Ts account (290pp) titled 'Hoofmarks' and documenting his time spent principally in command of A and then C cavalry squadrons of King Edwardâ€™s Horse during the First World War (he also trained in B squadron and served variously with it from 1909-1916). The account is well written throughout, possibly with a view to publication and is certainly written with hindsight (at times it reads more like a squadron history than a personal memoir) offering many valuable insights into the role of King Edwardâ€™s Horse during the First World War.
A career soldier, Furse received a commission with Kingâ€™s Colonial Yeomanry in 1909 (becoming King Edwardâ€™s Horse in 1911) travelling to Germany in the same year, under the auspices of studying military history. In 1914, he was married and working as Assistant Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, when war was declared and he returned to England to train new recruits before leaving for France in April 1915. By early-mid 1916 he was heavily involved in observation work (he describes mapping the location of German observation posts at Maissemy Ridge, north of Bais de Holnon, which he believes were later used to inform the Somme Offensive) whilst also encountering Major General Sir Robert Fanshawe, Field Marshal Douglas Haig and Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson during this period. In March 1917 he was made Field Intelligence Officer and attached to the IVth Corps of Cyclists, before taking command of A Squadron in time to take part in the Third Battle of Ypres as Passchendaele in July 1917 (p. 109), describing in great detail a meeting with the Corps Commander, Lieutenant General Sir Charles Woollacombe, whom he describes as â€˜warm, human and young of heartâ€™ (p. 108). He was in reserve on 31st July, but nonetheless this part of the account contains interesting insights into the leadership of both General Hubert Gough and Brigadier General K G Buchanan, Commander of the 154th Infantry Brigade and an interesting commentary on his duties, which were, in the main concentrated on maintaining liaison with the 1st Cavalry Division, reconnaissance and readiness to cover the advance of the infantry when they attacked Fountaine as part of the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917. Entrenched at Trescault, on the other side of Havrincourt Wood, he didnâ€™t see the advance first hand (but does describe seeing â€˜twenty wrecked tanks, stranded like whales on the beachâ€™) and concludes that â€˜for us, the Cambrai battle had been a bitter disappointment and we had little to do.â€™ During the subsequent German counter-attack he reported to Brigadier General George Pereira, who was â€˜playing patience at a table in the corner of the farmhouseâ€™ and he watched â€˜a very fine division being handled in a crisis by an exceptionally cool Commander (pp 152-3).
After a brief time spent in Italy, as Corps Cavalry for General Sir Richard Hakingâ€™s XIth Corps (December 1917) by April 2018 he was back in France, where he took part in the Battle of the Lys, taking command of C Squadron and control of the line at Mont Bernenchon, near Riez during the German Spring Offensive and which he describes in exceptional detail his time in combat at Les Huit Maisons, when, in the confusion of battle and hand-to-hand combat, he had to abandon his men in retreat (and his good friend, Captain Addison was killed) leading him to conclude that â€˜I think two of the most difficult things for a leader in action to make up his mind to do are to order men on a dangerous mission when he cannot go with them, and to abandon his wounded in retreatâ€™ (p 197). For his part in this action, he was later awarded the DSO (â€˜For Conspicuous Gallantry and Devotion to Duty during a hostile attack when he held for over five hours, 900 yards of a system with 100 men and a weak company of Infantry, ultimately withdrawing in good order, in spite of hand to hand fighting in the trenchesâ€™). Finally, he provides an especially detailed commentary on the role of King Edwardâ€™s Horse in October 1918, when "my squadron had formed the vanguard of the 16th [XVI] Corps of Birdwood's Fifth Army during the advance from Lille to Tournai.
The account is accompanied by a small selection of original, ancillary documents, comprising c.20 photographs (mostly unattributed but including several of Furse); c.10pp of drafts and notes made for â€˜Hoofmarksâ€™; c. 30pp of regimental orders relating to King Edwardâ€™s Horse; two excellent reports, titled â€˜Diary and Report on Attachment to Infantryâ€� (10th February 1917, 4pp) and â€œDiary and Report on attachment to a Field Batteryâ€� (undated, 4pp) concluding with his belief that artillery and infantry officers need to work more closely together, to best achieve success; various trench maps, plans and newspaper articles; extracts from â€˜Letters to Celia April-May 1918â€™ (referencing his being awarded the DSO in April 1918, together with a detailed report on the same action, from his own perspective); â€˜Letters home from Italy December 1917â€™ and other miscellaneous correspondence; notes on a court martial he had to officiate over, where he recommended leniency and recommended penal imprisonment instead of death and four letters by H E Luxmore, Master at Eton College (undated).