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Remembered Today:

General Officers in combat


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Remembering Today: Major-General Frederick Drummond Vincent WING, General Staff commanding 12th Division, who died on 2nd October 1915, Noeux-Les-Mines Communal Cemetery, France

I wanted to open this thread to emphasise that not all General Officers spent all their time in a chateau. May he Rest in Peace.

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See the History of the 12th Eastern Division in the Great War by Major-General Sir Arthur B.Scott and P Middleton Brumwell published in 1923.

'Bloody Red Tabs - General Staff Officer Casualties of the Great War 1914-18' by Frank Davies and Graham Maddocks records 'Wing had a number of near escapes before he was eventually killed' by a shell with his ADC Lt. C.C.Tower, Essex Yeomanry near the advanced reporting station about 3.45pm while in active superintendence of operations and just after they had visited the front line trenches (near Mazingarbe). They were killed whilst crossing the road outside the Report Centre.

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QUOTE from another thread: see http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...32678&st=75

(michaeldr @ Sep 13 2009, 07:46 PM)

To return to the original question here re the veracity of the statement

there is corroboration from Prof Travers in his 'The Killing Ground' which covers this in his chapter on Douglas Haig & GHQ

"The reason that GHQ staff did not visit the front in 1916 and 1917 seems to be partly because Haig had decreed in 1915, as GOC First Army, 'that no staff officer was to go nearer the trenches than a certain line'. This was because of the danger involved for difficult-to-replace staff officers. The order appears to have originated in October 1915 in GHQ under Sir John French who, after three of his divisional generals had been killed, said that such senior officers should not visit the front."

And yesterday. 2nd October 2009

Today the GWF remembers one of the three generals referred to by Prof Travers:

Major-General Frederick Drummond Vincent WING, died 2nd October 1915.

The other two generals killed at about this time were Major-General Thesiger

and Major-General Capper

Good to be reminded of this sort of thing from time to time

Thesiger and Capper preceeded Wing by only about a week

see French's despatch here http://www.1914-1918.net/french_ninth_despatch.html

paras 14, 15 & 17 refer

regards

Michael

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Hello,

Brigadier Lowry Cole commanding 25 Bde in 8 Div was killed 9 May 1915 during battle of Aubers Ridge he lies in Le Troy Aid Post Cemetery. Headstone below.

Old Tom

post-3524-1254585612.jpg

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Another Brigadier General, from Gallipoli

Name: LONGFORD, 5th Earl of

Initials: T

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Brigadier General

Regiment/Service: ALIAS

Date of Death: 21/08/1915

Additional information: See PAKENHAM, the true family name.

Name: PAKENHAM, THOMAS

Initials: T

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Brigadier General

Regiment/Service: General Staff

Unit Text: Commanding 2nd (South Midland) Mounted Brigade.

Age: 50

Date of Death: 21/08/1915

Awards: K P, M V O

Additional information: 5th Earl of Longford. Born at Dublin. Son of William Lygon Pakenham, 4th Earl of Longford; husband of Mary Julia, Countess of Longford, of North Aston Hall, Oxford.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Spec. Mem. E. 3.

Cemetery: GREEN HILL CEMETERY

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other generals who died as a result of action at Gallipoli include

Name: BALDWIN, ANTHONY HUGH

Initials: A H

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Brigadier General

Regiment/Service: General Staff

Unit Text: Cdg. 38th Infantry Brigade.

Secondary Regiment: Manchester Regiment

Secondary Unit Text: formerly

Age: 51

Date of Death: 10/08/1915

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 16.

Memorial: HELLES MEMORIAL

Name: BRIDGES, Sir WILLIAM THROSBY

Initials: W T

Nationality: Australian

Rank: Major General

Regiment/Service: Australian Imperial Force

Unit Text: 1st Divisional Headquarters

Age: 54

Date of Death: 18/05/1915

Awards: K C B, C M G, Mentioned in Despatches

Additional information: Memorial at Mt. Pleasant Lookout, Duntroon Military College.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: (GRM/2*).

[body repatriated to] Cemetery: DUNTROON MILITARY COLLEGE GROUNDS

The next officer does not appear to be listed on the CWGC yet (see pages 116 and Introduction,

'To What End Did They Die? Officers Died at Gallipoli' by R W Walker, 1985, ISBN 0 9510608 0 5)

Brigadier General Edward John Granet CB, RA

Died (as a result of wounds received at Suvla Bay) 22nd October 1918 aged 60 years. Commemorated Bern Cemetery, Switzerland

Name: KENNA, PAUL ALOYSIUS

Initials: P A

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Brigadier General

Regiment/Service: General Staff

Unit Text: Cdg. 3rd Mounted Brigade

Secondary Regiment: 21st (Empress of India's) Lancers

Secondary Unit Text: and A.D.C.

