British Infantry Battalion COs in WW1

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#41
#42
Wilfrith Elstob - Wikipedia

He was a schoolteacher until war broke out and he volunteered.
Gosh I remember him, he commanded almost to the last man at Manchester Hill. Didn't he get shot out of hand for leading such a bloody and stubborn defence?
The Germans had a slighty skewed sense of honour - I read of a Gunner Captain at Ypres who kept firing his field guns until the last man. Whilst wounded he crawled round picking up rifles and engaging the enemy until he was out of ammo. A very miffed officer captured him and he was subsequently sentanced to death by firing squad for a version of conduct unbecoming! He was reprieved when he refused a blindfold. Subsequently awarded the VC.
 
#43
Sorry, I have a default to factory settings when mention is made of First War gallantry, I give you Carton de Wiart who as a Cavalry officer commanded the 8th Gloucestershire Regiment as a temp Lt Colonel picked up a VC. His life is a mix of Ripping Yarns and The Victor!

Capt. (temp. Lt.-Col.) Adrian Carton de Wiart, D.S.O., Dn. Gds.
For most conspicuous bravery, coolness and determination during severe operations of a prolonged nature. It was owing in a great measure to his dauntless courage and inspiring example that a serious reverse was averted. He displayed the utmost energy and courage in forcing our attack home. After three other battalion Commanders had become casualties, he controlled their commands, and ensured that the ground won was maintained at all costs. He frequently exposed himself in the organisation of positions and of supplies, passing unflinchingly through fire barrage of the most intense nature. His gallantry was inspiring to all.
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#44
My bold - that book contains this epic paragraph:

One such colourful individual was Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Patrick Driscoll, of the (somewhat atypical) 25th Royal Fusiliers, who commanded his battalion throughout its career. Driscoll was probably born in Burma and was 53 in August 1914. He had served in the Indian merchant navy and was involved in the Third Anglo-Burmese War of 1886, where he is thought to have served in the Upper Burma Rifles, becoming a crack shot. On the outbreak of the Boer War he travelled to South Africa and joined the Border Mounted Rifles, being asked in 1900 to form ‘Driscoll’s Scouts’. In 1907, he joined the Legion of Frontiersmen, a group of adventurers comprising a patriotic paramilitary group, rising by 1914 to be its head. At the outbreak of the war he offered the services of 100 of his Frontiersmen as commandos in France. This was rejected, but his offer to form a unit to fight in East Africa was eventually accepted, and, commanding a unit which ‘included several ex-French Foreign Legion members, Texan cowboys, a Palace footman, a lighthouse keeper, seal poachers from the Arctic Circle, American soldiers, circus acrobats and clowns' who became known as the ‘Boozaliers’, he ‘found no work too arduous and no climate too unhealthy for his brave spirit’ during the colourful campaign.
 
#45
FYI, Enoch Powell was the youngest brigadier in WWII at the ripe old age of 26.

Some rivers of resentment might have flowed when that happened.
Firstly Powell wasn't the youngest brigadier in the British Army in WW2, he was 31 or 32 before he was promoted to that rank , while Mike Carver who commanded 4 Armoured Brigade from Normandy onwards was 29 when promoted . Secondly unlike Carver , Powell never commanded a brigade or any other unit or formation. I shouldn't have written brigadier earlier , I should have written brigade commander. What is true is that Enoch Powell And Fitzroy Maclean were the only men to go from private to brigadier in WW2.
 
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#46
Firstly Powell wasn't the youngest brigadier in the British Army in WW2, he was 31 or 32 before he was promoted to that rank , while Mike Carver who commanded 4 Armoured Brigade from Normandy onwards was 29 when promoted . Secondly unlike Carver , Powell never commanded a brigade or any other unit or formation. I shouldn't have written brigadier earlier , I should have written brigade commander. What is true is that Enoch Powell And Fitzroy Maclean were the only men to go from private to brigadier in WW2.
Ho Hum, Fitzroy Maclean was hardly a run of the mill jock was he!
Obit:
In 1939 he was transferred to London, to the Russian desk of the Foreign Office's Northern Department. He had always wanted to emulate his father and be a soldier, so when war broke out in September he was eager to sign up with a combat regiment. But the Foreign Office counted as a reserved occupation, and two dull years elapsed. Poring through service regulations, Maclean discovered the loophole he was looking for: on election as an MP, a Foreign Office man was obliged to resign. Using his charm and considerable diplomatic skills, he got himself adopted as the Conservative candidate at the 1941 by-election in Lancaster. He then immediately enlisted as a private in the Cameron Highlanders.

For an Etonian diplomat and prospective Member of Parliament to enter the ranks in such a crack regiment was an extraordinary thing to do, and the singularity of the decision has perhaps not been sufficiently underlined. Rubbing shoulders with tough squaddies from the Gorbals was a key formative process. Elected MP for Lancaster, he was now safe from recall to the Foreign Office.
After basic training Maclean was commissioned as a lieutenant
 
#47
My bold - that book contains this epic paragraph:

