Neil E. Allison The Clash of Empires 1914-1939

Neil E. Allison The Clash of Empires 1914-1939. Revised Ed. United Navy, Army and Air Force Board, 2008; 2014. Series Editor: Rev Dr Brian Talbot. pp.180 ISBN 978-0-9930222-7-2.  Price: £7.99 (Hardback)

It is with pleasure where I find that a revised edition of Neil E. Allison’s The Clash of Empires has been published. I was asked to write a review of the 2008 edition. This is a slightly modified version of that review which was first published on the WFA’s Front Forum at the time.

I was intending to write a fairly lengthy review here, but I think anything I do write will be superfluous to the Foreword by the Reverend Jonathan Woodhouse in Neil E. Allison’s excellent The Clash of Empires 1914-1939. What I would like to say – briefly – is that good use is made throughout of testimony across all theatres of war and armed services. One account which stands out in particular is that of the Reverend Dexter’s gruesome description of a Turkish attack on ANZAC troops and its aftermath. Dexter was serving with Australian Forces during the Gallipoli Campaign at the time and helped to bury both Turkish and Australian dead. Much is made elsewhere of the pastoral work carried out behind the lines, and the dangers faced both at the front and in the rear. The book is dedicated to those United Board chaplains who lost their lives: amongst them United Methodist, Congregationalist, Salvation Army, Moravian, and Baptist. A list of chaplains who served and died is found in the Preface and Appendices.

Clear and concise, The Clash of Empires is a must for both learned and layperson alike. It is both wide ranging in scope and serves as an important introduction to the history of the United Board and Free Churches between 1914 and 1939. Allison’s chapter on the United Board and West Indian troops is especially good too – highlighting the role of the Rev. Harry Brown, who had served with the 4th British West Indies Regiment as chaplain since 1917. A former United Board Army Chaplain since 1998, Neil E. Allison has been the official United Board historian since 2006.

Copies of The Clash of Empires may be obtained from: David Blake, RAChD Museum, Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre, Amport House, Hants. SP11 8BG.

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