United Kingdom

Middle East

Richard Meinertzhagen

Richard Meinertzhagen served as a British intelligence officer in the Middle East and North Africa in World War I. The degree to which he engaged in intelligence collection and deception operations remains in dispute.

Capstick, Peter Hathaway. Warrior: The Legend of Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen. New York: St. Martin's, 1997.

The reviewer for Publisher's Weekly, 22 Dec. 1997, clearly disapproves of the subject of this biography, a view that, perhaps, colors the conclusion that the book is "disappointing and disturbing" and "never rises above the level of men's-magazine analysis."

Cocker, Mark. Richard Meinertzhagen: Soldier, Scientist and Spy. London: Secker & Warburg, 1989. London: Mandarin, 1990. [pb]

From publisher: "In a long career that found him combining the roles of soldier, spy and ornithologist, Richard Meinertzhagen's varied exploits included attending the Paris Peace Conference with T.E.Lawrence and publishing diaries of life in Kenya. This biography charts the life and times of a controversial figure."

Garfield, Brian. The Meinertzhagen Mystery: The Life and Legend of a Colossal Fraud. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2007.

According to Peake, Studies 51.2 (2007), the author discovered that many of the adventures described in Meinertzhagen's diaries "were fake or distorted -- including the Haversack Ruse. It was not, as he claimed, his idea, and he didn't drop the haversack. Nor was he wounded, and he was only a captain at the time.... Garfield's documentation is thorough and well corroborated.[footnote omitted] The charming, popular Meinertzhagen, roommate of Lawrence of Arabia in Paris, trusted friend of David Ben-Gurion, David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, was a fraud."

Lockman, J.N. Meinertzhagen's Diary Ruse: False Entries on T.E. Lawrence. Grand Rapids, MI: Cornerstone, 1995.

Sheffy, I&NS 17.1/fn. 22, calls this "[a] most critical, yet rather controversial, review" of Meinertzhagen's diaries.

Lord, John. Duty, Honor, Empire: The Life and Times of Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen. New York: Random House, 1970. London: Hutchinson, 1971

Meinertzhagen, Richard.

Sheffy, I&NS 17.1/39: "Traditional historiography, including three biographies, has lauded this officer, who headed General Edmund Allenby's EEF Field Intelligence and for a short time was his chief political officer, elevating him to an intelligence legend. [footnote omitted] Yet, in reality, his published as well as private diaries are far from being reliable. [footnote omitted]"

1. Army Diary, 1889-1926. Edinburgh & London: Oliver & Boyd, 1960.

2. Middle East Diary, 1917-1956. New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1960.

Return to WWI - UK Table of Contents