General Jacks Diary

#1
I've just finished re-reading this, which I think is one of the better WW1 diaries.

The implication in a written portrait by a fellow officer that forms part of the forematter is that Jack was not from the usual background of pre-war regular officers. I've seen the 'Lions led by donkeys' piece at
http://www.firstworldwar.bham.ac.uk/donkey/jack.htm
but it is unimformative about his origins. Does anybody know just what they were? Was he from (shock, horror!) 'trade'?

C_C
 
#2
I think its mentioned somewhere that most of his family were in manufacturing industries in and around Paisley.

There were actually quite a lot of regular officers who had come by Jack's route: joined in the ranks in local TA/militia and then transferred into the regular army on the back of good service records in South Africa.

Jack's diary is the main counterpoint to the whole "Lions led by Donkeys" myth; the army was in fact comprised of "Lions led by Jacks" - a pre-war army of c.200k swelled to c.5 million, and all administered with pencil, paper and telephone by damaged survivors like Jack.
 
#3
It really is a superb read. Sadly mine fell out of my bag on the bus and has been lost forever.
 
#4
4(T) said:
I think its mentioned somewhere that most of his family were in manufacturing industries in and around Paisley.

There were actually quite a lot of regular officers who had come by Jack's route: joined in the ranks in local TA/militia and then transferred into the regular army on the back of good service records in South Africa.

Jack's diary is the main counterpoint to the whole "Lions led by Donkeys" myth; the army was in fact comprised of "Lions led by Jacks" - a pre-war army of c.200k swelled to c.5 million, and all administered with pencil, paper and telephone by damaged survivors like Jack.
Ta - I wondered from the reference in the link to him being from Paisley if his background was one of the Paisley weaving concerns, which would be a tenuous connection to the vile Alan Clark, whose fortune was made in the Paisley spinning trade (I really need to get out more).

Agree 100% with 'Lions led by Jacks'

C_C
 
#5
General Jack was my grandfather, so I should know all the answers to your questions, but shamefully, I'm not that knowledgable. I think you maybe correct and he was in 'trade' as I know there's a connection to Wilton Carpets in the family. And yes, he came from Paisley and moved to Kibworth in Leicestershire after his married Jeanette Watson.
Although I'm not an expert on my Grandfather's life I know a man who is - Dad (Obviously his son). And if you want to know anything at all please get back in touch and I'll dig into the families dark past - someone came from trade, I ask you!
Louise Jack
 
#6
General Jack was my grandfather, so I should know all the answers to your questions, but shamefully, I'm not that knowledgable. I think you maybe correct and he was in 'trade' as I know there's a connection to Wilton Carpets in the family. And yes, he came from Paisley and moved to Kibworth in Leicestershire after his married Jeanette Watson.
Although I'm not an expert on my Grandfather's life I know a man who is - Dad (Obviously his son). And if you want to know anything at all please get back in touch and I'll dig into the families dark past - someone came from trade, I ask you!
Louise Jack
Louise,

thank you - my original query was simply idle curiosity, but it would be interesting to know the General's route to a regular commission and whether my stab at a background in the Paisley textile industry was correct. And there are lots of more knowledgeable individuals on here who probably can ask far more intelligent questions ...

C_C
 
#7
The Birmingham University First world War Studies web-site seldom fails to answer these queries...

James Lochhead Jack

(1880-1962)
Brigadier-General
DSO*. GOC Infantry Brigade
Merchiston Castle School
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

