A Short History of the British Army to 1914. By Captain E. W. Sheppard. (Constable. 14s.)
The Campaign in Mesopotamia, 1914-1918, Vol. III (History of the Great War based on Official Documents). By Brig.- Gen. F. J. Moberly. (H.M. Stationery Office. 15s.) The Empire at War. Edited by Sir Charles Lucas, K.C.B., K.C.M.G. (Oxford University Press. 25a.) The Devonshire Regiment, 1914-18. By C. T. Atkinson.
Stewart, D.S.O., and John Buchan. (Blackwood. 25s.)
CAPTAIN SHEPPARD surveys a huge area in his Short History, and comnression and selection are therefore very difficult, but he has succeeded in erecting certain well-marked signposts in the field that will enable anyone to carry away a fair general idea of the whole. The great campaigns are succes- sively passed in review, and clear accounts are given of the operations which resulted in our acquisition of India, North America, South Africa, and North-West Frontier of India, the last being peculiarly the province of our little wars. So far as the general description of the various campaigns goes, the book is satisfactory, but in detail Captain Sheppard's history and geography leave something to seek, for his facts, both chronological and topographic, in the description of the Seven Years' War in North America are extremely shaky. Similar inaccuracy, too, is revealed in the his- tory of the South African War. It is true that these inaccuracies are comparatively trilling, but they give one an uneasy feeling. However, with all deductions, credit is due to Captain Sheppard for his praiseworthy idea of producing under one cover a con- nected account of our Army and of its training in the hard and varied school of experience, which enabled it to face the Great Ordeal of 1914.
Of one side of that Ordeal the next volume under notice recounts a part, by giving the official history of the Mesopo- tamian campaign, between May, 1916, and May, 1917. This is authoritative history, drawn from our own official channels of information, and supplemented or confirmed from outside sources, both Turkish and German. All historians of the Near East will later on read this book, professional soldiers must study it, and the enthusiastic general reader who is prepared to face some quantity of technical detail will find in it much that will hold his interest, and compel anew his admiration- for the genius of General Maude.
It is with war in the East again—in the Fast both Middle and Far, with occasional excursions into France and Africa— that Sir C. Lucas' wide-sweeping and brilliant volume is con- cerned. This brief note does not pretend to be a review of a work so kaleidoscopic in character and one to which so many distinguished hands have contributed—Sir F. Young- husband, Captain C. T. Atkinson, whose record work on the Committee of Imperial Defence is recognized by all who know, and several others, besides the Editor-in-Chief himself ; rather it affords us an opportunity of expressing our admiration for, and a recommendation of a book which vividly chronicles the war activities of the Empire from Gibraltar to Wei-hai-Wei. Guite apart from the description of actual military operations, which naturally furnish the main theme, the chief value of the book is the picture painted of the imperial spirit—that
spirit which urged a Central Indian ruler to offer his troops, his treasury, and even his personal jewellery: to the cause ; which brought the Chinese of Hongkong to- enrol as special constables ; which drew support for war-charities from the Malays of Sarawak, and even from the half-wild Dyaks of the interior ; which caused Chinese women to sew shirts for Indian troops in Mesopotamia. The Empire is infinitely the richer by the writing of this book.
Not content with revising all the purely military sections of Sir C. Lucas' book, Captain C. T. Atkinson presents us with a work cf his own on the part played by the Devonshire Regi- ment during the War. Flanders, Italy, Macedonia, Egypt, Palestine and Mesopotamia constitute a glorious record, and of all its history perhaps the regiment has most reason to be proud of- the stubborn defence set up by the second battalion round the vitally important key-position of Tillers Bretonneu:c in April, 1918. Mr. Atkinson's is a book of specal and territorial appeal, but as such it will be prized by all men - from the West . Country and - elsewhere, whose deeds and sacrifice form the stuff out of which it is made.
The Fifteenth (Scottish) Division marches gallantly in the rear of all. This time there were no " auld enemies " to encounter, but Scotland, as ever, gave proof once more of the dour stuff of which she is made, and the Fifteenth Division, almost wholly Scottish, so far as the Infantry was concerned, formed a doughty and a dogged element in the Second Hundred Thousand. The bare list of some of its battles—Loos, the Somme, Ypres, and the Black March of 1918—is a measure of the part it played, and that part is described with lucidity and with force. A particularly excellent feature of the book is the maps in the pocket, which all carry a number tag, so that the reader can at once extract the one he wants without having to sort over the whole deck. Quid plum ? On Armistice morning a private in a Border battalion was heard to prophesy that there would be " something daein' in Blighty the nicht." " Ay," said.his mate, " and there'll be a guid few tears forbye." Surely they were both right, but how truly frugal—of words—is the Scot.