dangers, Limitations & Fascinations of Family History Research

Creative Owen Knight Young Adult Fiction: Writing, Getting Published and Beyond

History Jon Beattiey The hidden depths – behind the bookshelf

1pm

Lifestyle Ella Kahn (agent) How to Hook an Agent

History Hugh Bicheno Hertfordshire – Battleground of the Wars of the Roses

Creative Rowena M Love School Days: Poetry Workshop

Kids Andrea Shavick Grandma Was Eaten By A Shark!

2pm

Lifestyle Allan Esler Smith Can you retire early, rich and happy?

History Dr J D Davies Don’t Mention Jack Sparrow: the Best (and Worst) Sea Stories

Creative Julie Stock My Journey from Complete Beginner to Self-Published Author

Kids Andrea Shavick Grandma Was Eaten By A Shark!

3pm

Lifestyle Terry Gillen You Can Do It: 7 Ways to Unlock The More Confident You

History Jane Dismore Royals, Rebels and Aristocrats

Creative J.S. Watts Writing with your senses: Creative Workshop

4pm

Lifestyle Simon Michael “Murder. It’s a living.”

History Hugh Bicheno & Allan Esler Smith The battle of Arnhem and conflict on film

Creative D A Adamson The Joys and Sorrows of Self-Publishing

5pm

Lifestyle David Lister Dr Johnson’s blockheads

Lifestyle Wendy Berliner Great minds and how to grow them

Creative Rowena M Love & J.S. Watts Chalk and Cheese: A fun interative poetry reading

 All day Banter Carol Deacon Cake Characters: Demonstrating the ‘icer’ things in life

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Passchendaele: The Forgotten Last Act

With the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres (31 July-10 November 1917), popularly known as ‘Passchendaele’, imminent, most people remain unaware that the last attack of the controversial campaign actually occurred on 2 December 1917.

Launched on the orders of the British Second Army, the subordinate VIII Corps and II Corps were tasked with overseeing a night operation north and north-west of Passchendaele village following relief of Canadian Corps by the former formations on 18 November.

The objective, a necessary preliminary to further operations astride Passchendaele Ridge during the winter of 1917-18, was to make a short advance from the dangerously exposed Passchendaele Salient, created during Anglo-Canadian operations from 26 October to 10 November, on a 2,870-yard front.

On the right, 8th Division (left formation of VIII Corps) would assault the Venison Trench defences with 25 Brigade; on the left, 32nd Division (right formation of II Corps) employing a reinforced 97 Brigade, would prolong the left flank by seizing the Vat Cottages Ridge.

The proposed operation would, if entirely successful, open out the west side of the salient whilst simultaneously carrying the British line “sufficiently far northward along the ridge to give us observation into the valleys running up to the Passchendaele plateau from the north and east.”

Occupation of these new vistas would also prevent the enemy from massing troops along the ridge line’s reverse slope thus reducing potential threats throughout the winter months.

Subsequently regulated to a local operation whilst the Battle of Cambrai (20 November-7 December 1917) raged to the south, the attackers would be operating under the aegis of a novel but ultimately flawed operational plan that would lead to disastrous consequences…

To read more about this opaque episode of the First World War, see Michael LoCicero, A Moonlight Massacre. The Night Operation on the Passchendaele Ridge, 2 December 1917: The Forgotten Last Act of the Third Battle of Ypres (Helion, 2017).

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Centenary Commemorations: Passchendaele. 103 Days in Hell

A TV historian and author is set to mark the Centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres by telling the personal stories of those who fought during a nightmare struggle which has become known a Passchendaele. 

South-West London-based Alexandra Churchill penned Passchendaele. 103 Days in Hell with researchers Andrew Holmes and Johnathan Dyer.

Drawing extensively on official military records and working with the descendants and families of their chosen subjects, the authors paint a vivid and engaging picture of a battle that has become synonymous with the suffering and horror of the Western Front.

“This is a book about people,” Alexandra stresses. “It tells us what happened at Passchendaele through the eyes of those who were on, behind, above or below the battlefield. Almost everyone featured died – either during battle or due to their injuries – which is why we felt it was essential to make their stories heard.”

