Dr Anthony Clayton, 1928-2021

The Society was sorry to learn of the death of Dr Anthony Clayton in August in his ninety-third year.

Tony Clayton was a distinguished military historian who, in his latter years, was a member of the SCS. He was introduced to us by the British Mule Society when he was researching his book, The Mule in Military Service (The Book Guild Ltd, 2017) and stayed with us as his father – Emilius – had served with the BSF. I enjoyed a fascinating correspondence with Tony and it was a pleasure to learn more about his father and his own early life. Unable to come to any of our meetings, I had hoped to meet him at his home in Surrey, where he had promised me lunch in his historic local but, sadly, it was not to be.

It is possible that you know him through his book, Paths of Glory: The French Army 1914-18 (Orion, 2003) which is still a classic today and, for many British readers, the starting point into the history of the French army during the First World War. The first book of his I came across was France, Soldiers, and Africa (1979) which provides a useful introduction to the French colonial units which served in Macedonia. In 1988 he was recognised for his expertise in French military history by being made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques.

Tony also wrote on British military subjects, including The British Officer: Leading the Army from 1660 to the Present (Pearson Education Ltd, 2006) and BATTLEFIELD RATIONS: The Food Given to the British Soldier for Marching and Fighting 1900-2011 (Helion & Co.,2013). This knowledge wasn’t purely academic, though, as he served as an officer in the Territorial Army from 1948 to 1982, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in the Intelligence Corps.

Tony’s early TA service provided another Salonika connection as he served with a Bermondsey-based battalion – which he described as a ‘formative experience’ – a descendant of 2/22nd (County of London) Battalion TF (The Queen’s) which was with 181st Brigade, 60th (2/2nd London) Division in the BSF. After service with Kenya’s colonial government (1952-1965), he became a lecturer at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, until 1994. After that he was, for a while, a tutor at the University of Surrey and also a volunteer guide at Farnham castle.

Tony continued to research and write in his retirement and his book on military mules in 2017 – now sadly out of print – was a welcome addition to a neglected subject; needless to say, the Salonika campaign is well represented. He also wrote a children’s book about a mule in the Second World War but this remains unpublished. He did, though, provide an article for The New Mosquito on the Army Veterinary Corps in the Macedonian campaign (NM37, April 2018).

Author: Robin B

Robin's interest in the campaign comes from his grandfather, Fred, who served as a cyclist with the BSF from 1915 to 1917, mainly in the Struma valley. Robin joined the SCS in 2003 and served on the committee for 18 years as journal and web editor. Opinions expressed in these posts are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Society.

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