Horace Smith-Dorrien
Overview
 
General
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien 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....

, DSO
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...

, ADC (26 May 1858 – 12 August 1930) was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 soldier and commander of the British II Corps and Second Army of the BEF during 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...

.
Horace Smith-Dorrien was born at Haresfoot, a house near Berkhamsted
Berkhamsted
-Climate:Berkhamsted experiences an oceanic climate similar to almost all of the United Kingdom.-Castle:...

, the 12th child of 16. He was educated at Harrow
Harrow School
Harrow School, commonly known simply as "Harrow", is an English independent school for boys situated in the town of Harrow, in north-west London.. The school is of worldwide renown. There is some evidence that there has been a school on the site since 1243 but the Harrow School we know today was...

, and on 26 February 1876 entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst , commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is a British Army officer initial training centre located in Sandhurst, Berkshire, England...

, passing out with a commission as a subaltern to the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment of Foot
95th (Derbyshire) Regiment of Foot
The 95th Regiment of Foot was formed when the 95th Rifles were redesignated as The Rifle Brigade . In 1881, during the Childers Reforms, it was united with the 45th Regiment of Foot to form the Sherwood Foresters .-History:...

. On 1 November 1878, he was posted to South Africa where he worked as a transport officer.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
General
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien 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....

, DSO
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...

, ADC (26 May 1858 – 12 August 1930) was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 soldier and commander of the British II Corps and Second Army of the BEF during 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...

.

Early life and career

Horace Smith-Dorrien was born at Haresfoot, a house near Berkhamsted
Berkhamsted
-Climate:Berkhamsted experiences an oceanic climate similar to almost all of the United Kingdom.-Castle:...

, the 12th child of 16. He was educated at Harrow
Harrow School
Harrow School, commonly known simply as "Harrow", is an English independent school for boys situated in the town of Harrow, in north-west London.. The school is of worldwide renown. There is some evidence that there has been a school on the site since 1243 but the Harrow School we know today was...

, and on 26 February 1876 entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst , commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is a British Army officer initial training centre located in Sandhurst, Berkshire, England...

, passing out with a commission as a subaltern to the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment of Foot
95th (Derbyshire) Regiment of Foot
The 95th Regiment of Foot was formed when the 95th Rifles were redesignated as The Rifle Brigade . In 1881, during the Childers Reforms, it was united with the 45th Regiment of Foot to form the Sherwood Foresters .-History:...

. On 1 November 1878, he was posted to South Africa where he worked as a transport officer. In this role he encountered, and fought against, corruption in the army.

Smith-Dorrien was present at the Battle of Isandlwana
Battle of Isandlwana
The Battle of Isandlwana on 22 January 1879 was the first major encounter in the Anglo-Zulu War between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom...

 during the Zulu Wars
Anglo-Zulu War
The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom.Following the imperialist scheme by which Lord Carnarvon had successfully brought about federation in Canada, it was thought that a similar plan might succeed with the various African kingdoms, tribal areas and...

 on 22 January 1879, serving with the British invasion force as a transport officer for the army's Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...

 detachment. As Zulu forces overran the British forces, Smith-Dorrien narrowly escaped on his transport pony. As such, Smith-Dorrien was one of fewer than fifty British survivors of the battle (many more native African troops on the British side also survived). His observations on the difficulty of opening ammunition boxes led to changes in British practice for the rest of the war, though modern commentators argue that this was not as important a factor in the defeat as was thought at the time. Because of his conduct in trying to help other soldiers during his dramatic escape from the battlefield, he was nominated for a Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

, but, as the nomination did not go through the proper channels, he never received it. He took part in the rest of that war.

He later served in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 on police duties, being appointed assistant chief of police in Alexandria on 22 August 1882. During this time, he forged a life-long friendship with Lord Kitchener. On 30 December 1885, he witnessed the Battle of Gennis, where the British Army fought in red coats for the last time. The next day he was given an independent command and, following a bold military action where he went beyond his orders, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order
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...

