chapter  V
61 Pages

The South Persia Rifles

The genesis, development, and use or uselessness of the South Persia Rifles (SPR) typifies much of what went on in Anglo-Iranian relations during the war. The idea of a British-officered force, as noted earlier, coincided with the efforts to conclude an alliance once it became obvious that what the Russians expected was a way to expand the Cossack Brigade and thus their own influence. l Marling, India, the India Office and the Foreign Office all agreed - for once - that under those circumstances Britain needed a similar force in the south not only to restore order there during the war, but to have a force and a political instrument to secure British interests after the war. Actually, ideas of a British-officered force were older than the war, but they had never gone very far, partly because the Persians would not have accepted the idea and because the Russians would not have been pleased. The Swedish-officered gendarmerie, organized in 1911, had been as close as Britain could hope to come to a force in the south to maintain order; and that particular institution had proved an unmitigated disaster for Britain during the war when most of the force defected to the Germans, refusing even to obey instructions from the Persian Government.