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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Division Staff Officers


waltman
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How many officers were attached to Division Headquarters in 1914? What were their titles? Were any Lieutenants or were they all Captain and above as in Brigade? How did they get to the Division level? Did they retain connection to their Battalions? How did the Major-General communicate at a distance with his Brigade and Battalion commanders? Were any officers assigned to be Liaison Officers between these various levels?

Thanks for your help,

William Altman

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Phew!

In peacetime the std set up was less staff officers which meant that in staff practice and manouvers things were alittle more rigid and thus when they went to war they expanded but the first Divisions had not trained and worked as a team!!

OF 4th div I can give you a sample of their 1914 staff set up in regard to how they started out.

Major General Snow

Captain Allfrey ADC

Captain D'Estterre ADC

General Staff Branch

GSO1 Colonel Edmonds

GSO2 Lt Colonel Montgomery

GSO3 Captain Humphreys

Adjutant and Quarter Master-General's branch

Asst A&QMG Lt Colonel Taylor

Deputy Asst A&QMG Captain Burnett Hitchcock

Deputy Asst QMG Captain Elles

Administrative Service and Departments

Asst Director of Medical services Colonel Faunce

Deputy ADMS Major Ensor

Asst Director of Veterinary Services Major Ensor

Deputy Asst Director of Ordnance Major Holmes

Deputy Asst Director of Ordnance Services Major Harter

Field Cashier Major Isacke

Special Appointment

Asst Provost Marshall LT Atchison

HQ DIV Artillery

Commander Brigadier General Milne

ADC to Commander Captain Lanyon

Brigade major Captain Leggett

Staff captain Captain Graham

HQ Div Engineers

Commander Lt Colonel Jones

Adjutant Captain Dobbie

Hope this is of some help. I have included the names of the officers just so you can see what an impressive staff 4th Div had. In my book they all have their regimental or coprs designations at the side of their names so I guess they were classed as attached and could/did return to units etc

regards

Arm

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Dear Arm:

Thanks for the valuable information. What do you make of the 'Special Appointment' of

an 'Asst Provost Marshall' LT Atchison...What would such a position have meant in your judgement?

Will

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Hello,

Certainly a large question. I would add to the excellent data above. Some officers attended Staff College before the war and some during the war but there were, I suspect, never enough to fill all the HQ appointments. Officers above the rank of Lt Col were (certainly are) considered as part of the Staff Corps and are no longer part of any regiment. Lt Col and below retained their membership of a regiment and wore its badges. They would serve for a period with their regiment and then be selected for an HQ appointment. Depending on their apptitude and performance they might be appointed to more senior HQ/staff jobs or to command of units or formations, or return to regimental duty. Communication is another story. The lack of effective means particularly when in action and moving was one of the great problems of the era. Wireless telephony only became available at the end of the war.

Old Tom

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Tom, what is your definition of 'wireless telephony'? Radio transmitters were in use before the end of the war - not just for air-ground communications.

Robert

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Will,

I have to say that until I wrote this lot out for you I had never seen the Specail appointment tag and it struck me as 'strange' when I typed it.

It strikes me that it maybe that given that for probably costs reasons they were short on staff officers before the war, that there was no real role for this position in 1914 and that it was added either by its Div commander Snow or by GHQ.

Snow before the war was known for his training methods and some of the things he practiced were revoluntionary for the time, though not by our standards, and it maybe he added this officer.

That said I have to say i am not sure!

Provost marshall may be to do with both march control as well as police work. It may have been a dual role!

sorry I can not help any further

regards

Arm

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As regards psc ( passed Staff College) I can say that Snow, Edmonds, Montgomery and Milne were definately qualified. I would think that Burnett Hitchcock was also or atleast did after the war and Ellis who went on to make a name in Tanks must have at some time.

The rest I can not say.

To show how important psc was before the war only two members of what I class as High Command during the war, that is Theatre, army and London commands, were not psc. They were to my knowledge Ian Hamilton (Gallipolli fame) and William Marshall (Mesopotamia).

During the war the two year course was at first suspended and then reintroduced as a smaller compact course later on. It is often thought and certainly by me that the learning curve was held up not in the main by the ability of the commanders but by the inexpereince of the staff officers who had to learn a difficult job on the hop.

regards

Arm

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How difficult was it to gain admission to psc and was there a minimum rank/age to be accepted? It was a two year course, I assume from previous posts. Where was the College located?

Cheers,

Will

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It usually consisted of 32 officers, of which 24 were amitted by merit from passing the exams etc and the other eight were chosen and recommended to the course.

As for how hard, well it depends. When Edmonds went to the staff school he and another Engineer officer, Macdonogh, did so well on the entrance exam that by definition all the other candidates were deemed to have failed! Haig by all accounts struggled to get in.

I believe that mid thirties was deemed the cut off point to get in but this was stretched on occassions, but I am less sure on this part.

It started in Jan of one year and ended in Dec of the following and was based at Camberley, which incidently only closed down a few years back when it all combined with all the armed services and moved to Shrivenham. I think the building is still used by by another branch of the army.

regards

Arm

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Pardon my ignorance, Arm, but by a cut-off of thirty-five, you mean that they were YOUNGER, correct? If so, most of them would be bright Lietenants and Captains I'd think. By the way, how common was it for pre-War officers to be graduates of Oxford or Cambridge?

Thanks for being patient!

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Below thirty five yes but as I say dont take this as gossple as i am alittle unsure of this.

As far as schools, Ox and Cambs were some I am sure but there was less of these than others. It was an elitest tribe the officer corps but not all dons.

Most officers who attended Camberley were captains or Lts and some were majors. Some were promoted whilst there and many after they passed out.

regards

Arm

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Hello,

Robert asked for my definbition of wireless telephony. I mean transmission of speech rather than telegraphy which is words by morse.

Old Tom

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