Surnames beginning 'B'

Profiles of Western Front generals, part of the Lions led by donkeys research project.

Edward William David Baird

 

(1864 - 1956)

Brigadier-General

CBE, GOC Infantry Brigade

Eton College

Suffolk Hussars

 

Edward William David Baird was commissioned in the 5th Dragoon Guards on 7 February 1885 but transferred to the 10th Hussars five weeks later. He served with the Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa (1900), retiring on 20 December 1906 after five years in command of the Suffolk Hussars. Colonel Baird was an accomplished horseman, winning the St Leger on Woolwinder in 1907. He was recalled in October 1914 and given command of 179th Brigade, 60th (2nd/2nd London) Division TF. He was not promoted brigadier-general until May 1916, shortly before the brigade deployed to France. On 1 November 1916 60th Division was warned for a transfer to Macedonia. Baird was replaced eight days later. He was 52. 179th Brigade took part in no significant military activity under Baird’s command. He commanded the Welsh Reserve Brigade TF at home from January 1917 until May 1918, when he retired for the final time.

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

Thomas Stanford Baldock

 

Major-General

CB, GOC Infantry Division

Cheltenham College RMA, Woolwich psc

Royal Horse & Royal Field Artillery

 

Thomas Stanford Baldock was the son of W Baldock, of Fernlea, Romsey, Hampshire. He was commissioned in the Royal Artillery on 29 April 1873, passed staff college in 1888 and saw active service in the South African War (1901-2), during which he commanded a brigade of mounted rifles. In September 1911 Major-General Baldock became the first commanding officer of the newly established West Riding Territorial Division (later styled 49th (West Riding) Division). He retained his command on the outbreak of war and deployed to France with the division in April 1915. 49th Division’s first action was during the battle of Aubers Ridge (9 May), where it undertook defensive duties. This proved to be Baldock’s first and last battle. He was severely wounded in the head by shrapnel following a German bombardment of his HQ located in Trois Tours Château, north-west of Ypres, on 16 July. He held no more commands and retired from the army on 16 January 1916. He was the author of Cromwell as a Soldier (London: Kegan Paul, 1899).

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

Walter Edward Banbury

 

(1863 - 1927)

Brigadier-General

CMG, GOC Infantry Brigade

Indian Army

 

Walter Edward Banbury had ceased to be employed by the Indian Army on 1 February 1914 and was out of a job. He was 50. But the outbreak of the European War brought about a dramatic change in his professional fortunes. The New Armies rallying to Kitchener’s call to arms desperately needed officers, from whatever source. Banbury offered his services and by the beginning of September found himself CO 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters. As an Indian Army officer and a ‘dugout’ Banbury was labouring under two disadvantages that, singly, usually proved fatal to professional advancement in the BEF. But Banbury bucked the trend. He commanded 10th Sherwoods, in 51st Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division, until July 1916, when he was given a brigade. He commanded 61st Brigade, 20th (Light) Division, until March 1918, serving under two able and demanding divisional commanders, William Douglas Smith and Torquhil Matheson. By the spring of 1918 he was 55 and had been a brigade commander for nearly two years. The recently appointed CIGS, Sir Henry Wilson, had a deliberate policy of replacing older officers and Banbury went the way of many others at this time. Even so, his had been a surprising and unusual career.

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

Richard Bannatine-Allason

(1855-1940)

Major-General

CB, CMG, GOC Infantry Division

Wellington College RMA Woolwich

Royal Horse & Royal Field Artillery

Richard Bannatine-Allason was the son of Richard Cunninghame Bannatine of Glaisnock, Ayrshire. He was commissioned in the Royal Artillery on 28 January 1875. He saw active service in the Afghan War (1878-80), the Sudan (1885) and South Africa (1899-1902), where he took part in the actions at Magersfontein, Poplar Grove, Dreifontein, Karee Siding, Vet River, Zand River, Reit Vlei and Belfast as well as the relief of Kimberley. In 1905 he was afforded a further opportunity to witness the emergence of modern firepower at close quarters through his appointment as British Attaché to the Japanese army, fighting the Russians in Manchuria. 

He completed a four-year tour as GOC Nowshera Brigade in India in April 1914 and was unemployed when the war broke out. On 27 August 1914 he succeeded Major-General C J Mackenzie as GOC 51st (Highland) Division TF. His command of this famous formation was not entirely happy. The division took casualties even before it was sent abroad. Soldiers brought up in the pure air of the Highlands fell prey to the miasmas of urban England soon after the division’s arrival at Bedford, suffering cruelly from measles in particular. 51st Division’s first experience of battle at Festubert (19-25 May 1915) and Givenchy (15-16 June), where its attack failed completely, was also unpromising. Lieutenant-General Sir Ivor Maxse later characterised the division during this period as ‘ill-organised and unsoldier-like1’. Bannatine-Allason’s staff were equally critical of their chief. ‘The divisional commander’s mind was not attuned to light chatter,’ wrote Colonel W N Nicholson, the AA&QMG. ‘He demanded the “How” and “Why” of any feeble sally; and when at last he understood said “Oh” instead of “Ha”. He liked to sit long hours over his meals, grunting monosyllabic replies, staring out at the troops that marched below the window. A square shouldered, square faced man with a gift for putting the hardest and squarest of fingers on the spot; not by any reasoning power, that I was aware of, but by instinct. If he had left it there, and said nothing his vision would have seemed impressive. But he had a fatal habit of explaining. A general of the old school; relying on force of character rather than knowledge2.’ 

Bannatine-Allason was replaced on 24 September 1915. The divisional history tried to sugar the pill. ‘General Bannatine- Allason … had for some time been in indifferent health. The strain of the past four months, in which he had commanded the division in its first experiences of war, had been severe and the General therefore felt that he could not continue either with justice to himself or the Division in so responsible a position until his health was sufficiently recovered3.’ But, in truth, he had been dismissed. He later commanded 61st (2nd South Midland) Division TF and 64th (2nd Highland) Division TF at home. He retired from the army on 10 September 1918. He was Colonel Commandant of the Royal Horse Artillery from 1920 to 1940 and was knighted in 1926.

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

1. IWM: Maxse Papers 69/53/12, Box No 54.

2. W N Nicholson, Behind the Lines. An Account of Administrative Staffwork in the British Army 1914-1918 (1939; Stevenage: Strong Oak Press, n.d.), p. 26.

3. Major F W Bewsher, History of the 51st (Highland) Division 1914-1918 (Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1921), p. 46.

Charles St Leger Barter

 

(1857-1931)

Major-General

KCB, KCMG, CVO. GOC Infantry Division, 

Educated abroad, RMC Sandhurst psc

King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

 

Charles St Leger Barter was the son of the Rev J T Barter of Bercham, Co Cork. He was commissioned in the 105th Foot (later 2nd Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) on 1 September 1875. He passed Staff College in 1883 and saw active service in the Ashanti Expedition (1895-6), the Tirah Campaign (1897) and the South African War (1899-1901), during which he was wounded at the Modder River. His appointments as Instructor at the RMC Sandhurst (1884-6) and as CO 2nd Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (1898-1902) were the marks of a ‘coming man’. He completed a four-year tour as GOC Poona Brigade in India in June 1913. 

