Lionel Charles D’Arcy Dunsterville (9 Nov 1865 – 18 Mar 1946) was born in Switzerland to an officer in the Indian Army and a lady of English descent who had been born in South Africa. He had five older sisters and went to the United Services College in Devon in 1875. It was here he made the acquaintance of G. C. Beresford and Rudyard Kipling, the latter of whom immortalised Dunsterville as ‘Stalky’ in ‘Stalky & Co.‘, published in 1899.
In 1883, Dunsterville left school to go to Sandhurst, where he gained his first commission in the British Army in 1884, being posted first to Malta, then to Suez, Suakin, Cairo, and Rawalpindi by 1886. This was then in India (now in Pakistan) and the Indian Army accepted his application to transfer to the 24th Punjabis. Here, he learnt Urdu, Punjabi, Pushtu and Persian (Farsi) to add to his English and French. Later on he had the opportunity to add German and Russian to this mix.
Marrying ‘Daisie’ (Margaret Emily, née Keyworth) in 1897 did not prevent continuation of service in the Indian Army, covering all areas around the Punjab and Peshawar (north west India and northern Pakistan) and even as far as China, during the Boxer Rebellion. His first son, Lionel (‘Leo’) was born in 1902, followed by a second, Galfrid, in 1905, with a daughter, Susannah, in 1911.
He retired from the army in January 1914 after 30 years’ service – 25 years with the same regiment – having attained the rank of Colonel. He and Daisie settled down with their children to a life in Oxfordshire where he was able to pursue many engagements typical of the staunchly-Christian gentleman of the Empire he was.
These diary entries therefore start in July of 1914, although earlier years (from 1911) are available to those who are interested. I will endeavour to post each entry exactly 100 years to the day from when it was originally written; therefore please continue to visit throughout the next four years. Thank you for reading!