Fuller’s career kick-started in 1899 with his appointment in the 1st Battalion of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry. He was posted to South Africa and served there till 1902.
It was during this time that Fuller took part in the Boer War. However, it was in the Transvaal that he saw his first real fighting. It was during Boer War that he was put in charge of 70 black scouts and given a 4,000-square-mile area of only partially pacified countryside to patrol.
In 1904, he was sent to India. However, he contracted enteric fever and returned to England the following year on sick leave. When he recovered from his illness, instead of returning to India, he was reassigned to units in England.
Fuller served as an adjutant to the 2nd South Middlesex Volunteers and helped form the 10th Middlesex, until he was accepted into the Staff College at Camberley in 1913.
Upon being appointed, Fuller got into trouble for trying to amend the army's sacrosanct operating handbook, the Field Service Regulations.
Due to his reputation as a troublemaker, Fuller was assigned to the post of a minor General Staff officer at the 1914 outbreak of War, while his friends were sent to the front. His work included reorganizing the filing system at his base, developing a sheep-evacuation plan in the event of a German invasion, and determining whether and how to deprive such invaders of alcohol in the area's pubs
In 1916, Fuller headed the Headquarters of the Machine-Gun Corps' Heavy Branch which later became Tank Corps. He planned the tank attack at Cambrai in 1917 and the tank operations for the autumn offensives of 1918.
It was Fuller’s penetration tactics which propelled hordes of tanks through the Hindenburg Line during the Battle of Cambrai. Though he showed the desire to lead from the front, his commander Lt. Col. Hugh Elles took the position and thus gained a national hero status.
Fuller most famous wartime moment was the proclamation of his Plan 1919. According to it, an easy victory could be attained not by killing lots of German soldiers but by making a surprise mass tank attack and killing the enemy "brain", the rear-area command-and-communications infrastructure, thus paralyzing the body. However, the war ended in 1918 and with that Plan 1919 became fallow.
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Post 1918, Fuller held several positions, notably as a commander of an experimental brigade at Aldershot. Along with Liddell Hart, Fuller worked to develop new ideas for the mechanisation of armies.
During 1920s, Fuller became disillusioned with the military and his inability to bring about tactical reform, the military was also disillusioned with Fuller. The feelings reached the peak when Fuller turned down the offer of the command of the Experimental Mechanized Force on account that he did not have extra staff to assist him and thus could not accomplish the same.
Fuller retired in 1933 as a Major General. Post retirement, he became involved with Sir Oswald Mosley and the British Fascist movement. Not only was he considered one of Mosley's closest allies, he was also a member of the clandestine far right group the Nordic League
He took up to writing and became an early theorist and military historian. He was expressive in his work and wrote controversial predictions of the future of war. He is best remembered for his ‘Nine Principles of War’. His other theories include Triads and Trichotomies, Organisation of Force, The Unity of the Principles of War, Armament and History.
Additionally, he wrote numerous books, such as ‘Tanks in the Great War’, ‘The Reformation of War’, ‘On Future Warfare’, and ‘Memoirs of an Unconventional Soldier’.
Later in life, Fuller took up the profile of a reporter for the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 and Spanish Civil War (1936–39).
Major Battles & Works
Fuller made an impressive contribution in the Second Boer War and World War I. His tactical thinking gave way to two important theories, first mobility was very important and second a rapid, deep, penetrating attack is far more effective than the traditional slow-paced frontal assault.
As far as his written works is concerned, Fuller’s most comprehensive work was ‘A Military History of the Western World’. In the book, he analyzed Western warfare from its beginnings through World War II.
He failed to get into Sandhurst in his first attempt on account of being too short and wispy. Plus, he had a small chest which did not meet the British military academy's standards.
He was an early disciple of English poet and magician Aleister Crowley. He had thorough knowledge about Crowley’s work on magick and mysticism.
During his years of service at the Oxfordshire Light Infantry, he entered and won the contest to write best review for Crowley work. Apparently he was the only one entrant. This essay was later published in his book, ‘The Star in the West’ in 1907.