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Horace Smith-Dorrien

Horace Smith-Dorrien


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Horace Smith-Dorrien was born in 1858. On the outbreak of the First World War, he was given command of the II Corps of the British Expeditionary Force.

Smith-Dorrien was praised for his leadership skills during the Battle of Mons. Smith-Dorrien's troops became the British Second Army in December, 1914.

During the Second Battle of Ypres, Smith-Dorrien clashed with Sir John French over tactics. Smith-Dorrien, who argued that repeated attacks on the German front-line was creating unnecessary loss of life, was dismissed by French.

Horace Smith-Dorrien, who never held another major command, died in 1930.


Who's Who - Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien

Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien (1858-1930) was born at Haresfoot in in 1858.

With the outbreak of war Smith-Dorrien, who was a veteran of the 1879 Battle of Isandhlwana and the Second Boer War of 1899-1902, was given command of II Corps of Sir John French's British Expeditionary Force (BEF). He was praised for his conduct during the Battles of Mons and Le Cateau in August 1914, and was given command of Second Army from December 1914 to April 1915.

Smith-Dorrien fell foul of Sir John French, whom he little respected, during the Second Battle of Ypres, when he recommended a strategic withdrawal closer to Ypres, feeling that nothing short of a major counter-offensive was likely to regain the ground taken by the Germans during their offensive.

French disagreed, dismissing Smith-Dorrien home to England upon the pretext of ill-health, and replacing him with Herbert Plumer, who ironically also recommended a withdrawal upon taking up his position French accepted Plumer's advice.

Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien, who never held another field command, served as governor of Gibraltar from 1918-23, and died in August 1930 from injuries sustained in a road accident.

Click here to view film footage of Smith-Dorrien from 1914.

Saturday, 22 August, 2009 Michael Duffy

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Horace Smith-Dorrien

Horace Smith-Dorrien was born at Haresfoot, Berkhamsted, the 11th child of 15. He was educated at Harrow, and on 26 February 1876 entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, passing out with a commission as a subaltern to the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment of Foot. On 1 November 1878, he was posted to South Africa where he worked as a transport officer. In this role he encountered, and fought against, corruption in the army.

Zulu Wars: Smith-Dorrien was present at the Battle of Isandlwana on 22 January 1879, serving with the British invasion force as a transport officer for the army's Royal Artillery detachment. As Zulu forces overran the British forces, Smith-Dorrien narrowly escaped on his transport pony. As such, Smith-Dorrien was one of fewer than fifty white survivors of the battle. His observations on the difficulty of opening ammunition boxes led to changes in British practice for the rest of the war, though modern commentators argue that this was not as an important factor in the defeat as was thought at the time. Because of his conduct in trying to help other soldiers during his dramatic escape from the battlefield, he was nominated for a Victoria Cross, but, as the nomination did not go through the proper channels, he never received it. He took part in the rest of that war.

Egypt 1882𔃅: He later served in Egypt on police duties, being appointed assistant chief of police in Alexandria on 22 August 1882. During this time, he forged a life-long friendship with Lord Kitchener. On 30 December 1885, he witnessed the Battle of Gennis, where the British Army fought in red coats for the last time. The next day he was given an independent command and, following a bold military action where he went beyond his orders, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

From 1887𔃇, Smith-Dorrien then left active command to go to the Staff College, Camberley.

India: He returned to his regiment where he commanded troops during the Tirah campaign of 1897󈟎.

Egypt and Sudan: In 1898, he transferred back to Egypt and fought at the Battle of Omdurman and commanded the British troops during the Fashoda incident. During this time, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel.

Second Boer War: On 31 October 1899, he shipped to South Africa, arriving on 13 December. On 2 February 1900, Lord Roberts put him in command of 19 Brigade and, on 11 February, he was promoted to Major-General. He played an important role at the Battle of Paardeberg (18 February to 27 February 1900), steering Lord Kitchener and Henry Colville away from tactics of attacking an entrenched enemy over open ground. At Sanna's Post (31 March 1900), Smith-Dorrien ignored inept orders from Colville to leave wounded largely unprotected and managed an orderly retreat without further casualties. He took part in the Battle of Leliefontein (7 November 1900). On 6 February 1901, Smith-Dorrien's troops were attacked in the Battle of Chrissiesmeer. Smith-Dorrien's qualities as a commander meant he was one of a very few British commanders to enhance his reputation during this war.

India: On 22 April 1901, he received orders to return to India where he was made Adjutant General 6th November 1901) under Kitchener. He was placed in command of the 4th Division in Baluchistan, a post he held until 1907. In the dispute between Kitchener and Lord Curzon over the role of the Military Member, Smith-Dorrien stayed neutral, torn between his relations with Kitchener and with the Military Member himself, Sir Arthur Power Palmer.

He returned to England to become GOC of the Aldershot training base. During this time, he instituted a number of reforms designed to improve the lot of the ordinary soldier. One was to abandon the practice of posting pickets to police the soldiers when they were outside the base. Another was to improve sports facilities. His reforms earned many plaudits (but were treated as an implied criticism by his predecessor, Sir John French).

He improved the frequency and methods of training in marksmanship of all soldiers. During this period, the higher ranks of the army were divided on the best use of cavalry. Smith-Dorrien, along with Lord Roberts and Sir Ian Hamilton and others, doubted that cavalry could often be used as cavalry, thinking they would be more often deployed as mounted infantry. To this end, he took steps to improve the marksmanship of the cavalry. This did not endear him to the 'pro-cavalry' faction, which included French and Douglas Haig.

He also tried to get the army to purchase better machine-guns.

Although Smith-Dorrien was perfectly urbane and, by the standards of the day, kind-hearted towards his troops, he was notorious for furious outbursts of bad temper, which could last for hours before his equilibrium was restored. It has been suggested that the pain from a knee injury was one cause his ill temper.

In 1911, he was made Aide-de-Camp to King George V. He was part of the king's hunt in the Chitwan area of Nepal on 19 December 1911, Smith-Dorrien killed a rhino and on the following day shot a bear.

