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The Defence of Duffers Drift
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The Defence of Duffers Drift

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  165 ratings  ·  17 reviews
In the 100 years since The Defence of Duffers Drift was first published in Great Britain, the face of modern warfare has changed dramatically. But what have not changed very much are the concepts of small unit tactics: Ground is held, buildings are searched, and individual enemy combatants are killed or captured by men with rifles. And those men are led by NCOs and junior...more
Paperback, 72 pages
Published July 1st 1986 by Avery (first published 1904)
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May 06, 2013 Checkman rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: military history buffs. Young officers and NCO's
I first read this book when I was a young 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. It was on our reading list at the Armor Officer Basic Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky. That was twenty-two years ago. Over the years I have since read it many many times. It's a short book in which a young British Army officer is left in charge of a small detachment of soldiers and told to defend a river crossing site (the drift in "Duffer's Drift") in South Africa during the Second Boer War (1899-1902). Oh did I mention it...more
The Defense of Duffer's Drift is a fascinating little book that anyone can read in a short afternoon. Written by Capt. Ernest Dunlop Swinton around the dawn of the 20th century, it is a meditation on small unit tactics, based on experience gained in the Boer War.

The most fascinating thing about the book is its insouciant tone. The protagonist, Lieutenant Backsight Forethought, has a dream in which he is given command of 50 men and told to defend the ford to a river. Arriving with his men, he set...more
military book. Teaches you about ORM "Operational Risk Management" to ask yourself what can go wrong and figure out how to fix it before it happens.
I couldn't put this down once I started it. Each dream will have you wondering "what was he thinking!!??"
It took a lot of mistakes, lessons learned, and lives to get it down. Think it out before acting it out. I found a copy of this online i have printed it and am mailing bits and pieces to my son in bootcamp :).

Free download:
Stanley Turner
I read this book at the recommendation of a friend. It's an interesting book that can be read in an afternoon of reading. I think it dovetails nicely with a couple of other books I am reading as the lieutenants final defense comes about not necessarily from his training but from gut feelings...
I orginally read this as part of the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Ft. Benning back in the mid-80's. At 72 pages (and with few multi-syllable words), most of the us 11B's were able to struggle through it - though a comic book version would have probably worked better. All kidding aside, it was a great learning tool for illustrating to junior officer that maybe college didn't teach us everything we need to know. I really appreciated that the POV character would dream in tactics so I didn't hav...more
Amusingly written, this book has for the most part aged well. The successive dreams metaphor actually fits well with something many of my generation know - reloading save games repeatedly in video/computer games until you figure out how to solve the scenario. It's still good, though the extremely harsh tactics that are recommended for dealing with civilians somewhat ring false even for the time period. (Seriously, round up everyone, threaten to kill them, execute whatever livestock you can't ste...more
In a series of six dreams, the protagonist learns how to lead 50 men in the defense of a river during the Boer War.

Why I started it: I checked it out when I realized that it was under 100 pages and I wanted to knock it off my professional reading list.

Why I finished it: I read it in under an hour, it was quick, coherent and educational. If only all military tactics books were like this.
JP Aycox
I read "The defense of hill 781" prior to reading this book. It is a good book to give you an idea of how to open your eyes to different scenarios for a defensive situation. How to look at all angles of your position and to put you and your men I'm the best position for prosperity.
The book is a great example of learning through experience. Even the basic or simple tasks may be flawed.
This also teaches the gap between the theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge. You have to select and apply your knowledge based on your circumstances !!
- A
Dec 12, 2007 James rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in military tactics
A funny and painless primer on basic defensive infantry tactics - this is somewhat dated, since it refers to the Boer War at the turn of the 20th century, but is still useful and interesting for professional soldiers and anyone else interested in military science.
Oct 19, 2014 Tom rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: students of military tactics
This book was surprisingly entertaining. Although written to educate young officers on battlefield tactics it reads like Groundhog Day, with young Lieutenant Backsight Forethought has to fight the same battle over and over again until he gets it right.
Wachlin007 Hotmail
This book is based off of the author's personal experiences. It takes place during the Boer War. It contains a lot of lessons that the lieutenant learned about defending his ground.
Classic on military tactics...a 72 page book which I read every few years which can be read in an afternoon.
Good book outlining several tactical mistakes that one should be careful not to make.
Aug 25, 2008 Aaron rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Aaron by: Commandant of the USMC
This was a brief exercise in battle tactics. I found it enjoyable.

USMC Reading List
Apr 29, 2007 Robert rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone in the Military
A required read for NCO's and potential leaders.
Jan 14, 2014 Chad rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Chad by: Jon Petty
The original "Groundhog Day" :-)
Petre marked it as to-read
Oct 18, 2014
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Ryan Mapel marked it as to-read
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Major General Sir Ernest Dunlop Swinton, KBE, CB, DSO, RE was a military writer and British Army officer. Swinton is credited with influencing the development and adoption of the tank by the British during the First World War. He is also known for popularising the term "no-mans land". He published several books of non-fiction and fiction including two books under the pseudonym O'le Luk-Oie.

More about Ernest Dunlop Swinton...
The Defence of Duffer's Drift: and The Battle of Booby's Bluffs by Major Single List Defence of Duffer's Drift The Defence of Duffer's Drift Primary Sources, Historical Collections: The Russian Army and the Japanese War,, with a Foreword by T. S. Wentworth A Year Ago: An Eye-Witness's Narrative of the War from March 20th to July 18th, 1915

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