Who's Who - Lionel Dunsterville

Lionel Charles Dunsterville (1865-1946) was responsible for leading the so-called 'Dunsterforce' across present-day Iran in an attempt to prevent an invasion of India by a combined Germano-Turkish force.

Dunsterville as commissioned into the British Army - into the infantry - in 1884, prior to transferring to with the Indian Army for service on the Northwestern Frontier, Waziristan and later in China.

Dunsterville's First World War service saw him initially posted to India prior to his appointment at the close of 1917 to lead an Allied force (comprised of Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand troops) across Persia in an effort to prevent a (somewhat unlikely) invasion of India by Germany and Turkey and also to aid in the establishment of an independent Trans-Caucasia.

Dunsterville duly led his force of under 1,000 elite troops (drawn from the Mesopotamian and Western Fronts and accompanied by armoured cars) from Hamadan some 350km across Persia before they were turned back by 3,000 Russian revolutionary troops at Enzeli.

Fresh from this remarkable demonstration of leadership and logistics Dunsterville was next tasked with the occupation of Baku, a key oil port.  This expedition too was ultimately abandoned on 14 September 1918 in the face of overwhelming Turkish opposition (amounting to 14,000 Turkish troops, although the port fell to the Allies within two months as a consequence of the Turkish armistice).

Promoted to Major-General in 1918, Dunsterville (the basis for Rudyard Kipling's character "Stalky") died in 1946.

"Coffin Nails" was a term used by British soldiers to describe cigarettes.

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