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Tim Bowler

British generals killed in WW1

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Tim Bowler

Hi there,

I am sure this may well have been covered in earlier posts. So my apologies for asking the question again.

It's about the number of British generals killed WW1. My understanding is that 58 officers of Brigadier general rank and above were killed WW1. However, others have quoted me a lower figure of 23. I suspect both may be correct, but that the lower figure excludes the 1 star, brigadier general rank?

Also - do any of the Pals know of a handy list of names for these higher rank casualties? Or could you point me in the direction of any source material that would help?

With very best wishes

Tim B ;)

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armourersergeant

'Bloody Red Tabs' by Maddocks and Davies is a good work on the Generals killed and wounded during WW1. In the intro they give a total of casualties (killed and wounded) as 232, this includes some who may have been wounded twice etc.

Obviously there are instances not covered in the book, where an officer may have been wounded when only a lower rank, which I guess is not expected to be covered but worth allowing for, as the Generals often branded as Donkeys were not all old buffoons who had not served in the trenches or earlier in 1914. One such is Daivd Campbell who was wounded in a cavalry charge in 1914 at the head of the 9th lancers. He served as a briagade and divisional commander but came to no harm after his promotion to General.

regards

Arm

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Chris_Baker

'Bloody red tabs' names 78 killed or died as a result of active service. The 146 biographies of others that they include (mainly of the wounded) also includes a small number who were taken as POW.

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per ardua per mare per terram

Frank Davies and Graham Maddocks in 'Bloody Red Tabs' make it clear at the beginning that they may not have recorded everyone. Resulting from another thread I looked at some British generals who received decorations for gallantry. One of these was T/Brig-Gen. Roland Charles Haig, D.S.O., Rif Bde who earned a second bar to his DSO whilst a Brig-Gen. From his entry in O’Moore Creagh’s DSO volumes there is a reference that he was gassed at Berry-au-Bec while a Brig-Gen, but he doesn't appear in Bloody Red Tabs. It is possible that they have missed the death of a general.

Looking at the Davies and Maddocks entries, it is clear that they used a stricter criteria for deaths than is used by CWGC. For example as I recall their cut off was 11/11/18 so post war deaths from causes from the conditions off WWI or wounds are not included in their total.

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PhilB

One tends to think that most generals became casualties due to shell fire. Is there a breakdown showing how they became casualties?

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Philip Wilson

QUOTE (Phil_B @ Mar 16 2010, 07:38 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
One tends to think that most generals became casualties due to shell fire. Is there a breakdown showing how they became casualties?

Phil

There is a detailed analysis on pages 22/23 of 'Bloody Red Tabs' which I will summarise:

Of the 78 Generals who were killed in action, died of wounds or died as a result of active service:

34 Generals were killed by shellfire = 43%

22 Generals were killed by small arms fire = 28% (of which at least 12 were killed by snipers)

3 Generals were drowned - 1 accidently, 1 inadvertently poisoned himself, 1 died from cholera,

1 died as a result of a flying accident and 1 died from accidental injuries.

Of the remaining 15, no direct cause of death is known - the authors suggest it being likely that the majority would have been killed by either shell fire or small arms fire.

The book was published in 1994 and is well worth reading. It contains a most useful 6 page bibliography by way of a good starting point, for much has been written since on the General Officers who served during the Great War.

Philip

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PhilB

Thanks, Philip. From your figures it looks like about 50% were killed by shellfire and 20% by snipers. One can understand that frequent visits to HQs would expose generals to shellfire but the estimated figure of 20% sniped seems very high compared with what I imagine the rate for ORs to be. Maybe generals (or their staff) were not as careful as they should have been when visiting front line positions? Or maybe they felt obliged to show fearlessness when in exposed positions as their predecessors had always been expected to do?

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SiegeGunner

Or perhaps they were just taller? Or unwisely keen on poking their head over to 'have a look'?

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bob lembke
Or perhaps they were just taller? Or unwisely keen on poking their head over to 'have a look'?

There have been interesting studies of the strong correlation between height and success in promotion within US corporations. One would think that in military organizations, where one might think that "manly" attributes would be even more highly valued, height and promotion might have been related. So the "sniping factor" might have evened the game.

A similar mechanism supposedly existed in the Soviet general ranks, where Stalin, a short bloke, supposedly tended to dislike and then purge generals that were taller than he was, leading to a markedly short general staff.

Bob Lembke

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Guest Rundberg
"manly" attributes would be even more highly valued, height and promotion might have been related.

So Plumer must have been a corporal in disguise? :lol:

Sorry, couldn´t resist, I´ll find my coat and the door by myself... :ph34r:

Chris

ps) Studies with the same result as Bob refers to has been done in Sweden as well. The correlation is quiet remarkable in fact.

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Philip Wilson

QUOTE (Phil_B @ Mar 17 2010, 09:12 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks, Philip. From your figures it looks like about 50% were killed by shellfire and 20% by snipers. One can understand that frequent visits to HQs would expose generals to shellfire but the estimated figure of 20% sniped seems very high compared with what I imagine the rate for ORs to be. Maybe generals (or their staff) were not as careful as they should have been when visiting front line positions? Or maybe they felt obliged to show fearlessness when in exposed positions as their predecessors had always been expected to do?

