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94th (Yeomanry) Brigade - Who was Brigadier General A Symons?


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John Beech

Afternoon All

 

Trying to confirm the first name of the Brigadier General commanding 94th (Yeomanry) Brigade from when it was reconstituted in June 1918 until November 1918 when he went sick..

 

Becke in the Order of Battle of the Divisions of the British Army in the Great War only lists him as 'A Symons' and the Brigade War Diary has several entries signed 'A Symons' but none with his first name. The only Brigadier General I can find called 'A Symons' is Adolphe Symons, who started the war as a Lieutenant Colonel with the 13th Hussars, and was later promoted to Brigadier General.

 

There is a 2005 post listing 1253 GOC which has him listed as 'Symons. Adolphe GOC Infantry Brigade', and he is also the only GOC named Symons. There is also a post from 2012 which gives a synopsis of his career, his service with 13th Hussars, and the fact was appointed a GSO1 and Brigadier General in 1917, but there is no mention of his 1918 service or of his commanding 94th (Yeomanry) Brigade.

 

Unfortunately, 31st Division, which 94th (Yeomanry) Brigade was part of, does not have a Divisional History.

 

There is every probability that he did indeed command 94th (Yeomanry) Brigade in 1918, but can anyone confirm a source that specifically states that this is the case?

 

Thanks

 

 

 

 

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Found a couple of signatures online, 1911 census of Ireland and his marriage cert from 1901

 

88121915_ScreenShot2021-01-17at01_08_34.png.9b4b7f82c0655db6742231cdacb98b15.png

412966563_ScreenShot2021-01-17at01_04_34.png.d0fa4e7988cb072ca842b1546428498f.png

 

Census image from Irish national archives & marr cert from ancestry

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As travers61 shows it was ‘Adolphe’.  To learn more about his tenure of the brigade your best bet might be to research the regiments that were in 94th (Yeomanry) Brigade at that period of the war and then see if any regimental officers wrote accounts or biographies.  Mentions of ‘the brigade commander’ often appear in such regimental accounts.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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voltaire60
28 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

Your best bet might be to research the regiments that were in 94th (Yeomanry) Brigade at that period of the war and then see if any regimental officers wrote accounts or biographies.  Mentions of ‘the brigade commander’ often appear in such regimental accounts.

 

   Or the war diaries of the units he commanded - Visits by a Brigadier are a usual thing to note- awards of gallantry, etc.  Also, the Brigadier should, on balance, get mentioned in some of the documents  annexed,often, to the filed monthly war diaries.

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3 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

 

   Or the war diaries of the units he commanded - Visits by a Brigadier are a usual thing to note- awards of gallantry, etc.  Also, the Brigadier should, on balance, get mentioned in some of the documents  annexed,often, to the filed monthly war diaries.


Yes indeed, instead of working from the Division down work from the regiments up, that’s exactly what I meant.

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voltaire60
1 hour ago, FROGSMILE said:


Yes indeed, instead of working from the Division down work from the regiments up, that’s exactly what I meant.

 

     Bingo-  Is that not the main reason that the rank of Brigadier existed in the British Army of the Great War?- So that he could be recorded as being an "old buffer" in all the memoirs,etc:D

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17 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

 

     Bingo-  Is that not the main reason that the rank of Brigadier existed in the British Army of the Great War?- So that he could be recorded as being an "old buffer" in all the memoirs,etc:D

They were far from all being old buffers, although there were inevitably a few of those 1914-15.  Perhaps you’ve been watching the Life and Death of Colonel Blimp too many times!  If you haven’t read it already (I suspect you have) I recommend you take a look at the book ‘Bloody Red Tabs’ by Frank Davies and Graham Maddocks.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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I second that book suggestion.

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There is a mention of Brig Gen Symons CMG in the published WW1 history of the 13th Hussars: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/61769/61769-h/61769-h.htm#i_328fp

 

Intriguingly he was inquired after by Michelle of this forum in 1915 and as you mentioned a forum member (Terry Reeves) outlined a career history that mysteriously does not mention command of a brigade at all. https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/182631-adolphe-symons/
On that basis my guess is that his appointment commanding the brigade was temporary and probably quite brief. Sometimes these appointments were pro tem to cover an absence or interval between substantive appointees.