On 1 March 1912, he was appointed GOC Southern Command and on 10 August 1912 he was promoted to full General.

Unlike French, he was politically astute enough to avoid becoming entangled in the Curragh Incident of 1914.

With the outbreak of the Great War, he was given command of the Home Defence Army however, following the sudden death of Sir James Grierson, he was placed in charge of the British Expeditionary Force II Corps, by Lord Kitchener, the new Secretary of State for War. Field Marshal Sir John French had wanted Sir Herbert Plumer but Kitchener chose Smith-Dorrien as he knew he could stand up to French.

Smith-Dorrien's II Corps took the brunt of a heavy assault by the German forces at Mons, with the Germans under von Kluck attempting a flanking manoeuvre. French ordered a general retreat, during which I Corps (under General Douglas Haig) and II Corps became separated. Haig's I Corps did not reach its intended position to the immediate east of Le Cateau.

Smith-Dorrien, now at Le Cateau, saw that his isolated forces were in danger of being overwhelmed in a piecemeal fashion. He decided instead to concentrate his corps, supplemented by Allenby's cavalry and the 4th Division of Thomas D'Oyly Snow. On 26 August 1914, he mounted a vigorous defensive action, a "stopping blow", which despite heavy casualties, halted the German advance. With the BEF saved, he resumed an orderly retreat.

His decision to stand and fight enraged French who accused Smith-Dorrien of jeopardising the whole BEF, an accusation which did not amuse Smith-Dorrien's fellow corps commander, Haig, who already believed French to be incompetent.

Smith-Dorrien's II Corps took part in the First Battle of the Marne and the First Battle of the Aisne before the British were moved north to be closer to their supply lines.

The battle for Hill 60 was a notable struggle here. A defensive line at Neuve Chapelle became known as the Smith-Dorrien Trench (or, sometimes, the Smith-Dorrien Line). On 26 December 1914, Smith-Dorrien took command of the Second Army.

In this battle, the British were defending an untenable salient. On 22 April 1915, the Germans used poison gas on the Western Front for the first time and heavy casualties were sustained. On 27 April, Smith-Dorrien recommended withdrawal to a more defensible front line. On 30 April, Haig wrote in his diary

Sir John also told me Smith-Dorrien had caused him much trouble. 'He was quite unfit (he said)] to hold the Command of an Army' so Sir J. had withdrawn all troops from him control except the II Corps. Yet Smith-D. stayed on! He would not resign!] French is to ask Lord Kitchener to find something to do at home. … He also alluded to Smith-Dorrien's conduct on the retreat, and said he ought to have tried him by Court Martial, because (on the day of Le Cateau) he 'had ordered him to retire at 8 am and he did not attempt to do so but insisted on fighting in spite of his orders to retire]'.

French used the 'pessimism' of the withdrawal recommendation as an excuse to sack Smith-Dorrien on 6 May. His replacement, Herbert Plumer, then recommended a withdrawal almost identical to that proposed by Smith-Dorrien, which French accepted. In December 1915, French himself was removed by Kitchener Douglas Haig then replaced French as commander of the BEF.

French later wrote a partial and inaccurate account of the opening of the war in his book 1914, which attacked Smith-Dorrien. Smith-Dorrien, as a serving officer, was denied permission to reply in public.

After a period in Britain, Smith-Dorrien was assigned a command to fight the Germans in German East Africa (present day Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi) but pneumonia contracted during the voyage to South Africa prevented him from taking command. His former adversary, Jan Smuts, took on this command. Smith-Dorrien took no significant military part in the rest of the war. On 29 January 1917, Smith-Dorrien was appointed lieutenant of the Tower of London.

His next position was as Governor of Gibraltar from 9 July 1918 – 26 May 1923, where he introduced an element of democracy and closed some brothels. According to Wyndham Childs in the summer of 1918, Horace tried, and nearly succeeded, in uniting the Comrades of the Great War, the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, and the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers into one body. The merger later took place in 1921 to form the British Legion.

He retired in September 1923, living in Portugal and then England. He devoted much his time to the welfare and remembrance of Great War soldiers. He worked on his memoirs, which were published in 1925. As French was still alive at the time of writing, he still felt unable to rebut 1914. Despite his treatment by French, in 1925, he acted as a pallbearer at French's funeral, an act appreciated by French's son.

He played himself in the film The Battle of Mons, released in 1926.

He died on 12 August 1930 following injuries sustained in a car accident in Chippenham, Wiltshire he was 72 years old. He is buried in Berkhamsted.

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Lt. Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien, Hythe, 1878

Photo Copyright John. Young


3 Popular Myths of Isandlwana – 1879 Zulu War

The clash between British Troops and Zulu Warriors led to a brutal battle that has been retold numerous times, however much of the tale has proven to have more basis in fiction than facts:

1. ‘Men of Harlech’

According to the enduringly popular 1964 movie Zulu, the 24th Regiment – who comprised much of the garrison at both Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift – was composed largely of Welshmen. Although the Regiment had indeed established its depot at Brecon in 1873, its recruits continued to be drawn from across the United Kingdom, and only a small proportion were Welsh by 1879. The association with Wales largely post-dates the Anglo-Zulu War – in 1881, the 24th were re-titled the South Wales Borderers, and it is now part of the Royal Welsh.

2. Ammunition failure

One particularly persistent legend has it that the British were overrun at Isandlwana because of a failure of ammunition supply, either through the parsimony of regimental quartermasters, or because their ammunition boxes could not be opened – an idea which, of course, effectively excuses a number of deeper military errors.

One of the survivors – a lieutenant named Horace Smith-Dorrien, who was destined to become a general in the First World War – recalled the reluctance of Quartermaster Edward Bloomfield of the 2nd Battalion, the 24th, to issue ammunition as the battle began. Yet a close reading of the evidence suggests that this incident was simply indicative of the confusion that inevitably prevailed in the camp Bloomfield’s reserves were, in fact, earmarked to be sent out to Lord Chelmsford should he need them, and Bloomfield was showing no more than a proper respect for his orders.