The war brought a speedy end to his period of unemployment. On 5 August 1914 he was appointed GOC 47th (2nd London) Division TF in succession to Major-General C C Monro. Barter took 47th Division to France in March 1915, where it was the second Territorial division to reach the front complete. 47th Division first saw action at Aubers Ridge (9 May), quickly followed by Festubert (15-25 May), Loos (25 September-1 October) and the Hohenzollern Redoubt (13-19 October). Its attack at Loos achieved early success followed by later dislocation and confusion, a common experience for the units that took part in the battle. 

47th Division’s finest hour during the war took place on the Somme in September 1916, when it captured High Wood, after a prolonged and dispiriting passage of British arms characterised by missed opportunities, lack of initiative and poorly co-ordinated piecemeal attacks made with inadequate artillery support. Paradoxically, the capture of High Wood terminated Barter’s military career. Soon after the battle, ‘at an hour’s notice’, he was charged with ‘wanton waste of men’ and dismissed. It is now recognised that he was scapegoated by the GOC III Corps, Lieutenant-General Sir William Pulteney, who had repeatedly refused to listen to Barter’s reasoned objections to III Corps’ plan of attack. This was based on sending tanks into the wood. Tank commanders were horrified by the idea, arguing that the shattered tree stumps (which were all that remained of the wood) made it impassable to tanks. After making a personal reconnaissance, together with the GOC 141st Brigade (Brigadier-General Robert McDouall), Barter agreed with them. He pressed III Corps to allow him to withdraw his infantry from their forward positions, close to the German front line, so that a proper artillery barrage could proceed the infantry attack, and allow him to send the tanks round the flanks of the wood to pinch it out. III Corps rejected this sensible plan, with predictable consequences for 47th Division, which lost 4,500 officers and men in the attack. 

Barter devoted the rest of his life to an unsuccessful attempt to obtain an enquiry into his dismissal. But his subsequent treatment, including the award of a KCB (1916) and a KCMG (1918) suggest tacit official recognition of his unfair treatment. Surviving members of the division seem not to have laid the blame for the casualties of High Wood at the door of their GOC. Barter was welcomed at post-war divisional reunions and called upon to unveil divisional war memorials. He retired from the Army on 20 December 1918. Major-General Barter spoke fluent French.

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

Sir (Charles) Loftus Bates

 

(1863 - 1951)

Brigadier-General

KCMG, CB, DSO.

Deputy Director of Remounts BEF

Eton College

Northumberland Hussars Yeomanry

 

(Charles) Loftus Bates was the son of Thomas Bates, of Aydon, Northumberland. He was commissioned in the 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards on, serving in the South African War, in which he was severely wounded and won the DSO. He retired from the army with the rank of captain, but maintained a military connection with the Northumberland Hussars Yeomanry, of which he was Honorary Colonel from May 1913. His reputation as a horseman led to his appointment as Deputy Director of Remounts, BEF, in 1915 and, later, as Director of Remounts, Egypt (1915-19). Sir Loftus Bates was Chairman of the Race Course Owners’ Association after the war.

 

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

Atwell Charles Baylay

 

(1879-1957)

Brigadier-General

DSO, GOC Infantry Brigade, 

Cheltenham College, RMA Woolwich

Royal Engineers

 

Atwell Charles Baylay was the son of Colonel F G Baylay RE. He was himself commissioned in the Royal Engineers on 23 November 1898. In November 1912 he took up the appointment of Adjutant Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Special Reserve), which he held until May 1915, when he became OC 1st (West Riding) Field Company RE, attached to 29th Division. He commanded this unit until December 1916, both on Gallipoli and the Somme. 

He was then posted to the RE School BEF (December 1916-March 1917) before becoming CRE 40th Division (March 1917-June 1918). His promotion to brigadier-general and transfer to the command of 59th (Infantry) Brigade, 20th (Light) Division, was perhaps unexpected. 20th Division had suffered cruelly during the German spring offensives of 1918 and undertook no significant operations after the end of March until 2 October 1918, when it participated in Fifth Army’s advance in Artois as part of VIII Corps. It was taken out of the line completely for training on 6 October.

Guy Archibald Hastings Beatty

(1870-1954)

Brigadier-General

CMG DSO*. GOC Cavalry Brigade,

 Newton College, Charterhouse School 

Indian Army

 

Guy Archibald Hastings Beatty was born at Poona, in India, the son of Surgeon-General T B Beatty.  He was commissioned in the Royal Irish Regiment on 21 December 1889, but transferred to 9th Hodson’s Horse, Indian Army, in 1892.  He served on the North West Frontier (1897) and in the Boxer Rebellion (1900).  Hodson’s Horse deployed to France in November 1914 as part of the Indian Corps.  Beatty commanded the regiment until his promotion to GOC 8th (Lucknow) Cavalry Brigade, 4th (Cavalry) Division, on 13 December 1917.  The brigade took part in no major operations while under Beatty’s command.  He retained his post until the division was dispersed and its Indian elements sent to Egypt in March 1918.  He later saw active service in Persia (1919), in the Kyhber Pass (1919) and in Mesopotamia (1920–1).  Major-General Sir Guy Beatty retired from the Indian Army in 1931 after a four-year tour as Military Adviser-in-Chief, Indian State Forces.

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

Henry Arthur Bethell

 

(1861-1939)

Brigadier-General

CRA, CMG, 

London University

Royal Horse & Royal Field Artillery

 

Henry Arthur Bethell was the son of Henry Slingsby Bethell of Bath.  He was commissioned in the Royal Artillery on 27 July 1880 and spent the first half of his career in India.  After his return to Britain, in 1898, he became increasingly involved in the scientific aspects of gunnery, serving on the Howitzer Committee and Artillery Committee. He became an acknowledged artillery expert, publishing Modern Guns and Gunnery (1906) and Modern Artillery in the Field (1910). He retired in the rank of colonel on 4 January 1911. Bethell was re-employed after the outbreak of the Great War, becoming CRA of the 25th Division, a New Army formation, on 10 November 1914. He was responsible for training 25th Division’s artillery at home and in France, to which the division deployed in September 1915, but was replaced before the division took part in any major action. Brigadier-General Bethell was awarded the Lefroy Medal for contribution to artillery science. He retired for the final time in 1920.

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

Lord George Baillie-Hamilton Binning

 

(1856-1917)

Brigadier-General

CB, MVO. GOC Infantry Brigade

Eton College, Cambridge University

Royal Horse Guards

 

Lord George Baillie-Hamilton Binning was the eldest son of the 11th Earl of Haddington. He was commissioned in the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) on 11 September 1880 after graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge. He served in the Egyptian Campaign (1882), the Nile Expedition (1884-5) and the Hazara Expedition (1888) and commanded his regiment from October 1899 until October 1903. He retired from the army on 6 March 1907, but maintained an involvement in military affairs as CO Lothian and Border Horse Yeomanry.

 In December 1915, at the age of 60, he was promoted brigadier-general and given command of 41st Brigade, 14th (Light Division), a New Army formation that had been in France since May. Lord George remained in command until April 1916, when he returned home to command 11th (2nd/2nd South Midland) Mounted Brigade. He was still in command of this formation (then designated 1st Mounted Brigade) at the time of his death in January 1917. 41st Brigade took part in no significant military actions during Binning’s command.

