Entry updated 26 March 2021. Tagged: Author.
The best-known pseudonym of India-born UK military thinker and author Ernest Dunlop Swinton (1868-1951), who served in various capacities in the UK army from 1888 until he retired in 1919 with the rank of Major-General. His first book, The Defence of Duffer's Drift: A Few Experiences in Field Defence for Detached Posts Which May Prove Useful in Our Next War (1904 chap) as by Backsight Forethought, is couched as a sequence of fantasticated dreams in which Lieutenant Forethought repeats the title's imaginary Boer War battle again and again in a kind of Time Loop, discovering via successive "dreams" that five increasingly canny plans for defending the river-ford Duffer's Drift end in disaster; his sixth plan is successful. The book soon became well-known for its astute analyses of contemporary conflict. Swinton was much involved in the development of the practical tank in World War One – it was at his suggestion that the land ironclad should be called a "tank" – though he later claimed that Winston Churchill had consistently failed to give him credit for his work. From 1925 to 1939 he held the Chichele chair of military history at Oxford, lecturing from the first on the need for constant innovation in the armed forces.
In mid-career Swinton published two volumes of fiction as by Ole Luk-Oie (a Danish term meaning "Shut-Eye"): The Green Curve and Other Stories (coll 1909) and The Great Tab Dope and Other Stories (coll 1915), several of the tales included being set in the Near Future and articulating, with pith and humour, his sense of the changing nature of War as Inventions proliferate, and fresh thinking is more and more required. [JC]
Major-General Sir Ernest Dunlop Swinton
born Bangalore, India: 21 October 1868
died Oxford, Oxfordshire: 15 January 1951
- The Defence of Duffer's Drift: A Few Experiences in Field Defence for Detached Posts Which May Prove Useful in Our Next War (London: William Clowes and Sons, 1904) as by Backsight Forethought [chap: first appeared 1904 United Service Magazine: pb/uncredited]
- The Green Curve and Other Stories (Edinburgh, Scotland: William Blackwood, 1909) [coll: hb/]
- The Great Tab Dope and Other Stories (Edinburgh, Scotland: William Blackwood, 1915) [coll: hb/]
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