.

From 1887–9, Smith-Dorrien then left active command to go to the Staff College, Camberley
Staff College, Camberley
Staff College, Camberley, Surrey, was a staff college for the British Army from 1802 to 1997, with periods of closure during major wars. In 1997 it was merged into the new Joint Services Command and Staff College.-Origins:...

.

He returned to his regiment
Regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

 where he commanded troops during the Tirah Campaign
Tirah Campaign
The Tirah Campaign, often referred to in contemporary British accounts as the Tirah Expedition, was an Indian frontier war in 1897–98. Tirah is a mountainous tract of country.-Rebellion:...

 of 1897–98 in India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

.

In 1898, he transferred back to Egypt and fought at the Battle of Omdurman
Battle of Omdurman
At the Battle of Omdurman , an army commanded by the British Gen. Sir Herbert Kitchener defeated the army of Abdullah al-Taashi, the successor to the self-proclaimed Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad...

 and commanded the British troops during the Fashoda incident
Fashoda Incident
The Fashoda Incident was the climax of imperial territorial disputes between Britain and France in Eastern Africa. A French expedition to Fashoda on the White Nile sought to gain control of the Nile River and thereby force Britain out of Egypt. The British held firm as Britain and France were on...

. During this time, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel
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...

.

On 31 October 1899, he shipped to South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, arriving on 13 December for the Second Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

. On 2 February 1900, Lord Roberts
Lord Roberts
Lord Roberts may refer to:*John Roberts, 2nd Baron Roberts , was an English politician and soldier during the English Civil War English and English Restoration...

 put him in command of 19 Brigade and, on 11 February, he was promoted to Major-General. He played an important role at the Battle of Paardeberg
Battle of Paardeberg
The Battle of Paardeberg or Perdeberg was a major battle during the Second Anglo-Boer War. It was fought near Paardeberg Drift on the banks of the Modder River in the Orange Free State near Kimberley....

 (18 February to 27 February 1900), steering Lord Kitchener and Henry Colville
Henry Edward Colville
Major-General Sir Henry Edward Colville KCMG CB was an English soldier.-Biography:Colville was born at Kirkby Hall, Leicestershire. He was the son of Charles Robert Colville and Hon. Katherine Sarah Georgina Russell....

 away from tactics of attacking an entrenched enemy over open ground. At Sanna's Post
Sanna's Post
-References:* Three Years War, by Christiaan Rudolf De Wet, 1st American Edition, published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1902* The Great Boer War, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, originally published in 1902; republished by IndyPublish.com in 2002, ISBN 1-4043-0472-X* Goodbye Dolly Gray: The Story of...

 (31 March 1900), Smith-Dorrien ignored inept orders from Colville to leave wounded largely unprotected and managed an orderly retreat without further casualties. He took part in the Battle of Leliefontein
Battle of Leliefontein
The Battle of Leliefontein was an engagement between Canadian/British and Boer forces during the Second Boer War on 7 November 1900, at the Komati River south of Belfast at the present day Nooitgedacht Dam....

 (7 November 1900). On 6 February 1901, Smith-Dorrien's troops were attacked in the Battle of Chrissiesmeer
Chrissiesmeer
Chrissiesmeer is a small town situated in a wetland area of Mpumalanga province in South Africa, on the northern banks of the eponymous Lake Chrissie. The San inhabited this area along with the Tlou-tle people who lived on rafts in the larger lakes. The Voortrekkers established a town here in the...

. Smith-Dorrien's qualities as a commander meant he was one of a very few British commanders to enhance his reputation during this war.

On 22 April 1901, he received orders to return to India where he was made Adjutant General (6 November 1901) under Kitchener. He was placed in command of the 4th (Quetta) Division in Baluchistan
Balochistan (Pakistan)
Balochistan is one of the four provinces or federating units of Pakistan. With an area of 134,051 mi2 or , it is the largest province of Pakistan, constituting approximately 44% of the total land mass of Pakistan. According to the 1998 population census, Balochistan had a population of...