Age: 53

Date of Death: 30/08/1915

Awards: V C, D S O

Additional information: Husband of Angela Mary Kenna, of Trowle House, Trowbridge, Wilts. Served in the South African War.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: II. A. 1.

Cemetery: LALA BABA CEMETERY

Citation: An extract from the "London Gazette." dated 15th Nov., 1898, records the following:- "At the Battle of Khartoum, on 2nd September 1898, Captain P.A. Kenna assisted Major Crole Wyndham, of the same regiment, by taking him on his horse, behind the saddle (Major Wyndham's horse having been killed in the charge), thus enabling him to reach a place of safety; and after the charge of the 21st Lancers, Captain Kenna returned to assist Lieutenant de Montmorency, who was endeavouring to recover the body of second Lieutenant R.G. Grenfell."

Name: LEE, NOEL

Initials: N

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Brigadier General

Regiment/Service: General Staff

Unit Text: Cdg. 127th (Manchester T.F.) Bde. 42nd Division.

Secondary Regiment: Manchester Regiment

Secondary Unit Text: late

Age: 48

Date of Death: 22/06/1915

Awards: V D, Mentioned in Despatches

Additional information: Son of Sir Joseph Cocksey Lee; husband of Lilian Lee, of Horsley House, Tilford, Surrey.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: XXV. 4.

Cemetery: PIETA MILITARY CEMETERY

Name: NAPIER, HENRY EDWARD

Initials: H E

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Brigadier General

Regiment/Service: General Staff

Unit Text: Commanding 88th Brigade

Age: 53

Date of Death: 25/04/1915

Awards: Mentioned in Despatches

Additional information: Son of Charles George and Susanna Napier, of the Acacias, Bury St. Edmund's; husband of Mary Ada Napier, of 13, Stanley Place, Chester. Formerly Cheshire Regt. and Royal Irish Rifles.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 16.

Memorial: HELLES MEMORIAL

Name: SCOTT-MONCRIEFF, WILLIAM

Initials: W

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Brigadier General

Regiment/Service: General Staff

Unit Text: Cdg. 156th Brigade

Secondary Regiment: Middlesex Regiment

Secondary Unit Text: formerly

Age: 57

Date of Death: 28/06/1915

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Sp. Mem. C. 132.

Cemetery: TWELVE TREE COPSE CEMETERY

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Brigadier-General Sir William A.I.Kay, 6th Bart. CMG, DSO, was commissioned into the King's Royal Rifle Corps in July 1896.

G.O.C. 2nd Brigade,1st Division - wounded in the face by machine gun bullet whilst visiting the forward posts of the Royal Sussex Regiment on 17th March 1918.

As G.O.C. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division he was killed instantaneously by a gas shell on 4th October 1918 at Magny-la-Fosse, as was the Brigade-Major Captain W.F.Somervail, DSO, MC who was with him whilst reconnoitering new area. They are both buried at Vadencourt British Cemetery. Maissemy. France.

Philip

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Lieutenant General Samuel Holt Lomax was in a chateau when he received the wounds that eventually killed him five months later. He died on April 10th 1915 aged 59 and is buried in Aldershot Military Cemetery. He saw service in South Africa during the Zulu War while serving with the 90th (Perthshire) Light Infantry. I can't imagine there were many men killed in the Great War whose medals included the campaign medal for South Africa 1877-1879.

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  • 2 weeks later...

post-48147-1255472766.jpg

Major-General L.J.Lipsett, C.B., C.M.G., G.O.C. 4th Division was the last British General to be killed in the Great War, when he was mortally wounded in front of his own front line, whilst engaged on a reconnaisance on the 14 October, 1918.

He with others had gone forward to gain a view of the crossing of the river Selle between Haspres and Sauloir. He was crawling down a slope E. of the wood in P.25.a; in front of our own posts which ran along the E. edge of the wood W. of Sauloir when he was hit in the face, probably by a machine gun bullet. He managed to stagger back to the wood, but died almost immediately.

He is buried in Queant Communal Cemetery British Extension, France.

Philip

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  • 2 weeks later...

Brig.-Gen. Hon. John Frederick Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis DSO, was born on 14 January 1878. In the South African War he served as a Trooper in the Imperial Yeomanry, but in 1901 was gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Irish Guards.

In the Brigade of Guards he was known as 'Jack Tre.' He was killed on 24 October 1915 aged 37 , when going round the 20th Brigade trenches on the Givenchy Front with Brig-Gen R.A. Berners just before the 21st Brigade relieved the 20th.

The war diary of the 20th Brigade records 'He was shot throught the forehead by a sniper and died almost immediately.'

He is buried in the Guards' Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy, France.

Philip

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Philip

Does 'Bloody Red Tabs' say how many general officers were killed and/or casualties? I read somewhere that over 300 were casualties, but I can'r remember where I read it.

