Cyril Falls

Capt._Cyril_FallsCyril Bentham Falls (1888-1971) was a military historian and journalist. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes his one venture into the fantastic thus: “Of sf interest is his only novel, The Man for the Job: A Story for Commissars (1947), a satire on Communism in which the invention of a new element known as ‘monobelium’ causes a bureaucratic ruckus.”

Falls was born in Dublin, the eldest son of a Westminster MP, who represented the northern counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone, and, as Michael Howard put it, Falls “remained a loyal Ulsterman all his life”.

Falls’s military service was, as it turned out, something that shaped the rest of his life. He had enrolled in 1915 into the 36th (Ulster) division, and at the end of the war he had the job of writing its official history. He made contact with the people who were writing the official history of the whole Great War, and joined them in 1923: that was to be his job until 1939, and he produced the volumes on the campaigns in the Near East and in Macedonia, and produced one of the volumes on the Western Front. In 1939 he succeeded the famous Captain B.H. Liddell Hart as military correspondent to The Times, which he did until the end of the Second World War, and then he became the Chichele Professor of the History of War at Oxford University.He produced two books on Elizabethan military history; after his retirement he published a one-volume history of the Great War, among other things. He died in Walton-on-Thames in 1971.

Michael Howard, now Sir Michael Howard, who wrote the entry on him in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography) (and who, much more recently than Falls, had also been Chichele Professor of the History of War), wrote of Falls’s first book, the History of the 36th (Ulster) Division (1922) that it “contains some of the finest descriptions of conditions on the western front to be found anywhere in the literature of the war.”

I am so far wholly reliant on Howard’s entry in the ODNB for the above details of his life.