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

Cyril Aubrey Blacklock

 

(1880-1936)

Major-General

CB, CMG, DSO*. GOC Infantry Brigade, 

Eton College  Militia, 

Civilian

 

Cyril Aubrey Blacklock’s is a forgotten name of the Great War, yet his experience was unusual and – perhaps – unique.  He was the son of J Herbert Blacklock, of Overthorpe, near Banbury in Oxfordshire, good hunting country, of which he took full advantage.  After serving with a Militia Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Blacklock was commissioned in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps on 5 January 1901.  He soon saw action in the South African War, where he took part in Operations in the Orange River Colony (January–May 1902). But his pre-war military career was destined to be short.  Blacklock resigned his commission on 23 April 1904, while his battalion was stationed in India, and emigrated to Canada, where he settled at Port Rowan, Ontario.

It was a clean break.  Blacklock did not join the Reserve of Officers and when war broke out in August 1914 he was under no legal obligation to return to the colours. But return he did. He was re-commissioned in his old regiment on 4 November 1914 and appointed to the 10th (Service) Battalion, part of 59th Brigade, 20th (Light) Division.  His rise was rapid. Civilian in 1914, 2/ic by October 1915, battalion commander by December 1915, brigadier-general by January 1917. This was ascribed by Blacklock’s obituarist in The King's Royal Rifle Corps Chronicle ‘to the fact that he was original enough to be entirely unafraid of the somewhat alarming Brigadier of the 59th Brigade, Brigadier-General Shute, and whenever the latter was promoted he always took Blacklock with him’.[1]  This is something of an exaggeration.

Blacklock certainly had the qualities Shute admired: courage; energy; resource; optimism; aggression. These are reflected in the citation to Blacklock’s second DSO, won at Guillemont on 3 September 1916, where he was wounded. ‘When in command of the left attack of the brigade, considerable bodies of the enemy emerged from underground defences [the Quarries] in rear of the brigade. He at once detached parties to deal with the situation, thereby enabling the attack to be successfully carried out. Later he captured and consolidated five consecutive objectives, displaying the greatest courage and initiative.’ Blacklock was not simply ‘gung-ho’, however. His was calculated aggression. He favoured careful planning and proper preparation against facsimile objectives before carrying out attacks.[2]

Blacklock’s initial appointment to general officer rank, as GOC 182nd (2/1st Warwickshire) Brigade, 61st (2nd/South Midland) Division TF seems to have owed little to Shute, who had been appointed GOC 63rd (Royal Naval) Division on 17 October 1916. Shute’s appointment to the Royal Naval Division was not a marriage made in heaven. He did not approve of ‘sailors’ and the sailors did not like him. 19 February 1917 Shute was put out of his misery and transferred to the command of 32nd Division. Within less than a month, Blacklock had joined him as GOC 97th Brigade. He remained in command until March 1918.

In 1918 Blacklock found himself, in successive command of three divisions, two of them generally considered elite: 9th (Scottish) Division (March 1918); 39th Division (30 March–30 August 1918; and 63rd (Royal Naval) Division (30 August 1918-to the Armistice). The final appointment looks suspiciously like someone’s idea of a joke. 39th Division was heavily engaged during the German spring offensives, both on the Somme (where Blacklock’s predecessor, Edward Feetham, was killed in action) and on the Lys. The division was exhausted in these battles.  It was reduced to cadre in June 1918 and never returned to the line. Blacklock’s war was not over, however.  He led the Royal Naval Division in the fierce fighting of September and October 1918. He was still only 38. The GOC XVII Corps, Sir Charles Fergusson, considered Blacklock to be a ‘first rate commander’ and 63rd Division, under Blacklock’s command, the finest he had ever seen.[3] Blacklock again resigned from the Army in 1920 and returned to Canada.

 

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

 

[1] ‘Obituary.  Major-General C.A. Blacklock C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.’, The King's Royal Rifle Corps Chronicle (1936), p. 212.

[2] V.E. Inglefield, The History of the Twentieth (Light) Division (London: Nisbet, 1922), p. 55.

[3] IWM: Horne Papers 73/60/2.  General Sir Charles Fergusson to General Lord Horne, 10 October 1918 .

Arthur Blair

 

(1869-1947)

Brigadier-General

DSO  BCCS. 

Cheltenham College, RMC Sandhurst psc

King's Own Scottish Borderers

 

Arthur Blair was the son of Captain J Blair, an Indian Army cavalry officer. He was commissioned in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers on 9 March 1890. He passed Staff College in 1897. He was in the same syndicate as his fellow Scot, Douglas Haig, with whom he got on better than anyone else. Haig was eight years Blair’s senior and seems to have treated him like a clerk. Shortly after Blair graduated, Kitchener asked Sir Evelyn Wood to recommend three officers who had recently passed Staff College for service in Eg+ypt. Wood recommended Blair, Haig and ‘Tommy’ Capper. Blair saw active service on the Nile Expedition (1898) and in the South African War (1899-1902), in which he was severely wounded, winning a DSO. In the years before the outbreak of the European War his career became firmly established on the Staff path. He was Staff Captain GSO3 War Office (1907-8), Brigade Major 10th Brigade (1908-11), GSO2 South Africa (1912), GSO2 Egypt (1912-6 August 1914) and GSO2 War Office (November-December 1914). As a trained Staff Office who survived the heavy casualties of the early fighting, he was well placed to succeed, but his wartime career never took off. He was DAA&QMG (December 1914-June 1915) and GSO1 23rd Division (June 1915­-February 1916), when he was appointed BGGS (chief of staff) V Corps. But he held this post only until June when he was sent home. The dynamic Gerry Boyd replaced him. Blair spent the rest of the war in the United Kingdom. He was GOC 201st Brigade, 67th Division (October 1916-February 1917) and GOC Tees Garrison (1918-19). Brigadier-General Arthur Blair retired from the Army on 16 June 1920. In retirement he rekindled his relationship with Haig, becoming the first General Secretary of the Earl Haig Fund.

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

Harry Benn Borradaile

 

(1860-1948)

Brigadier-General

DSO. GOC Infantry Brigade

Charterhouse 

Indian Army

 

Harry Benn Borradaile was the eldest son of A A Borradaile of the Bombay Civil Service. He was commissioned in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (then the 25th Foot) on 14 January 1880. He saw active service with the KOSB in Burma (1885-9) and took part in the Sikkim Expedition (1889). He transferred to the 32nd Sikh Pioneers, Indian Army, in 1894 and served with them as part of the Chitral Relief Force (1895), during which he was wounded and for which he was later awarded the DSO. He was CO 34th Sikh Pioneers from 1902 until 1909. 

He retired on 30 December 1912 in the rank of colonel, but was recalled in 1914 and given command of 36th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division, New Army, then forming at Colchester. He was responsible for the brigade’s preliminary training and took it to war in June 1915. Brigadier-General Borradaile was wounded on 1 October 1915, the first day of 36th Brigade’s first action, at Loos. The wound does not appear to have been serious enough for him to leave his command, but he was replaced on 9 November and ordered home.