There is a short write up about each General in the book including in most instances a brief account of the circumstances leading up to their death or injury, cross referenced to original source material for further reading to help you draw your own conclusions. Of those killed by a sniper's bullet, some were clearly reckless and lost their lives needlessly, others just had the misfortune to be spotted despite taking all reasonable precautions when either in the front line or in close proximity to it.

Philip

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27thBN
There have been interesting studies of the strong correlation between height and success in promotion within US corporations. One would think that in military organizations, where one might think that "manly" attributes would be even more highly valued, height and promotion might have been related. So the "sniping factor" might have evened the game.

A similar mechanism supposedly existed in the Soviet general ranks, where Stalin, a short bloke, supposedly tended to dislike and then purge generals that were taller than he was, leading to a markedly short general staff.

Bob Lembke

I for one tend very much to agree every officer i have in my collection(about 30 men) promoted from from the ranks is at least 5 9 in height a lot being 6 foot or higher .I have another group to a Major that was in the ranks for 24 years before being commissioned he was recommended many,many times for a commission ,he got it in the end well after the war He was a RSM for 7 years with excellent reports ..but only 5 foot 3 you be the judge.

MC

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per ardua per mare per terram
Phil

... Of the remaining 15, no direct cause of death is known - the authors suggest it being likely that the majority would have been killed by either shell fire or small arms fire...

Reading the descriptions, some of them were from wounds.

Some of the deaths from snipers were early on in the war, when fewer were wise to the problems.

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phil andrade

QUOTE (Phil_B @ Mar 17 2010, 09:12 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
the estimated figure of 20% sniped seems very high compared with what I imagine the rate for ORs to be.

German snipers were good, obviously.

Maybe the higherst ranking victims of snipers were more likely to be picked off in the earlier part of the war. If generals were inclined to visit the front line and take undue risks, then I would imagine that this was more likely to occur in the winter of, say, 1914-15 than in the winter of 1917-18. My reason for suspecting this : the trench warfare of the early days was far more in the nature of "a wing and a prayer". This is borne out by an old book I bought in a second hand book shop " Memories of Four Fronts" by Lt General Sir William Marshall, written in 1929. The first part of the book describes the fighting in Artois from mid November 1914 to February 1915, largely in the Neuve Chapelle sector, and the references to sniping are continuous. This is typical, pages 33-34, and 39, describing conditions in December 1914:

" One of the houses in Neuve Chapelle ( the one near which Dilworth had been killed) was annoying us a good deal; the windows, looking into a part of our trench line, had been barricaded and loop-holed, and the German snipers from this position were almost [sic!] dangerous.....These Neuve Chapelle houses were a nuisance in this way; we lost amongst others a very good O.T.C. officer, named Smalley, by a shot from a loop-holed window, and but for a very stout cigarette case in my breast pocket I should also have paid the debt of nature, as it was I only got a slight flesh-wound which did not worry me......Many sand-bags and other revetting material had by this time come along, but even with such aids our trenches could only be occupied in bits, and a round of inspection was quite an adventure. One had to reach the trenches by a cautious approach ending in a sharp sprint, then, having seen as much as one could by wading, one had to get out at the back of the trench and race for another portion and so on......."

At this point in the war, judging by the account above, the high ranking officers were compelled by circumstances to engage in supervison and inspection in positions of very rudimentary construction; the trenches were waterlogged, and sandbag barricades had to suffice where the ground prevented proper entrenchment. The Germans were able to exact an inordinate toll from sniping in these conditions, and this fuels my supposition that the sniping was especially dangerous to Generals at this time.

Phil

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rodonisle

Also looking for a general that was killed or died in WWI recently before Dec. 1914. A letter by then Lt. EJ Howells written while recovering in England from injuries at Gillipoli, refers to a General Linton (spelling? see attachment). Howells was an Australian, but can't find record of any Aussie general by that name - so perhaps listed as British.

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Ron Clifton

Hello Rod

I have databases of virtually all British and Dominions officers of the rank of Major-General and above, and of most Brigadier-Generals in the British Army but not the Dominions armies. There are no obvious candidates with surnames beginning with L who were killed before the end of 1914, or indeed later.

The databases are derived from Becke's Orders of Battle of Divisions, plus F W Perry's continuation of Becke's work to include the Dominions. They may not include every general officer but they should include most of them, especially in 1914 when very few general officers other than British were involved in action.

Ron

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Ron Clifton

I think it was probably Lomax, and "Linton" was a misreading or mis-remembering of the name.

Ron

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rodonisle

I allowed to load a .jpg of the text, so you can't assist in reading the name. The handwritting is not the best but Lomax is unlikely - the first letter is the most doubted.

From the tone of the letter - husband to wife - and previous page's comments of surprise that she was not seeing news of ANZAC in the papers - even that he had landed there, it is assumed that the general was well know to the couple. "You will of course know all about General Linton's (sp?) death by this time."

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