In a letter home, Smith-Dorrien admitted to his father that he afterwards secured a supply of ammunition and spent much of the battle distributing it to the front-line companies. Nor were the boxes particularly difficult to open – although reinforced by copper bands all round, access to the rounds was by means of a sliding panel in the lid held in place by a single screw. And if time was pressing, the panel could be smashed out by a sharp blow to the edge with a tent-mallet or rifle butt – over the years, a number of screws bent by such rough treatment have been found on the battlefield.

In 2000, an archaeological survey of the site found the remains of the tin lining of a number of boxes along the British firing positions – sure sign that boxes had been opened there. Last word, however, should go to the Zulus, many of whom mentioned that the British infantry continued to shoot at them until the final stages of the battle.

3. Drummer boys ‘gutted like sheep’

One story that circulated widely in the horrific aftermath of the battle was that Lord Chelmsford’s men, returning to the devastated camp on the night of the 22nd, had seen ‘young drummer boys’ of the 24th Regiment hung up
on a butcher’s scaffold and ‘gutted like sheep’. While it need not be doubted that, in the fury of the attack, the Zulus would have killed boys as well as men – they had taken the Queen’s shilling, after all, and their chances with it – this horror story does not stand up to close scrutiny.

‘Boy’ was a rank in the British Army at the time, applied to lads not yet 18, many of whom were the sons of men serving in the regiment. Drummers were seldom Boys – among their other duties was administering floggings as punishment – and of 12 Drummers killed at Isandlwana, the youngest was 18 and the oldest in his 30s. Five Boys were killed at Isandlwana, most of them in the 24th’s band, and the youngest was 16 – not quite the innocent lads immortalised in sentimental paintings of the time.

Even the contemporary regimental history of the 24th admitted ‘no single case of torture was proved against [the Zulus]’. But, in the fraught atmosphere that prevailed when Lord Chelmsford’s command returned to the camp that night, such horror stories spread like wild fire and were readily believed –although, as one officer pointed out, ‘it was impossible for those who told these yarns to distinguish anything in the night, it being exceptionally dark’.


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About General Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien GCB, GCMG, DSO, ADC

General Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien GCB, GCMG, DSO, ADC (26 May 1858 – 12 August 1930) was a British soldier and commander of the British II Corps and Second Army of the BEF during World War I.

Horace Smith-Dorrien was born at Haresfoot, a house near Berkhamsted, the 12th child of 16. He was educated at Harrow, and on 26 February 1876 entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, passing out with a commission as a subaltern to the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment of Foot. On 1 November 1878, he was posted to South Africa where he worked as a transport officer. In this role he encountered, and fought against, corruption in the army.

Smith-Dorrien was present at the Battle of Isandlwana during the Zulu Wars on 22 January 1879, serving with the British invasion force as a transport officer for the army's Royal Artillery detachment. As Zulu forces overran the British forces, Smith-Dorrien narrowly escaped on his transport pony. As such, Smith-Dorrien was one of fewer than fifty British survivors of the battle (many more native African troops on the British side also survived). His observations on the difficulty of opening ammunition boxes led to changes in British practice for the rest of the war, though modern commentators argue that this was not as important a factor in the defeat as was thought at the time. Because of his conduct in trying to help other soldiers during his dramatic escape from the battlefield, he was nominated for a Victoria Cross, but, as the nomination did not go through the proper channels, he never received it. He took part in the rest of that war.

He later served in Egypt on police duties, being appointed assistant chief of police in Alexandria on 22 August 1882. During this time, he forged a life-long friendship with Lord Kitchener. On 30 December 1885, he witnessed the Battle of Gennis, where the British Army fought in red coats for the last time. The next day he was given an independent command and, following a bold military action where he went beyond his orders, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

From 1887𠄹, Smith-Dorrien then left active command to go to the Staff College, Camberley.

He returned to his regiment where he commanded troops during the Tirah Campaign of 1897� in India.

In 1898, he transferred back to Egypt and fought at the Battle of Omdurman and commanded the British troops during the Fashoda incident. During this time, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel.

On 31 October 1899, he shipped to South Africa, arriving on 13 December for the Second Boer War. On 2 February 1900, Lord Roberts put him in command of 19 Brigade and, on 11 February, he was promoted to Major-General. He played an important role at the Battle of Paardeberg (18 to 27 February 1900), steering Lord Kitchener and Henry Colville away from tactics of attacking an entrenched enemy over open ground. At Sanna's Post (31 March 1900), Smith-Dorrien ignored inept orders from Colville to leave wounded largely unprotected and managed an orderly retreat without further casualties. He took part in the Battle of Leliefontein (7 November 1900). On 6 February 1901, Smith-Dorrien's troops were attacked in the Battle of Chrissiesmeer. Smith-Dorrien's qualities as a commander meant he was one of a very few British commanders to enhance his reputation during this war.

On 22 April 1901, he received orders to return to India where he was made Adjutant General (6 November 1901) under Kitchener. He was placed in command of the 4th (Quetta) Division in Baluchistan, a post he held until 1907. In the dispute between Kitchener and Lord Curzon over the role of the Military Member, Smith-Dorrien stayed neutral, torn between his relations with Kitchener and with the Military Member himself, Sir Arthur Power Palmer.

Aldershot and other home postings

He returned to England and, in 1907, become GOC of the Aldershot Command. During this time, he instituted a number of reforms designed to improve the lot of the ordinary soldier. One was to abandon the practice of posting pickets to police the soldiers when they were outside the base. Another was to improve sports facilities. His reforms earned many plaudits (but were treated as an implied criticism by his predecessor, Sir John French).

He improved the frequency and methods of training in marksmanship of all soldiers. During this period, the higher ranks of the army were divided on the best use of cavalry. Smith-Dorrien, along with Lord Roberts, Sir Ian Hamilton and others, doubted that cavalry could often be used as cavalry, i.e. that they should still be trained to charge with sword and lance, instead thinking they would be more often deployed as mounted infantry, i.e. using horses for mobility but dismounting to fight. To this end, he took steps to improve the marksmanship of the cavalry. This did not endear him to the arme blanche ('pro-cavalry') faction, which included French and Douglas Haig, and whose views prevailed after the retirement of Lord Roberts.

