Lionel Charles Dunsterville went to college with Rudyard Kipling at The United Services College, an educational institution designed to prepare British young men for careers in Her Majesty's Army. He served as the inspiration for the character "Stalky" in Kipling's novel Stalky & Co.
In the First World War he was initially posted to India. At the end of 1917 he was appointed to lead an Allied force of under 1,000 Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand elite troops, drawn from the Mesopotamian and Western Fronts, accompanied by armoured cars, from Hamadan some 350 km across Qajar Persia. His mission was to gather information, train and command local forces, and prevent the spread of German propaganda. On his way to Enzeli, he also fought Mirza Kuchik Khan and his Jangali forces in Manjil.
Dunsterville was subsequently assigned to occupy the key oil field and port of Baku, held by the Centro Caspian Dictatorship. However, Baku had to be abandoned on 14 September 1918 in the face of an onslaught by 14,000 Turkish troops, who took the city the next day. Baku was regained by the Allies within two months as a result of the Turkish armistice.
Promoted to major-general in 1918, Dunsterville died in 1946.
- S.P. Menefee, "Dunsterville, Lionel Charles," in H.C.G. Mathews and Brian Harrison (eds.), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 17 (2004): pp. 361–63.
- The Adventures of Dunsterforce by Major-General L. C. Dunsterville (Edward Arnold, London: 1920)
- Stalky's Reminiscences by Major-General L. C. Dunsterville (London: 1928; re-issued under title Stalky's Adventures in 1941)
- Something of myself by Rudyard Kipling
- Stalky and Co. by Rudyard Kipling
- Online version of Stalky & Co.
- The Adventures of Dunsterforce by L.C. Dunsterville
- The Diaries of General Lionel Dunsterville
- More Yarns by L.C. Dunsterville
- Dunsterforce: A Case Study of Coalition Warfare in the Middle East 1918-1919