A colonial legacy: An officer and an icon

#1
A fascinating article about Major General Sir Hector Macdonald in today's Independent
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article1521922.ece

A colonial legacy: An officer and an icon

The image of a guardsman enjoying a brew has endured for 121 years - but 'Fighting Mac' has been forgotten. Cahal Milmo reclaims the hero who rejected a Victoria Cross, saved an army from massacre and was then driven to suicide by accusations of homosexuality
Published: 12 September 2006

...He was the low-born soldier who turned down a Victoria Cross in favour of a commission, telling his superiors he would earn his medal later. He single-handedly saved the imperial Egyptian army from massacre.

Such was his prowess, that German propagandists of the First World War tried to convince British soldiers that he staged his death at the turn of the 20th century in order to change sides and fight for the Kaiser.
 
#2
PsyWar.Org said:
A fascinating article about Major General Sir Hector Macdonald in today's Independent
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article1521922.ece

A colonial legacy: An officer and an icon

The image of a guardsman enjoying a brew has endured for 121 years - but 'Fighting Mac' has been forgotten. Cahal Milmo reclaims the hero who rejected a Victoria Cross, saved an army from massacre and was then driven to suicide by accusations of homosexuality
Published: 12 September 2006

...He was the low-born soldier who turned down a Victoria Cross in favour of a commission, telling his superiors he would earn his medal later. He single-handedly saved the imperial Egyptian army from massacre.

Such was his prowess, that German propagandists of the First World War tried to convince British soldiers that he staged his death at the turn of the 20th century in order to change sides and fight for the Kaiser.
Are you trying to suggest Guards officers WEREN'T fudge nudgers at the start of the 20th centuary?
 
#3
Calvert who 'Reformed' the Regular SAS during the Mayala Emergency suffered from such rumours.
John
I know an old Sapper who met Calvert in Callcutta during WW II when Calvert was back from the Chindit mission. He said, Calvert was not the sort of person you would like to have known.
 
#5
jonwilly said:
Calvert who 'Reformed' the Regular SAS during the Mayala Emergency suffered from such rumours.
John
I know an old Sapper who met Calvert in Callcutta during WW II when Calvert was back from the Chindit mission. He said, Calvert was not the sort of person you would like to have known.
Sounds interesting 'jon', care to elaborate?
 
#6
I'd heard the rumours regarding Calvert before, notably from a good friend of mine who was a Malayan Scout (honestly, no laughing at the back!). The general consensus seems to have been that Calvert was as mad as be damn'd, and that some 'inappropriate incident' was hushed up when he was out East. Personally, I couldn't care less, as he was a damn fine soldier.
 
#8
Calvert and Macdonald were probably bloody good soldiers when war-fighting but likely to cause a lot of trouble when in peacetime routine.

"From the war's end in 1945 Calvert's life went steeply down hill. After a period as a lieutenant-colonel with the Allied Military Government in Trieste, he was appointed to command the newly-raised Malayan Scouts (SAS Regiment) in 1950. The communist insurgency in Malaya was already two years old and there was as yet no sign of the terrorists being eliminated.

The Scouts were formed to hunt them down in the jungle, but volunteers for the unit had been quickly assembled without any of the exacting selection techniques used by the modern SAS. The result was an ill-disciplined shambles which brought neither operational success nor credit on Calvert. He was invalided home on medical grounds in June 1951.

A year later, while on a posting to British forces in Germany, Calvert appeared before a court martial and was dismissed from the Service. The precise circumstances which led to charges of gross indecency with three German youths at Soltau remain obscure. He had taken to visiting a Gasthaus, a short distance from his lodging, each evening. There he had met the youths, who called at his flat, by their later admission, to see what they might steal.

Calvert denied the charges throughout the trial, but his deliberate isolation from other officers of the garrison, and his custom of drinking at the Gasthaus (although he spoke no German), both weighed against him. Two of the youths subsequently withdrew their evidence, but Calvert's conviction was upheld on appeal.

