A Study in Leadership

A Study in Leadership

Field Marshal Cavan - The Reluctant Chief, 1865-1946

Simon Doughty

This book examines the life of a regimental soldier who lacked personal ambition and yet became the professional head of the Army 100 years ago.
Publication date:
May 2021
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
16-20 b/w ills, 2 maps
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781913336141

Dimensions : 234 X 156 mm
Not Yet Published. Available for PreOrder.


• The first published biography of The Earl of Cavan, who served throughout the First World War and rose to the highest levels of the Army
• The story of a ‘reluctant field marshal', someone who never aspired to high command, and yet achieved this, commanding the Army in the mid-1920s, a challenging time
• As a Guardsman, Cavan had a close relationship with the Royal Family; he accompanied the future King and Queen on as world tour in 1927 and became a confidant of the King

Rudolph Lambart, 10th Earl of Cavan, was a Grenadier Guardsman who served in the Boer War, later writing ‘...we heard as many bullets in the whole war as we heard in one day of the 1915-16 battles'. He retired in 1912 to be Master of the Hertfordshire Hunt, where he might have stayed had it not been for the outbreak of war in 1914. He commanded a brigade, then the Guards Division, where he took the young Prince of Wales under his wing, and later an army in Italy. In 1922 he became Chief of the Imperial General Staff, an appointment for which he did not feel qualified. He presided at a difficult time, in an era of public indifference and defence cuts. In 1939 he was back in uniform as a member of the Home Guard.

Cavan was a leader who believed in order, discipline, and the importance of communicating clearly; the perfect Guardsman. He was well-read, learnt languages wherever he went, was charming and showed style, as demonstrated by the occasion when his ‘cigar saved the situation' in November 1914. Had it not been for The Great War, he would have retired to the hunting field, yet he served throughout the war, becoming a Field Marshal. Then, at the beginning of another war, at the age of 75, he was taking up his spade to dig trenches to defend the approaches to Ayot St Lawrence from the invader.