A History of the British Cavalry 1816-1919; vol 5: Egypt, Palestine & Syria 1914-1919.

A History of the British Cavalry 1816-1919; vol 5: Egypt, Palestine & Syria 1914-1919.

Marquess of Anglesey FSA
ARRSE Rating
3 Mushroom Heads
This is the 5th volume of Lord Angelsey's history of the Cavalry of the British Empire through it's last one hundred years. In this volume he deals with the important desert campaigns in the Middle East during 1914 through to 1919. He ably reports on the British Yeomanry Regiments, the Australian and New Zealand units and the Indian mounted forces.

This was the first important campaign in which not one regiment of regular cavalry was involved or engaged. Anglesey shows how the Yeomen of Britain became, through the heat of battle in the Sinai Desert, at least the measure of the better equipped regular cavalry employed on the Western Front. He also establishes that the Light Horse (effectively, mounted riflemen) of Australia and New Zealand proved themselves to be, arguably, the most skilful and effective soldiers on horseback in British history. He demonstrates that the Indian cavalry regiments, under British Officers showed an almost equal capability.

The author is generous in his praise of the Generals leading these soldiers including Chauval, a man hidden by his own modesty, obscuring his exceptional talent for leadership. Wavell's accounts of the campaign are excellent but are far too idolatry of Allenby's skill and need further research. Lord Anglesey takes a critical and uncompromising look at the role of Allenby and of other commanders, officers and men. Indeed, there is much told of the social lives of the officers and men, their horsemanship and also about the horses themselves.

I found this volume interesting but a little flat. Much was related of the exploits of the famous Australian Light Horse and not so much of the British Yeomanry Regiments. Indeed, the majority of photos show much of our antipodean cousins rather than the British forces. This is also evident in many of the written "dits" from the soldiers who fought there.

I do not wish to discredit the author in anyway, his "History" is a monumental effort and there is much in it to praise. The whole of the desert conflict has been avoided by most historians and Anglesey deserves the plaudits for a well-written history. I visualise this book as an invaluable aide to students of World War One and also to the History lover in general. I believe there is a wealth of material for research and also for the wargames practitioner.

I rate this book as Good and will give it 3 out of 5.


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