, a post he held until 1907. In the dispute between Kitchener and Lord Curzon over the role of the Military Member, Smith-Dorrien stayed neutral, torn between his relations with Kitchener and with the Military Member himself, Sir Arthur Power Palmer
Arthur Power Palmer
General Sir Arthur Power Palmer GCB GCIE was Commander-in-Chief, India.-Military career:Educated at Cheltenham College, Power Palmer was commissioned into the 5th Bengal Native Infantry in 1857...

.

Aldershot and other home postings

He returned to England and, in 1907, become GOC of the Aldershot Command
Aldershot Command
-History:After the success of the Chobham Manoeuvres of 1853, a permanent training camp was established at Aldershot in 1854 on the recommendation of the Commander-in-Chief, Viscount Hardinge...

. During this time, he instituted a number of reforms designed to improve the lot of the ordinary soldier. One was to abandon the practice of posting pickets to police the soldiers when they were outside the base. Another was to improve sports facilities. His reforms earned many plaudits (but were treated as an implied criticism by his predecessor, Sir John French
John French, 1st Earl of Ypres
Field Marshal John Denton Pinkstone French, 1st Earl of Ypres, KP, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCMG, ADC, PC , known as The Viscount French between 1916 and 1922, was a British and Anglo-Irish officer...

).

He improved the frequency and methods of training in marksmanship of all soldiers. During this period, the higher ranks of the army were divided on the best use of cavalry. Smith-Dorrien, along with Lord Roberts
Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts
Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, Bt, VC, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, KStJ, PC was a distinguished Indian born British soldier who regarded himself as Anglo-Irish and one of the most successful British commanders of the 19th century.-Early life:Born at Cawnpore, India, on...

, Sir Ian Hamilton
Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton
General Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton GCB GCMG DSO TD was a general in the British Army and is most notably for commanding the ill-fated Mediterranean Expeditionary Force during the Battle of Gallipoli....

 and others, doubted that cavalry could often be used as cavalry, ie. that they should still be trained to charge with sword and lance, instead thinking they would be more often deployed as mounted infantry, ie. using horses for mobility but dismounting to fight. To this end, he took steps to improve the marksmanship of the cavalry. This did not endear him to the arme blanche ('pro-cavalry') faction, which included French and Douglas Haig
Douglas Haig
Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig was a British soldier and senior commander during World War I.Douglas Haig may also refer to:* Club Atlético Douglas Haig, a football club from Argentina* Douglas Haig , American actor...

, and whose views prevailed after the retirement of Lord Roberts
Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts
Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, Bt, VC, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, KStJ, PC was a distinguished Indian born British soldier who regarded himself as Anglo-Irish and one of the most successful British commanders of the 19th century.-Early life:Born at Cawnpore, India, on...

.

He also tried to get the army to purchase better machine-guns.

Although Smith-Dorrien was perfectly urbane and, by the standards of the day, kind-hearted towards his troops, he was notorious for furious outbursts of bad temper, which could last for hours before his equilibrium was restored. It has been suggested that the pain from a knee injury was one cause of his ill temper.

In 1911, he was made Aide-de-Camp to King George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

. He was part of the king's hunt in the Chitwan
Chitwan District
Chitwan District and one sub-Metropolitan city - Bharatpur and a municipality Ratnanagar each of which has more than nine wards or urban areas....

 area of Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

; on 19 December 1911, Smith-Dorrien killed a rhino and on the following day shot a bear.

On 1 March 1912, he was appointed GOC Southern Command
Southern Command (United Kingdom)
-History:The Command was established in 1905 from the Second Army Corps and was initially based at Tidworth but in 1949 moved to Fugglestone Farm near Wilton in Wiltshire....

 and on 10 August 1912 he was promoted to full General
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

. Douglas Haig had succeeded Smith-Dorrien as GOC Aldershot.

