Collection SPEARS - SPEARS, Maj Gen Sir Edward Louis (1886-1974)

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Key Information

Reference code



SPEARS, Maj Gen Sir Edward Louis (1886-1974)


  • 1851-[1974] (Creation)

Level of description



15 boxes, 2 albums and a collection of maps

Scope and content

Papers, mainly on World War One compiled by Sir Edward Louis Spears, 1851-[1974]; notably including official World War One correspondence and telegrams, to GHQ, 1 Army, Gen Douglas Haig, Lt Gen Sir Henry Wilson and other officers, on infantry composition, munitions and artillery, lists of officers, colonial troops, morale, observation and intelligence gathering, the lessons of specific campaigns, the employment of tanks, casualties, prisoners of war (POWs), training, public opinion, operational orders for the French 6 Army by Gen Emile Fayolle, and more generally relations between the French and British armies, meetings, views and opinions by and concerning French C-in-C Henri-Philippe Petain, French Northern Army Commander, Ferdinand Foch, and Robert Nivelle, French C-in-C, 1916-1917, an interview with Georges Clemenceau, French Prime Minister from Nov 1917, US, Japanese, Greek and other correspondence and communications over Siberia, Japan, Finland, Bulgaria, and demands for independence by Eastern European peoples, US participation in the War and opinions on President Woodrow Wilson, Italian military offensives, precis of interviews with corps and army commanders, manuscript diary (1915), on the Russian civil war, post-war commerce, correspondence with Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill on post-war claims, the current political and military situation, especially in Russia, and Versailles peace conference papers, 1914-1920 (Spears Section 1); unpublished material collected by Spears for his publications on the War, including a report of events for 122 Bd, Royal Field Artillery (1916), detailed memoranda and correspondence concerning operations notably comprising copy letters between FM Sir Douglas Haig, Gen Nivelle, and others including to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and on reinforcements, the German postions, the Calais Agreement of February 1917, 1 and 3 Army operations, Franch Army mutinies in 1917, extracts from a diary covering the Battle of Arras, Apr 1917, the politics of liaison, interviews with French and British officers, including French C-in-C Henri-Philippe Petain and Lt Gen Sir Launcelot Edward Kiggell reflecting on strategic and other concerns, 1916-1938 (Spears Section 2); printed material by other authors on World War One used by Spears in his published studies, [1917-1964] (Spears Section 3); draft notes and chapters for Spears' published works on World War One, [1919-1974] (Spears Section 4); original source material and notes by Spears on the 1870 Siege of Paris, mainly rough notes and draft chapters on the Siege, original and copy letters from participants describing events and an exercise book containing lecture notes redating the Franco-Prussian War, [1851-1974] (Spears Section 5); newspaper reviews of Spears' books and critics' letters, 1930-1969 (Spears Section 6); material relating to a war memorial at Mons, 1936-1968 (Spears Section 7); personal papers, mainly articles on the life of Spears [1918-1974] (Spears Section 8), maps, principally of Arras, Bullecourt and Mons, during 1917 [1917]-1959 (Spears Section 9); photographic material, post cards and watercolour sketches, including of trenches, damaged buildings, troops and officers, and a visit to the Balkans in 1920, 1914-[1920] (Spears Section 10); photocopies of some items of Second World War material transferred to Churchill College, Cambridge, mainly on the fall of France, General de Gaulle, and French resistance, [1940-1943].

System of arrangement

Arranged into eleven sections as outlined above in the Scope and Content section.

General Information

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born 1886 as Edward Louis Spiers; educated privately; Kildare Militia, 1903; gazetted 8 Hussars, 1906; 11 Hussars, 1910; World War One, 1914-1918; appointed liaison officer between British C-in-C Sir John French, and General Charles Lanrezac of the French 5 Army at the outbreak of War; Head of British Military Mission, Paris, 1917-1920; changed spelling of surname from Spiers to Spears in 1918; Member of Parliament, Loughborough (National Liberal), 1922-1924; Member of Parliament, Carlisle (Conservative), 1931-1945; Maj Gen, 1940; Personal representative for the British Prime Minister with the French Prime Minister, Paul Reynaud, May-Jun 1940; Head of British Mission to General Charles de Gaulle, Jun 1940; Head of Mission to Syria and Lebanon, 1942-1944; a leading figure in the foundation of the Institute of Directors and Chairman of the Council of the Institute until 1965; died 1974.

Publications: Prelude to victory (Cape, 1939), Assignment to catastrophe (William Heinemann: London, 1954), Liaison (William Heinemann, 1930), Lessons of the Russo-Japanese War , translated by E. L. Spiers (Hugh Rees, London, 1906), Two men who saved France (Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1966), The picnic basket (Secker & Warburg, London, 1967).

Archival history

The papers were accumulated by Spears in the course of his service during World War One and during research for his books during the inter-war period.

Custodial history

Deposited in the Centre, 1974-1975.

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied from open material for research purposes only.

Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, via the Archives.

Language of material

  • English
  • French

Script of material

Uploaded finding aid

Related materials

LHCMA holding include: Liddell Hart papers: correspondence with Sir Basil Liddell Hart, 1931-1963, 1/649, 10/1968 and others; Alanbrooke 5/2/40; Fifty Years 4/15; Hamilton 13/103; numerous correspondence with Gen Hastings Lionel Ismay in Ismay 4/31.

St Antony's College Oxford, Middle East Centre: correspondence, diaries and papers relating to the Middle East, 1940-1951; Cambridge University, Churchill Archives Centre: correspondence, diaries and papers, [1915-1973]; House of Lords Record Office: correspondence with Rt Hon William Maxwell Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, 1940-1964 (Ref: BBK C/301); Liverpool Record Office: correspondence with the 17th Earl of Derby, 1918 (Ref: 920DER); Imperial War Museum, Department of Manuscripts: correspondence with Sir Henry Wilson (Ref: HHW).

Related descriptions


Decorations: CBE, MC

Alternative identifier(s)

Genre access points

Rules and/or conventions used

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000.


Archivist's note

Sources: Who was who, obituaries.

Entry compiled by Geoff Browell for the RSLP AIM25 Project.

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