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

William Hely Bowes

 

(1858-1932)

Brigadier-General

CB, CMG, GOC Infantry Brigade

RMC Sandhurst

Royal Scots Fusiliers

 

William Hely Bowes was commissioned in the Royal Scots Fusiliers [then the 21st Foot] on 13 August 1879. He saw active service in Burma (1885-7) and on the North West Frontier (1897-8). He was DAAG India (October 1899-December 1903), CO 2nd Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers (August 1906-August 1910) and DAAG War Office (January 1911-August 1914). He spent the first three months of the Great War as Senior GSO1 Directorate of Staff Duties at the War Office (August-October 1914), but on 23 October 1914 took command of 8th Brigade, 3rd Division, in France after Brigadier-General B J C Doran had been sent home. 

Within a month Bowes found himself under the command of his old and close friend, Aylmer Haldane. This did not do him any favours. Haldane was a hard and unsentimental commander. By the spring of 1915 he believed that Bowes was physically and mentally exhausted and incapable of providing energetic leadership and had him replaced on 25 March1. Bowes was 56. He never held a field command again. He was BGGS 3rd Army, Central Force (UK) (May 1915-March 1916), BGGS Northern Army, Home Forces (March 1916-February 1918) and Chief of Military Mission (June 1918-June 1919). He retired from the army on 28 August 1919.

[1] Terry Norman, ed., Armageddon Road .  A VC’s Diary, 1914-16.  Billy Congreve (London: William Kimber, 1982), p. 116.

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

William James Bowker

(1869-1931)

Brigadier-General

CM, DSO.  GOC Infantry Brigade, 

Militia

Somerset Light Infantry

William James Bowker was the son of Frederick Bowker, Barrister-at-Law, of Lincoln’s Inn. He was commissioned in the Somerset Light Infantry from the Militia on 21 February 1889. He saw active service in West Africa (1898), taking part in operations in the Niger Territories, and in the South African War (1899-1902). When the European War broke out he was a 45-year old major in the 2nd Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, based at Quetta. Bowker remained in India until January 1916 when he took command of 1/6th Battalion Essex Regiment, part of 161st Brigade, 54th (East Anglian) Division T F, in Egypt. He commanded 1/6th Essex until May 1917 when he became GOC 231st Brigade, 74th (Yeomanry) Division. He fell ill in July 1917. When he returned to duty in February 1918 it was as GOC 230 Brigade. 74th Division was re-deployed to France in April 1918 to help stem the German spring offensive. Bowker was removed from his command within a month of 74th Division being concentrated near Abbeville. Commanders of British formations that were re-deployed from Palestine to the Western Front in 1918 were scrutinised by the Military Secretary’s office at GHQ and often replaced simply on age grounds. Bowker was 49.

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

Anthony Alfred Bowlby

 

(1855-1929)

Major-General

Kt KCB KCMG KCVO

Durham School St Bartholomew's Hospital

Advisory Consulting Surgeon

 

Anthony Alfred Bowlby was one of Britain’s leading surgeons, Surgeon-in-Ordinary to HM the King and Consulting Surgeon to Bartholomew’s Hospital and to the Foundling Hospital. He served in the South African War, where he was in charge of Portland Hospital. As Advisory Consulting Surgeon to HM Forces he was responsible for co-ordinating surgical arrangements in the BEF. One of his principal achievements was to bring surgery closer to the front line, making the Casualty Clearing Station, rather than Field Ambulance, the focal point of surgical operations. The sooner wounded soldiers were brought to the operating theatre the better in a war fought without antibiotics. Bowlby was President of the Royal College of Surgeons from 1920 to 1923, when he received a baronetcy.

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

Gerald Farrell Boyd

 

 

(1877-1930)

Major-General

CB, CMG, DSO, DCM. GOC Infantry Division, 

St Paul's School psc

Royal Irish Regiment

 

Gerald (‘Gerry’) Farrell Boyd, ‘the ranker general’, entered the army as a private soldier in the Devonshire Regiment in 1895. He fought in the South African War as a sergeant and was awarded the DCM. He was commissioned in the field as a Second Lieutenant in the East Yorkshire Regiment in May 1900. In 1904 he was promoted Captain in the Leinster Regiment, the rank he held on the outbreak of war. His 1913 Confidential Report described him as ‘Loyal, cool, self-reliant. He possesses in a marked degree the valuable characteristic of a good staff-officer in dealing with many minor matters on his own initiative without giving offence, and at the same time keeping me informed where necessary. He is very quick, thorough and active in mind and body. A good horseman. He has considerable professional knowledge, which he is able to apply very quickly and accurately in the form of orders. I have formed a high opinion of his character and capabilities and would be glad to have him with me on service. I recommend him for accelerated promotion’.

Accelerated promotion is exactly what he got. He began the Great War as Brigade Major in Hunter-Weston’s 11th Brigade. In March 1915 he was promoted GSO2, 1st Division, then under the command of Richard Haking. He also received his majority in the Royal Irish Regiment. In July 1915 he was promoted GSO1, 6th Division (Major-General Charles Ross). He held this post for a year before being promoted BGGS V Corps. He was chief of staff of V Corps for two years before being given his own command, 170th (2/1st North Lancashire) Brigade, 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division, TF, in July 1918. On 4 September he was promoted GOC 46th (North Midland) Division in succession to Major-General William Thwaites. He was 40. Twenty-five days later the division broke the Hindenburg Line at Bellenglise, one of the outstanding divisional performances of the war. Boyd embodied the ‘can-do’ spirit of the army of 1918. His Confidential Report at the end of the war spoke of his being ‘a disciplinarian, a tremendous worker, at all times cheerful and optimistic ... and he can, and does, breathe his own indomitable spirit into his men’. ‘Major-General G F Boyd had a most attractive personality,’ recalled the historian of 1/4th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. ‘He was young. He was handsome… He had a smile for everyone. He had a brain like lightning and an imagination as vivid … When the 46th Division was placed in his hands he seized it as an expert swordsman seizes a priceless blade. This was just the weapon he had been looking for. He would wield it as it had never been wielded before. He would breathe his luck upon it; with it he would leap to victory.’ Major-General Gerry Boyd died young, while Military Secretary at the War Office.

John Bourne, Centre for First World War Studies

Roger Courtenay Boyle

 

(1863 - 1944)

Brigadier-General

CB CMG, GOC Infantry Brigade

Cheltenham College Militia

Royal Munster Fusilliers

 

Roger Courtenay Boyle was the son of Major-General Robert Boyle CB. He was commissioned in the Royal Munster Fusiliers from the Militia on 6 May 1885. He saw active service in Burma (1885-9) and in the South African War (1899-1902). He was Adjutant 2nd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers (1891-5), Adjutant 3rd (South Cork Militia) Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers (1902-5) and CO 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers (July 1909-July 1913). When the European War broke out Boyle had been on half-pay for more than a year, but the war rescued his career. He served as AA&QMG with the 3rd Division from August to December 1914, when he was appointed GOC 83rd Brigade in the newly formed Regular 28th Division. His time as a brigade commander, however, was short. He fell ill in May 1915 and went home. After his recovery he became Inspector of Territorial Forces (July-November 1915) and then DAG HQ British Salonika Army (November-December 1915). Salonika was not an ideal posting for someone with health problems and on 9 December 1915 Boyle was transferred to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force as Commander Alexandria District. He retained this post until June 1919, when he retired from the army.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Reginald Le Normand Brabazon, Lord Ardee

 

(1869-1949)

Brigadier-General

CB. GOC Infantry Brigade 

Wellington College, RMC Sandhurst

Grenadier Guards

 

Reginald Le Normand Brabazon, Lord Ardee, was the eldest son of the 12th Earl of Meath and his wife Lady Jane Maitland. He was commissioned in the Grenadier Guards on 21 September 1889. He served in the South African War (1900-2), but otherwise his pre-war service was somewhat mundane, culminating in his appointment as CO 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards in February 1912. 1st Grenadiers did not go to war until October 1914, as part of 20th Brigade, 7th Division. By then Ardee had transferred to 1st Irish Guards following the death of their commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Hon H G Morris. Ardee was himself badly wounded on 7 November 1914.

