Tonbridge School he joined the British Army as a field artilleryman.
A burly six-foot four inch giant, he also played rugby for Scotland.
Ironside was sent to South Africa and during the Boer War worked
as a spy. These experiences later resulted in him being used
as the model for Richard Hannay, the character that appeared
in the novels of John Buchan.
Ironside was promoted to captain and on the outbreak of the
First World War was sent to France and served on the Western
Front. He saw action at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele and in
1918 he had reached the rank of colonel and was put in charge
of the Machine Gun Corps.
was sent to Russia in 1918 and commanded a multinational army
against the Bolsheviks. The Red Army gradually got the upper-hand
in the Civil War and in the autumn of 1919 he was forced the
abandon the White Army to their fate.
returned to Britain he was knighted and promoted to major general.
He served as commander of Ismid Force and the North Persian
Forces before becoming head of Camberley Military College (1922-26).
Ironside became a general and was appointed as head of the Eastern
Command and served as governor and commander in chief of Gibraltar
(1938-39). Ironside became Commander of the Imperial General
Staff in September 1939 when he replaced General John Gort who
had been sent to France as head of the British Expeditionary
He was briefly
head of Home Forces before handing over the task to General
Alan Brooke on 20th July 1940. The following year he became
Baron of Archangel and retired from active service. William
Ironside died on 22nd September 1959.