Soldiers of the Queen - Issue 172 (Autumn 2018)
Dr. Roger T. Stearn provides an overview of the literary genre of ‘invasion scares’. Starting with George Chesney’s The Battle of Dorking in 1871, the fiction of future wars increased in popularity to the extent that by 1914 over 400 titles had been published. Many shared similar themes of patriotism, the need for preparedness and overarching governmental complacency undermining national defence. Although the adversary was varied, the growing threat from an expansionist German Empire often provided ‘the enemy’. William le Queux and Robert Erskine Childers are two of the better-known exponents of this genre with the latter’s invasion novel The Riddle of the Sands (1903) credited as the first modern espionage novel. There were many other authors publishing in this genre including serving officers such as Colonel F.N. Maude who wrote a sequel to Chesney’s book titled The New Battle of Dorking in 1900 that focused more on the potential (and allegedly inadequate) role of the Royal Navy in this island’s defence. Whilst understandably affecting the Victorian and Edwardian public’s perceptions at a time of increased interest in matters military, the novels also had an influence on political priorities and defence policy.
Dr. Anne Samson examines the role of the legion of Frontiersmen in imperial defence. Founded in 1904 by Roger pocock, previously a member of the Canadian North West Mounted police, the legion’s membership stretched across the Empire, reaching 175,000 by August 1914. This part-time volunteer auxiliary force evolved in response to a number of factors including the patriotism engendered by the experiences of the South African War 1899–1902, the perceived need to support home defence and an awareness of the growing threat posed by the German Empire. Although espousing a military role of reconnaissance and irregular warfare, the legion would contribute to a number of armies during the First World War, not least in its later configuration as the 25th Royal Fusiliers in the East African campaign in 1915.
In this issue...
Chesney's Battle of Dorking in context: the future-war genre
Origins of the Legion of Frontiersmen and the formation of MI5/6
New VMS Publication
Grey Glory or Scarlet Splendour?