After explaining the contribution of the Battle of Messines, the book begins on 31 July 1917 when the Allies launched a renewed assault on German lines in Flanders, Belgium. The village of Passchendaele was eventually captured after 103 days of bloody fighting – hence the title of the book – but there was no substantial breakthrough on the Western Front. More than 300,000 British casualties and 260,000 German casualties were recorded, making it one of the war’s costliest and more controversial offenses.

“There are so many fascinating and tragic individual stories: Pte Harold Henry Mann, who had pioneering facial reconstruction surgery; Lt Arthur Rhys Davies of the Royal Flying Corps, who is credited with 25 victories in the air in just six months; and Gunner Norman Manley who survived the war and later became Premier of Jamaica. Tragically, his brother Roy was killed by shrapnel while trying to carry a wounded comrade to safety,” explains Alexandra, who contributed to Channel 5’s popular First World War archaeological series ‘The Big Dig’.

“We have ensured that all corners of the Empire, as it was then, are represented, from New Zealanders to West Indians, as well as every rank of soldier. Women feature too, including Muriel Thompson of the Calais Convoy, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, who is pictured on the front cover. It has been a remarkable experience but reading and writing about death every day for nine months has taken its toll. I never want to have to describe mud again!”

The book is the latest collaboration by Alexandra, Andrew and Jonathan, who share a mutual interest in the First World War and a passion for Chelsea FC. They co-wrote Over Land and Sea. Chelsea FC in the Great War in 2015, and followed up with Somme. 141 Days, 141 Lives last year.

Passchendaele. 103 Days in Hell has been released in time for the UK national commemorative events to mark the centenary, which will take place on 30 and 31 July. It contains over 100 images including portraits, original and modern photographs of the battlefield, and of Commonwealth War Graves sites.

“You don’t need any prior knowledge of Passchendaele to read this book,” says Publisher Duncan Rogers of Helion and Company Ltd.

“It offers a broad understanding of the battle without getting too bogged down in the technical detail. Alexandra and her fellow authors are to be commended on assembling an imaginative and balanced selection of voices from both sides of no man’s land. These combine to make a lasting and worthy tribute to own for the centenary of Passchendaele.”

Passchendaele. 103 Days in Hell is available direct from the publishers as well as from Amazon and all good bookshops.

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The Battle of Arnhem and conflict on film

Helion’s new book features at a book signing and talk at the Open Book Literary Festival, Hertfordshire on 29 July 2017

By Allan Esler-Smith

Co-author Allan Esler Smith

Think back to all those UK war films that you may have watched over the decades and consider which is the greatest. I’d suggest dismissing works of fiction and those that try to appeal with a tag line ‘based on a true story’ and go on to serve up information which some take in as fact. Authenticity, I would suggest is vital. So how many on your shortlist were made by the veterans who actually fought at the battle? Then reduce your list to only those films made on the actual ground of the battle? How many are on your list now? Then scale the endeavours of the veteran actors. For instance, how many feature veterans asked to return to a location where they were defeated and, importantly, within a year of the defeat. Then sprinkle in some thoughts that would tip any ordinary man over the edge. During breaks in filming the veterans identified shallow field graves where their comrades were still buried.

Soldiers tend to get on with the job without complaint- a soldier’s lot. But returning to the scene of their defeat you just have to wonder how often the veterans’ minds turned to thoughts of how they were outgunned by enemy heavy armour that they were never told about. Then, just to complete the mix and your selection of UK war films that make the grade, try giving some credit for ‘going the extra mile’. For instance, were the buildings used as set locations still mined with enemy explosives? Would the veterans-turned-actors be returning into a civilian population who were briefly liberated and then left behind with an enemy who extracted retribution? By any standards Theirs is the Glory, released on 17 September 1946 and filmed in the late summer of 1945, is the most unique and, I would say, greatest of all war films made in the UK. 

Further factors can then be added into the mix to help an appreciate the accolade just given. The film’s director banned the use of any studio actors taking a role.

This was to be the veterans’ film; soldiers can do many things but acting isn’t high on the list of required attributes, so the strength, vision and motivation of the director is important.

Then we have the outcome on the film’s release on the second anniversary of The Battle of Arnhem. The reception and applause almost defies belief. It became the biggest grossing war film in the UK for a decade (pipped by Battle of the River Plate in 1956). It received a Royal Command from King George VI for a screening at Balmoral and both Queen Mary and the Prime Minister attended screenings in London.

