Between 1736 and 1997 a total of one hundred and thirty eight people were appointed to the rank of Field Marshal in the British Army. Of this group four are British monarchs, two the husbands of British monarchs, thirteen were foreign monarchs and the remaining 118 were army officers. Within that group most were promoted to Field Marshal either for political reasons, because of seniority (to allow a more junior officer to be promoted) or because they were chief of the general staff. Only thirty-eight were significant military leaders who held independent commands (mostly during the two World Wars).
On average each field marshal gets around two pages, so much of the text is a factual account of their career. There are also appendices that include the seniority list for field marshals and the details of their regimental service. That doesn't mean that the text is dry as Heathcote has found plenty of opportunities to include entertaining anecdotes about his subjects. Some major army controversies also come through, including the 19th century debate over the shape of the India Army and the post-war debates over the shape of the British Army - its size, budget, the role of the Territorials and army pay being prominent. Some of these men are familiar figures (Montgomery or Wellington), but many are now totally forgotten and this book thus provide a series of windows into the more obscure parts of the British Army and its history. This is a useful reference work and an interesting read.
Organised by name
Author: T A Heathcote
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2012 edition of 1999 original