Unlike French, he was politically astute enough to avoid becoming entangled in the Curragh Incident
Curragh Incident
The Curragh Incident of 20 March 1914, also known as the Curragh Mutiny, occurred in the Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland. The Curragh Camp was then the main base for the British Army in Ireland, which at the time formed part of the United Kingdom....

 of 1914.

World War I

In 1914, the Public Schools Officers' Training Corps annual camp was held at Tidworth Pennings, near Salisbury Plain
Salisbury Plain
Salisbury Plain is a chalk plateau in central southern England covering . It is part of the Southern England Chalk Formation and largely lies within the county of Wiltshire, with a little in Hampshire. The plain is famous for its rich archaeology, including Stonehenge, one of England's best known...

. Lord Kitchener was to review the cadets, but the imminence of the war prevented him. Smith-Dorrien was sent instead. He surprised the two-or-three thousand cadet
Cadet
A cadet is a trainee to become an officer in the military, often a person who is a junior trainee. The term comes from the term "cadet" for younger sons of a noble family.- Military context :...

s by declaring (in the words of Donald Christopher Smith, a Bermudian
Bermudian
Bermudian or Bermudan may refer to:* Something of, or related to Bermuda* A person from Bermuda, or of Bermudian descent. For information about the Bermudian people, see Demographics of Bermuda and Culture of Bermuda. For specific Bermudians, see List of Bermudians.* Bermudian English, the variety...

 cadet who was present) "that war should be avoided at almost any cost, that war would solve nothing, that the whole of Europe and more besides would be reduced to ruin, and that the loss of life would be so large that whole populations would be decimated. In our ignorance I, and many of us, felt almost ashamed of a British General who uttered such depressing and unpatriotic sentiments, but during the next four years, those of us who survived the holocaust - probably not more than one-quarter of us - learned how right the General's prognosis was and how courageous he had been to utter it."

With the outbreak of the Great 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 given command of the Home Defence Army; however, following the sudden death of Sir James Grierson
James Grierson
Lieutenant General Sir James Moncrieff Grierson KCB, CMG, CVO, ADC was a British soldier.- Military career :Grierson was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1877....

, he was placed in charge of the British Expeditionary Force II Corps, by Lord Kitchener, the new Secretary of State for War
Secretary of State for War
The position of Secretary of State for War, commonly called War Secretary, was a British cabinet-level position, first held by Henry Dundas . In 1801 the post became that of Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. The position was re-instated in 1854...

. Field Marshal Sir John French
John French, 1st Earl of Ypres
Field Marshal John Denton Pinkstone French, 1st Earl of Ypres, KP, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCMG, ADC, PC , known as The Viscount French between 1916 and 1922, was a British and Anglo-Irish officer...

 had wanted Sir Herbert Plumer
Herbert Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer
Field Marshal Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE was a British colonial official and soldier born in Torquay who commanded the British Second Army in World War I and later served as High Commissioner of the British Mandate for Palestine.-Military...

 but Kitchener chose Smith-Dorrien as he knew he could stand up to French.

Smith-Dorrien's II Corps took the brunt of a heavy assault by the German forces at Mons
Battle of Mons
The Battle of Mons was the first major action of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War. It was a subsidiary action of the Battle of the Frontiers, in which the Allies clashed with Germany on the French borders. At Mons, the British army attempted to hold the line of the...

, with the Germans under von Kluck
Alexander von Kluck
Alexander Heinrich Rudolph von Kluck was a German general during World War I.- Military career :He enlisted in the Prussian army in time to serve in the seven-week Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and the Franco-Prussian War, where he was wounded twice in the Battle of Colombey-Neuilly...

 attempting a flanking manoeuvre. French ordered a general retreat, during which I Corps (under General Douglas Haig
Douglas Haig
Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig was a British soldier and senior commander during World War I.Douglas Haig may also refer to:* Club Atlético Douglas Haig, a football club from Argentina* Douglas Haig , American actor...

) and II Corps became separated. Haig's I Corps did not reach its intended position to the immediate east of Le Cateau.