His wound took him away from active service until February 1918. He worked at the Ministry of Munitions from February 1916 until August 1917 and was Lieutenant-Colonel Irish Guards and Regimental District from August 1917 until January 1918. In February 1918 he made the rather extraordinary return to the front as GOC 4th (Guards) Brigade. Ardee was the first man to command 4th (Guards) Brigade, which had been formed on 8 February and sent to ‘stiffen’ 31st Division. His tenure of command was short lived. He was gassed on 27 March 1918 during the German spring offensive and evacuated. His final appointment was as Commandant of the Etaples Administrative Area (June 1918-July 1919). Lord Ardee retired from the army on 26 November 1919. He succeeded as 13th Earl of Meath in 1929.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Sir Walter Pipon Braithwaite

 

(1865-1945)

Lieutenant-General

KCB 

GOC Corps

Victoria College Bedford, RMC Sandhurst psc

Somerset Light Infantry

 

Walter Pipon Braithwaite (‘Braith’) was the youngest son and twelfth child of the Rev. William Braithwaite, Vicar of Alne, Yorkshire. He was commissioned into the Somerset Light Infantry in 1886 and quickly saw active service in Burma. His career took on its distinctive shape in 1898, however, when he entered the Staff College. The South African War broke out before he could quite complete his studies and, together with the College’s other students, he was sent out as a special serving officer, later becoming Brigade Major and Deputy Assistant Adjutant General. When the war ended Braithwaite did not return to regimental soldiering.  A series of Staff appointments brought him into contact with some of the British Army’s leading figures, including Evelyn Wood, Ian Hamilton, Henry Wilson and Douglas Haig. Haig, in particular, held him in high regard. In 1911 Braithwaite became Commandant of the Staff College, Quetta, which post he still held in August 1914. He came home when the College was closed and was made Director of Staff Duties of the War Office. In March he was appointed Chief of Staff to Sir Ian Hamilton’s Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. Much of the obloquy for the Gallipoli campaign’s failings fell on Braithwaite. The Australians widely regarded him as arrogant and incompetent. The future Australian general, John Gellibrand, who was instructed by Braithwaite at the Staff College before the war was particularly severe. ‘Imagination is as foreign to him as independence,’ he confided to his diary. ‘To sum up, a good regimental officer, fair office man and Brigade Major but a mind like a waiter’s and the independence of a tick. Besides, he appears over anxious to please those he thinks influential and this again betrays his waiter’s mind.’[1]  This was a judgement that the Australian official historian, Charles Bean, was later to revise. Hamilton, however, remained a staunch defender, always referring to Braithwaite as ‘a rock’. 

When Hamilton was recalled in October 1915 Braithwaite suffered the same fate. His ‘reward’ was appointment as GOC 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division, an undistinguished-looking second-line Territorial unit. He undoubtedly owed this command to Haig’s lobbying. Undismayed, he turned it into one of the best divisions in the British Army. After a difficult baptism at Bullecourt in May 1917, the division performed well at Cambrai, in checking the German Spring Offensive at Bucquoy (where Braithwaite’s personal leadership was conspicuous) and in the Great Advance. After a brief period as temporary GOC XXII Corps, Braithwaite was promoted GOC IX Corps on 13 September 1918. Sixteen days later this corps spearheaded Fourth Army’s breaking of the Hindenburg Line and continued to lead the advance on the extreme right of the British line. In his short career as a corps commander Braithwaite showed himself open to new ideas and sympathetic to technological solutions to tactical problems. Immediately after the Armistice Haig commissioned Braithwaite to undertake a thoroughgoing report into staff work during the war. Braithwaite’s only son, Lieutenant V A Braithwaite, 1st Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, was killed in action on the Somme on 2 July 1916, at the age of 20. >Braithwaite destroyed all his papers after the war, having no one to leave them to. He organised Haig’s funeral in 1928.

[1] E and J Gellibrand Diary, 10 March 1906.  Quoted in Jonathan Walker, The Blood Tub.  General Gough and the Battle of Bullecourt, 1917 (Staplehurst: Spellmount, 1998), p. 4.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Herbert Algernon Brendon

 

(1862-19??)

Brigadier-General

CRA 

RMA Woolwich

Royal Horse & Royal Field Artillery

 

 

Herbert Algernon Brendon was commissioned in the Royal Artillery on 26 July 1881. He retired in the rank of lieutenant-colonel on 18 May 1912 at the age of 50. A year later he was appointed first CRA of the Highland Division TF in the rank of colonel. He retained the post when the European War broke out and was advanced to brigadier-general. Sir Henry Rawlinson described him as a ‘solid, slow, stupid man’ and he was replaced in July 1915. He was appointed CRA 36th (Ulster) Division in August 1915, but did not deploy with his guns to France.

 

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Edward Fitzgerald Brereton

 

(1861 - 1937)

Brigadier-General

CB DSO. GOC Infantry Brigade

Cheltenham College, Reading School, RMC Sandhurst

Northamptonshire Regiment

 

Edward Fitzgerald Brereton was the son of William Westropp Brereton QC, a barrister at the Irish bar. He was commissioned in the Northamptonshire Regiment [then the 48th Foot] on 11 August 1880. He was Adjutant 1st Battalion Northamptonshire (August 1885-August 1890). He later served with this battalion on the North West Frontier (1897-8), including the Tirah Expedition, and on the Staff in the South African War (1899-1902), where he was mentioned in despatches and awarded the DSO. He was CO 2nd Northamptonshire (June 1907-June 1911) before suffering the customary fate of many who reached the rank of full colonel by being placed on half-pay. He was rescued from this state in May 1912 by his appointment as first commander of the newly established 2nd West Riding Brigade, part of the Territorial Force. He was 51. In April 1915 Brereton took his brigade, now 147th Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division, to France. He remained in command until September 1916, when he was sent home after the failure of his brigade’s attack on Thiepval. After another period on half-pay (September 1916-May 1917) he was given command of the Wessex Reserve Brigade at home. He commanded this formation until his retirement on 24 April 1918.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Robert James Bridgford

 

(1869-1954)

Major-General

CB, CMG DSO

Charterhouse School

GOC Infantry Division

King's Shropshire Light Infantry

 

Robert James Bridgford was born on 10 March 1869, the son of Sir Robert Bridgford KCB. He joined the Manchester Regiment from the Militia in 1890 and for the next eight years spent much time with the mounted infantry when not engaged in field sports.  In 1898 he was promoted captain, married Mary Hamilton, daughter of the Venerable F C Hamilton and sent out to the South African War, where he served with the mounted infantry.  At the end of the war, in 1902, he was awarded the DSO ‘in recognition of services during operations in South Africa’.  After service in India, and promotion to major, he transferred to the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry in 1905.