James Lochhead Jack was the son of Peter Jack of Paisley. He was commissioned in the Cameronians from the Militia on 9 September 1903. At the age of 23 his Regular military career had made something of a late start, but he had served with the 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Scottish Horse in the South African War while a Militia officer. He was Adjutant of 1st Cameronians from November 1908 until November 1911, but went to war with his battalion as a company commander. 1st Cameronians were originally deployed to France as Lines of Communication troops before joining the 19th Brigade, an independent formation attached to no division. Jack was Staff Captain at the HQ of 19th Brigade from 28 August until 2 November 1914 before returning to regimental duty. He was appointed CO 2nd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, 23rd Brigade, 8th Division, on 22 August 1916, commanding it until 31 July 1917, when he was wounded on Bellewaarde Ridge during the first day of Third Ypres. He did not return to active service for nearly a year, but this time as CO of his old battalion. Jack commanded 1st Cameronians until promoted GOC 28th Brigade on 11 September 1918. He was 38. This translation from captain to general in four years says more about the war than about Jack, who was a notably unambitious man whose horizons in the normal course of events would not have risen above the battalion level. The original 28th Brigade had been broken up in May 1916 to accommodate the arrival in 9th (Scottish) Division of the South African Brigade. It was the withdrawal of the South African Brigade from the line that promoted the reforming of 28th Brigade. Jack commanded it for the rest of the war and during the final battles in Flanders.

After the Armistice Jack reverted to his regimental rank of lieutenant-colonel, commanding 9th Cameronians (March-April 1919). His retirement on 22 April 1921, however, did not end his military career. He commanded 5/6th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders TA (1925-9) and the Argyll and Sutherland Brigade TA (1929-33) and raised and commanded the Market Harborough Battalion Home Guard (1940). Jack’s principal importance, however, is as a diarist. He kept a diary throughout the war. It was published in 1964 as General Jack’s Diary, 1914-1918, edited by John Terraine. The title is somewhat misleading. Jack was a general for less than three months. The diary has most to say about his period as a battalion commander, particularly of 2nd West Yorkshires in 1916-17. Jack hated the war, hated trench raids and admired the BEF’s senior commanders struggling to fight a resolute enemy ‘with amateur staffs’. He set an outstanding example of duty and personal courage to his subordinates, mostly ‘temporary gentlemen’. He applied the old pre-war Regular standards of smartness and discipline, though he was never callous. Some of his junior officers found this irksome and irrelevant. Others, notably his Adjutant Sidney Rogerson, found their CO a source of inspiration and confidence, though they never understood him, not that Jack was interested in being understood. He did not seek approval. His diary remains an important source for our understanding of trench warfare and a powerful testimony to the professional competence and humanity of the best type of pre-war regimental officer.
The diary can be obtained from Amazon for as little as £2.00 at present - General Jack's diary

Think nothing of it...it is what first World War bores like me live to provide!
 
#9
It is very much a work in progress C_C!

Thanks for prompting me to order the book for the princely sum of £2.00...
 
#10
I have an old copy of the book. My great uncle was one of the officers in the 2nd Battalion West Yorks and was killed the day after Jack got wounded at 3rd Ypres. I bought the book hoping to find out a little about him but he is only mentioned as being killed. Reading the book gave me an absolute insight into what my great uncle would have been doing - very insightful. I would have loved to have read the entire diary to see if there was any other mention of him, especially as he was awarded the MC and Bar whilst with the West Yorks. Would have been amazing to see what Jack thought.
 
#11
Jack is an admirable man - His DSO is for refusing to launch a raid until he thinks his battalion is ready.

One of the most telling entries is that for the day in 1914 when they are boxing up the kit they won't need on operations. (The letters MFO are not used , but...) He write that consensus among subalterns is that they will be deploying for a long and very bloody war.
 
#12
Hi, it's The General's granddaughter reporting with information gleened from her father.
James - or Jerry as my grandmother called him - volunteered to fight in the Boer War. He joined as a subaltern, the lowest commisioned rank. During the way he was what my father describes a 'scout on horseback,' or I guess a dispatch rider.
As the army were paying him 3 times what his father was offering it was decided that he should stay in the army. Indeed his father owned a carpet manufacturing company called Peter Jack Ltd.
Dad thinks he led the West Yorks because their 'leader' had died. I'll find out more about that if you want - just ask. But from what Dad said he never joined the West Yorks.
According to Dad The General hated war
 
#13
Oh and just to say the original 'diary' is at the Imperial War Museum (on loan from us) - he wrote over 200K words but his handwriting is very, very neat. Anyone who wants to read the full account - good luck!
 

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