Le Cateau (26 August 1914)

Smith-Dorrien, now at Le Cateau
Battle of Le Cateau
The Battle of Le Cateau was fought on 26 August 1914, after the British, French and Belgians retreated from the Battle of Mons and had set up defensive positions in a fighting withdrawal against the German advance at Le Cateau-Cambrésis....

, saw that his isolated forces were in danger of being overwhelmed in a piecemeal fashion. He decided instead to concentrate his corps, supplemented by Allenby's cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 and the 4th Division
4th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)
The 4th Infantry Division is a regular British Army division with a long history having been present at the Peninsular War the Crimean War , the First World War , and during the Second World War.- Napoleonic Wars :...

 of Thomas D'Oyly Snow
Thomas D'Oyly Snow
Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas D’Oyly Snow KCB, KCMG was a British General in the First World War who commanded during some of the major battles of the Western Front. He had two nicknames, ‘Slush’ and ‘Snowball’, both plays on 'Snow'.-Education and early military career:Snow was born on 5 May 1858...

. On 26 August 1914, he mounted a vigorous defensive action, a "stopping blow", which despite heavy casualties, halted the German advance. With the BEF saved, he resumed an orderly retreat.

His decision to stand and fight enraged French who accused Smith-Dorrien of jeopardising the whole BEF, an accusation which did not amuse Smith-Dorrien's fellow corps commander, Haig, who already believed French to be incompetent.

Smith-Dorrien's II Corps took part in the First Battle of the Marne
First Battle of the Marne
The Battle of the Marne was a First World War battle fought between 5 and 12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German Army under Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Younger. The battle effectively ended the month long German offensive that opened the war and had...

 and the First Battle of the Aisne
First Battle of the Aisne
The First Battle of the Aisne was the Allied follow-up offensive against the right wing of the German First Army & Second Army as they retreated after the First Battle of the Marne earlier in September 1914...

 before the British were moved north to be closer to their supply lines.

First Battle of Ypres

The battle for Hill 60
Battle of Hill 60 (Western Front)
The Battle of Hill 60 was an Australian assault that was subsidiary to the Battle of Neuve Chapelle.-1914-15:Hill 60 was a low rise on the southern flank of the Ypres Salient and was named for the 60 metre contour which marked its bounds. Hill 60 was not a natural highpoint, but was created as a...

 was a notable struggle here. A defensive line at Neuve Chapelle
Battle of Neuve Chapelle
The Battles of Neuve Chapelle and Artois was a battle in the First World War. It was a British offensive in the Artois region and broke through at Neuve-Chapelle but they were unable to exploit the advantage.The battle began on 10 March 1915...

 became known as the Smith-Dorrien Trench (or, sometimes, the Smith-Dorrien Line). On 26 December 1914, Smith-Dorrien took command of 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...

.

Second Battle of Ypres

In this battle, the British were defending a barely-tenable salient, held at great cost at the First Battle of Ypres five months earlier. On 22 April 1915, the Germans used poison gas 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...

 for the first time and heavy casualties were sustained.

On 27 April, Smith-Dorrien recommended withdrawal to a more defensible front line as the promised French counterattack (north of the salient) was delayed and then came too small – Sir John French just wanted the situation kept quiet so as not to distract from the upcoming British offensive at Aubers Ridge – one historian describes French’s attitude as “cretinous”. Smith-Dorrien wrote a long letter (27 April) explaining the situation to Robertson (then chief of staff BEF). He received a curt telephone message telling him that, in Sir John's opinion, he had adequate troops to defend the salient. A few hours later written orders arrived, directing Smith-Dorrien to turn command of the salient over to Herbert Plumer
Herbert Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer
Field Marshal Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE was a British colonial official and soldier born in Torquay who commanded the British Second Army in World War I and later served as High Commissioner of the British Mandate for Palestine.-Military...

 and to lend Plumer his chief of staff and such other staff officers as Plumer required. (In practice this meant that Plumer's V Corps, already holding the salient, became an autonomous force reporting directly to GHQ, with Smith-Dorrien left only with II Corps south of the salient). Plumer immediately asked permission for a withdrawal almost identical to that proposed by Smith-Dorrien. After a delay whilst Foch conducted another counterattack, French accepted.