He also tried to get the army to purchase better machine-guns.

Although Smith-Dorrien was perfectly urbane and, by the standards of the day, kind-hearted towards his troops, he was notorious for furious outbursts of bad temper, which could last for hours before his equilibrium was restored. It has been suggested that the pain from a knee injury was one cause of his ill temper.

In 1911, he was made Aide-de-Camp to King George V. He was part of the king's hunt in the Chitwan area of Nepal on 19 December 1911, Smith-Dorrien killed a rhino and on the following day shot a bear.

On 1 March 1912, he was appointed GOC Southern Command and on 10 August 1912 he was promoted to full General. Douglas Haig had succeeded Smith-Dorrien as GOC Aldershot.

Unlike French, he was politically astute enough to avoid becoming entangled in the Curragh Incident of 1914.

In 1914, the Public Schools Officers' Training Corps annual camp was held at Tidworth Pennings, near Salisbury Plain. Lord Kitchener was to review the cadets, but the imminence of the war prevented him. Smith-Dorrien was sent instead. He surprised the two-or-three thousand cadets by declaring (in the words of Donald Christopher Smith, a Bermudian cadet who was present) "that war should be avoided at almost any cost, that war would solve nothing, that the whole of Europe and more besides would be reduced to ruin, and that the loss of life would be so large that whole populations would be decimated. In our ignorance I, and many of us, felt almost ashamed of a British General who uttered such depressing and unpatriotic sentiments, but during the next four years, those of us who survived the holocaust - probably not more than one-quarter of us - learned how right the General's prognosis was and how courageous he had been to utter it."

With the outbreak of the Great War, he was given command of the Home Defence Army however, following the sudden death of Sir James Grierson, he was placed in charge of the British Expeditionary Force II Corps, by Lord Kitchener, the new Secretary of State for War. Field Marshal Sir John French had wanted Sir Herbert Plumer but Kitchener chose Smith-Dorrien as he knew he could stand up to French.

Smith-Dorrien's II Corps took the brunt of a heavy assault by the German forces at Mons, with the Germans under von Kluck attempting a flanking manoeuvre. French ordered a general retreat, during which I Corps (under General Douglas Haig) and II Corps became separated. Haig's I Corps did not reach its intended position to the immediate east of Le Cateau.

Smith-Dorrien, now at Le Cateau, saw that his isolated forces were in danger of being overwhelmed in a piecemeal fashion. He decided instead to concentrate his corps, supplemented by Allenby's cavalry and the 4th Division of Thomas D'Oyly Snow. On 26 August 1914, he mounted a vigorous defensive action, a "stopping blow", which despite heavy casualties, halted the German advance. With the BEF saved, he resumed an orderly retreat.

His decision to stand and fight enraged French who accused Smith-Dorrien of jeopardising the whole BEF, an accusation which did not amuse Smith-Dorrien's fellow corps commander, Haig, who already believed French to be incompetent.

Smith-Dorrien's II Corps took part in the First Battle of the Marne and the First Battle of the Aisne before the British were moved north to be closer to their supply lines.

The battle for Hill 60 was a notable struggle here. A defensive line at Neuve Chapelle became known as the Smith-Dorrien Trench (or, sometimes, the Smith-Dorrien Line). On 26 December 1914, Smith-Dorrien took command of the Second Army.

In this battle, the British were defending a barely-tenable salient, held at great cost at the First Battle of Ypres five months earlier. On 22 April 1915, the Germans used poison gas on the Western Front for the first time and heavy casualties were sustained.

On 27 April, Smith-Dorrien recommended withdrawal to a more defensible front line as the promised French counterattack (north of the salient) was delayed and then came too small – Sir John French just wanted the situation kept quiet so as not to distract from the upcoming British offensive at Aubers Ridge – one historian describes French’s attitude as 𠇌retinous”.[9] Smith-Dorrien wrote a long letter (27 April) explaining the situation to Robertson (then chief of staff BEF). He received a curt telephone message telling him that, in Sir John's opinion, he had adequate troops to defend the salient. A few hours later written orders arrived, directing Smith-Dorrien to turn command of the salient over to Herbert Plumer[9] and to lend Plumer his chief of staff and such other staff officers as Plumer required. (In practice this meant that Plumer's V Corps, already holding the salient, became an autonomous force reporting directly to GHQ, with Smith-Dorrien left only with II Corps south of the salient). Plumer immediately asked permission for a withdrawal almost identical to that proposed by Smith-Dorrien. After a delay whilst Foch conducted another counterattack, French accepted.

On 30 April, Haig wrote in his diary

Smith-Dorrien’s eventual offer to resign (6 May) was ignored, and on that same day French used the 'pessimism' of the withdrawal recommendation as an excuse to sack him from command of Second Army altogether. "Wully" Robertson is said to have broken the news to him with the words " 'Orace, yer for 'ome " (Robertson was a former enlisted man who dropped his aitches), although by another account he may have said " 'Orace, yer thrown " (a cavalry metaphor). The Official Historian Brigadier Edmonds later alleged that French had removed Smith-Dorrien as he stood in the way of Haig becoming Commander-in-Chief, but this seems unlikely as their antipathy went back a long way and French was later (December 1915) replaced by Douglas Haig as Commander-in-Chief of the BEF against his will.

French later wrote a partial and inaccurate account of the opening of the war in his book 1914, which attacked Smith-Dorrien. Smith-Dorrien, as a serving officer, was denied permission to reply in public.

After a period in Britain, Smith-Dorrien was assigned a command to fight the Germans in German East Africa (present day Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi) but pneumonia contracted during the voyage to South Africa prevented him from taking command. His former adversary, Jan Smuts, took on this command. Smith-Dorrien took no significant military part in the rest of the war. On 29 January 1917, Smith-Dorrien was appointed lieutenant of the Tower of London.

