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Childers, Erskine

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1870-1922) Irish nationalist, military theoretician and author of a Future War novel, The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service Recently Achieved (1903), which describes an exploratory sea journey into the Frisian Islands along the German coast, where the two adventurous protagonists uncover secret plans for a German Invasion of the UK using shallow-draft vessels. The protagonists, who are freelance and superbly endowed with guerrilla skills, were clear models for similar patriots in tales by John Buchan, Geoffrey Household and others. The novel itself spawned many imitations, none meeting the power of the original, and was made into a lacklustre film in 1979. Childers' warnings to the UK Government were continued later in two nonfiction works which exposed the folly of reliance on cavalry as an effective force against machine guns. Childers was executed for treason (a crime of which he was clearly guiltless, though by carrying a revolver he was technically committing a capital offence) by the fledgling Irish Free State. His fourth son became president of Ireland in 1973. [JE/JC]

Robert Erskine Childers

born London: 25 June 1870

died Dublin, Ireland: 24 November 1922



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