Sir Percy Molesworth Sykes
Brigadier Sir Percy Sykes with officers of original Mission Bandar Abbas, April 1916. (Standing) Major E Howell, Captain Durham, (Seated) Major G. Blair (Staff Officer) Brig General Sir Percy Sykes, Captain R.C. Ruck.
|Birth name||Percy Molesworth Sykes|
|Born||28 February 1867|
|Died||11 June 1945(aged 78)|
|Service/||British Indian Army|
|Unit||16th Lancers, 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queens Bays)|
|Commands held||Consul-General Khuzestan,|
|Battles/wars||Second Boer War|
|Awards||Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire|
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Brigadier-General Sir Percy Molesworth Sykes, (28 February 1867 - 11 June 1945) was a soldier, diplomat, and scholar with a considerable literary output. He wrote historical, geographical, and biographical works, as well as describing his travels in Persia.
Percy Sykes was born in Brompton, Kent, England the only son of Army chaplain Rev. William Sykes (b. 1829) and his wife Mary, daughter of Captain Anthony Oliver Molesworth, of the Royal Artillery, descended from Robert Molesworth, 1st Viscount Molesworth. William was the second son of Richard Sykes, of Edgeley House, Stockport, owner of the Sykes Bleaching Company; Percy Sykes was thus the nephew of Richard Sykes the rugby player who founded towns in America, and cousin of Sir Alan Sykes, 1st Baronet who was MP for Knutsford, Cheshire.
Sykes was commissioned into the 16th Lancers, but transferred to the 2nd Dragoon Guards in 1888. He was posted to India and made several journeys through Persia and Baluchistan. He was sent on a secret mission in November 1892 when he went to Uzbekistan on the Trans-Caspian Railway. Promotion to lieutenant followed on 26 April 1895, and to captain on 8 December 1897. During the Second Boer War he served as second in command of the 9th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry until September 1901. He later served with the Intelligence Department and was wounded in the leg. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 1902 Coronation Honours list on 26 June 1902 In late 1902 he transferred to the Indian Army, and was Consul at Kerman in Persia. Over the next few years he made extensive journeys in the Middle East and was appointed consul-general for Kh?zest?n in 1906.
In 1915 Sykes was knighted. While stationed in Persia he was given the temporary rank of Brigadier-General, he was placed in command of the South Persia Rifles that he raised himself. His forces, consisting of some four hundred and fifty men, supported the Russians at Isfahan against Bakhtiaras and restored some order to the country. Once stationed at Isfahan, Sykes used numerous excuses to remain, including a supposed Russian request that the South Persia rifles be used as a garrison for Isfahan. By 1917 numerous British authorities were calling for his removal save Lord Curzon. Despite this, Sykes was finally recalled in 1918.
Sykes retired from the army in 1924, retaining the honorary rank of Brigadier-General. From 1932 until his death he was honorary secretary of the Royal Central Asian Society, now known as the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. The society has in its gift an award called The Sir Percy Sykes Memorial Medal.