The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Book Review - Chapman-Andrews and The Emperor

Peter Leslie

Reviewer - Richard Snailham

Although Generals Platt and Cunningham - Platt coming into Eritrea from the Sudan and Cunningham from Kenya into Italian Somaliland in the south - certainly played the major part in the liberation of Ethiopia from the Italians in 1941, it is that collection of smaller units - Gideon Force, Mission 101 and others - who came into Gojjam province from the Sudan, bringing the Emperor Haile Selassie with them, that has caught the public imagination more and generated most books.

Perhaps it is simply because the Emperor was with them. He certainly had a charismatic effect on the Patriots of the resistance in Gojjam and Beghemdir and on wavering elements in the Banda (those Ethiopians who joined up to support the Italians). Or maybe it is because these units contained such significant and picturesque characters - Wingate, Sandford, Boustead, Cheesman, Steer, van der Post, Thesiger... and Chapman-Andrews.

This excellent book follows the fortunes of Sir Edwin Chapman-Andrews from his youthful start as British Vice-Consul in Harar in 1936 when the Italians arrived, to his final post as our ambassador in Khartoum. It was a colourful career, active and varied, with service in Egypt and the Lebanon besides the Sudan and Ethiopia.

Sir Peter Leslie tells it well, with copious use of Chapman-Andrews's diaries interspersed with connecting text. As a diarist Chapman-Andrews was no Pepys but more of the 'Got-up-Had-pee' school, preferring more to list the endless comings and goings of colleagues than to discuss their interrelationships or foibles. Very much the work of a diplomat with cards close to the chest.

Much interesting light is shed on figures on the Ethiopian side - the rascally Ras Hailu, Tafara Worq, Aba Hanna, Lorenzo Taezes and others. There are very useful pictures and appendices - brief biographies and lists of officers of the 1940-41 campaign. It gives not just a life of Chapman-Andrews but a concise history of the pre- and post-war years in and around Ethiopia and will be an attractive buy for Ethiophiles with a sense of history.

Chapman-Andrews and the Emperor by Peter Leslie, published by Pen and Sword Books, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, 2005.
Hardbound, 265 pages, illustrated.
ISBN 184415257X
Price £19.99

First Published in News File Winter 2005

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