Earl Haig's Mounted Escort

Roussillon

Old-Salt
Bit of a long story, but...

When I was at university I was in a dining club that owned quite a lot of silver. Some of it was engraved as having been given by George Black, President in 1912, and the whole lot is kept in a battered old tin trunk with a label saying 'Haig'.

It turns out that George Black joined the 17th Lancers and spent most of the war as commander of Haig's mounted escort, provided by the same regiment. In January 1918 he persuaded Haig that he wanted to fight and was consequently transferred to the 13th Bttn, the Tank Corps, with whom he was killed in action in August, winning an MC in the process.

Now, I've found out quite a lot about him, but I've read a diary entry by one of his university friends who bumped into him at a drinks party with Haig and mentioned that he had to follow him everywhere. There MUST be photos of a Haig that have Black with him.

Any ideas where I might find some? I've been googling, looking for Black's rather distinctive ears as you can see from this portrait of him as an undergraduate, but no luck. Incidentally, he's shown here wearing the club's coat:
 

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Member of the Bollinger Club, then?
 

jim30

LE
Try Garry Sheffield -he did an excellent bio on Haig recently and may be able to help.


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Gecko

Old-Salt
He's mentioned in Gary Sheffield's 'The Chief' book:

" Another favourite was Captain George Black, who commanded Haig's personal escort troop of 17th Lancers. Haig's fondness for Black became well-known. After nearly three years in this role, Haig finally allowed him to join the Tank Corps. With sad inevitability Black was killed. Haig was badly upset at his death, repeating, 'Poor lad, poor lad' when he heard the news. He opened his heart to Black's mother: 'When things were very critical his brightness and cheery talk made one, for the moment, forget the war'.

Another mention on Sheffield and John Bourne's 'Douglas Haig War Diaries and and Letters 1914-1918:

Saturday, 24 August 1918

"I received news of George Black's death yesterday. No details, only that he was badly wounded with his Tank and died in the Casualty Clearing Hospital at Daours...He was with me from April 1915 until the beginning of this year in charge of 17th Lancers troops (my mounted escort). He insisted on going to the Tank Corps as 'he wanted to fight'! He is a great loss to me and all of us. Always so cheerful and happy even when things looked darkest..."

No likely photos. Most of the photos in these books come from the IWM archives, so that'd be your best bet.
 

Roussillon

Old-Salt
He was obviously popular all round. The club's colours are 'champagne and black' in his honour. When he graduated in 1912 he gave, amongst other things, a solid gold hunting horn.
 

Roussillon

Old-Salt
This shows Haig with his escort from a slightly different angle, where you can see the officer who was behind him. From his cap it looks like he could be 17th Lancers and he could be in his late 20s (Black was 29 when he died).
 

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Contact the IWM photograph department. Their photos are well-enough catalogued that you should be able to find all of the official images available.
 

Roussillon

Old-Salt
Thanks. I've had a look online and it looks like this one (attached) is of him as the IWM listing says:

Object description
King George V with General Sir Douglas Haig, the C-in-C of the British Army, arriving at the Commander-in-Chief's Chateau (Advanced GHQ) at Beauquesne, 8th August 1916. Guard of Honour from 17th Lancers under Captain Black.
 

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As an aside, probate was granted to Adam and Louisa Black (parents) on 7 Jan 1919, in respect of George Balfour Black of 7 Petersham Terrace: effects £36140.13s 11d (a tidy sum in those days).

His MIC records him as Lt/T/Capt and he was entitled to a 1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal (with Oak Leaf). His MC was awarded for 'conspicuous gallantry and skilful leadership' at Warfusie-Abancourt, 8 Aug 1918. He was also twice MiD.
 

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