By the outbreak of the Great War Bridgford was a Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the 2nd Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry in India, and brought them home to become part of 80th Brigade.  He was in an ideal situation for speedy advancement and in August 1915 was promoted Brigadier-General and given command of 18th Brigade.  After being sent home for a rest during the winter of 1917-18 he returned to France in March 1918 as a Major-General in command of 31st Division, just in time for the Somme and Lys battles of March-April 1918.  When the division was sent to help train the Americans, Bridgford was transferred to command the 32nd Division in early May.  However, at the end of the month he became one of those who took the blame for German success.  In his own account of this he stated: ‘Later in May 1918 got the order of the Boot or Bowler Hat for carrying out orders sent by the Corps Commander during the Bosch push of 1918.  He himself with his staff having fled.  The Corps Commander commonly went by the name of Foxy Haldane’.  Bridgford went home and spent the rest of the war commanding 222nd Reserve Brigade on Salisbury Plain.

He was awarded the CMG (1915) and CB (1918) for his war service, retired in 1922 and became a country gentleman, serving as a Deputy Lieutenant and magistrate in the county of Hereford, when he was not “huntin’, shootin’ and fishing”.  He died in 1954.

 

Geoffrey Blades

Friend of the Centre for First World War Studies

Charles James Briggs

 

(1865 - 1941)

Major-General

KCMG, KCB. GOC Cavalry Division

Educated privately, RMC Sandhurst

6th Dragoons

 

Charles James Briggs was the son of Colonel C J Briggs JP DL, of Hylton Castle, Durham. His education took place largely abroad, including periods in France and Germany. He was commissioned in the 1st Dragoon Guards on 30 January 1886, but his career soon took the staff path. He was ADC to the GOC Egypt (1892–3), Adjutant 1st Dragoon Guards (November 1894–April 1897) and Brigade Adjutant 4th Cavalry Brigade (1897–9). These appointments were the mark of a coming man.  During the South African War he was Brigade Major 3rd Cavalry Brigade (1899–1900) and was wounded at Magersfontein. He commanded 1st Imperial Light Horse (1901–2) and the Transvaal Volunteers (May 1905–May 1908), during which time he took part in the Natal Native Rebellion (1906). In July 1904 he had transferred to the 6th Dragoons, usually the sign of someone being fast-tracked for promotion. This did not, however, result in his command of a British cavalry regiment.  After two years on half-pay (May 1908–November 1910), he took command of the South-East Mounted Brigade (November 1910–May 1913). It was while commanding this formation that Briggs took part in the 1912 army manoeuvres as part of Grierson’s force. It was Briggs who persuaded a somewhat reluctant Grierson to employ aircraft for reconnaissance, allowing Grierson to worst his rival, Douglas Haig. This may not have been a wise career move.

On the outbreak of war Briggs took 1st Cavalry Brigade to France (August 1914–May 1915) before being given command of 3rd Cavalry Division (May–October 1915). Despite the incredulity of some, Briggs’s career had seemingly to take second place to that of ‘Cis’ Bingham. It was Bingham who got 1st Cavalry Division and then, in October 1915, the Cavalry Corps. Brigadier-General ‘Sally’ Home thought that there was ‘no comparison’ between the two men, adding that it ‘looks like a case of influence’.[1]  In the event, this was a mixed blessing.  The cavalry was increasingly becoming a career dead end.  But when Briggs made his escape it was only to the malarial backwater of Salonika, where he commanded 28th Division (October 1915–May 1916) and then XVI Corps (May 1916–February 1919).  Sir Charles Briggs retired from the Army in February 1923 in the rank of lieutenant-general.

[1] Brigadier-General Sir Archibald Home, Diary of a World War One Cavalry Officer (Tunbridge Wells: Costello, 1985), pp. 60-61.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Walter Bromilow

 

(1863-1939)

Brigadier-General

CBE 

GOC Infantry Brigade, Militia

Royal Dublin Fusiliers

 

 

Walter Bromilow was the son of H G Bromilow JP. He was commissioned in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers from the Militia on 14 May 1884. His pre-war service, which included the South African War (1901-2) was relatively uneventful. He commanded 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers (‘The Old Toughs’) from March 1908 until March 1912. After a brief period on half-pay, he was given command of the newly established Staffordshire Brigade, TF. He commanded this formation, later re-named 137th (Staffordshire) Brigade, until April 1915, when he fell ill. This was shortly after the brigade’s deployment to the Western Front. On regaining his health, Bromilow was given command of 118th Brigade, 39th Division. Once again, he was the first man to command this formation. And, once again, he was relieved of command shortly after the brigade was deployed to France and before it saw offensive action. Brigadier-General Bromilow commanded 8th Reserve Infantry Brigade, Dublin, from May 1916 until May 1918 and was OC No 11 District and Infantry Records, Dublin, from May 1918 until his retirement in August 1920.

 

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

William Basil Browell

 

(1870-1935)

Brigadier-General

CRA. CMG

Harrow School, RMA Woolwich

Royal Horse & Field Artillery

 

 

William Basil Browell was the son of E J J Browell, of Boldon House, Co. Durham. He was commissioned in the Royal Artillery on 14 February 1890. When the European War broke out he was OC 112 Battery RFA with the rank of major. By the end of the war he was a brigadier-general, but - alas - he had the professional misfortune of being promoted to command the guns of 21st Division on 10 November 1918!

 

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Robert Clayton Browne-Clayton

 

(1870-1939)

Brigadier-General

DSO.  GOC Infantry Brigade

Wellington College Militia

South Irish Horse

 

Robert Clayton Browne-Clayton was the son of William Clayton Browne-Clayton, of Browne’s Hill, Co. Carlow. He was commissioned in the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers from the Militia on 24 December 1890. Browne-Clayton was Adjutant of his regiment during the South African War (1899-1902), during which he was three times mentioned in despatches, but on 22 May 1909 he retired from the army in the rank of major. He was 39. His retirement did not completely curtail his military activity, however. He remained as an officer in the Special Reserve, serving with the South Irish Horse. 

In July 1915 he was appointed CO 16th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, one of the Bantam battalions raised by the Birkenhead MP Sir Alfred Bigland. 16th Cheshires deployed to France in January 1916 as part of 105th Brigade, 35th Division. Browne-Clayton was awarded the DSO for his part in the fighting at Trones Wood in July 1916. He was promoted GOC 59th Brigade, 20th (Light) Division on 14 October. 20th Division took part in no more operations on the Somme after 8 October and was comparatively little employed in the first half of 1917. Browne-Clayton remained in command until 26 August 1917 when he was replaced a few days after the battle of Langemarck.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Sir James Milford Sutherland Brunker

 

(1854-1942)

Major-General

KCMG,  GOC Infantry Brigade 

Cheltenham College, RMA Woolwich 

RH&RF Artillery

 

James Milford Sutherland Brunker was the second son of Major-General J R Brunker. He was commissioned in the Royal Artillery on 11 September 1873. Brunker saw active service in the Afghan War (1880) and spent much of his pre-war career in India. He was AAG Headquarters of the Army (April 1905-June 1907), Inspector of Artillery, Southern Army, India (July 1907-September 1910) and Commander Sirhind Brigade (December 1911-January 1915). The appointment of a gunner to command an infantry brigade was relatively unusual. After the outbreak of the European War Brunker’s brigade was earmarked for service in France, but it was diverted to Suez and did not join the Indian Corps on the Western Front until 7 December. He commanded it at Givenchy on 21-22 December, the brigade’s very first action, but was replaced two weeks later. He was 60, very old for a brigade commander even at that early part of the war. Brunker spent the rest of the war at home as Inspector of RH&RF Artillery. He was knighted in 1917.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Raymond Brutinel

 

(1882-1964)

Brigadier-General

CB, CMG, DSO. 