Unique, and unequalled, the film Theirs is the Glory was always going to be the centre piece of a new book written by Arnhem expert David Truesdale and myself and launched by Helion and Company in September 2016 with the title Theirs is the Glory. Arnhem, Hurst and Conflict on Film. The film’s importance in conflict film history results in us devoting just over half the book to the veterans of Arnhem telling their story on film. We set the scene with how the battle of Arnhem fitted into the war for Europe; detail the armaments carried from the air down into battle; play out the film scene-by-scene and day-by-day. Significantly, we name the veterans who, at the time and in respect to their comrades who died in the battle, did not take credits on the big screen. Our vision was for an archival book as this approach will help you view the film as never before and each viewing will reveal more and more of the insights left by the veterans.

I need to explain my role as co-author of Helion’s new book. I look after the Estate of my Uncle, Brian Desmond Hurst – the film’s director, shaper and motivation. I am fortunate to have in our archives and contacts a large resource that helps shine a light onto this film as never done before. Some context about my Uncle is therefore vital to understanding how he achieved the results…

 

Brian Desmond Hurst, director of Theirs is the Glory

My Uncle was born in East Belfast in 1895 and christened Hans Moore Hawthorn Hurst. He was the ‘lucky’ seventh child. Not that he had much early luck with his mother dying in childbirth when Hans was just four years old and his father, a shipyard worker, dying when he was 16. Hans was very much on his own. Bored with Belfast, he volunteered for the army, served as an infantry  private and survived the cruel slaughter at Gallipoli. Half his colleagues were dead or wounded and many more lost their minds. His defeated battalion was air-brushed from history. Warfare, at its very worst, is something that most of us will never comprehend but it is also a cauldron of turmoil that spits out moments of genius and especially so in the arts.

So how did young Hans get into film directing? Wounded at Gallipoli, he was transferred to the Labour Corp and hated it. He solved the problem by deserting and re-enlisting and changing his name to cover his tracks whilst on the run. Medals sent to the local police station as a lure were never collected and eventually the street fighting in Belfast during the Irish War of Independence in 1919 and 1920 wore him down. This was not what he fought for and so he changed his name again and became Brian Desmond Hurst (giving a nod to ancient Irish regal names). A grant helped him to Canada and art school. Chance encounters then brought set design work in Hollywood and a meeting with John Ford who became his mentor and greatest friend.  Perhaps the luck of the seventh child had started to kick in?

On returning to the UK, Brian settled in Belgravia but still visited Ulster for what he called ‘a spiritual bath’. Brian built a formidable directing career and helped launch many careers including Terence Young director of the early Bond films, Sir Roger Moore and Lord Attenborough. Openly gay but never convicted, he also caused controversy with some films. His first film Tell Tale Heart (1934) was thought too horrible to show in some cinemas. His Irish war of independence story Ourselves Alone (1936 – the title is a translation of Sinn Fein) attracted glowing comment in The Irish Times: “I am confident that this film… will be declared picture of the year”. It was misunderstood and banned in his homeland Northern Ireland. He later converted from Protestant to Catholicism.

He also broke ground directing one of Britain’s first film noirs in 1939 – On the Night of the Fire, and then went on direct big box office successes including the Christmas classic Scrooge (1951) and Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1950).  With more than 30 films to his credit, the list reveals a genre that could be missed at first glance, but then when you look closely, one in three films has conflict at its core. Theirs is the Glory. Arnhem and Conlict on Film therefore profiles and examines his nine other conflict films and his message as an artist on his vast film canvas:

Ourselves Alone (1936). Conflict in Ireland. “A miracle has just happened in Ireland; two people out of three who are going to be happy.”

The Lion Has Wings (1939). The first film of the Second World War. “This is Britain, where we believe in freedom.”

A Call For Arms (1940). Ministry of Information. “A rallying call for war production and more women to work in the factories.”

Miss Grant Goes to the Door (1940). Ministry of Information. “Preparing, but not alarming, the nation for an invasion by Germany.”

Dangerous Moonlight (1941). “The fall of Poland and how her airmen came to the rescue of Britain.”

A Letter From Ulster (1942). The Crown Film Unit profiles the US army training in Northern Ireland for the war in Europe. “Treat your allies well.”

