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Field Marshal Sir Henry Evelyn Wood (1838–1919), started his military career in the Royal Navy as a midshipman during the Crimean War (1853–56). He transferred to the army after the war, becoming a cornet in the 13th Light Dragoons and then a lieutenant in the 17th Lancers. During the Indian Mutiny (1857–58) he saw action in four theatres of the conflict and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his rescue of a merchant from a gang of robbers.


He rose rapidly through the ranks, switching from cavalry to infantry, back again and finally, as a full major in 1871, with the 90th Foot. In 1873 Wood was promoted brevet lieutenant-colonel and in 1874, he served under Sir Garnet Wolseley in the Ashanti War.


His experience in the African theatre led him back in 1879 in the Anglo-Zulu War where he received the local rank of brigadier general. He suffered a defeat at the battle of Hlobane, but routed the Zulus at Kambula and also took part in the final battle at Ulundi. He was back in Africa again between 1881–82 as a major-general in the First Boer War.


At the other end of the continent, he commanded a brigade in Egypt during the Mahdist War. He was made Sirdar (commander) of the Egyptian Army until 1885, during which period he undertook a complete reorganisation. He commanded the British at the crucial battle of Ginnis (December 1885) which halted the northerly advance of the Dervishes and held the line until Sir Herbert Kitchener’s massive assault on the Sudan (featured in Avenging Khartoum).


Wood returned to Britain In 1886, promoted to lieutenant-general in 1891 and full general in 1895. In April 1903 he attained the rank of field marshal.

Sir Evelyn Wood

Field Marshal Sir Henry Evelyn Wood in full regalia.

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Appears in Chapter 19