Garnet Hughes
Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Garnet Burk Hughes CB
Order of the Bath
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate mediæval ceremony for creating a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as Knights of the Bath...

Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

, (April 22, 1880 - April 13, 1937) was a Canadian
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 military officer during the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. He was the son of Sir Sam Hughes
Sam Hughes
For other people of the same name see Sam Hughes Sir Samuel Hughes, KCB, PC was the Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence during World War I...

, a Canadian politician and Minister of the Militia
Minister of Militia and Defence (Canada)
The Minister of Militia and Defence was the federal government minister in charge of the volunteer army units in Canada prior to the creation of the Canadian Militia, before the creation of the Canadian Army....

 during the war. Although politically well-connected, he was judged not to be an able officer and, in the latter half of the war, was shunted into administrative roles.

Before the Great War, Hughes joined the Canadian militia in Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of about 78,000 within the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria, which has a population of 360,063, the 15th most populous Canadian...

 as a part-time officer. In 1913, he was commissioned as a major in the 50th Battalion (Gordon Highlanders) militia, where he was third in command under Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Currie
Arthur Currie
Sir Arthur William Currie GCMG, KCB , was a Canadian general during World War I. He had the unique distinction of starting his military career on the very bottom rung as a pre-war militia gunner before rising through the ranks to become the first Canadian commander of the four divisions of the...


With the outbreak of war in 1914, Hughes's father offered to make Currie the commanding officer of the 2nd Brigade in the 1st Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Force
Canadian Expeditionary Force
The Canadian Expeditionary Force was the designation of the field force created by Canada for service overseas in the First World War. Units of the C.E.F. were divided into field formation in France, where they were organized first into separate divisions and later joined together into a single...

. However, Currie was considering staying behind in Victoria to take care of some financial problems and only accepted the post at the urging of Hughes. Hughes himself was promoted to colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 and appointed to be brigade-major of the 3rd Brigade under Brigadier-General Richard Turner
Richard Ernest William Turner
Lieutenant General Sir Richard Ernest William Turner VC, KCB, KCMG, DSO was a Canadian army officer during the Boer War and World War I, and a recipient of the Victoria Cross...


The 1st Division spent the winter of 1914-15 training in England, and was sent to France in February 1915. After a period of indoctrination about the realities of trench warfare
Trench warfare
Trench warfare is a form of occupied fighting lines, consisting largely of trenches, in which troops are largely immune to the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery...

, the Canadians took control of a section of trench in the Ypres Salient
Ypres Salient
The Ypres Salient is the area around Ypres in Belgium which was the scene of some of the biggest battles in World War I.In military terms, a salient is a battlefield feature that projects into enemy territory. Therefore, the salient is surrounded by the enemy on three sides, making the troops...

 on April 17, 1915. Only five days later, on Hughes' 34th birthday, the Germans used poison gas for the first time on the Western Front, sending clouds of chlorine wafting over the Allied trenches. French colonial troops on the Canadians' left flank broke, leaving an enormous hole in the Allied line.

In the chaos that followed, both Turner and Hughes panicked and sent erroneous messages back to divisional headquarters that their line had been broken and was in full retreat, when in fact the 3rd Brigade had not even been attacked yet. Late in the evening, they ignored a message from Currie suggesting that two reserve units (the 10th
10th Battalion, CEF
The 10th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force was a Canadian field force unit created during the First World War. Technically distinct from the Militia from which its soldiers were drawn the unit served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force , specifically in the 1st Canadian Division from 1914 to...

 and 16th Battalions) should be used to fill the hole in the Allied line. Instead, Turner and Hughes sent the soldiers on a night-time attack against a German strongpoint at Kitcheners' Wood
Battle of Kitcheners' Wood
The Battle of Kitcheners' Wood was fought during World War I during the Second Battle of Ypres.-Location:The name of this oak plantation derived from the French name, Bois-de-Cuisinères, where French troops housed their field kitchens, and not in reference as is sometimes thought to the British...


Hughes came forward to order the attack, but rather than waiting for proper reconnaissance and supporting artillery pieces, he merely pointed in the direction that the battalion should take and sent them marching forward at 11:48 p.m., shoulder-to-shoulder, illuminated by bright moonlight, while Hughes retired to brigade headquarters. The lack of reconnaissance proved to be deadly; in breaking through a fence while still several hundred metres from their objective, the Canadians were detected, and enfilading machine gun fire caused 75 percent casualties before the soldiers reached the Wood and drove the Germans out. Back in the rear, Hughes had lost touch with the attack and it took hours until communications were re-established. With no reinforcements being sent forward, the Canadians could not hold their position and the survivors were forced to retreat the next day in the face of determined German counterattacks.

In light of Hughes's actions during the battle, Currie considered him to be incompetent under fire, and a danger to the men under his command. After Currie was promoted to command of the entire Canadian Corps
Canadian Corps
The Canadian Corps was a World War I corps formed from the Canadian Expeditionary Force in September 1915 after the arrival of the 2nd Canadian Division in France. The corps was expanded by the addition of the 3rd Canadian Division in December 1915 and the 4th Canadian Division in August 1916...

, he refused to promote Hughes to a divisional command of his own, even though the request came from Hughes's father Sam Hughes, the Minister of Militia and Defence.

Hughes was promoted to brigadier-general in 1916 and was eventually given command of the newly formed 5th Canadian Division
5th Canadian Division
The 5th Canadian Division of the Canadian Corps was formed during World War I. The 5th began assembling in Britain in February, 1917, but was broken up in February of 1918 before it was fully formed...

, but it was an administrative post only, since the 5th Division was broken up as soon as it reached England. Its men were sent as reinforcements to replace battle losses in the four other divisions of the Canadian Corps. By the end of the war, Hughes had been assigned to an obscure administrative post in England. He spent the rest of his life seeking revenge by attacking Currie's reputation through editorials published in newspapers owned by his family.

He died in New York City at the age of 56.
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