His next position was as Governor of Gibraltar from 9 July 1918 – 26 May 1923, where he introduced an element of democracy and closed some brothels. According to Wyndham Childs in the summer of 1918, Smith-Dorrien tried, and nearly succeeded, in uniting the Comrades of the Great War, the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, and the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers into one body. The merger later took place in 1921 to form the British Legion.

He retired in September 1923, living in Portugal and then England. He devoted much his time to the welfare and remembrance of Great War soldiers. He worked on his memoirs, which were published in 1925. As French was still alive at the time of writing, he still felt unable to rebut 1914. Despite his treatment by French, in 1925, he rushed across Europe to act as a pallbearer at French's funeral, an act appreciated by French's son.

He played himself in the film The Battle of Mons, released in 1926.

In June 1925, he unveiled the war memorial in Memorial Avenue, Worksop. On 4 August 1930, he unveiled the Pozieres Memorial.

He died on 12 August 1930 following injuries sustained in a car accident in Chippenham, Wiltshire he was 72 years old. He is buried in the Three Close Lane Cemetery of St Peter's Church, Berkhamsted.

On 3 September 1902, he married Olive Crofton Schneider at St Peter's, Eaton Square, London. She was the eldest daughter of Colonel and Mrs Schneider, of Oak Lea, Furness Abbey. Olive's mother was stepsister to Gen. Sir Arthur Power Palmer GCB, GCIE, who died in 1904. They had three sons:

Horace and Olive Smith-Dorrien informally adopted Power Palmer's two daughters (Gabrielle and unknown), who were left homeless after his second wife's death in 1912. During World War I Lady Smith-Dorrien founded the Lady Smith-Dorrien's Hospital Bag Fund. A problem had been identified that wounded soldiers often became separated from their personal effects while in hospital. Volunteers for the fund sewed between 40,000 and 60,000 bags a month to hold soldiers' valuables, totalling around five million throughout the war. For this work, she was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE). She also served as President of the animal welfare charity, The Blue Cross, alleviating the suffering of war horses. For her services in that field, she received the gold medal of the Reconnaissance fran๺ise.

In 1932, Olive became Principal of the Royal School of Needlework (RSN). In 1937, the RSN worked on the Queen's Train (Coronation Robe), canopy and the two chairs to be used in Westminster Abbey during the Coronation. She was awarded the King George VI Coronation Medal for work done. During the Second World War, she led the RSN in collecting lace which was sold for the war effort.[29] She revived the manufacture of hospital bags. She died on 15 September 1951.


Smith-Dorrien


Smith-Dorrien, General Sir Horace Lockwood. (1858-1930). Born in Haresfoot, England.

A veteran of the 1879 battle of Isandhlwana and the Boer War, he assumed command of the II Corps of the British Expeditionary Force from August 1914 and the Second Army from December 1914 to April 1915. Well-liked by his troops, he handled them with sympathy but, like his fellow corps commander Sir Douglas Haig (I Corps), he had little respect for the abilities of his Commander in Chief, Sir John French. This bad feeling was heartily reciprocated and would ultimately result in Smith-Dorrien's dismissal.

Fighting along with the rest of the BEF against overwhelming odds in August 1914, Smith-Dorrien managed his command ably in defensive battles at Mons and Le Cateau. In the latter engagement, Smith-Dorrien was forced into the unenviable decision to fight with exhausted troops and open flanks against a numerically superior enemy force. To retreat, though not contrary to orders, would probably have turned the British withdrawal into a rout, possibly resulting in the destruction of the BEF. Heavy fighting in unprepared positions against three German divisions of Von Kluck's corps resulted in over 8,000 British casualties but delayed the enemy advance long enough to permit resumption of the withdrawal.

After participating in First Ypres in October 1914, the II Corps was taken out of the line, and, in the reorganization of the BEF that followed, Smith-Dorrien was appointed to command the Second Army. He again led his troops well during the German attack at Second Ypres in April 1915. Repeatedly ordered into costly and seemingly senseless counter-attacks, Smith-Dorrien halted the attacks on his own initiative and recommended the partial abandonment of badly exposed sectors of the Ypres salient. Sir John French, however, perhaps motivated by political considerations (Ypres had come to mean much the same to the British as would Verdun to the French a year later), and bearing little affection for his subordinate, relieved Smith-Dorrien. His capable replacement, General Sir Herbert Plumer, assessed the situation in much the same manner as had his predecessor French was thus forced ultimately to accept most of what Smith-Dorrien had originally proposed. Smith-Dorrien himself, however, was never again to command in the field.

Sources: Smithers, A.J. Smithers, The Man Who Disobeyed: Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien and His Enemies. London: Leo Cooper, 1970.

Pope, Stephen and Elizabeth Anne-Wheal, The Dictionary of the First World War. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.

Wilson, Trevor, The Myriad Faces of War. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1986.


Horace Smith-Dorrien Wiki, Biography, Net Worth, Age, Family, Facts and More

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BIOGRAPHY

Horace Smith-Dorrien is a well known Military. Horace was born on May 26, 1858 in Haresfoot, Berkhamsted, United Kingdom..Horace is one of the famous and trending celeb who is popular for being a Military. As of 2018 Horace Smith-Dorrien is 72 years (age at death) years old. Horace Smith-Dorrien is a member of famous Military list.

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Details
Name Horace Smith-Dorrien
Age (as of 2018) 72 years (age at death)
Profession Military
Birth Date May 26, 1858
Birth Place Haresfoot, Berkhamsted, United Kingdom
Nationality Haresfoot

Horace Smith-Dorrien Net Worth

Horace primary income source is Military. Currently We don’t have enough information about his family, relationships,childhood etc. We will update soon.

Estimated Net Worth in 2019: $100K-$1M (Approx.)

Horace Age, Height & Weight

Horace body measurements, Height and Weight are not Known yet but we will update soon.

Family & Relations

Not Much is known about Horace family and Relationships. All information about his private life is concealed. We will update you soon.

Facts

  • Horace Smith-Dorrien age is 72 years (age at death). as of 2018
  • Horace birthday is on May 26, 1858.
  • Zodiac sign: Gemini.