Malta Story (1953). The isolated island of Malta in the Second World War. “We spend ourselves for the common good.”

 

Simba (1955). Kenya, the Mau Mau and the end of colonial rule. “We must make friends with these people, as otherwise you’ll find yourself not fighting a few thousand fanatics, but five million angry people.”

The Black Tent (1956). The Second World War in the North African Desert and a brother’s loss and his adventure to find the truth. “Loss, the need for truth, reconciliation and difficult decisions.”

The book also chronicles his war in Gallipoli to help give an insight into some of the themes that emerge in his films and especially his Arnhem film where the read-across is compelling. Intelligence failings, a defeat, a withdrawal and significant losses… Hurst’s colleagues in the 6th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles were airbrushed from history after Gallipoli but he helped ensure the same fate would not meet the 1st Airborne after Arnhem.

Brian Desmond Hurst died penniless and intestate in September 1986. His epitaph in 1986 may have read: “an East Belfast gay man who converted from Protestant to Catholicism and deserted during the First World War.” In 1986 Belfast was deep in the midst of its own internal conflict and the decriminalisation of male homosexual acts in Northern Ireland only came about in 1982, so Belfast may have been inclined to pass over the story of its son.

Fast forward 30 years and Hurst is now recognised as Northern Ireland’s greatest film director. He has been applauded with two blue plaques in Belfast together with the naming of the Hurst Film Sound Stage at Titanic Quarter. September 2016 saw Helion’s publication of Theirs is the Glory. Arnhem, Hurst and Conflict on Film. The years of research by David Truesdale and myself was absorbing, illuminating and allowed us to lift the lid, partially, on a brilliant man whose film direction leaves us with a unique catalogue of conflict on film and, I would say again, the greatest war film made in the UK.

I will be talking about this at the Open Book Literary Festival on 29th July 2017 at the British Schools Museum in Hitchin, Hertfordshire with an introduction by military author, Hugh Bicheno. The festival is about authors sharing their passion for their books with ‘books, beer and banter’ and more information and tickets at only £4 can be found at the www.britishschoolsmuseum.co.uk and go to ‘Open Book- Literary Festival’.

Theirs is the Glory. Arnhem, Hurst and Conflict on Film by David Truesdale and Allan Esler Smith can be ordered here or Allan will be signing copies at the Open Book Literary Festival on 29th July 2017.

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Brave As A Lion: The Life and Times of Field Marshal Hugh Gough, 1st Viscount Gough

By Christopher Brice

“He is brave as a Lion but has no headpiece”. This was the considered opinion of a young officer, W.M. Stewart, who served under Hugh Gough (1779-1869) in India. Although not a word commonly used today, Collins dictionary does include that ‘headpiece’ is an archaic word to describe ‘intellect’. Whilst this comment sounds quite a condemnation of Gough’s intelligence and by consequence, his ability and suitability for high command, it is perhaps not as bad as it sounds on first reading. The idea that he had ‘no headpiece’ should not necessarily be taken as a suggestion that Gough, in Stewart’s opinion, lacked ‘intellect’ in general, but specifically with regards to organisation and logistics on a large scale.

Indeed, in examining Hugh Gough’s career, we immediately identify two of the perennial problems of the British Army throughout the generations. Firstly, the lack of suitable officers for higher command leadership. Secondly, a continued failure to appreciate the importance of logistics and staff work. In short, Gough was not a bad general but rather out of his depth in higher command leadership and woefully let down by staff arrangements – particularly in India.

Hugh Gough had a long and successful military career. Despite criticism of his leadership he never actually lost a battle and only one could be counted a draw. Yet he was a controversial figure in his day, and a now largely forgotten character from the days of Empire.

Gough was born in Woodsdown, County Limerick in November 1779 – part of the Anglo-Irish social group that produced so many senior officers of the British Army. Although Gough’s subsequent career suggests a keeping with the tradition of the community, in many ways he was unlike many of his contemporaries. Firstly, he ‘owned’ his Irish identity proudly. He saw no contradiction in being Irish and also loyal to the British Crown. Secondly, he was not strongly anti-Catholic and had long pressed for catholic emancipation. Thirdly, he made no attempt to hide his Irish brogue, as many Anglo-Irish officers did. A contemporary source claims that, when he was engaged in campaigns against the Sikh Empire in the 1840s, his brogue rendered them as the ‘Saikhs’.

