Major General Ashley Truluck CB CBE BA
Ashley Truluck is a History graduate with a life-long fascination for Military History. As a soldier, he served worldwide with the Gurkhas, in Communications and Intelligence, with Army Aviation and on the General Staff, retiring as a Major General. Throughout that time he led battlefield studies – a passion he has carried over into his second career. He is now Chairman of the Army Society for Historical Research and leads a number of popular tours to Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain and Malta.
Q&A with Major General Ashley
Who would you regard as the greatest military commander of all time?
On scale and reach: Alexander the Great or Napoleon. But on results: Wellington – he won every battle he fought and almost always against superior numbers
What is your favourite battlefield and why?
Salamanca: Almost completely preserved, totally accessible, beautiful countryside topped off by the dramatic Arapiles hills – which make terrific viewpoints from where the whole panorama can be viewed, and it’s a great battlefield to walk.
What piece of weaponry has been the most influential on the battlefield throughout history?
Has to be the invention of gunpowder and all that came with it. But more subtly, the invention of radio & radar, which revolutionised command, control and intelligence.
What is the best book on military history you have ever read?
There are so many good books coming out just now, especially on Waterloo and the First World War. But for durability and sheer enjoyable reading I keep coming back to the classics of each era: ‘Wellington: The Years of the Sword’ (Elizabeth Longford); ‘The Reason Why’ (Cecil Woodham-Smith), ‘Goodbye to All That’ (Robert Graves) and ‘Quartered Safely Out Here’ (George MacDonald Fraser).
What is the most memorable event that has ever happened to you on a tour?
Identifying the exact time and place where the Scottish ancestor of an American guest fell at Salamanca.
What do you regard as the greatest mistake a military commander has ever made?
Napoleon’s under-estimation of Wellington’s generalship at Waterloo. But invading Russia was pretty dumb too – and Hitler’s repetition of the same mistake was even dumber (see 8).
What is your favourite military anecdote?
The heroic death of Eleazar at the battle of Beit Zechariah in 162 BC (1 Maccabees 6.32-33)
What do you consider as the greatest military quotation?
“Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them”
What is your favourite historical film?
Can’t think of one that has done justice to its subject – although the opening scenes of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ were about as realistic as two dimensional film can get.
What do you consider as the greatest military myth that requires 'de-bunking'?
That the British Army was ‘lions led by donkeys’ in the First World War – see my blogs on the subject on TCE newsletters.