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Aldershot

Smith-Dorrien returned to England and (1 December 1907) became GOC of the Aldershot Command. [18] During this time, he instituted a number of reforms designed to improve the lot of the ordinary soldier. One was to abandon the practice of posting pickets to police the soldiers when they were outside the base. Another was to improve sports facilities. His reforms earned many plaudits (but were treated as an implied criticism by his predecessor, Sir John French). [19]

Unlike many senior generals of the era, Smith-Dorrien could speak to troops with ease and was greatly admired by regimental officers. [20] In prewar training he wanted “individual initiative and intelligence” in British soldiers. [21] He later wrote: “one could never become an up-to-date soldier in the prehistoric warfare to be met with against the Dervishes”. [22]

He improved the frequency and methods of training in marksmanship of all soldiers (including cavalry, and including shooting at moving targets). [19] During this period, the higher ranks of the army were divided on the best use of cavalry. Smith-Dorrien, along with Lord Roberts, Sir Ian Hamilton and others, doubted that cavalry could often be used as cavalry, i.e. that they should still be trained to charge with sword and lance, instead thinking they would be more often deployed as mounted infantry, i.e. using horses for mobility but dismounting to fight. To this end, he took steps to improve the marksmanship of the cavalry. This did not endear him to the arme blanche ('pro-cavalry') faction, which included French and Douglas Haig, and whose views prevailed after the retirement of Lord Roberts.

Aylmer Haldane recorded that at the 1909 manoeuvres French was “unfair” in summing up for Paget against Smith-Dorrien. [23] Smith-Dorrien annoyed French – with whom he had still been on relatively cordial terms at the end of the South African War – by abolishing the pickets which trawled the streets for drunk soldiers, by more than doubling the number of playing fields available to the men, by cutting down trees, and by building new and better barracks. On 21 August 1909 he lectured all his cavalry officers – in the 16th Lancers’ mess – about the importance of improving their men's musketry. By 1910 the feud between French and Smith-Dorrien was common knowledge throughout the Army. Smith-Dorrien, happily married to a young and pretty wife, objected to French’s womanising, and French’s nephew later claimed to have overheard “a ferocious exchange” between them, in which Smith-Dorrien declared “Too many whores around your headquarters, Field-Marshal”. [24]

He also tried to get the army to replace the old Maxim gun with the new Vickers Maxim gun, which weighed less than half as much and had a better water-cooling system, but the War Office did not approve the expenditure. [25]

In 1911, he was made Aide-de-Camp to King George V. He was part of the King's hunt in the Chitwan area of Nepal on 19 December 1911, Smith-Dorrien killed a rhino and on the following day shot a bear. [26]

Southern Command

On 1 March 1912, he was appointed GOC Southern Command (Douglas Haig had succeeded him as GOC Aldershot). [27] At Southern Command he had jurisdiction over twelve counties and many regimental depots. He had experience of dealing with Territorials (who would make up much of II Corps in 1914) for the first time and instigated training on fire-and-movement withdrawals which would also prove useful at Le Cateau. [25]

He was promoted to full General (10 August 1912) and raised to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1913. [11]

Although Smith-Dorrien was perfectly urbane and, by the standards of the day, kind-hearted towards his troops, he was notorious for furious outbursts of bad temper, which could last for hours before his equilibrium was restored. It has been suggested that the pain from a knee injury was one cause of his ill temper. It was rumoured that Smith-Dorrien’s temper was caused by some kind of serious illness. Esher (a royal courtier who exercised great influence over military appointments) had dined with Smith-Dorrien (28 January 1908) to see if he was indeed “changed and weakened”. Lord Crewe (letter to Seely 5 September 1913) turned him down for the post of Commander-in-Chief India because of his foul temper (A.J. Smithers, probably wrongly, blames French’s enmity for denying Smith-Dorrien the promotion [28] ). [24] [29]

Unlike French, he was politically astute enough to avoid becoming entangled in the Curragh Incident of 1914. Unlike a number of British generals of the era, Smith-Dorrien was not a political intriguer. [6]


9. World War 1

In 1914, the Public Schools Officers Training Corps annual camp was held at Tidworth Pennings, near Salisbury Plain. Lord Kitchener was to review the cadets, but the imminence of the war kept him elsewhere, and Smith-Dorrien was sent instead. He surprised the two-or-three thousand cadets by declaring in the words of Donald Christopher Smith, a Bermudian cadet who was present "that war should be avoided at almost any cost, that war would solve nothing, that the whole of Europe and more besides would be reduced to ruin, and that the loss of life would be so large that whole populations would be decimated. In our ignorance I, and many of us, felt almost ashamed of a British General who uttered such depressing and unpatriotic sentiments, but during the next four years, those of us who survived the holocaust – probably not more than one-quarter of us – learned how right the Generals prognosis was and how courageous he had been to utter it."

With the outbreak of the Great War, he was given command of the Home Defence Army, part of Ian Hamiltons Home Defence Central Force. However, following the sudden death of Sir James Grierson, he was placed in charge of the British Expeditionary Force II Corps, by Lord Kitchener, the new Secretary of State for War. Field Marshal Sir John French had wanted Sir Herbert Plumer but Kitchener chose Smith-Dorrien as he knew he could stand up to French, and in the full knowledge that French disliked him. Kitchener admitted to Smith-Dorrien that he had doubts about appointing him, but put them to one side.

Smith-Dorrien arrived at GHQ 20 August and formally asked Frenchs permission to keep a special diary to report privately to the King as His Majesty had requested. French could hardly refuse, but this further worsened their relations. Smith-Dorrien later claimed in his memoirs that French had received him "pleasantly", but his diary at the time simply records matter-of-factly that he "motored into to Le Cateau and saw the Commander-in-Chief" which may be suspiciously brief in contrast to the diarys normally detailed description of other events. There was also personal friction between George Forestier-Walker and Johnnie Gough, the chiefs of staff of II Corps and I Corps respectively.