One such colourful individual was Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Patrick Driscoll, of the (somewhat atypical) 25th Royal Fusiliers, who commanded his battalion throughout its career. Driscoll was probably born in Burma and was 53 in August 1914. He had served in the Indian merchant navy and was involved in the Third Anglo-Burmese War of 1886, where he is thought to have served in the Upper Burma Rifles, becoming a crack shot. On the outbreak of the Boer War he travelled to South Africa and joined the Border Mounted Rifles, being asked in 1900 to form ‘Driscoll’s Scouts’. In 1907, he joined the Legion of Frontiersmen, a group of adventurers comprising a patriotic paramilitary group, rising by 1914 to be its head. At the outbreak of the war he offered the services of 100 of his Frontiersmen as commandos in France. This was rejected, but his offer to form a unit to fight in East Africa was eventually accepted, and, commanding a unit which ‘included several ex-French Foreign Legion members, Texan cowboys, a Palace footman, a lighthouse keeper, seal poachers from the Arctic Circle, American soldiers, circus acrobats and clowns' who became known as the ‘Boozaliers’, he ‘found no work too arduous and no climate too unhealthy for his brave spirit’ during the colourful campaign.
At the time the Legion was not a joke, here is the chaps MIC.
Ancestry - Sign Up Now!

Edit that link does access the MIC if you are signed into Ancestry. It's free this weekend but MIC collection is always free to access.
 
#48
Sorry, I have a default to factory settings when mention is made of First War gallantry, I give you Carton de Wiart who as a Cavalry officer commanded the 8th Gloucestershire Regiment as a temp Lt Colonel picked up a VC. His life is a mix of Ripping Yarns and The Victor!

Capt. (temp. Lt.-Col.) Adrian Carton de Wiart, D.S.O., Dn. Gds.
For most conspicuous bravery, coolness and determination during severe operations of a prolonged nature. It was owing in a great measure to his dauntless courage and inspiring example that a serious reverse was averted. He displayed the utmost energy and courage in forcing our attack home. After three other battalion Commanders had become casualties, he controlled their commands, and ensured that the ground won was maintained at all costs. He frequently exposed himself in the organisation of positions and of supplies, passing unflinchingly through fire barrage of the most intense nature. His gallantry was inspiring to all.
View attachment 323483
I'm sure it was him who commented "Frankly, I enjoyed the war".
 
#49
I should note that in trying to find the review quoted above, I chanced upon this recent PhD thesis

Wartime Huts: The Development, Typology, and Identification of Temporary Military Buildings in Britain 1914-1945

A welcome demonstration that Arrse's consideration of the importance of the shed a few years ago was, once again, at the cuttting edge of academic inquiry. Not a very sharp cutting edge, perhaps, but still...
Oddly gripping, that thesis, even if "...one possible cause for the lack of previous research as being due to the utter dullness of the building type..."

Or maybe it's a slow afternoon.
 
#51
I have a feeling that was Mad Jack Churchill, but might be wrong
A few officers enjoyed both wars. I'm sure there is a post on a history thread and the poster asked his grand dad if he enjoyed the great war. The reply was "yeeee I f00king loved it."
I just remember that post for the apparent glee the grand dad had for it, some men love war and the chaos. Each to their own we all contribute in our own ways.
 
#53
Auchinleck, being interviewed by a (young) Brian Bond::

BB: I suppose it must have been terribly grim and frightening, sir?

The Auk: <thinks for about a minute> D'you know young man, now I reflect upon it, I found it all rather enjoyable...
 
#56
There were some quite young brigadiers. Well Acting anyway if not always substantive
Acting and substantive rank often bore absolutely no relation. In the Advance to Victory at least one infantry division was commanded by a substantive captain - Keppel Bethel of 66th Division.
 
#57
Acting and substantive rank often bore absolutely no relation. In the Advance to Victory at least one infantry division was commanded by a substantive captain - Keppel Bethel of 66th Division.
Here is one who went onto become a Lt General - Bernard Freyberg VC, DSO** took command of an Army brigade with the rank of Brigadier, at the age of 28. In September he was badly wounded again and did not return to duty until January 1918, subsequently being awarded two bars to his DSO, having been made a Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1917.
 
#58
Ho Hum, Fitzroy Maclean was hardly a run of the mill jock was he!
Obit:
In 1939 he was transferred to London, to the Russian desk of the Foreign Office's Northern Department. He had always wanted to emulate his father and be a soldier, so when war broke out in September he was eager to sign up with a combat regiment. But the Foreign Office counted as a reserved occupation, and two dull years elapsed. Poring through service regulations, Maclean discovered the loophole he was looking for: on election as an MP, a Foreign Office man was obliged to resign. Using his charm and considerable diplomatic skills, he got himself adopted as the Conservative candidate at the 1941 by-election in Lancaster. He then immediately enlisted as a private in the Cameron Highlanders.

For an Etonian diplomat and prospective Member of Parliament to enter the ranks in such a crack regiment was an extraordinary thing to do, and the singularity of the decision has perhaps not been sufficiently underlined. Rubbing shoulders with tough squaddies from the Gorbals was a key formative process. Elected MP for Lancaster, he was now safe from recall to the Foreign Office.
After basic training Maclean was commissioned as a lieutenant
Indeed and yes I've read Eastern Approaches, great book. But Enoch Powell wasn't exactly an average recruit either . Both were oddities and their military careers reflect that.
 
#59
Here is one who went onto become a Lt General - Bernard Freyberg VC, DSO** took command of an Army brigade with the rank of Brigadier, at the age of 28. In September he was badly wounded again and did not return to duty until January 1918, subsequently being awarded two bars to his DSO, having been made a Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1917.
At the time he did so, Freyberg held rank in the RN.
 
#60

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