I enclose his photo.

38882BBB-B6A6-413E-9E54-84CA11B13180.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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voltaire60
49 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

They were far from all being old buffers, although there were inevitably a few of those 1914-15.  Perhaps you’ve been watching the Life and Death of Colonel Blimp too many times!  If you haven’t read it already (I suspect you have) I recommend you take a look at the book ‘Bloody Red Tabs’ by Frank Davies and Graham Maddocks.

 

     Yes-Had a go at that.  My thoughts re. the original post in this thread were more a memory of the Sassoon poem:

 

The General

“Good-morning, good-morning!” the General said
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead,
And we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
“He's a cheery old card,” grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.
 
But he did for them both by his plan of attack.
(With thanks to The Poetry Foundation) 
 
    Let's hope our original poster finds out that his man was not the "cheery old card"!!
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He seems to have been more the staff officer type.

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John Beech
3 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

There is a mention of Brig Gen Symons CMG in the published WW1 history of the 13th Hussars: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/61769/61769-h/61769-h.htm#i_328fp

 

Intriguingly he was inquired after by Michelle of this forum in 1915 and as you mentioned a forum member (Terry Reeves) outlined a career history that mysteriously does not mention command of a brigade at all. https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/182631-adolphe-symons/
On that basis my guess is that his appointment commanding the brigade was temporary and probably quite brief. Sometimes these appointments were pro tem to cover an absence or interval between substantive appointees.


I enclose his photo.

38882BBB-B6A6-413E-9E54-84CA11B13180.jpeg

Thanks for the suggestion he commanded for six months and went ill 8 November, so might have been a stop gap appointment.

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John Beech
5 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:


Yes indeed, instead of working from the Division down work from the regiments up, that’s exactly what I meant.

That's a good idea, will give it a try

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BullerTurner
On 17/01/2021 at 12:35, FROGSMILE said:

He seems to have been more the staff officer type.

Which phrase in future, should I be asked why I did not become a general, I will reply with.  Clever and industrious to put it the Prussian way?

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37 minutes ago, BullerTurner said:

Which phrase in future, should I be asked why I did not become a general, I will reply with.  Clever and industrious to put it the Prussian way?


I did not mean the comment in a pejorative way, although I understand why you might think so.  However, as someone who spent lengthy periods in a variety of headquarters, as well as years at regimental duty, even mulling things over in my mind I realise that explaining the nuance would take forever and is perhaps not best done in this forum.  Clever and industrious would be a correct description for highly competent staff officers, just as courageous and quick thinking would be for formation commanders.  You and I both know that neither are always the case. 

Edited by FROGSMILE
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His entry in Who Was Who just states this about his career:

 

Served S. Africa, 1899–1900 (despatches, Queen’s medal 4 clasps); European War, 1914–18 (despatches thrice, CMG, Bt Col); 2nd in command Home Guard, London District, 1940–42

 

And this is the WW1 section of his Times Obituary

 

231162893_ScreenShot2021-01-19at12_52_44.png.c2dfe41224abef44435ed02cbdd0daec.png

 

https://go.gale.com/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=Newspapers&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchResultsType=SingleTab&hitCount=6&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=6&docId=GALE|CS151868165&docType=Obituary&sort=Pub+Date+Forward+Chron&contentSegment=ZTMA-MOD1&prodId=TTDA&pageNum=1&contentSet=GALE|CS151868165&searchId=R1&userGroupName=wsussex&inPS=true

 

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TullochArd

That most basic of research tools - the MIC - confirms Adolphe Symons was Lt Col 13th Hussars and was in "France Dec 1914 to Jul 1915."  The MIC shows 15 Star trio and MiD emblem to BVM.  My reading is that the medals are stamped Brig Gen therefore that was his rank on qualification for the medals?

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Andrew Upton
4 minutes ago, TullochArd said:

That most basic of research tools - the MIC - confirms Adolphe Symons was Lt Col 13th Hussars and was in "France Dec 1914 to Jul 1915."  The MIC shows 15 Star trio and MiD emblem to BVM.  My reading is that the medals are stamped Brig Gen therefore that was his rank on qualification for the medals?

 

The Star should have his first rank served with overseas in a theatre of war. Only his BWM/VM should have the highest rank served with overseas in a theatre of war.

