Herbert Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer
Overview
 
Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer, GCB
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...

, GCMG
Order of St Michael and St George
The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is an order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later George IV of the United Kingdom, while he was acting as Prince Regent for his father, George III....

, GCVO
Royal Victorian Order
The Royal Victorian Order is a dynastic order of knighthood and a house order of chivalry recognising distinguished personal service to the order's Sovereign, the reigning monarch of the Commonwealth realms, any members of her family, or any of her viceroys...

, GBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (13 March 1857 – 16 July 1932) was a British colonial official and soldier born in Torquay
Torquay
Torquay is a town in the unitary authority area of Torbay and ceremonial county of Devon, England. It lies south of Exeter along the A380 on the north of Torbay, north-east of Plymouth and adjoins the neighbouring town of Paignton on the west of the bay. Torquay’s population of 63,998 during the...

 who commanded the British Second Army
British Second Army
The British Second Army was active during both the First and Second World Wars. During the First World War the army was active on the Western Front and in Italy...

 in World War I
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...

 and later served as High Commissioner
High Commissioner
High Commissioner is the title of various high-ranking, special executive positions held by a commission of appointment.The English term is also used to render various equivalent titles in other languages.-Bilateral diplomacy:...

 of the British Mandate for Palestine.
Educated at Eton College
Eton College
Eton College, often referred to simply as Eton, is a British independent school for boys aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor"....

, Plumer was commissioned into the York and Lancaster Regiment
York and Lancaster Regiment
-History:It was formed in 1881 through the amalgamation of two other regiments:*65th Regiment*84th RegimentThe title of the regiment was derived not from the cities of York and Lancaster, or from the counties...

 in 1876.

From 1879 to 1886, an unusually long period, he was Adjutant of his battalion, and in that capacity accompanied it to the Soudan in 1884 in the expedition under Sir Gerald Graham.
Encyclopedia
Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer, GCB
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...

, GCMG
Order of St Michael and St George
The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is an order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later George IV of the United Kingdom, while he was acting as Prince Regent for his father, George III....

, GCVO
Royal Victorian Order
The Royal Victorian Order is a dynastic order of knighthood and a house order of chivalry recognising distinguished personal service to the order's Sovereign, the reigning monarch of the Commonwealth realms, any members of her family, or any of her viceroys...

, GBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (13 March 1857 – 16 July 1932) was a British colonial official and soldier born in Torquay
Torquay
Torquay is a town in the unitary authority area of Torbay and ceremonial county of Devon, England. It lies south of Exeter along the A380 on the north of Torbay, north-east of Plymouth and adjoins the neighbouring town of Paignton on the west of the bay. Torquay’s population of 63,998 during the...

 who commanded the British Second Army
British Second Army
The British Second Army was active during both the First and Second World Wars. During the First World War the army was active on the Western Front and in Italy...

 in World War I
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...

 and later served as High Commissioner
High Commissioner
High Commissioner is the title of various high-ranking, special executive positions held by a commission of appointment.The English term is also used to render various equivalent titles in other languages.-Bilateral diplomacy:...

 of the British Mandate for Palestine.

Military career

Educated at Eton College
Eton College
Eton College, often referred to simply as Eton, is a British independent school for boys aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor"....

, Plumer was commissioned into the York and Lancaster Regiment
York and Lancaster Regiment
-History:It was formed in 1881 through the amalgamation of two other regiments:*65th Regiment*84th RegimentThe title of the regiment was derived not from the cities of York and Lancaster, or from the counties...

 in 1876.

From 1879 to 1886, an unusually long period, he was Adjutant of his battalion, and in that capacity accompanied it to the Soudan in 1884 in the expedition under Sir Gerald Graham. Captain Plumer was present at the battles of El Teb and Tamai, and was mentioned in Despatches. In 1887 he passed through the Staff College, and from 1890 to 1893 was Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General in Jersey. In 1896 he served in the operations in South Africa under Sir Frederick Carrington, when he organized and commanded a corps of Mounted Rifles, subsequently obtaining another mention in Despatches and a br brevet
Brevet (military)
In many of the world's military establishments, brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily, but usually without receiving the pay of that higher rank except when actually serving in that role. An officer so promoted may be referred to as being...

 Lieutenant-Colonelcy. Colonel Plumer's experiences in this arduous campaign are described in a very interesting manner in his book "With an Irregular Corps in Matabeleland."

After service in South Africa he was appointed Commander of the 4th Brigade within I Army Corps in 1902 before moving on to be General Officer Commanding
General Officer Commanding
General Officer Commanding is the usual title given in the armies of Commonwealth nations to a general officer who holds a command appointment. Thus, a general might be the GOC II Corps or GOC 7th Armoured Division...

 10th Division within IV Army Corps in 1903. In 1904 he became Quartermaster-General to the Forces
Quartermaster-General to the Forces
In the United Kingdom, the Quartermaster-General to the Forces is a senior general in the British Army.From 1904 the Quartermaster-General to the Forces was the Third Military Member of the Army Board.-Responsibilities:...

, in 1906 he was made GOC 7th Division and in 1907 he became GOC 5th Division within Irish Command. Then in 1911 he was appointed General Officer Commanding
General Officer Commanding
General Officer Commanding is the usual title given in the armies of Commonwealth nations to a general officer who holds a command appointment. Thus, a general might be the GOC II Corps or GOC 7th Armoured Division...

