Ironside, Field Marshal Sir Edmund, 1880-1959

A soldier of the old school, Ironside was an intelligence officer in the Boer War (1899-1902) and Commander of the Allied Forces in north Russia in 1918-19. In addition he was fluent in seven languages. In 1939 HORE- BELISHA found that he could not work well with GORT, his Chief of Imperial General Staff (CIGS), and replaced him with Ironside who at that time was Inspector General of Overseas Forces. Gort became Head of the British Expeditionary Force, a position that Ironside had always wanted. In May 1940 Ironside was replaced as CIGS by DILL and assumed the post of Commander in Chief Home Forces. It has been stated that Ironside was the model for John Buchan’s fictional hero, Richard Hannay, in The 39 Steps, a distinct possibility on examination of his adventurous life.

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