9.1. World War 1 Mons 23 August 1914

French still believed 22 August that there were only light German forces facing the BEF, but after hearing intelligence that German forces were stronger than thought and that the BEF had moved far ahead of Lanrezacs Fifth French Army on its right, Sir John cancelled the planned further advance. He told Lanrezac that he would hold his current position for another 24 hours.

Frenchs and Smith-Dorriens accounts differ about the conference at 5.30am on 23 August. Frenchs account in his memoirs "1914" stated that he had become doubtful of the advance into Belgium and warned his officers to be ready to attack or retreat. This agrees largely with Frenchs diary at the time, in which he wrote that he had warned Smith-Dorrien that the Mons position might not be tenable. When "1914" was published, Smith-Dorrien claimed that French had been "in excellent form" at the meeting and had still been planning to advance. However, in his own memoirs Smith-Dorrien admitted that French had talked of either attacking or retreating, although he claimed that it had been he who had warned that the Mons position was untenable. Edmonds in the "Official History" agreed that French had probably been prepared either to attack or to retreat. Edmonds – who was not an eyewitness – later claimed in his memoirs that French had instructed Smith-Dorrien to "give battle" on the line of the Conde Canal, and that when Smith-Dorrien queried whether he was to attack or defend he was simply told, after French had whispered with Murray, "Don’t ask questions, do as you are told".

Smith-Dorriens II Corps took the brunt of a heavy assault by the German forces at Mons, with the Germans under von Kluck attempting a flanking manoeuvre. Forestier-Walker, Chief of Staff II Corps, was driven by Smith-Dorriens foul temper to attempt to resign his post during the Battle of Mons but was told by the BEF Chief of Staff Murray "not to be an ass". During the battle of Mons Smith-Dorriens car was almost struck by a German shell.

9.2. World War 1 Le Cateau 26 August

French ordered a general retreat, during which I Corps under General Douglas Haig and II Corps became separated. French agreed to Haigs retreat east of the Forest of Mormal Haig Diary, 24 August without, apparently, the knowledge of Smith-Dorrien. Murray noted in his diary 25 August that GHQ had moved back from Le Cateau to St Quentin and that I Corps was being heavily engaged by night – making no mention of II Corpss situation. Because the German plan was to envelop the BEF from the west, most of the pressure fell on II Corps, which suffered higher casualties 2.000 in its fighting withdrawal on 24 August than at Mons the previous day 1.600.

French had a long discussion with Murray and Wilson 25 August as to whether the BEF should stand and fight at Le Cateau, a position which had been chosen for both I and II Corps to hold after they had retreated on either side of the Forest of Mormal. II Corps had been harried by German forces as it retreated west of the forest and Sir John wanted to fall back as agreed with Joffre, and hoped that the BEF could pull out of the fight altogether and refit behind the River Oise. Wilson issued orders to Smith-Dorrien to retreat from Le Cateau the next day.

On the evening of 25 August 1914 Smith-Dorrien was unable to locate 4th Division and Cavalry Division. Allenby GOC Cavalry Division reached him at 2am on 26 August 1914, and reported that his horses and men were "pretty well played out", and unless they retreated under cover of darkness there would be no choice but to fight in the morning. Allenby agreed to act under Smith-Dorriens orders. Hamilton GOC 3rd Division also reported that his men would be unable to get away before 9am, which also left little choice but to fight, lest isolated forces be overwhelmed piecemeal by the Germans. A French cavalry corps under Sordet also took part on the west flank.

French was awakened at 2am on 26 August 1914 with news that Haigs I Corps was under attack at Landrecies, and ordered Smith-Dorrien 3:50 am to assist him. Smith-Dorrien replied that he was "unable to move a man". This irritated French, as Haig who already had serious doubts of Frenchs competence was a protege of his.

Smith-Dorrien finally managed to locate Snow GOC of the newly arrived 4th Division, at 5am his brigades were assembling in their positions between 3.30am and 5.30am. He was not under Smith-Dorriens orders but agreed to assist II Corps. Smith-Dorrien then cancelled his order to retreat, and decided to stand and fight at Le Cateau. He still hoped for assistance from I Corps Haig, which did not reach its intended position to the immediate east of Le Cateau. This news reached French at 5am – woken from his sleep once again, and insisting that the exhausted Murray not be woken, he telegraphed back that he still wanted Smith-Dorrien to "make every endeavour" to fall back but that he had "a free hand as to the method", which Smith-Dorrien took as a handing him permission to make a stand. On waking properly, French ordered Wilson to telephone Smith-Dorrien and order him to break off as soon as possible. Wilson ended the conversation – by his own account – by saying "Good luck to you. Yours is the first cheerful voice Ive heard in three days." Smith-Dorriens slightly different recollection was that Wilson had warned him that he risked another Sedan.

Von Kluck believed that he was facing the entire BEF and hoped to envelop it on both flanks to its destruction, but lack of coordination among the German attacking forces thwarted this ambition.

9.3. World War 1 After Le Cateau

Smith-Dorriens decision to stand and fight enraged French, who accused him of jeopardising the whole BEF. French and his staff believed that II Corps had been destroyed at Le Cateau, although its units reappeared and reassembled after the retreat. Haig, despite believing French to be incompetent, wrote in his journal 4 September 1914 of Smith-Dorriens "ill-considered decision" in electing to stand and fight at Le Cateau. Murray later in 1933 called Smith-Dorrien "a straight honourable gentleman, most lovable, kind and generous" but thought he "did wrong to fight other than a strong rearguard action". However, the historian John Terraine praised Smith-Dorriens decision, arguing that despite heavy casualties sustained by II Corps in the action, it materially slowed the German advance.

GHQ French fell back to Noyon on 26 August 1914, and then and the next day Huguet and other French liaison officers attached to it gave Joffre a tale with their communications of shattered British forces falling back from Le Cateau in defeat. In fact Smith-Dorriens staff had held II Corps formation together, although at a meeting held at 2am on 27 August 1914, as Smith-Dorrien had found GHQs present location with great difficulty French accused him of being overly optimistic.