-in-Chief for Northern Command
Northern Command (United Kingdom)
-Nineteenth century:The District Commands of the British Army in Great Britain and Ireland first appear in print in 1840, at which time Northern Command was held by Maj-Gen Charles James Napier, appointed in 1838. During his time the troops stationed within Northern Command were frequently deployed...

.

After commanding V Corps
V Corps (United Kingdom)
V Corps was an army corps of the British Army in both the First and Second World War. It was first organised in February 1915 and fought through World War I on the Western front...

 in 1915, he led the Second Army
British Second Army
The British Second Army was active during both the First and Second World Wars. During the First World War the army was active on the Western Front and in Italy...

 in Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 during World War I, during which he won an overwhelming victory over the German Army at the Battle of Messines
Battle of Messines
The Battle of Messines was a battle of the Western front of the First World War. It began on 7 June 1917 when the British Second Army under the command of General Herbert Plumer launched an offensive near the village of Mesen in West Flanders, Belgium...

 in 1917, started with what was described as the loudest explosion in human history, created by the simultaneous explosion of 19 mines by the Royal Engineer tunnelling companies
Royal Engineer tunnelling companies
Royal Engineer tunnelling companies were specialist units of the Corps of Royal Engineers within the British Army, formed to dig attacking tunnels under enemy lines during the First World War....

.
Plumer is generally regarded as one of the finest army commanders serving in France during World War I. Like the majority of generals on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 he was from an infantry, as opposed to a cavalry background and deprecated the insistence on the value of the "breakthrough" and the effectiveness of cavalry to exploit the opening and reach the open country beyond the front line.

As a career Infantry officer it could be argued that he understood somewhat better what could reasonably be expected of his troops bearing in mind the terrain, the weather and morale. Plumer, a meticulous planner, would often express the plans of his superiors as being too ambitious and more often than not, as seen at the Third Battle of Ypres, he would be proved to be right.

Plumer was very popular with the men gaining the affectionate nickname "old Plum" and "Daddy Plumer". He was a cliché of a General to look at; with a receding chin and a white moustache, his appearance suggested on the photographs of the day everything that he was not.

Following the unexpected death of Sir James Grierson on his arrival in France in 1914, Plumer was considered for command of one of two BEF Corps alongside Haig. This position eventually went to Horace Smith-Dorrien
Horace Smith-Dorrien
General Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien GCB, GCMG, DSO, ADC was a British soldier and commander of the British II Corps and Second Army of the BEF during World War I.-Early life and career:...

. Later in the war, Plumer was sought by Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 for the position of Chief of the Imperial General Staff as a replacement for William Robertson. He declined the position and leaving no private papers and never having expressed a recorded opinion of the conduct of the war, the lengthy debate over the Generalship in World War I largely passed him by.

Post World War I

Plumer became Commander of the British Army of the Rhine
British Army of the Rhine
There have been two formations named British Army of the Rhine . Both were originally occupation forces in Germany, one after the First World War, and the other after the Second World War.-1919–1929:...

 in 1918, and Governor of Malta in 1919. In 1925 he became High Commissioner
High Commissioner
High Commissioner is the title of various high-ranking, special executive positions held by a commission of appointment.The English term is also used to render various equivalent titles in other languages.-Bilateral diplomacy:...

 of the British Mandate for Palestine. He resisted Arab pressure to reverse commitments made by the British in the Balfour Declaration. His three-year term as High Commissioner is generally noted as the calmest period during the British Mandate. He was replaced by Sir John Chancellor
John Chancellor (British administrator)
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Robert Chancellor, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO was a British soldier and colonial official.After a career in the British Army's Corps of Royal Engineers, which included service on the North West Frontier and being Secretary of the Colonial Defence Committee, he became a...

 in 1928.

He died in 1932 and was buried in Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

.

Honours

  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
    Royal Victorian Order
    The Royal Victorian Order is a dynastic order of knighthood and a house order of chivalry recognising distinguished personal service to the order's Sovereign, the reigning monarch of the Commonwealth realms, any members of her family, or any of her viceroys...

  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
  • Grand Cordon, Order of the Rising Sun
    Order of the Rising Sun
    The is a Japanese order, established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji of Japan. The Order was the first national decoration awarded by the Japanese Government, created on April 10, 1875 by decree of the Council of State. The badge features rays of sunlight from the rising sun...

    , 1921.

Further reading

  • Harington, General Sir Charles
    Charles Harington Harington
    General Sir Charles Harington Harington GCB, GBE, DSO, DCL , was a British Army officer most noted for his service during the First World War and Chanak crisis...

     Plumer of Messines Murray, 1935
  • Powell, Geoffrey Plumer: The Soldier's General: A Biography of Field-Marshal Viscount Plumer of Messines Pen and Sword Books Ltd (19 Jul 1990) ISBN 0-85052-605-1 / Leo Cooper Ltd (Jan 2004) ISBN 1-84415-039-9
  • Sykes, Frank W. With Plumer in Matabeleland: an account of the operations of the Matabeleland Relief Force during the rebellion of 1896 Constable & Co, London, 1897. Reprints: Rhodesiana Reprint Library, Vol 21, Books of Rhodesia, Bulawayo, 1972 and Negro Universities Press, 1969 ISBN 0-8371-1640-6.

External links


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