Gough was very much born into a military tradition. At the age of 13, he had been commissioned into his father’s militia battalion. A year later he joined the regular army as an Ensign. He saw early service in southern Africa, the Caribbean and South America. During the Peninsular War, Gough commanded the 2nd Battalion of the 87th Foot with great distinction.

Gough was knighted for his services in Spain and was widely considered to have been one of the finest and most experienced battalion commanders of the conflict. The peace that followed the defeat of France saw the 2nd Battalion disbanded and Gough placed on half pay. In 1819, he was given command of the 22nd Foot whom he commanded in Ireland during the ‘Rockite rebellion’, until 1826 when he once again went on half pay.

It was not until 1837 that he received active employment again, being given command of a division of the Madras Army. In 1841 he was despatched to take command of the land forces in the First-Anglo China War. His distinguished service saw him gain much credit as a commander. In recognition of his service in China, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of India in August 1843. Gough commanded British forces at a very difficult time – during the Gwalior Campaign and the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars. His leadership was called into question (largely due to the high casualties that he suffered), yet this ignores many mitigating factors.

Gough’s reputation recovered in retirement, but after his death much criticism of his command – particularly during the Sikh wars – was published. In 1903 Sir Robert Rait attempted to redress the balance in his two volume biography of Gough. Rait very much wrote his book as a defence of Gough, in response to other historians. To the present author, this has been extremely helpful. Rather than getting bogged down in ‘setting the record straight’, he has been able to move beyond this towards a broader examination of Gough. Indeed, the intention has never been to defend Gough, but to better understand him. In trying to defend him, Rait spent the majority of his second volume and the latter part of his first volume examining Gough’s time in India. There is much more to Gough than this and it has been the author’s intention to ‘bring out’ the other period of his life. For parts that Rait gave the attention of a couple of pages, this new work devotes several chapters.

This new biography does not attempt to ignore Gough’s faults and failings, but at times, it does still appear necessary to add mitigation to the accusations levelled against Gough.

However, it has always been the intention to create a balanced and fair assessment of the career of a soldier of great significance. In examining his career, we see a case study for the development of the army and society from the late Georgian and early Victorian era to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His connection with ‘Empire’ means that his achievements are anathema in his native Ireland and would much rather be forgotten by those in modern day Britain, yet his achievements and career was significant. As the Irish journalist and television presenter Cathal O’Shannon remarked in 1965, the fact that Gough became a Viscount and Field Marshal: “…was not bad for a Limerick man in those days”.

Brave As A Lion. The Life and Times of Field Marshal Hugh Gough, 1st Viscount Gough, by Christopher Brice can be preordered here.

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Lieutenant Philip Monoux: The First Officer of the Household Cavalry Killed in Action, 1685

Monoux’s stone in the floor of St Mary’s in Wootton (SE-B Photograph)

By Stephen Ede-Borrett

The Royal Regiment of Horse was raised in 1660 from an ex-Republican Regiment and remained as the sole Regiment of Horse in the British Army when all others were converted to Regiments of Dragoon Guards in 1746 and 1788.  The Regiment became the Royal Horse Guards (Blue) in 1750, although it did not officially become a part of the Household Cavalry until 1815.

Philip Monoux was the 3rd son of Sir Humphrey Monoux, 1st Baronet of Wootton Bedfordshire (the occasional spelling of the name as ‘Monocks’ in contemporary documents is a good indication as to how the name was pronounced at the time, as indeed it still is today).  The 1st Baronet died in 1675 and was succeeded by Philip’s elder brother Humphrey, as 2nd Baronet.  The second Sir Humphrey died in July 1685 and was succeeded by his eight-year-old son Philip who was later responsible for the moving and reburial his uncle’s body.  The Baronetcy finally became extinct with the death of Sir Philip, 7th Baronet, in 1814[1].  Later Baronets are often termed “of Sandy, Bedfordshire”, where the family was living by the end of the Eighteenth Century, although the family continued to be buried at Wootton.