On 30 April, Haig wrote in his diary
Sir John also told me Smith-Dorrien had caused him much trouble. 'He was quite unfit [(he said)] to hold the Command of an Army' so Sir J. had withdrawn all troops from him control except the II Corps. Yet Smith-D. stayed on! [He would not resign!] French is to ask Lord Kitchener to find something to do at home. … He also alluded to Smith-Dorrien's conduct on the retreat, and said he ought to have tried him by Court Martial, because (on the day of Le Cateau) he 'had ordered him to retire at 8 am and he did not attempt to do so [but insisted on fighting in spite of his orders to retire]'.


Smith-Dorrien’s eventual offer to resign (6 May) was ignored, and on that same day French used the 'pessimism' of the withdrawal recommendation as an excuse to sack him from command of Second Army altogether. "Wully" Robertson is said to have broken the news to him with the words " 'Orace, yer for 'ome " (Robertson was a former enlisted man who dropped his aitches), although by another account he may have said " 'Orace, yer thrown " (a cavalry metaphor). The Official Historian Brigadier Edmonds later alleged that French had removed Smith-Dorrien as he stood in the way of Haig becoming Commander-in-Chief, but this seems unlikely as their antipathy went back a long way and French was later (December 1915) replaced by Douglas Haig as Commander-in-Chief of the BEF against his will.

French later wrote a partial and inaccurate account of the opening of the war in his book 1914, which attacked Smith-Dorrien. Smith-Dorrien, as a serving officer, was denied permission to reply in public.

Remainder of the war

After a period in Britain, Smith-Dorrien was assigned a command to fight the Germans in German East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

 (present day Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

, Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

, and Burundi
Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

) but pneumonia contracted during the voyage to South Africa prevented him from taking command. His former adversary, Jan Smuts
Jan Smuts
Jan Christiaan Smuts, OM, CH, ED, KC, FRS, PC was a prominent South African and British Commonwealth statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948...

, took on this command. Smith-Dorrien took no significant military part in the rest of the war. On 29 January 1917, Smith-Dorrien was appointed lieutenant of the Tower of London
Tower of London
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

.

Final years

His next position was as Governor of Gibraltar
Governor of Gibraltar
The Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar is the representative of the British monarch in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. The Governor is appointed by the British Monarch on the advice of the British Government...

 from 9 July 1918 – 26 May 1923, where he introduced an element of democracy and closed some brothels. According to Wyndham Childs
Wyndham Childs
Major-General Sir Borlase Elward Wyndham Childs KCMG KBE CB was a British Army officer who also served as Assistant Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis from 1921 to 1928.-Military career:...

 in the summer of 1918, Smith-Dorrien tried, and nearly succeeded, in uniting the Comrades of the Great War
Comrades of the Great War
The Comrades of The Great War were formed in 1917 as a non-political association to represent the rights of ex-service men and women who had served or had been discharged from service during World War I. Comrades of The Great War was one of the original four ex-service associations that amalgamated...

, the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers
National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers
The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers was a British veterans' organisation.The group was founded in early 1917 at a conference in Blackburn, drawing together various local groups representing working men who had served in World War I but had since been discharged. It...

, and the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers
National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers
The National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers was a British veterans organisation.The organisation was founded in January 1917 by various London-based veterans groups opposed to the Review of Exceptions Act, which made it possible for people invalided out of the armed...

 into one body. The merger later took place in 1921 to form the British Legion
The Royal British Legion
The Royal British Legion , sometimes referred to as simply The Legion, is the United Kingdom's leading charity providing financial, social and emotional support to those who have served or who are currently serving in the British Armed Forces, and their dependants.-History:The British Legion was...

.

