[Discovering Wikipedia] Harold Kingsley

When you're trying to write weekly blog posts, sometimes, just sometimes, you run out of things to talk about. I mean, it's been only one week, and here I am, out of ideas. Why? I don't think it's because my life is boring, or uninteresting - I just don't think that sharing the details of the fruit salad that I had for lunch on Wednesday makes for compelling content. Thus, I had to think. What could I possibly talk about that could both be compelling, and exciting?

Basically, what I was thinking

I can't be like this, I thought to myself. I should come up with something! Thus, I scoured my brain for an idea. and it came.

What if, I clicked the random button on Wikipedia, and wrote a blog post about that?

Hmm. That could be something. So, I loaded up the trusty Wikipedia, and hit the button. And I got:

Harold Kingsley

Awesome. I thought. This is something I can get behind. This is how I'm going to make it big. Harold, you're my golden ticket to premium enjoyable content. So, I dived right in with the first line::

Brigadier Harold Evelyn William Bell Kingsley CIE DSO (23 December 1885 - 15 April 1970) was Commandant of the Indian Military Academy (1936-1939) and Aide-de-camp to King George VI

"Ok, this keeps getting better" - was honestly my first reaction. I know how dangerous the random button on Wikipedia is - you get a mixed bag. I thought that I would probably end up with some no-name species, or a crazy chemical compound, and I would have to go on some kinda of exploratory journey to find out more about it. Eventually, I would end reading a hundred books on chemistry and realizing that the compound I had invested hours in what was literally the most boring thing in the world. So, a Brigadier during the Victorian era? Seems like a good start. Let's see where this goes....

Let me set the stage for Mr. Harold Kingsley. The year is 1885. Queen Victoria is the queen of England. The British empire is reaching the apogee of it's industrial power - the era of imperialism, having already begun, is shaping the globalization of the world. But we turn to the small town of Nenagh, Ireland:

Nenagh, Ireland (Photo Credits: Wikipedia)

Why are we interested in such a small town in the middle of what is basically nowhere (Sorry, residents of Nenagh)? Well this is, of course, where Mr. Harold Kingsley (or now, Master Harold Kingsley) would be born. The son of a military man, Col. William Henry Bell Kingsley CB (Order of the Bath), and his wife Unknown. Shockingly, our leading figure was born at a relatively exciting period in Ireland's history - during Charles Stewart Parnell's home rule movement (The IPP as it became known) - which became a parlimentary juggernaut, capturing 86 seats in the 1885 general election in Ireland. Parnell's movement campaigned for the right of Ireland to govern herself as a region within the United Kingdom, and was one of the first steps towards Irish independence. In 1886, and 1893, two home rule bills were introduced by Williiam Gladstone. but neither became law.

With Irish independence on the rise, Kingsley was still in school, attending Bedford Modern School, in Bedfordshire, England. BMS was a boarding school for young boys, and he was likely send there due to his parentage, in a relatively upper-class family. He was in good company - famous attendees of BMS included Sir Charles Oatley, one of the inventors of the scanning electron microscope, Sir William Tilden, a British chemist whose work led to synthetic rubber, and John Rose, a relatively well known British historian. In fact, it is likely that many of these men attended school at the same time as Master Kingsley - as they are of a similar age (but of course, it is rather difficult to know for sure given the time period).

After he finished his primary education, he attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Founded only 100 years earlier in 1801, the RMC was a British Army military academy for training infantry and cavalry officers in both the British and Indian armies. Harold chose the latter, joining the Army of India. By the time that Harold was appointed a Captain in 1914, General Sir O'Moore Creagh had been appointed as the Commander-in-Chief India, with his seat of power residing in New Delhi. It is likely around then that the first picture we have of Mr. Kingsley was taken:

Charming young fellow, he seems like. (Photo Credits alchetron.com)

Later that year, we would enter World War 1. Mr. Kingsley would serve both Mesopotamia and the Balkans from 1916 to 1918. In 1917 he made DSO, The Distinguished Service Order, which was awarded for meritous or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces in actual combat. There is often some contention of the UK DSO, as it has remained an officers-only award and it has yet to be awarded to a non-commissioned rank. He would move on to serve in Russia, Trans-Capsia, the Black Sea and Turkey from 1919 to 1920, and finally Waziristan (where?).