Smith-Dorrien 2 September 1914 recorded that his men were much fitter and had recovered their spirits after the Le Cateau engagement. Smith-Dorriens II Corps lead the counter-attack upon the German advance at the subsequent First Battle of the Marne and the First Battle of the Aisne, Haigs I Corps to his right being delayed by forests in its path of advance.

II Corps, with its heavy casualties was effectively temporarily broken up in late October 1914 to reinforce I Corps Haig, but Smith-Dorrien was given command of the newly formed British Second Army which it was reconstituted as 26 December 1914. His writings from the time show that he was fully aware of the importance of artillery, machine guns and aircraft working in close cooperation with the infantry.

Smith-Dorrien later recorded that General French inflicted "pin-pricks" on him from February 1915 onwards, including the removal of Forestier-Walker as his Chief of Staff. This was supposedly on the grounds that Forestier-Walker was needed to command a division training in England, although two months later he was still waiting to receive its command. French told Haig that Smith-Dorrien was "a weak spot" 5 February 1915. During the Battle of Neuve Chapelle he was dissatisfied 13 March 1915 at the apparent "lack of determination" of Smith-Dorriens diversionary attacks. Smith-Dorrien was not always immune to the excessive optimism which British officers were expected to display throughout the war: Aylmer Haldane recorded in his diary on 15 March 1915 that prior to the battle Smith-Dorrien had been claiming that the war would be won in March 1915. French complained to Kitchener Secretary of State for War about him on 28 March 1915.

9.4. World War 1 Second Battle of Ypres

At the Second Battle of Ypres, the British were defending a barely-tenable salient of ground, held at great cost at the First Battle of Ypres five months earlier. On 22 April 1915 the Germans used poison gas on the Western Front for the first time, and heavy casualties were sustained by the British and French troops.

On 27 April 1915, with a French counterattack to the north of the salient materializing later and on a smaller-scale than promised, Smith-Dorrien recommended withdrawal to the more defensible "GHQ Line". French privately agreed with this analysis, but was angered that the suggestion came from Smith-Dorrien. French wanted the situation kept quiet so as not to distract from the upcoming attack upon Aubers Ridge by Haigs First Army one historian describes this behaviour on Frenchs part as "cretinous". Smith-Dorrien wrote a long letter on 27 April 1915 explaining the situation to Robertson then Frenchs Chief of the General Staff BEF. He received in response a curt telephone message telling him that, in Frenchs view, he had adequate troops to defend the salient. A few hours later written orders arrived, directing Smith-Dorrien to turn command of the salient over to Herbert Plumer and to lend Plumer his chief of staff and such other staff officers as Plumer required. Plumer immediately asked permission for a withdrawal almost identical to that proposed by Smith-Dorrien. After a delay whilst Foch conducted another counterattack, French consented to the action.

On 30 April 1915, Haig wrote in his diary:

Sir John also told me Smith-Dorrien had caused him much trouble. He was quite unfit.

After French refused permission to retreat, Smith-Dorrien noted 6 May 1915 that the planned counterattack was a complete failure with casualties higher than predicted by GHQ. Smith-Dorriens offer to resign his command on 6 May 1915 was ignored, and on that same day French used the pessimism of the withdrawal recommendation as an excuse to sack him from command of Second Army altogether. "Wully" Robertson is said to have broken the news to him with the words Orace, yer for ome Robertson was a former enlisted man who dropped his aitches, although by another account he might have said Orace, yer thrown a cavalry metaphor.

The Official Historian Brigadier Edmonds later alleged that French had removed Smith-Dorrien as he was senior to Haig and stood in the way of Haig becoming Commander-in-Chief, and that Wilson had put the idea in Frenchs mind, but this may be doubtful as their antipathy went back a long way, and French was later December 1915 replaced by Douglas Haig as Commander-in-Chief of the BEF against his will.

Smith-Dorrien was raised to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George 14 May 1915 and was briefly appointed GOC First Home Army 22 June 1915.

9.5. World War 1 Remainder of the war

After a period in Britain commanding First Army of Central Force, Smith-Dorrien was appointed GOC East Africa 22 November 1915 to fight the Germans in German East Africa but pneumonia contracted during the voyage to South Africa prevented him from taking command. His former adversary, Jan Smuts, took on this command. Smith-Dorrien took no significant military part in the rest of the war. He returned to England in January 1916 and on 29 January 1917 was appointed lieutenant of the Tower of London.

He led a campaign in London for moral purity, calling for suppression of "suggestive or indecent" media.

9.6. World War 1 Frenchs memoirs

French, partly in response to criticism inspired by Smith-Dorrien, later wrote a partial and inaccurate account of the opening of the war in his book 1914, which attacked Smith-Dorrien. Smith-Dorrien, as a serving officer, was denied permission to reply in public.

Frenchs official despatch after Le Cateau had praised Smith-Dorriens "rare and unusual coolness, intrepidity and determination". In 1914 French wrote that this had been written before he knew the full facts, and that Smith-Dorrien had risked destruction of his corps and lost 14.000 men and 80 guns actual losses of each were around half of this number. Smith-Dorrien, in a private written statement, called 1914 "mostly a work of fiction and a foolish one too".


The Scattered Remains

Sadly, some units on the British right never received the order to retreat. Amid the deadly chaos of battle, the men bearing the orders did not get through, and soldiers were left behind.

The King’s Own Yorkshires and the Suffolks, caught at the fiercest part of the fighting, fought to the end.

Grave of General Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien, St Peter’s Cemetery (detached), Berkhamsted. Wikidwitch – CC BY-SA 3.0

Other groups were left isolated as the army withdrew and German units moved on past them. They headed west and south, hoping to meet up with the rest of the British forces. Some fought against the Germans who had bypassed them. Others made their way to the Channel coast. Many were eventually reunited with their units, ready to continue the war. Two men hid in the village of Bertry and while one of them was eventually shot by the Germans, the other survived.

The British lost 7,812 men at Le Cateau, dead, wounded, or captured. It was a high price to pay, but Smith-Dorrien was finally able to follow his orders and withdraw.

Martin Marix Evans (2002), Over the Top: Great Battles of the First World War.


Watch the video: Horace Smith-Dorrien (May 2022).