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Major General John Frederick Charles Fuller CB, CBE, DSO, commonly J.F.C. Fuller, (1 September 1878 – 10 February 1966), was a British Army officer, military historian and strategist, notable as an early theorist of modern armoured warfare, including categorising principles of warfare. He was also the inventor of "artificial moonlight" and an occultist associated with noted English author and teacher Aleister Crowley.

Biography

Fuller was born in 1878, in Chichestermarker, West Sussexmarker, England and educated at Malvern Collegemarker and Royal Military Academy Sandhurstmarker from 1897 to 1898. He was commissioned into the Oxfordshire Light Infantry and served in South Africa from 1899 to 1902. He then attended Staff College at Camberleymarker and served as an adjutant to a territorial battalion. During World War I, he was a staff officer with the Home Forces and with 7 Corps in France, and from 1916 in the Headquarters of the Machine-Gun Corps' Heavy Branch which was later to become the Tank Corps. He planned the tank attack at Cambrai in 1917 and the tank operations for the autumn offensives of 1918. His Plan 1919 for a fully mechanised army was never implemented in his lifetime, and after 1918 he held various leading positions, notably as a commander of an experimental brigade at Aldershotmarker.

In the 1920s, he collaborated with his junior B.H. Liddell Hart in developing new ideas for the mechanisation of armies. However, in what came to be known as the "Tidworth Incident", he turned down the command of the Experimental Mechanized Force which was formed in 1927. The appointment also carried responsibility for a regular infantry brigade and the garrison of Tidworthmarker on Salisbury Plainmarker. Fuller believed he would be unable to devote himself to the Experimental Force and the development of mechanized warfare techniques without extra staff to assist him with the additional extraneous duties, which the War Office refused to allocate.

His ideas on mechanised warfare continued to be influential in the lead-up to World War II, ironically more with the German, notably Heinz Guderian, than with his countrymen. In the 1930’s, the Wehrmacht implemented tactics similar in many ways to Fuller's analysis, which became known as Blitzkrieg. Like Fuller, practitioners of Blitzkrieg partly based their approach on the theory that areas of large enemy activity should be bypassed to be eventually surrounded and destroyed. Blitzkrieg style tactics were used by several nations throughout World War II, predominantly by the Germans in the invasion of Polandmarker, Western Europe and the Soviet Unionmarker. While Germany, and to some degree the Western Allies, adopted Blitzkrieg ideas, they were not much used by the Red Army which developed its armoured warfare doctrine based on deep operations. Deep operations was developed by Soviet military theorists, among them Marshal M. N. Tukhachevsky, during the 1920s based on their experiences in World War I and the Russian Civil War.

On his retirement in 1933, and impatient with what he considered the inability of democracy to adopt military reforms, Fuller became involved with Sir Oswald Mosley and the British Fascist movement. As a member of the British Union of Fascists he sat on the party's Policy Directorate and was considered one of Mosley's closest allies. In the 1935 general election Fuller ran against the foreign minister and future Prime minister Anthony Eden.

On 20 April 1939 Fuller was an honoured guest at Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday parade and watched as "for three hours a completely mechanised and motorised army roared past the Führer." Afterwards Hitler asked, "I hope you were pleased with your children?" Fuller replied, "Your Excellency, they have grown up so quickly that I no longer recognise them."

Fuller was a vigorous, expressive and opinionated writer of military history and of controversial predictions of the future of war.

Magick & Mysticism

Fuller was an early disciple of English poet and magician Aleister Crowley and was very familiar with his, and other forms of, magick and mysticism. While serving in the First Oxfordshire Light Infantry he had entered, and won, a contest to write the best review of Crowley's poetic works - he was apparently the only entrant to the contest. This essay was later published in book form in 1907 as The Star in the West. After this he became an enthusiastic supporter of Crowley, joining his magical Order, the A.A.. within which he became a leading member, editing Order documents and its journal, The Equinox. During this period he wrote The Treasure House of Images, edited early sections of Crowley's magical autobiography The Temple of Solomon the King and produced highly-regarded paintings dealing with A.A. teachings: these paintings have been used in recent years as the covers of the journal's revival, The Equinox, Volume IV. 

After the Jones vs The Looking Glass case, in which a great deal was made of Aleister Crowley's bisexuality (although Crowley himself was not a party to the case), Fuller became worried that his association with Crowley might be a hindrance to his career. Crowley writes in chapter 67 of his Confessions:

...to my breathless amazement he fired pointblank at my head a document in which he agreed to continue his co-operation on condition that I refrain from mentioning his name in public or private under penalty of paying him a hundred pounds for each such offence. I sat down and poured in a broadside at close quarters.

"My dear man," I said in effect, "do recover your sense of proportion, to say nothing of your sense of humour. Your contribution, indeed! I can do in two days what takes you six months, and my real reason for ever printing your work at all is my friendship for you. I wanted to give you a leg up the literary ladder. I have taken endless pain to teach you the first principles of writing. When I met you, you were not so much as a fifth-rate journalist, and now you can write quite good prose with no more than my blue pencil through two out of every three adjectives, and five out of every six commas. Another three years with me and I will make you a master, but please don't think that either I or the Work depend on you, any more than J.P. Morgan depends on his favourite clerk."


After this contact between the two men faded rapidly. However Fuller continued to be fascinated with occult subjects; in later years he wrote about topics such as the Qabalah, and to a lesser extent, yoga, which was at the time seen as potentially dangerous in Western eyes.

Books by Fuller

Fuller was a prolific writer. The following is only a small selection of his works.

  • The Star in The West: a critical essay upon the works of Aleister Crowley (Walter Scott Publishing Co., London, 1907)
  • Yoga: a study of the mystical philosophy of the Brahmins and Buddhists (W. Rider, London, 1925)
  • The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant (Murray, London, 1929)
  • Grant & Lee: a study in personality and generalship (Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1933)
  • Memoirs of an Unconventional Soldier (Nicholson & Watson, London, 1936)
  • The First of the League Wars (Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1936) [About the Italo-Ethiopian War]
  • The Secret Wisdom of the Qabalah: A Study in Jewish Mystical Thought (W. Rider & Co., London, 1937)
  • The Second World War, 1939-1945: a strategical and tactical history (Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1948)
  • The Decisive Battles of the Western World and their Influence upon History, 3 vols. (Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1954-6). A two-volume edition, abridged by John Terraine to omit battles outside the European continent, was published in the early 1980s.
  • The Generalship of Alexander the Great (Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1958). On Alexander the Great of Macedon.
  • Julius Caesar: man, soldier and tyrant (Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1965)
  • A Military History of the Western World, 3 vols. This is the American publication of The Decisive Battles of the Western World and their Influence upon History. Titles of individual tomes are same as in the British edition. Originally published: (Funk and Wagnalls, New York, 1954-7). Republished: (Da Capo Press, New York, 1987-8).
    • v. 1; ISBN 0-306-80304-6.
    • v. 2; ISBN 0-306-80305-4.
    • v. 3; ISBN 0-306-80306-2.
  • 


Notes



Further reading

  • "Boney" Fuller: The Intellectual General by A.J. Trythall (London, 1977)
  • Alaric Searle, "Was there a 'Boney' Fuller after the Second World War? Major-General J. F. C. Fuller as Military Theorist and Commentator, 1945-1966", War in History, 11/3 (2004), pp. 327–357.
  • Generals, by Mark Urban (London, 2005) — the chapter on Fuller is available as a downloadable PDF


External links

The full texts of several of Fuller's works are available online:

For examples of the use of Fuller's Campaign Theories in the Business World see:


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