Butler, Ewan.


1st ed., 1972. 230 pp., photo-frontis., + 2 maps. D.j., 22 x 14cm. '60' in ink to f.e.p., (blank) o/w V.G. Sir Noel Mason-Macfarlane was not one of the great military commanders of World War II yet his career was extraordinary. This is a full-scale biography by a man who knew him well and had access to the family papers. It tells of his early days, his part in the First World War, and his service as an officer in the India of the Raj. This background is deftly described as a prelude to the greater events to come. Mason-Mac's appointment as Military Attaché to the British Embassy in Berlin in 1934 under Sir Neville Henderson gave a first strong indication of the role he might play on the world stage. Henderson trusted Hitler but Mason-Mac did not and made his views widely clear, even nursing the notion that it might pay off to contrive Hitler's assassination – a notion less fantastic than it sounds. As commander in the field, just before Dunkirk and the fall of France, he energetically attempted, with his unit 'Macforce', to stem part of the rolling Blitzkrieg. In 1942 Mason-Mac was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar at the time when Hitler was hell-bent on obtaining Franco's agreement to capture the Rock for the Axis powers and the author's description of this negotiation is illuminating, as is his account of Mason-Mac's exertions to make the Rock impregnable. His subsequent involvement in the negotiations for the surrender of Italy, and the chaotic military and administrative aftermath, comprised the last part of Mason-Mac's military career before he was forced by ill-health to retire.

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