Philip Monoux was commissioned Cornet in the troop of Captain Sir Thomas Slingsby of the Royal Regiment of Horse on 22nd May 1680.  Monoux was then promoted Lieutenant, in the Troop of Captain Walter Littleton, on 22nd December 1682.  Along with the rest of the officers of the Regiment, Monoux was recommissioned by the new King, James II, on 10th February 1685 (Charles II had died on 6th February).

Littleton’s troop was one of the seven troops of the Royal Regiment forming part of the Army that was sent West in June 1685[2] to put down the rebellion by the Duke of Monmouth.  Littleton commanded his Troop at the Battle of Sedgemoor on July 6th but by then however, Monoux was no longer with the troop.

On June 19th the first cavalry action of the campaign took place at Ashill, near Chard in Somerset, in which Lieutenant Monoux was killed, giving him the highly dubious honour of being the first officer casualty of any of the Household Cavalry Regiments.  Two of Monoux’s troopers were wounded in the action, whilst four rebels, also including their Commanding Officer, were killed.

The only contemporary account of this action that I am aware of is that by Edward Dummer, an Engineer serving with the Artillery Train[3], who records under the date of June 19:

“My Lord Churchill arrives at Chard, sends out twenty commanded horse under Lieutennt Monaux and a Quarter Master[4], who met with much the like number of sturdy Rebells, well arm’d; between whome hapned a very brisk encounter.  Twelve of the Rebells were killed and the rest being wounded fled and alarmd the body of Rebells wch lay neare; so that a fresh part apperd and caus’d ours to retreat, leaving Lieutennt. Monoux upon the place, shot in the head and killed on the first charge.  The Quarter Master with the rest came off well, saving two or three that were wounded.”

The skirmish took place about half a mile from the village proper in an area known as the “fight ground” as late as 1844[5], although the exact location now appears to be lost.

Tradition has it that Monoux was buried in St Mary’s Church, Ashill – presumably on the day of, or the day after, the battle (although since the Parish records for the years 1670-1686 are missing, it is impossible to confirm this).  However, the stone over his body records his burial to have been in Chard and since a) Chard was firmly in the Army’s hands whereas Ashill was disputed land and b) we can be certain that those who moved the body knew where they had moved it from, it seems certain that the burial was initially in St Mary’s in Chard.  (Ashill is approx 8 miles due North of Chard).

Wherever the Lieutenant was initially interred, Sir Philip, 3rd Baronet later had his body moved to the family church of St Mary’s in Wootton, Bedfordshire, where he was reburied in the floor of the Chancel just inside the rood screen.  However, there was some movement around of the Monoux stones in the 19th Century so this positioning may not have been the original one.

The stone over Monoux’s reburial reads :

Here lieth the body of

Lievtenant PHILIP MONOUX

who was Slaine in Majefties

Service (King Iames ye Second)

in ye Forrest of Rouse in Somerset =

Shire against ye Rebels of ye Late

Duke of Monmouth Iune ye 19o

in ye yeare 1685

in ye 29o year of his Age

He was first buried in ye Church

of Chard in Somerset Shire from

thence removed at ye defire and

Charge of his Nephew SR PHILIP

MONOUX Barron & Layed in this

place with this stone over him

in Memory of him

As a footnote, on 24th February 1688 a Jonathan Monoux was commissioned as Cornet in Captain David Lloyd’s Troop of the Royal Regiment of Horse.  However, after this initial commission, there is no further record of him within the Regiment or the Army.

My sincere thanks to Alan Larson who drew my attention to Monoux’s memorial and first suggested this piece and to the Vicar of St Mary’s Wootton, Revd Peter Ackroyd, who kindly allowed me access to photograph Monoux’s stone.

[1] In order the seven Monoux Baronets were: Humphrey, Humphrey, Philip, Humphrey, Philip, Philip, Philip.

[2] The Regiment had a full strength of eight troops at the time.  See Army of James II: Stephen Ede-Borrett, Helion & Co 2017.

[3] Dummer’s account is reprinted in Sedgemoor 1685: David Chandler, London 1985.

[4] Presumably Walter Chetwyn of Littleton’s Troop.

[5] The Life, Progresses and Rebellion of James Duke of Monmouth & to His Capture and Execution; In Two Volumes: George Roberts, London 1844 p325.

The Army of James II, 1685-1688. The Birth of the British Army can be purchased from Helion & Company Ltd here.

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