GOC Machine Gun Brigade

CEF

 

Raymond Brutinel began his military service in France in 1901, having enlisted with the 53rd Regiment d’Infantrie de Tarbes. In 1904 he was promoted to an officer candidacy, but left the country the following year and emigrated to Canada. With the outbreak of war in 1914 he planned to return to France to serve in the French Army but was given permission by the French government to remain in Canada and assist with the fledgling Canadian war effort. A man knowledgeable in machine guns, he was responsible for recruiting and training Canada’s first machine gun and motorised machine gun units. He served as an advisor and instructor on machine guns in England until mid-1916 when he deployed to France to organise the Canadian Machine Gun Corps (CMGC). Brutinel was appointed Corps Machine Gun Officer, and was later promoted to Brigadier-General in March 1918, commanding the CMGC until the end of the war.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Archie Stewart Buckle

 

(1868-1916)

Brigadier-General

CRA

Clifton College, RMA Woolwich psc 

Royal Horse & Royal Field Artillery

 

Archie Stewart Buckle was the son of Captain Archibald Lewis Buckle RE.  He was commissioned in the Royal Artillery on 17 February 1888.  He spent much of his pre-war career serving with the Royal Field Artillery in India, but he also acquired experience and expertise in the handling and issuing of explosives.  He passed Staff College in 1905 and was GSO2 in South Africa from June 1909 until June 1913. 

Major Buckle went to war with the BEF and was wounded in the face in October 1914 and invalided home.  Following his recovery, in January 1915, he was appointed GSO1 19th (Western) Division, a New Army formation, then assembling amid exiguous supplies of equipment and inadequate training facilities.  Buckle deployed to France with 19th Division in July 1915 and helped plan its costly and abortive baptism of fire on 25 September in the Action at Piètre, part of the battle of Loos. 

In January 1916 he moved from his staff post to the command of XXII Brigade RFA, one of the artillery units of 7th Division.  He remained in command until 9 August 1916 when he was promoted brigadier-general and posted to 17th (Northern) Division as its CRA to replace Brigadier-General R G Ouseley, who had been wounded on 21 July.  Buckle arrived in the middle of the battle of Delville Wood.  A week after his appointment he was suddenly taken ill and died two days later of meningitis.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Kenneth James Buchanan

 

(1863-1933)

Brigadier-General

CB. GOC Infantry Brigade 

Indian Army

 

Kenneth James Buchanan was commissioned in the Royal Marine Light Infantry on 1 February 1883, but transferred to the Indian Staff Corps in 1887. By the time the Great War broke out he had risen to the rank of colonel in the Indian Army, with a long record of active service in Burma (1887-9) and on the North West Frontier (1892, 1895, 1901-2, 1908) behind him. He was 51. On 18 September 1914 he was promoted to brigadier-general and given command of 48th Brigade, 16th (Irish) Division, a New Army formation, then assembling. Buchanan was 48th Brigade’s first commander. He was responsible not only for the brigade’s initial training but also took it to France in December 1915. His command on the Western Front was short lived, however. He was sent home on 17 January 1916. One of his former battalion commanders, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Frederick Shaw Bt., CO 8th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, explained in a letter to the 16th Division’s first commander, Sir Lawrence Parsons, that ‘Buchanan was quite useless on active service and had to go’. Brigadier-General Buchanan was GOC Oswestry Camp (April 1916-June 1917 and Inspector of Depots Poona (from September 1917). He retired on 11 May 1919.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Sir Edward Stanislaus Bulfin

 

(1862-1939)

Major-General

KCB, CVO.  GOC Infantry Division

Stonyhurst School, Trinity College, Dublin qs 

Royal Welsh Fusiliers

 

Edward Stanislaus Bulfin was the second son of Patrick Bulfin JP, Woodtown Park, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin. He was commissioned into the Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire) Regiment on 12 November 1884 at the age of 22 after militia service with the 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers. His military career was not only rather late in beginning but also slow to develop. Its turning point came with the outbreak of the South African War. By November 1899 Bulfin had been appointed Brigade Major 1st (Guards) Brigade, under Lord Methuen. He saw action at Belmont, Enslin, Modder River and Magersfontein. Later, he was promoted DAAG and given command of a mobile column. His subsequent career, however, took the Staff path. From 1902 until 1904 he was DAAG I Corps; from 1906 until 1910 Assistant-Adjutant and Quartermaster-General, Cape Colony. On his return to England he was given command of the Essex Infantry Brigade, Territorial Force, despite never having commanded a battalion. In June 1913 he was promoted GOC 2nd Infantry Brigade. He took 2nd Brigade to war in August 1914 with the original British Expeditionary Force and commanded it during the Retreat and at First Ypres.

It was at Ypres that Bulfin established a reputation as an outstanding fighting soldier. At the critical moment, on 31 October, he displayed courage and leadership of a high order by organising a makeshift force of six weak battalions, known as ‘Bulfin’s force’, and leading a counter-attack which drove back the German line half a mile. He was wounded the following day. Haig paid tribute in his diary to Bulfin’s fine soldierly qualities during this period and considered him a ‘tower of strength at all times’.[1]

After his recovery he was promoted GOC 28th Division. He commanded this Regular unit during the German gas attack at Ypres in April 1915 and again towards the end of the battle of Loos in October. On 11 October he went home sick and did not return to France until June 1916 as GOC 60th (2nd/2nd London) Division, a second-line Territorial unit. After six months of trench holding, 60th Division was transferred to Salonika and then, in June 1917, to Egypt. On 2 August 1917 Bulfin was promoted GOC XXI Corps, which he commanded with distinction during Allenby’s Palestine campaigns of 1917 and 1918.

[1] NLS: Haig Diary, 20, 27 September 1914 and 1 November 1914.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Charles Bulkeley Bulkeley Johnson

 

(1867-1917)

Brigadier-General

CB.  GOC Cavalry Brigade 

Harrow School, RMC Sandhurst 

2nd Dragoons

 

Charles Bulkeley Bulkeley-Johnson was the son of Francis Bulkeley-Johnson. He commissioned in the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) on 5 February 1887. Bulkeley-Johnson was a talented sportsman, horseman and big-game hunter. From January 1899 until January 1903 he was attached to the Egyptian Army, taking part in the Nile Expedition and in the operations that led to the defeat of the Khalifa. He was appointed CO 2nd Dragoons on 19 August 1911 at the comparatively early age of 43 and took them to war in August 1914 as part of Sir Philip Chetwode’s 5th Cavalry Brigade.

