The British Light Dragoons - Beethoven 1814 tribute Lyrics by Sir Walter Scott, sung by Toby Spence.
'Twas a Marechal of France, and he fain would honour gain,
And he long'd to take a passing glance at Portugal from Spain,
With his flying guns this gallant gay,
And boasted corps d'armée,
O he fear'd not our dragoons with their long swords boldly riding.
Whack fal de ral la la la la la la la,
And Whack fal de ral la la la la la la la...
Loyal readers have been asking me the obvious question: when is thenext Hervey published?
Well, let me explain.
Transworld asked me to write a book for the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. I am just finishing it – and rather later than planned because it’s such a momentous story that I just couldn’t keep it as short as we originally envisaged. When – if (please) – you read it, you will see why: it will bring tears to your eyes, as it frequently has to mine. So much courage.
But the other reason the book grew was my conviction, after studying the archives, that the usual story of assassination at Sarajevo, diplomatic sclerosis and then war by railway timetable was by no means the whole story. The military strategy we pursued at the outset of the war was fundamentally (fatally) flawed – and there were voices at the time, and well before, who realised that it was flawed but could do nothing against the background of secrecy and political evasion in Britain. This has not been properly recognized before. The outcome of August 1914 could have been very different – as I explain. It will surprise you. Make you angry, even.
The book will be published at the end of next year, or in January 2014.
So where does this leave Hervey?
Well, notwithstanding my research and writing about August 1914 – and my journalism – I’ve been thinking about Hervey constantly: listening to him, watching him, talking to him – and to all the others who have been his companions these past eleven tales. And I’ve been jotting it all down in the leather-bound notebook I always carry. His first months in command of the 6th Light Dragoons have been truly fascinating to observe. And I’m dying to tell you about it!
So, I shall soon be able to start stringing all those jottings together to bring you Hervey XII – entitled Words of Command – and I shall work as fast as I possibly can, for as one of my faithful readers in his nineties reminds me, you can’t be expected to wait too long…
Hervey goes well Down Under...
Tony Abbott, leader of the Opposition in Australia, said he would "spend his Christmas break with his head buried in military fiction" - on the Hervey novels, he told The Australian: "they are seriously great yarns full of traditional military victory, heroism and achievement."
The Hervey series is on the recommended reading list of the Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Read more.
ON His MAJESTY’S SERVICE
"A fascinating, lively romp..." says The Times (Books, 4 June).
Allan's eleventh Matthew Hervey novel, On His Majesty's Service, set in the Eastern Balkans, was published on 9 June 2011:
January 1829: George IV is on the throne, Wellington is England’s prime-minister, and snow is falling thickly on the London streets as Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Hervey is summoned to the Horse Guards in the expectation of command of his regiment, the 6th Light Dragoons.
But the benefits of long-term peace at home mean cuts in the army, and Hervey is told that the Sixth are to be reduced to a single squadron. With his long-term plans in disarray, he undertakes instead a six-month assignment as an observer with the Russian army, an undertaking at the personal request of the commander-in-chief, Lord Hill.
Soon Hervey, his friend Edward Fairbrother and his faithful groom, Private Johnson, are sailing north to St Petersburg, and from there on to the Eastern Balkans, seat of the ferocious war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire.
Hervey is meant to be an impartial spectator in the campaign, but soon the circumstances - and his own nature - propel him into a more active role. In the climactic Battle of Kulewtscha, in which more troops were engaged than in any battle since Waterloo, Hervey and Fairbrother find themselves in the thick of the action.
For Hervey, the stakes have never been higher - or more personal.
This is what Allan Massie, that considerable novelist, journalist and all-round man of letters, writes of On His Majesty's Service in The Spectator:
"What is left to be said about Allan Mallinson? Only this perhaps: he has done for the British army what C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brian did for the royal navy, and his novels are every bit as addictive as theirs — indeed more addictive for those of us who prefer land to sea war, and find the details of military life more compelling than those of life on board ship."
20th September:"History in the Court" - Goldsboro Books, Cecil Court, London Find out more on the Goldsboro Books website.
Cheltenham Literary Festival (5th-14th October):
8th October, 6.30 pm: panel discussion on "The Seven Ages of Man (The Soldier)" in Literature 9th October, 6.30 pm: chairing panel discussion on the Falklands War and today's conflicts 11 October, 6.30 pm: panel discussion on wartime courage
Allan Mallinson commends you to look at the website for the Light Dragoons' appeal fund. The regiment was in the thick of the action in Afghanistan in 2009 during Operation Panther's Claw, and sustained many casualties.
The Making of the British Army is now available in paperback.
From the Army’s origins at the battle of Edgehill to our current conflict in Afghanistan, this is history at its most relevant - and most dramatic.
APPRECIATION FOR THE MAKING OF THE BRITISH ARMY:
From The Times - Christmas Books
(Saturday 27 November):
"Historians have had many causes to be gloomy this year. Advances are down. Historical fiction marches on, stealing the limelight and the big prizes. Shelf-space for non-blockbuster authors is decreasing.Yet there has been an exceptionally heavy crop of brilliant historical works to gobble up... [Max Hastings, Andrew Roberts etc]...
Finally, I recommend three books that are linked by nothing more than their mutual brilliance... [Leanda de Lisle, Glyn Williams]. And The Making of the British Army by Allan Mallinson (Bantam, £20) must be read for the final chapter and epilogue — as precise and profound an assessment as is imaginable of the British Army as it is today and as it must become."
The last, large scale naval battle between sailing ships in history.
The battle of Navarino took place during the Greek war of Independence (1821 – 1829) in Navarino Bay, Western Greece , in the Ionian sea.
A combined British, French and Russian fleet destroyed an Ottoman and Egyptian armada, at the port of Navarino .