Thanks

Mike

post-48147-1254519782.jpg

See the History of the 12th Eastern Division in the Great War by Major-General Sir Arthur B.Scott and P Middleton Brumwell published in 1923.

'Bloody Red Tabs - General Staff Officer Casualties of the Great War 1914-18' by Frank Davies and Graham Maddocks records 'Wing had a number of near escapes before he was eventually killed' by a shell with his ADC Lt. C.C.Tower, Essex Yeomanry near the advanced reporting station about 3.45pm while in active superintendence of operations and just after they had visited the front line trenches (near Mazingarbe). They were killed whilst crossing the road outside the Report Centre.

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Philip

Does 'Bloody Red Tabs' say how many general officers were killed and/or casualties? I read somewhere that over 300 were casualties, but I can'r remember where I read it.

Thanks

Mike

Mike

The book 'Bloody Red Tabs' was published in 1995 and the following is extracted from the introduction:

The number of casualties amongst general officers, including killed, died of wounds, died during front line service, were wounded (including gassed) or were taken prisoner is as follows:

10 casualties August -December 1914

47 casualties in 1915

48 casualties in 1916

51 casualties in 1917

76 casualties in 1918

The total of 232 casualties includes eight Generals who were wounded twice.

Of this number 78 are recorded as fatal casualties.

On the reverse of the cover of the book there is the following statement by John Terraine - 'these authors list 78 British Generals who were killed or died as a result of active service between 1914-18, another 146 who were wounded.'

Philip

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Brigadier General Frank Maxwell VC and DSO, a soldier of the highest order, much respected by his men, he was frequently found donning the uniform of a private and leading from the front.

He was eventually shot by a sniper in September 1917 whilst with 27 Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division.

John

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Many thanks, Philip.

Mike

The book 'Bloody Red Tabs' was published in 1995 and the following is extracted from the introduction:

The number of casualties amongst general officers, including killed, died of wounds, died during front line service, were wounded (including gassed) or were taken prisoner is as follows:

10 casualties August -December 1914

47 casualties in 1915

48 casualties in 1916

51 casualties in 1917

76 casualties in 1918

The total of 232 casualties includes eight Generals who were wounded twice.

Of this number 78 are recorded as fatal casualties.

On the reverse of the cover of the book there is the following statement by John Terraine - 'these authors list 78 British Generals who were killed or died as a result of active service between 1914-18, another 146 who were wounded.'

Philip

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Brigadier-General C.G.Rawling, CMG, CIE, FRGS,

G.O.C.62nd Bde, 21st Division was killed in action by a shell in Hooge Crater on the 28th October 1917, whilst talking with friends outside his Brigade Headquarters and is buried at Huts Cemetery, Dickebusch, (now Dikkebus) Belgium.

Does anybody have a photograph of Brig-Gen Rawling they can add to this thread please ?

Philip

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A few photos which might be of interest.

Name: ORMSBY, VINCENT ALEXANDER

Initials: V A

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Brigadier General

Regiment/Service: General Staff

Unit Text: Cdg. 127th Infantry Bde.

Secondary Regiment: 3rd Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles

Secondary Unit Text: late

Age: 51

Date of Death: 01/05/1917

Awards: C B

Additional information: Son of Capt. G. F. Ormsby (late Queen's Bays), and Mrs. Ormsby; husband of Agnes Ormsby, of 16, Glazbury Rd., West Kensington, London.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: D. 41.

Cemetery: VILLERS-FAUCON COMMUNAL CEMETERY

3557005269_9843fe7076_b.jpg

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Name: LONG, WALTER

Initials: W

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Brigadier General

Regiment/Service: General Staff

Unit Text: Cdg. 56th Inf. Bde.

Secondary Regiment: 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys)

Secondary Unit Text: late

Age: 37

Date of Death: 28/01/1917

Awards: C M G, D S O, Twice Mentioned in Despatches

Additional information: Order of St. Stanislas 2nd Class, with swords. Son of Rt. Hon. Walter Hume Long, P.C., M.P. Secretary of State for the Colonies (afterwards 1st Viscount Long of Wraxall) and of Lady Dorothy Blanche Long (now Viscountess Long of Wraxall) daughter of 9th Earl of Cork and Orrery; husband of Hon. Mrs. Walter Long, O.B.E. (now Hon. Mrs. Ralph Glyn).

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: VI. C. 19.

Cemetery: COUIN BRITISH CEMETERY

3980702955_b17eee1460_b.jpg

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A very interesting thread. I was looking to buy Bloody Red Tabs today, but I think it needs to be said that there were many more generals who probably survived the war and never saw a front-line trench. There is also a danger of losing perspective here. Let us not glorify the few who did die for the sake of the countless thousands of ordinary soldiers who also lost their lives. Some balance is needed in the ratio of high-ranking officers to men.

