Archibald Wavell: The Life and Times of an Imperial Servant
I first came across Archibald, Lord Wavell (1883-1950), through his popular poetry anthology Other Men’s Flowers. I knew little of his distinguished military career which began in the Boer War. He took part in skirmishes on the Northwest Frontier, fought in France in World War I, and was later with Allenby in Palestine.
From 1939-41 he was in command in the Middle East, which he conducted on several fronts with intelligence, tenacity, and a flair for deception, although hampered by inadequate supplies and government interference. In 1941 he became Commander-in-Chief in India and found himself not only trying to defend Burma, Malaya, and Singapore from the Japanese threat, but also coping with increasing Indian demands for independence. His dogged patience and persistent attempts to bring about a peaceful solution led to his appointment as Viceroy in 1943. He was a highly esteemed and popular general and, when he died in 1950, thousands lined the streets of London for his funeral cortège.
Adrian Fort offers his readers a clear and perceptive account of Wavell’s life, enlivened by touches of irony and wit. A well-judged reassessment of a brilliant soldier.