Yep. I had no idea where that was. (Photo Credits wikipedia)

By the time that Harold turned 37, the British empire would look a bit like this:

Yeah, everything in the red. That's the British Empire in 1922. Big isn't it? (Photo Credits williambertrand.fr)

And the war would be over. Kingsley remained in Waziristan until 1924. It is then, that things took a turn for the romantic. In 1926, Kingsley married Olive Mary Kitson, the daughter of the Barson Airedale James Kitson (Whose Wikipedia page is significantly more interesting than Harold's). It's entirely unclear how they met, but Olive was a daughter from his second marriage to Mary Laura Smith. Olive's brother served in the military at the same time as our friend Harold, however it's unclear if this is their connection - as they served in differing branches (Roland Kitson was a member of the West Yorkshire Regiment) however he also won a DSO (Coincidence? Probably, it was rather common back in the day)

Together, they lived at Warnford House (Of which I was actually able to find a picture :O)


Shockingly, this thing is still standing today, and gives a bit of insight into the history that we're reading right now. (And yes, that's taken from Google street-view). Who am I kidding? I don't think it gives us any insight at all. It's a house, right? Well, back to the story - which is actually starting to get interesting. Maybe? Maybe I just sound like Mr. Binns, the ghost teaching history from Harry Potter. Alas, I probably won't know. But I think this is the longest thing I've ever written about somebody from the Victorian area.

In 1936, Kingsley was appointed as Commandant of the newly established Indian Military Academy (in 1932). During the Indian independence struggle, Indian leaders recognized the need for a local military institution to meet the needs of an armed force loyal to sovereign India, hence the creation of the Academy. His appointment to Commandant was shortly after the first batch of cadets, with the nickname, "The Pioneers", passed out in 1934 (This group included the well known Sam Manekshaw, Muhammad Musa and Smith Dun). There's certainly a story to be told about the Pioneers, but that is a story for another time, and another day. During his time as Commandant, Kingsley oversaw the construction of the Central Library, a wing of Chetwoode Hall which houses over 100,000 volumes.

The Chetwoode building at the Indian Military Academy, unfortunately, today entry is highly restricted so there are no photos I can find of Kingsley block, the building named after our Brigadier (Photo Credits pagalguy.com)

In 1938, Kingsley was appointed Aide-de-camp to King George VI, achieving the highest position in the Indian Army that he would over the course of his life. When he retired in 1939, he was appointed Companion of The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire (CIE). Sometime between when he retired, and when he died in Hampshire in 1970, the following picture was taken:

(Photo Credits alchetron.com)

This is basically the life of Harold Kingsley. Not bad, for a pretty short Wikipedia page:


So, the moral of the story is, when you can't talk about your own life, because it's not interesting enough, hit the random button on Wikipedia, and learn about something new. And while I don't think that I'll ever have to answer for my newfound Knowledge of Harold Kingsley - I think that it's important to keep searching for new information, and to keep finding new ways to engage your mind.

And speaking of engaging my mind in new ways, I'm going to continue doing this - I don't have a fixed schedule, or a proper set of ideas yet for doing this as a series, but I believe that there's a whole lot to be learned. But I'll be honest, the first one was pretty good. I pressed the random button again, just for fun, and I got this:

Ananda Galappatti is a medical anthropologist and practitioner in the field of mental health in Sri Lanka. He was awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for his efforts.

One line. Not sure what I'll do when this happens. But I think that there's something interesting to be discovered. Until next time, おやすみ!