He was promoted GOC 8th Cavalry Brigade, 3rd Cavalry Division, on 23 November 1914. For part of 1915 Bulkeley-Johnson’s Brigade Major was Keppel Bethell. Later in the war, Walter Guinness, one of Bethell’s staff officers, visited 8th Cavalry Brigade, commenting that ‘Bulkley Johnson [sic] seems rather like Bethell in character and I should imagine they must have knocked their heads together’.[1] 

Bulkeley-Johnson commanded 8th Cavalry Brigade until his death in action on 11 April 1917 while carrying out a personal reconnaissance of the enemy near Monchy-le-Preux. He was 49. He is buried in Grouy-en-Artois Communal Cemetery Extension, France. He was the thirtieth British general to be killed in action or to die of wounds on the Western Front.

[1] Brian Bond and Simon Robbins, eds., Staff Officer. p. 149.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

George Bull

 

(1877-1916)

Brigadier-General

DSO. GOC Infantry Brigade 

Militia

Royal Irish Fusiliers

 

 

George Bull was the third son of the Resident Magistrate of Newry, Co. Down. He served in the South African War (1900-2) with the 5th [Militia] Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. He did not receive a Regular commission until 9 December 1903 and then only in the Royal Garrison Regiment. At 26 he was a rather elderly second lieutenant. Bull transferred to the Leinster Regiment in 1905 and to the Royal Irish Fusiliers in 1907. When the Great War broke out he was attached to the 5th [Territorial] Battalion East Lancashire Regiment as its Regular Adjutant, but was allowed to proceed to war with 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers. Within little more than a year Bull found himself promoted to temporary lieutenant-colonel as CO 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, part of the 36th (Ulster) Division, with which he served on the Somme, winning the DSO. He was promoted brigadier-general on 3 December 1916, as GOC 8th Brigade, 3rd Division. Three days later, Brigadier-General Bull was wounded by a sniper while on a tour of the trenches. He died on 11 December and was buried in Varennes Military Cemetery. He was 39. Bull was the twenty-eighth general officer to be killed or to die of wounds on the Western Front.

 

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Herbert Henry Burney

 

(1858-1932)

Brigadier-General

CB CBE.  DA&QMG

RMC Sandhurst psc

Gordon Highlanders

 

Herbert Henry Burney was a former CO 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders (1904–7) and GOC 9th Brigade (1910–13) who was ‘dug out’ of retirement in 1915 to become DA&QMG of the newly formed X Corps.  He was 57.  Brigadier-General Burney held the post only until 31 December 1915.  X Corps took part in no offensive operations during this period.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Alfred Burt

 

(1875 - 1949)

Brigadier-General

CB, CMG, DSO* AM. GOC Cavalry Brigade

Oundle School Heidelberg University Militia

3rd Dragoon Guards

 

Alfred Burt was the son of F J Burt of Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire.  He was commissioned in the 3rd Dragoon Guards from the Militia on 6 June 1896.  He certainly had the build of a dragoon.  He was a notable heavyweight boxer, who contested the army championships, as well as a keen horseman, both on the hunting field and the polo field.  But Burt was more than a ‘hearty’.  He was an observer at the Graeco-Turkish War (1897), at the Prussian Guard Corps manoeuvres (1907) and at the Austrian manoeuvres in Galicia (1909) and a war correspondent during the Spanish-Moroccan War (1910).  He served as Adjutant of 3rd Dragoon Guards (September 1899–July 1904), which included active service in the South African War (1899–1902).   

 

In April 1912 he was appointed Brigade Major Welsh Border Mounted Brigade, a post he retained until December 1914.  He commanded 3rd Dragoon Guards from October 1915 until October 1917, after which he spent three months as acting GOC 6th Cavalry Brigade, still in the rank of lieutenant-colonel.  Burt reached general officer rank at the age of 43 in April 1918 when he became GOC 7th Cavalry Brigade, 3rd (Cavalry) Division.  He retained the position until the end of the war, except for a short break in July when he was recovering from the after effects of carbon monoxide poisoning incurred in attempting to rescue men from a bomb crater caused by an air attack on his headquarters.  Burt was awarded the Albert Medal for his part in the rescue.  He was Chief of the Military Mission to Latvia and Lithuania (June 1919–February 1920).   He retired from the army on 16 March 1920.

 

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

John Ernest Bush

 

(1858 - 1943)

Brigadier-General

CB. GOC Infantry Brigade

Clifton College Militia

Durham Light Infantry

 

John Ernest Bush was the son of Major Robert Bush, 96th Foot.  He was commissioned in the 106th Foot, later 2nd Battalion Durham Light Infantry, from the Militia on 23 October 1880.  He came from an accomplished sporting family.[1]  Bush’s early career saw him make something of a specialty of being an adjutant: Adjutant 2nd DLI (April 1884–April 1889), including a period in the Sudan (1885–6); Adjutant Great Indian Peninsular Railway Volunteer Corps (November 1895–October 1898), one of the more obscure appointments available to pre-war British officers; and Adjutant 4th (2nd Durham Militia) Battalion DLI (February 1900–September 1903).  He also served briefly as Garrison Adjutant Orange River in the South African War (1902). Being adjutant was often a step on the road to battalion command.  Bush duly reached this milestone, as CO 2nd DLI, in August 1906, enjoying a standard four year tour before finding himself on half-pay.  He was rescued from this limbo by the formation of the Territorial Force.  In June 1911 he became the first commander of the York and Durham brigade in the rank of colonel.  He retained the post when the European War broke out and was advanced to brigadier-general.  He even went to war with his re-named 150th Brigade, part of the 50th (Northumbrian) Division in April 1915.  He was 56.  50th Division went into action at Ypres on 24 April, one day after the completion of its concentration, a testimony to the difficulties caused by the German gas attack on 22 April.  After the April crisis 50th Division spent the rest of 1915 training and holding the line.  Brigadier-General Bush was invalided home in January 1916.  He commanded the East Anglian Reserve Infantry Brigade from September 1916 until 23 November 1917, when he retired from the army.

[1] J.E. Bush played for Clifton Rugby Club in Bristol and for Gloucestershire.  He was selected once for Ireland at Rugby but had to withdraw because of army duties.  His brother, James Arthur Bush, was Gloucestershire’s wicket-keeper, as well as playing for the MCC.  He was W.G. Grace’s best friend and the best man at his wedding.  Bush’s other brother, Robert Edwin, played rugby for Clifton and cricket for Gloucestershire. He also became an explorer in Australia.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies

Henry Hugh Butler

 

(1862-19??)

Brigadier-General

CRA 

RMA Woolwich

RH&RF Artillery

 

Henry Hugh Butler was commissioned in the Royal Artillery on 1 October 1882.  He was DAAG India (1896–1900) and Adjutant RA (April 1892–July 1893).  He was appointed CRA South Midland Division on 18 July 1914 in the rank of colonel.  He retained the post when the European War broke out and was advanced to brigadier-general.  He went to war with the re-named 48th (South Midland) Division in March 1915, but was sent home in May.  He was 52.

 

John Bourne

Centre for First World War Studies