He retired in September 1923, living in Portugal and then England. He devoted much his time to the welfare and remembrance of Great War soldiers. He worked on his memoirs, which were published in 1925. As French was still alive at the time of writing, he still felt unable to rebut 1914. Despite his treatment by French, in 1925, he rushed across Europe to act as a pallbearer at French's funeral, an act appreciated by French's son.

He played himself in the film The Battle of Mons, released in 1926.

In June 1925, he unveiled the war memorial in Memorial Avenue, Worksop
Worksop
Worksop is the largest town in the Bassetlaw district of Nottinghamshire, England on the River Ryton at the northern edge of Sherwood Forest. It is about east-south-east of the City of Sheffield and its population is estimated to be 39,800...

. On 4 August 1930, he unveiled the Pozieres Memorial
Pozieres Memorial
The Pozieres Memorial is a World War I memorial, located near the commune of Pozieres, in the Somme département of France. The memorial lists 14,692 names of British and South African soldiers with no known grave who were killed between 21 March 1918 and 8 August 1918 during the Second Battle of...

.

He died on 12 August 1930 following injuries sustained in a car accident in Chippenham
Chippenham
Chippenham may be:* Chippenham, Wiltshire* Chippenham * Chippenham, Cambridgeshire-See also:* Virginia State Route 150, also known as Chippenham Parkway, USA* Cippenham, Berkshire, UK...

, Wiltshire; he was 72 years old. He is buried in the Three Close Lane Cemetery of St Peter's Church, Berkhamsted
Church of St Peter, Great Berkhamsted
The Parish Church of St Peter, Great Berkhamsted is a Church of England, Grade II* listed church in the town of Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, in the United Kingdom...

.

Family

On 3 September 1902, he married Olive Crofton Schneider at St Peter's, Eaton Square
Eaton Square
Eaton Square is a residential garden square in London's Belgravia district. It is one of the three garden squares built by the Grosvenor family when they developed the main part of Belgravia in the 19th century, and is named after Eaton Hall, the Grosvenor country house in Cheshire...

, London. She was the eldest daughter of Colonel and Mrs Schneider, of Oak Lea, Furness Abbey
Furness Abbey
Furness Abbey, or St. Mary of Furness is a former monastery situated on the outskirts of the English town of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. The abbey dates back to 1123 and was once the second wealthiest and most powerful Cistercian monastery in the country, behind only Fountains Abbey in North...

. Olive's mother was stepsister to Gen. Sir Arthur Power Palmer
Arthur Power Palmer
General Sir Arthur Power Palmer GCB GCIE was Commander-in-Chief, India.-Military career:Educated at Cheltenham College, Power Palmer was commissioned into the 5th Bengal Native Infantry in 1857...

 GCB, GCIE, who died in 1904. They had three sons:
  • Grenfell Horace Gerald Smith-Dorrien (born 1904) served in the army, reaching the rank of Brigadier. He was killed on 13 September 1944 during the Italian campaign. His grave is in the Gradara War Cemetery, in the Commune of Gradara
    Gradara
    Gradara is a town and comune in the province of Pesaro and Urbino, in the region of Marche in central Italy. It is located 25 km from Rimini and 13 km from Pesaro....

     in the Province of Pesaro and Urbino.
  • Peter Lockwood Smith-Dorrien (born 1907) was killed in the King David Hotel bombing
    King David Hotel bombing
    The King David Hotel bombing was an attack carried out by themilitant right-wing Zionist underground organization Irgun on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946...

     on 22 July 1946.
  • David Pelham Smith-Dorrien a.k.a. Bromley David Smith-Dorrien (29 October 1911–11 February 2001.) appears to have been an actor in the 1930s. He joined the Foresters in 1940. After the war, he worked to keep alive his father's reputation, designing a first-day cover commemorating the Battle of Le Cateau
    Battle of Le Cateau
    The Battle of Le Cateau was fought on 26 August 1914, after the British, French and Belgians retreated from the Battle of Mons and had set up defensive positions in a fighting withdrawal against the German advance at Le Cateau-Cambrésis....

     and helping his father's biographer A. J. Smithers.