His court martial and dismissal lived with Calvert to the end and made a misery of much of the life that remained to him. He tried working in Australia, but drink dogged him. Then he began to write and lecture on guerrilla warfare and military history in 1969. He had published an acclaimed memoir of his war in Burma, Prisoners of Hope, in 1952, and appointment to a Research Fellowship at Manchester University in 1971 to write The Pattern of Guerrilla Warfare appeared to be the long-sought breakthrough, but the book was never finished. He published Slim as a General in 1972, and many articles on military and political topics. For a time he worked as a gardener.

He was unmarried. "

Hmmm....
 
#9
Speaking of fighting Mac's foray into advertising - is Camp Coffee still available? Is it still made? Google says not
 
#10
Pteranadon said:
The bit that puzzles me is how he can be humbly born, the son of a crofter, yet have an aristocratic German cousin?
That's simple, he was humbly born British. This puts him on a par with any European noble.

Someone around here has the sig block telling a universal truth that to be born British is to win the lottery of life!
 
#13
The PC Brigade have finally caught up with Camp Coffee. The picture on the front now shows both men seated and not the white sahib being served by his Sikh orderly. Utter madness.
 
#14
Post removed, link failed :(
 
#15
Hector MacDonald was a Gordon Highlander NOT a Guardee. I believe there is a memorial to him in the old Gordon's recruiting area.
 
#17
Many Sapper officers I have known fall into the ''mad,married,methodist'' category,and that's just the Airborne types!!!

Cuddles said:
Calvert and Macdonald were probably bloody good soldiers when war-fighting but likely to cause a lot of trouble when in peacetime routine.

"From the war's end in 1945 Calvert's life went steeply down hill. After a period as a lieutenant-colonel with the Allied Military Government in Trieste, he was appointed to command the newly-raised Malayan Scouts (SAS Regiment) in 1950. The communist insurgency in Malaya was already two years old and there was as yet no sign of the terrorists being eliminated.

The Scouts were formed to hunt them down in the jungle, but volunteers for the unit had been quickly assembled without any of the exacting selection techniques used by the modern SAS. The result was an ill-disciplined shambles which brought neither operational success nor credit on Calvert. He was invalided home on medical grounds in June 1951.

A year later, while on a posting to British forces in Germany, Calvert appeared before a court martial and was dismissed from the Service. The precise circumstances which led to charges of gross indecency with three German youths at Soltau remain obscure. He had taken to visiting a Gasthaus, a short distance from his lodging, each evening. There he had met the youths, who called at his flat, by their later admission, to see what they might steal.

Calvert denied the charges throughout the trial, but his deliberate isolation from other officers of the garrison, and his custom of drinking at the Gasthaus (although he spoke no German), both weighed against him. Two of the youths subsequently withdrew their evidence, but Calvert's conviction was upheld on appeal.

His court martial and dismissal lived with Calvert to the end and made a misery of much of the life that remained to him. He tried working in Australia, but drink dogged him. Then he began to write and lecture on guerrilla warfare and military history in 1969. He had published an acclaimed memoir of his war in Burma, Prisoners of Hope, in 1952, and appointment to a Research Fellowship at Manchester University in 1971 to write The Pattern of Guerrilla Warfare appeared to be the long-sought breakthrough, but the book was never finished. He published Slim as a General in 1972, and many articles on military and political topics. For a time he worked as a gardener.

He was unmarried. "

Hmmm....
 
#18
I once met Calvert when he gave a lecture in c.1972, and when years later I read that he'd had a serious alcohol problem I had difficulty reconciling that with the clearly razor-sharp chap who'd spoken to us. He was obviously barking mad, mind you.
 
#19
Being charged with gross indecency with one German youth is sordid. Three is doing it in style, right?

No, brilliant bloke, but plainly a touch of the Col. Kurtz about him. "They say my methods are unsound.." "Sir, I don't see any...methods"
 
#20
A very interesting comparison. He was, as I say, very clear and focussed. I was extremely impressed at the time of his chat to us. Later, when I met an even more 'focussed' former colonel in the same line, I started to wonder whether we had been breeding them. Could be the reason for our success in certain theatres, and our undoing in others.
Couldn't have bred from Calvert, mind.
 

Similar threads

Top