L. S. Amery

L. S. Amery.
Leopold Charles Maurice Stennett Amery (1873-1955)
Editor, The Times History of the War in South Africa, 1900-1909.


“Leo” to his friends, Amery was born of Anglo-Hungarian parentage in India, where his father worked for the Indian Forest Department. He was educated at Harrow and Balliol College, Oxford, where he gained a first in classics. He then became a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, lecturing in history, and maintains connections with the college all his life. After extensive travel in the Balkans he joined The Times as a journalist in 1898, serving as a war correspondent in South Africa. He became chief correspondent for The Times during the South African War, and edited the seven volume, The Times History of the War in South Africa (1900-1909).

In 1902 he was called to the bar, as a member of the Inner Temple, while continuing to work in journalism. In 1911 he was elected to the House of Commons as Conservative member for Birmingham Sparkbrook, a seat he retained until 1945. During the Great War he served as an intelligence officer in Flanders, the Balkans, Gallipoli and Salonika, rising to the rank of temporary lieutenant-colonel. He survived the sinking of the Caledonian after she was torpedoed in the Mediterranean.

In 1919 Amery was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Coalition Government, a position he held until 1921 when he became Parliamentary and Financial Secretary of the Admiralty. In 1922 he was sworn as a member of the Privy Council and appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in the new Conservative Government, holding the position until the Government's fall in 1924. During this time he courted controversy by vigorously defending the Royal Navy against the cuts imposed by the “Geddes Axe” and supporting the admirals in their unsuccessful attempts to win back an independent naval air service. In the new Conservative Government of 1924 he was appointed Colonial Secretary, the role for which he became best known. Always a staunch advocate of imperialism, he fought for closer economic relations within the Empire and established the Empire Marketing Board to promote the sale of produce from the Empire in Britain. He also opposed the appointment of Churchill, a friend of his, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, which he considered a disaster. In June 1925 he also becomes the first Dominions Secretary, holding the office jointly with Colonial Secretary. In 1927/28 he visited all the Dominions in a single six-month tour. During his time as Dominions Secretary he was also in charge of the Palestine Mandate, and made many friends among the Zionist Movement, especially Chaim Weizmann. After the Conservative defeat in 1929 he went on holiday to Canada and made the first ascent of a 10,940ft peak in the Rockies, prompting the Canadian Government to name the mountain Mount Amery after him.

Wiry, very short and sporting old-fashioned spectacles, Amery remained a fine athlete (he represented Harrow at gymnastics and won a half blue for cross-country running at Oxford) and an enthusiastic mountaineer, skier and sailor all his life. Witty, kindly and humane, he was a good conversationalist, but oddly a dull and long-winded orator, unless indignant. He was always a “lone wolf” politically. A learned man, he was fond of telling stories and loved the classics, especially Horace and The Odyssey. He had an incredible proficiency in languages, and was fluent in French, German, Italian, Serbo-Croat, Bulgarian, Turkish and Sanskrit, as well as his mother's native Magyar. He was married to the Canadian Adeliza Greenwood, known as “Bryddie”, sister of Hamar Greenwood, in 1910 and they had two sons: John, who betrayed his country in the Second World War, founding the Legion of St George, the short-lived British branch of the German SS, and was executed for high treason in 1945, and Julian (b.1919) who, by contrast, followed his father into politics and became a Conservative Cabinet minister himself. Amery belonged to the Alpine, Athenæum and Carlton Clubs.

Adapted from a biography on the “1920’s Net.”

  Preface and Introduction.
L. S. Amery, editor, The Times History of the War in South Africa, 1900-1909.
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Great Boer War (1902)
Preface and Table of Contents
  "Events at Mafeking" is the final chapter of Howard Hensman's A History of Rhodesia. Hensman writes: "The book was mainly conceived and written before the out break of the war, but with the object of making the volume as complete as possible chapters dealing with the sieges of Kimberly and Mafeking and Colonel Plumer's Rhodesian force have been added."
Perspectives on the South African War
A collection of links to primary and contemporary resources on the war in South Africa.
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