 

Edited by Andrew Upton
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34 minutes ago, Andrew Upton said:

 

The Star should have his first rank served with overseas in a theatre of war. Only his BWM/VM should have the highest rank served with overseas in a theatre of war.

 

They should indeed be so impressed.  The medal roll for 1914/1915 Star (NA ref. WO 329/2943) shows his entitlement as Lieutenant-Colonel, 13th Hussars, with an entry date of 14/12/1914.  The BWM/Victory Medal roll (NA ref. WO 329/2138) shows that entitlement to be impressed as Brigadier-General.

 

Steve

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Andrew Upton
1 hour ago, SteveE said:

They should indeed be so impressed.  The medal roll for 1914/1915 Star (NA ref. WO 329/2943) shows his entitlement as Lieutenant-Colonel, 13th Hussars, with an entry date of 14/12/1914.  The BWM/Victory Medal roll (NA ref. WO 329/2138) shows that entitlement to be impressed as Brigadier-General.

 

Out of curiosity - the rules as applied to most people effectively have first rank/first regiment on the Star, but last rank/first regiment on the BWM/VM - which in the case of the latter can mean you end up with combinations the individual would never actually have held together. In the case of someone promoted to Brigadier General do they say whether his BWM/VM would still be impressed with the Hussars details, or something else?

 

Edited by Andrew Upton
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22 minutes ago, Andrew Upton said:

 

Out of curiosity - the rules as applied to most people effectively have first rank/first regiment on the Star, but last rank/first regiment on the BWM/VM - which in the case of the latter can mean you end up with combinations the individual would never actually have held together. In the case of someone promoted to Brigadier General do they say whether his BWM/VM would still be impressed with the Hussars details, or something else?

 

Simple answer is no they don't.  The 1914/1915 Star was issued off of the 13th Hussars roll with his rank shown as Lieutenant-Colonel.  The BWM & Victory Medal were issued off of the roll for the "Gentlemen-at-Arms, Staff" with Brigadier-General as the rank but with no other indication as to unit.

 

Steve

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TullochArd
1 hour ago, SteveE said:

The BWM & Victory Medal were issued off of the roll for the "Gentlemen-at-Arms, Staff" with Brigadier-General as the rank but with no other indication as to unit.

 

 

Gentlemen-at Arms, Staff  ........ fascinating ....... every day's a school day Steve. 

 

So by 1920's, when the BWM and BVM were being applied for, he was one of the 40 x Gentlemen-at-Arms attending the King on state occasions.

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Andrew Upton
2 hours ago, SteveE said:

Simple answer is no they don't.  The 1914/1915 Star was issued off of the 13th Hussars roll with his rank shown as Lieutenant-Colonel.  The BWM & Victory Medal were issued off of the roll for the "Gentlemen-at-Arms, Staff" with Brigadier-General as the rank but with no other indication as to unit.

 

Interesting, thanks. I guessed the BWM/VM may have simply omitted regiment completely (how many Brigadier Generals named Symons are there?) - but that also raises the possibility of some sort of "Staff" marking instead. Now all we need is forum members to post examples of medals to Generals in their collections to see... :)

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50 minutes ago, TullochArd said:

 

Gentlemen-at Arms, Staff  ........ fascinating ....... every day's a school day Steve. 

 

So by 1920's, when the BWM and BVM were being applied for, he was one of the 40 x Gentlemen-at-Arms attending the King on state occasions.

Looking at that particular medal roll the comma between Gentlemen-at-Arms and Staff is significant.... The first page of the roll is the King himself, next two pages are for the Gentlemen-at-Arms and the rest of that volume is for the General Staff starting with Kitchener, Roberts, French and MacDonoch.  Symons’ entry is some two hundred and seventy-ish pages after them......

 

Steve

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39 minutes ago, Andrew Upton said:

 

Interesting, thanks. I guessed the BWM/VM may have simply omitted regiment completely (how many Brigadier Generals named Symons are there?) - but that also raises the possibility of some sort of "Staff" marking instead. Now all we need is forum members to post examples of medals to Generals in their collections to see... :)

No problem, some of the names on the roll have a regiment listed under their name but I’d say the majority don’t, Symons is one that doesn’t which does suggest that some sort of “Staff” marking may be possible?

 

Steve

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