Tossing a coin to decide an issue is a strange and wonderful exercise. Trying to decide what book a British officer in command of a British Battalion would read and or take with him on being posted to the Far East circa 1914/15. The idea came from Allenby who a few years later took two books to Egypt in 1917. The King James Bible and George Adam Smith’s The Historical Geography of the Holy Land. Allenby being the commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. So for a battalion commander cutting that down to one book seemed fair. Through no particular process, Sun Tzu the Art of War and Clausewitz’s On War seemed the likely contenders. So I thought I would toss a coin.
so there was this coin rapidly gaining height and spinning in front of me. First Heads then tails, heads, tails, heads, tails… over and over. My mind starts to go “hope it is heads”, then “Hope it is tails” Then at the apex of the coins flight my brain kicks in, “He would have read Callwell, you twat”. This explains a lot I know.
In the closing stage of the Singapore Mutiny the British employed trackers and guides in the jungle mainly in Johore . This was followed by a minor campaign in Kelantan where some of the tactics and methods used by the British Army in various counter insurgency operations over the next hundred years were developed. Callwell’s book Small Wars, their principles and practice, first published in 1896 hopefully will prove to be the source. Anyone have a spare copy?