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Sir John French An Authentic Biography   By:

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Transcriber's Notes: In the original book, the unique headers on the odd numbered pages have been reproduced with [Page Heading: ] tags. A number of obvious typographical errors have been corrected in this text. For a complete list, please see the bottom of this document.

[Illustration: FIELD MARSHAL SIR JOHN D.P. FRENCH, G.C.B., G.C.V.O., K.C.M.G. From a portrait by his son, J.R.L. French. ]

SIR JOHN FRENCH AN AUTHENTIC BIOGRAPHY

BY

CECIL CHISHOLM, M.A.

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY SIR EVELYN WOOD, V.C. AND A PORTRAIT BY J.R.L. FRENCH

HERBERT JENKINS LIMITED ARUNDEL PLACE HAYMARKET LONDON S.W. MCMXV

"This is the happy warrior this is he That every man in arms should wish to be."

Wordsworth.

WYMAN & SONS LTD., PRINTERS, READING AND LONDON.

INTRODUCTION

BY FIELD MARSHAL SIR EVELYN WOOD, V.C.

I regard John Denton French as the man who for the last twelve years has been the driving force of tactical instruction in the British Army. He made use of all the best ideas of the Generals who preceded him in the Aldershot Command, and he was, I think, instrumental in causing the appointment of Horace Smith Dorrien and Douglas Haig to succeed in turn to that nursery of soldiers.

How sound his judgment has proved to be may be discovered from the dispatches carefully worded in which he describes how Smith Dorrien conducted the most successful retreat since that of Sir John Moore to Corunna, 1808 9, and how Douglas Haig carried his Army across the Aisne river in the face of the enemy's fire opposition.

From 1884 5, when as a Squadron Officer he showed marked determination in the abortive expedition for the relief of Gordon, until 1899 1902 in South Africa, he has been the foremost man to inculcate the "Cavalry Spirit," and unlike many advocates of that spirit, he has never become a slave to the idea. He has been at pains to teach the Cavalry soldier that when he can no longer fight to the best advantage in the saddle, he is to get off his horse and fight on foot. This is a marked feature of his military genius.

He is intensely practical; and he is possessed of great moral and physical courage which never fail to assert themselves in the face of the most difficult situations. They were conspicuously shown during the Boer War when, with an extraordinary determination, he formed up his men on their tired and exhausted horses and advanced in extended order, galloping through the Boers in position, and reaching Kimberley as the result of his heroic determination.

When, in the earlier part of this War, things were not going well, I was asked to give my opinion of our chances of success. I said that I did not think that our prospects were then bright, but although many men had gone "Hands up" before John French, he would never put up his own, whatever happened.

EVELYN WOOD, F. M. November 10 , 1914.

PREFACE

In writing this biography of Field Marshal Sir John French I have been deeply indebted to many of his personal friends for helping me with first hand impressions of our General in the Field. A number of military writers have been almost equally helpful. Among those to whom I owe sincere thanks for personal assistance are Lady French, Mr. J.R.L. French, Mrs. Despard, Field Marshal Earl Roberts, Field Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood, General Bewicke Copley, Colonel E.K. Aylener, Colonel Kendal Coghill, Colonel Charles E. Warde, M.P., the Editor of the Army and Navy Gazette , Mr... Continue reading book >>




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