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Remembered Today:

The Wind of Morning


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Sailor, soldier, commander of the Sudanese Camel Corps and colonial administrator, Hugh Boustead’s life would have made a good Boy’s Own story, but his exploits were certainly not fiction.

Prior to WW1, Boustead shared the same dormitory as George Archer–Shee, the “Winslow Boy”, at the naval cadet college at Osbourne on the Isle of Wight. As a midshipman in the Royal Navy he took part in the hunt for the Konigsberg aboard HMS Hyacinth in East Africa. Along with the other “snotties” in his mess deck, their plan for blowing up the enemy warship was politely, but firmly, turned down the ship’s Captain. Bored by the lack of action, he deserted his ship and joined the South African Scottish in Cape Town under a false name, as a private soldier. He subsequently served on the Somme, was commissioned, and won an MC. Later he served in Russia as a British officer attached to General Denikin’s force before joining the colonial service where his military service stood him in good stead as a district commissioner in the Sudan, as well as commander of the Sudanese Camel Corps in action against dissident elements, and also in action against the Italian army in the 1930’s.

Purists may find some minor factual errors about his service in WW1, which he freely admits to in the preface, but this apart, this is a top-notch personal account of an adventurous life before, during and after WW1.

The Wind of Morning, Colonel Sir Hugh Boustead. Craven Street Press 2006. Earlier editions are easily found on the internet.


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Thanks for that review - it made me dig my copy out.

For East African Campaigners the brief mention of service aboard HMS Hyacinth is illuminating.

When the German blockade-runner Rubens approached Mansa Bay the Hyacinth, due to navigational error, was twenty or thirty sea miles south of the latitude ordered.

This gave the Rubens time to scuttle herself in suitable shallows in Mansa Bay before the Hyacinth engaged her.

A boarding party from Hyacinth then approached the Rubens but returned to report that the German vessel was burning furiously. The boarding party obviously did not get near enough to the Rubens, as we now know that the fire was a camouflage to make it appear that the Rubens was not worth investigating.

"The Wind of Morning" contains the best advice I have seen on learning language colloquially:

"Keep a notebook and write down every word that you can pick up and get the meaning later. Confine your vocabulary to the words you hear and you will soon have a working knowledge of the language."

Hugh Boustead and his fellow British officers and administrators honourably controlled vast swathes of the former British Empire, not by force, but by consent because they took the time to learn about language, culture and people.

Sadly today we face problems from some of those areas of the world, but our modern "quick-fix" target-driven abrasive IT-centred approach denies us the friendships and understandings that were achieved when Hugh Boustead and his colleagues approached problems in a more gentler, dignified and humane manner.

This is a wonderful book for those GWF Members who would like to learn more about how satisfying it was to serve with local soldiers.


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