British Soldiers Fighting For Ukraine

The news that a Coldstream Guards soldier has gone to fight for Ukraine against Russia reminds us of the long history of British soldiers fighting for other countries and causes. Some of these deployed with an official formation such as the British Auxiliary Legion during the first Carlist War in Spain. Others were individual postings such as the loan service arrangements to help the King of Jordan and the Sultan of Oman against rebel insurgents.

The current situation is more like the sad case of Bertie Montagu of the Northumberland Fusiliers, who went to fight with the Libyan army when Italy invaded in 1911. It did not end well for the young man, although he proved himself to be a courageous commander in battle. The story how he earned the prestigious Order of Medjidie is in Chapter 4 of Liberating Libya, but perhaps more relevant to the current situation is the tale of what happened to him afterwards.

The War Office demanded his resignation when he returned from North Africa, but reinstated him as an officer in the Royal Munster Fusiliers at the outbreak of World War I. He fought with his battalion at Gallipoli and was so badly wounded that he was invalided out of the army. However, a year later, he re-enlisted and deployed to the Western Front, where he was killed in action during the Battle of the Somme on 25 November 1916.

One hopes that history will not repeat itself in this case…

Lieutenant Montagu was treated by the Egyptian Red Cross when he was wounded near Tripoli in 1911

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