Archiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2005-07 > 1121100931

From: "Peter_McCrae" <>
Subject: CHANDLER; David Geoffrey-10/10/2004-UK
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2005 17:55:31 +0100

David Chandler
(Filed: 09/11/2004)
The Daily Telegraph & the

David Chandler, who has died aged 70, was for 15 years head of the war
studies department at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and the author
of a comprehensive account of Napoleon's battles which is unlikely to be
improved upon, despite a legion of rivals.

The Campaigns of Napoleon (1967), which runs to more than 1,000 pages, is
good, clear narrative history that satisfies experts and ordinary readers
alike. Chandler not only demonstrates the origins of Napoleon's "grand
tactics"; he also shows how the Emperor created his forces and employed his
genius for improvisation with breathtaking success, until delusions about
what was achievable took him into the realm of the impossible and led to
final defeat at Waterloo.

The book has been translated into several languages, though not French. Even
so, General de Gaulle wrote to Chandler in French declaring that he had
surpassed every other writer about the Emperor's military career. General
Norman Schwarzkopf, the American commander in the Iraq war of 1991, was
influenced by Chandler; and many high-ranking British officers have been his
pupils. Two years ago President Putin added his praise, though, Chandler
noted with amusement, the book had brought him no roubles since it had been
pirated in Russia.

A large Pickwickian figure, he first enjoyed dressing up in period uniform
as one of the original members of Brigadier Peter Young's Sealed Knot
Society, which re-enacts battles of the English Civil War; he later often
donned Napoleonic or Marlburian uniform to render his talks to astonished
officer cadets and lay audiences all the more dramatic.

Whether it was the discovery of a turnip patch where Marlborough had camped
on the march to Blenheim, or playing war games at home with his three sons,
Chandler fizzed with ideas that were always perceptive, often brilliant and
sometimes eccentric.

David Geoffrey Chandler was born on January 15 1934, the son of a clergyman
who had lost a leg as a junior officer in the First World War. From
Marlborough, where his interest in military history was ignited, he went up
to Keble College, Oxford. He did his National Service with the Royal Army
Educational Corps, which sent him to Nigeria.

When he was volunteered to run a course on the Duke of Marlborough and two
Second World War campaigns, he received the head-start over other candidates
to apply successfully for a post at Sandhurst. Joining the department of
modern subjects, Chandler soon transferred to Peter Young's new department
of military history, which was to include such future authors as Sir John
Keegan, Richard Holmes, Keith Simpson, Christopher Duffy and Antony

Besides recruiting Chandler to the Sealed Knot, Young helped him to place an
article on Napoleon in Egypt in History Today, which had rejected it some
six years earlier; perhaps, Chandler suggested, because the manuscript now
came from Sandhurst rather than Owthorne Vicarage in Yorkshire. This
prompted a telegram from Macmillan in New York inviting him to write a book
about Napoleon. When Chandler offered one about Marlborough, he received the
reply: "Marlborough? Who's he?"

After The Campaigns came out, Chandler's reputation was made. But with three
sons to educate he continued to rise early before work to produce more than
20 books, which included various studies of Napoleon and Marlborough as well
as a variety of encylopaedias, dictionaries and illustrated histories.

He made occasional television programmes about battles and was an adviser to
the BBC's dramatisation of Tolstoy's War and Peace during the early 1970s.
He was also a popular battlefields guide and general editor of Osprey's
series of military campaigns, for which he produced accounts of Austerlitz
and Jena complete with concluding chapters for would-be wargamers.

As with Napoleon, the strain told. When Sandhurst's military history
department turned into one of war studies, with increasing emphasis on the
wider social and political context, Chandler was bemused to see the maps of
Marlborough's campaigns consigned to the basement; and the burden of running
the department combined with ill-health began to tell on his relations with
staff. Nevertheless, when he produced his volume of essays, On the
Napoleonic Wars, after retiring in 1994, he dedicated it to them.

David Chandler, who died on October 10, is survived by his wife Gill and
their sons.

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.

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