Time Unguarded: The Ironside Diaries, 1937-1940

Time Unguarded: The Ironside Diaries, 1937-1940

Time Unguarded: The Ironside Diaries, 1937-1940

Time Unguarded: The Ironside Diaries, 1937-1940

Excerpt

IRONSIDE Was Chief of the Imperial General Staff for the first nine months of the Second World War. On the eve of the evacuation of Dunkirk he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces of the United Kingdom, and on July 19, 1940, when a German invasion of England seemed imminent, he was succeeded by General Alan Brooke. He spent the rest of his life in retirement and died in Millibank Military Hospital on September 22, 1959. Six foot and four inches in height, and popularly known as "Tiny", he was an interpreter in several languages and the original of Richard Hannay of The Thirty Nine Steps , Greenmantle and Mr. Standfast . His life was almost as varied and romantic as John Buchan's soldier-hero.

William Edmund Ironside was born on May 6, 1880. His father, a Surgeon-Major of the Royal Horse Artillery, died when he was very young, and his mother, a Miss Emma Maria Richards, was a strong-minded lady who made many sacrifices to equip her only son for the Army. In those Victorian days it was cheaper to live abroad, and she eked out her widow's pension by much travel on the Continent. Thus, like Sir Anthony Eden, he began to learn foreign languages. When the time came for Ironside to go to school, he was sent to St. Andrews in Fife and to Tonbridge School in Kent. In 1897 he became an officer-cadet of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, and two years later he embarked for the South African war with the 44th Battery of the Royal . . .

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