‘A man on a watchtower’: Malleson and the British military mission to Turkistan, 1918–20

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It is not often that one comes across a former British intelligence chief venting his spleen in public about past injuries done to him by his government and, in doing so, revealing recent intelligence operations. One such instructive example is that of Major-General Sir Wilfrid Malleson who, on 24 January 1922, in a lecture to the Central Asian Society, castigated the British government of India for failing to recognise the admittedly impressive services of the personnel of the British military mission to Turkestan from 1918-20, which had been under his command. In his righteous fury, Malleson revealed to a large extent British military and intelligence operations in the region, particularly as they affected Afghanistan in the critical years of 1919-20, covering as they did the Third Afghan War and its aftermath. It is proposed in this article to concentrate on an examination of this subject since it has been comparatively neglected and has much to tell us about the nature of British intelligence in this period and place.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)341-353
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2022


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