Regards

Al

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Good point Al, but there was also a real imbalance in the ratio of high-ranking officers to men serving during the War. It would be interesting to see if anyone has done any statistics showing officer to men ratio for numbers serving and numbers who became casualites.

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A very interesting thread. I was looking to buy Bloody Red Tabs today, but I think it needs to be said that there were many more generals who probably survived the war and never saw a front-line trench. There is also a danger of losing perspective here. Let us not glorify the few who did die for the sake of the countless thousands of ordinary soldiers who also lost their lives. Some balance is needed in the ratio of high-ranking officers to men.

Regards

Al

Al,

The authors state that 'The purpose of the book 'Bloody Red Tabs' was to show not only how the myth was born and grew but how totally at odds it is with the facts.'

Facts which had always been available but had remained largely unchallenged until the production of this book in 1995 and by other books since. There is no intention to glorify those general officers who did die in close proximity to the frontline or even at an unsafe chateuex. The book dispels the myth based on wartime attitudes, post war politics and popular humour and is well worth reading.

I agree some balance is needed in the ratio of high ranking officers to men who lost their lives. The book provides comparative statistics in terms of the numbers of General Officers in 1914 compared with those in 1918.

Philip

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Al,

The book dispels the myth based on wartime attitudes, post war politics and popular humour and is well worth reading.

I agree some balance is needed in the ratio of high ranking officers to men who lost their lives. The book provides comparative statistics in terms of the numbers of General Officers in 1914 compared with those in 1918.

Philip

Philip

This was the only point I was trying to make. It wasn't a knock at anyone or the thread. Thanks for the tip, but I have yet to read any book that completely dispels any myth. I would suggest that the wider implications be looked at rather than the comparative analysis which seems to be offered.

Al

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Officer Casualties, % Of Total

Period % Officers in Army % of Total Casualties

4/8/14-30/9/14 4.4 5.6

1/10/14 -30/9/15 2.5 4.0

1/10/15-30/9/16 3.7 4.9

1/10/16-30/9/17 3.3 4.9

1/10/17-30/9/18 3.6 4.7

1/10/18-30/9/19 3.8 4.9

These are from Jay Winter's book, as far as I remember.

Mike

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Officer Casualties, % Of Total

Period ........ % Officers in Army % of Total Casualties

.4/8/14-30/9/14 ........ 4.4 ................ 5.6

1/10/14-30/9/15 ........ 2.5 ................ 4.0

1/10/15-30/9/16 ........ 3.7 ................ 4.9

1/10/16-30/9/17 ........ 3.3 ................ 4.9

1/10/17-30/9/18 ........ 3.6 ................ 4.7

1/10/18-30/9/19 ........ 3.8 ................ 4.9

These are from Jay Winter's book, as far as I remember.

Mike

(formatting above added)

This illustrates one of the problems with bald statistics. I guess it is possible to conclude that the "average" officer was more likely to be killed or injured than the "average" for the army, but it hides other information (which may be in the books referred to - I'm afraid I do not have them).

Speculating:

  • "Officers" covers a wide range of ranks and corresponding experiences:
    • 2nd Lts, Lts, Capts had a more "front-line" experience than officers in general and were expected to "lead from the front", so should have the highest casualty rate, (almost an expectation of casualties)
    • Majors, Lt-Cols and Brig-Gens might be expected to be involved with the front line, but with the expectation that they should take care not to get killed, injured or captured. (a casualty might be viewed as a failure to take care and a waste of a leadership resource)
    • More senior roles were probably expected to spend most of their time out of relative harms way because that is the only way they could be available to communications and able to have a wider view. Any casualties were most likely to be accidents or the results of enemy shell-fire.
    • Obviously there are huge shades of grey and the divisions are not as clear-cut as above. (You could for instance be a Captain serving in Army headquarters well away from the front-line.)
  • Casualties covers, killed, missing, wounded and captured
    • There will again be a different range of statistics as above
  • We have to be careful what even the fuller statistics tell us.
    • High rates may indicate:
      • specific bravery, etc.
      • but it may also indicate carelessness,
      • or even just bad luck.
    • Comparison with other ranks is possibly dangerous as officers may have had
      • a greater degree of knowledge of the situation
      • a greater chance to influence the tactics.
    • Junior officers will probably have had a different mind set to other ranks in that they were one leading many, whilst the other ranks were usually one of a group. (Possibly currently serving members of armed forces can tell me whether this is a true perception.)
I'm not wishing to suggest we should not respect those officers who died (just getting on a troop ship to go to the war (front-line or otherwise) - particularly when you had some idea of what you were going to - was in my view brave and deserving respect irrespective of rank), but a senior staff officer doing his duty in a relative place of safety who gets killed by a stray shell will be just as grievously missed by his family as a private or a subaltern killed leading his company in no man's land.

David

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