The Man Who Ran London During the Great War
By Richard Morris OBE
Published by Pen and Sword (www.pen-and-sword.co.uk)
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This book contains the interesting and exciting “Diaries and Letters of Lieutenant General Sir Francis Lloyd GCVO, KCB, DSO”. He was perhaps the most well known military leader in the capital during the Great War. Only Guardsmen can hold the supreme position of the Commander of the London District and he attained this pinnacle in 1913.
His responsibilities were enhanced by the outbreak of World War 1 and for the following five years he had massive sweeping powers in the city. This position was the climax of a successful career in the Grenadier Guards. The General’s personal papers were bequeathed to his old regiment and they can be found in the regimental museum. The first twenty years of his diaries are in Lloyd’s handwriting and thereafter the manuscripts were typed and bound together in annual volumes.
During the Sudan campaigns of 1885 and 1898, and for part of the Boer War he wrote many letters home to his wife, Mary. These letters contain extensive comments about life in the campaign. Although his letters home have survived the same has not happened to her letters. About 300 letters from Sir Francis were donated by his nephew to the National Army Museum where they may be studied.
Lloyd was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards and his “Baptism of Fire” was at Suakin. He was awarded a DSO at Omdurman and was severely wounded at Biddulphsberg during the Boer War. As a serious career soldier he had ambition and was undoubtedly the right man for the post of GOC London District. These great powers earned him nicknames from the press such as “The man who ran London” and “the military governor of London”. Although he would have preferred a field commission during the Great War he still made an outstanding contribution to the war effort.
As Lloyd left so much correspondence and his diaries we are fortunate that the distinguished author, Richard Morris, has been able to access them and other material in order to produce this fascinating story about a most famous Guardsman and General. The book illustrates and informs us about soldiering, the society life and the background of the General.
Most generals of the British Army have made their reputations on the battlefield but Sir Francis will always be remembered as the GOC London District. He had a fascinating life and career which is amply illustrated by the author’s treatment of the subject. Mr Morris OBE has produced an outstanding and exciting book which is to be commended. The book illustrates Sir Francis’ life and the author has done sterling work.