13 JANUARY 1906, Page 19



WE are glad that Colonel Ivor Masse has found time to write the life-story of one of the most distinguished of the younger officers whose loss in South Africa this nation had to deplore. A man who at the age of thirty-one is Brevet-Lieutenant- Colonel must have crowded into a short life a vast amount of work, and have shown remarkable qualities as a soldier. But Seymour Vandeleur had the good fortune not only to see much service, but to see it in many parts of the Empire.- The record of his life is therefore the record of our Imperial develop- ment during the past decade. Colonel Masse has wisely chosen to elaborate his background, and write in full the tale of Uganda, Nigeria, the Soudan, and the Boer War, so that Vandeleur's career stands, not by itself, but as part of a great work of Empire-building in which he, and many like him, bore a hand. We do not know any other book which sets out so succinctly and clearly Imperial achievements which are wholly creditable, and which are too apt to be forgotten in the present windy war of theories. And in addition there is the portrait of a brilliant soldier, done with all the sympathy and knowledge of long friendship. Vandeleur was indeed the type of all that is best in English manhood. Modest, courageous, indefati- gable, a true professional soldier, and yet with wide interests and a cultivated mind, he did everything well that he attempted, and gave the highest promise of a great career. He died as he would have chosen to die; but England may well mourn the premature loss of one of the most single-hearted of her servants.

Born of an old Irish family, he went to Eton and Sand- hurst, and in 1889 joined the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards as a Second Lieutenant. He took his profession seriously, and while he was busy with his regimental duties he found time to learn foreign languages and make himself proficient in military map-making. He was also one of the first batch of officers to be trained in the newly formed Mounted Infantry

• Seymour Vandeleur: the Story of a British Officer. By Colonel F. I. Masse, CB., D.S.O., Coldstream Gnarls. London The National Review Office. 6d. net.]

Regiment. In 1893 he got leave and went with a friend to Somaliland, where he had some excellent big-game shooting and several exciting adventures with lions. This experience gave him his first taste of the strange glamour of Africa, which was to be over him to the end of his days. Next year at the age of twenty-five he volunteered for service with the Uganda Rifles and was accepted. At this point we have the first of Colonel Maxse's digressions in the shape of an interesting account of the history of Uganda, the story of its exploration and the series of events culminating in Sir Frederick Lugard's policy which led to its constitution as a British province. In the confused jungle warfare Vandeleur greatly distinguished himself, and it is worth noting that on his voyage down the Nile he foresaw what was likely to happen about Fashoda, and gave the British public clear notice in the book he published on his travels. "But a deaf ear was turned to the warning, with the result that 130 black soldiers under Major Marchand caused the British Empire to mobilise its fleets, and prepare for war in all parts of the world, no insignificant performance for a Major of Marines and a handful of blacks." On his return he was given the D.S.O., and at once accepted Sir George Goldie's offer of six months' special service in the Niger Pro- tectorate. Colonel Haase provides the reader with a survey of the history of West Africa since Julius Maternus crossed. the Sahara at the beginning of the Christian era, which will be found to be a useful bird's-eye view of the ground more elaborately covered by Lady Lugard in her recent book. Vandeleur arrived in time to take part in the famous expedi- tion against the Fulani, which resulted in the conquest of Hausaland. He was present at the taking of Bida, which broke the back of the resistance,—" a tactical success gained by five hundred men against twenty thousand."

The better part of a year at home followed, and then came the offer of service in the Egyptian Army, on which be had long set his heart. The nature of this famous service gives Colonel Masse the cue for some very pertinent remarks on the training of English officers, which tends to create mechanical automatons, as compared with the responsibility and chances of initiative which fall to the lot of a bimbashi in an Egyptian regiment. A full account is given of the steps in the creation of the army which was to reconquer the Soudan, and the incidents of its slow advance. Vandeleur was a bimbashi in the 9th Soudanese, and was in the thick of the hottest fighting at the battles of the Atbara and Omdurman. After the occupation of the Khalifa's capital he was present at the operations on the Blue Nile against Ahmed Fedil, and was selected early in 1899 by Lord Kitchener as Inspector in the soldier-civilian administration under Lieutenant-Colonel Mahon in the Khartoum Province. In the autumn of that year, how- ever, the Boer War broke out, and in November he was on his way to South Africa. Under Lord Roberts's reformed scheme of transport he was appointed to the command of a transport company, and was present at all the actions of the main advance from Paardeberg to Bloemfontein. Then he became Senior Transport Officer on the Staff of General Hutton, who was appointed to command the 1st Mounted Infantry Brigade, and took part in most of the operations following on the fall of Pretoria, first with Hutton and then with Ian Hamilton. In December he took command of the 2nd Mounted Infantry Battalion just after Clements's defeat at Nooitgedacht, and saw much hard campaigning in the Rustenburg district, in the course of which he was badly wounded. He went home for a few months, but he could not rest while war continued, and almost before his wound was healed he had sailed again for South Africa. In August, 1901, he was appointed by Lord Kitchener to take over the command of Lieutenant- Colonel Grenfell's column, which had been operating against Beyers in the difficult bush-veld of the Northern Transvaal. His chance had come. At the age of thirty-two he had been given an independent and most responsible command in the field. But he was fated never to realise his ambition. Going north from Pretoria on the night of August 30th, his train was blown up by the notorious train-wrecker Hindon, and in running out to give orders to his men he was shot dead at two yards' range. "After all," says Colonel liaise, "it is a man's life, not his death, that matters, and the memory of Seymour Vandeleur as he was—a bright, ambitious, happy companion—still lingers with those who follow his calling and sympathise with

his spirit. To them he will ever remain an example of strenuous, young manhood, and of a life spent in the pursuit of that which is best and highest in the profession he loved." He was, indeed, the type of the patient and courageous worker in the hard places of the Empire, who asks for no cheap rewards or advertisement, and is content to do his duty for its own sake. Happily there are many such abroad in the Empire, and with them in the truest sense is the future of our race. In the record of such a life there is a completeness and a satisfaction which are denied to longer and less single- hearted careers, even though all must feel that natural regret "When lovely souls and pure before their time Into the dust go down."