Horace and Olive Smith-Dorrien informally adopted Power Palmer's two daughters (Gabrielle and unknown), who were left homeless after his second wife's death in 1912. During 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...

 Lady Smith-Dorrien founded the Lady Smith-Dorrien's Hospital Bag Fund. A problem had been identified that wounded soldiers often became separated from their personal effects while in hospital. Volunteers for the fund sewed between 40,000 and 60,000 bags a month to hold soldiers' valuables, totalling around five million throughout the war. For this work, she was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire
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...

 (DBE). She also served as President of the animal welfare charity, The Blue Cross
The Blue Cross
The Blue Cross is a registered animal welfare charity in the United Kingdom, founded in 1897 as Our Dumb Friends League. The charity provides support for pet owners who cannot afford private veterinary treatment, helps to find homes for unwanted animals, and educates the public in the...

, alleviating the suffering of war horses. For her services in that field, she received the gold medal of the Reconnaissance française.

In 1932, Olive became Principal of the Royal School of Needlework
Royal School of Needlework
The Royal School of Needlework is a hand embroidery school in the United Kingdom, founded in 1872.It has an archive of over 30,000 images covering every period of British history...

 (RSN). In 1937, the RSN worked on the Queen's Train (Coronation Robe), canopy and the two chairs to be used 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,...

 during the Coronation. She was awarded the King George VI Coronation Medal
King George VI Coronation Medal
The King George VI Coronation Medal was a commemorative medal made to celebrate the coronation of King George VI.-Issue:For Coronation and Jubilee medals, the practice up until 1977 was that United Kingdom authorities decided on a total number to be produced, then allocated a proportion to each of...

 for work done. During the Second World War, she led the RSN in collecting lace which was sold for the war effort. She revived the manufacture of hospital bags. She died on 15 September 1951.

Legacy

The following memorials have been established:
  • Stall plate 14 in the Henry VII Chapel of 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,...

     (1913)
  • Dorrien, a vineyard area in South Australia (1916)
  • Mount Smith-Dorrien, Alberta, Canada (1918)
  • Smith-Dorrien Trail and Smith-Dorrien Creek
    Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
    Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is a provincial park located in Alberta, Canada. The park is located in Kananaskis Country approximately 90 km west of Calgary, along the Kananaskis Trail....

    , Alberta
  • Smith-Dorrien Institute in Aldershot
    Aldershot
    Aldershot is a town in the English county of Hampshire, located on heathland about southwest of London. The town is administered by Rushmoor Borough Council...

  • Smith Dorrien Road, Leicester
    Leicester
    Leicester is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England, and the county town of Leicestershire. The city lies on the River Soar and at the edge of the National Forest...

  • Smith Dorrien Avenue, Smith Dorrien Bridge, and Smith Dorrien House, Gibraltar
    Gibraltar
    Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

  • Smith Dorrien Street, Netherby
    Netherby, South Australia
    Netherby is a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia in the City of Mitcham.Unley High School and Urrbrae Agricultural High School are located in the suburb.-References:...

    , South Australia
  • Smith-Dorrien Avenue, Esterhazy
    Esterhazy, Saskatchewan
    Esterhazy is a town in the southeastern portion of the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, located 83 km southeast of Yorkton along Highways 22 and 80. The town is located within the rural municipality of Fertile Belt No...

    , Saskatchewan


In 1931, after his death, the Smith-Dorrien Memorial was added to the Sherwood Foresters Memorial in Crich
Crich
Crich is a village in Derbyshire in England. It has the National Tramway Museum inside the Crich Tramway Village, and at the summit of Crich Hill above, a Memorial Tower for those of the Sherwood Foresters regiment who died in battle, particularly in World War I.Built in 1923 on the site of an...

, Derbyshire, which Smith-Dorrien himself had opened on 6 August 1923.

John Betjeman
John Betjeman
Sir John Betjeman, CBE was an English poet, writer and broadcaster who described himself in Who's Who as a "poet and hack".He was a founding member of the Victorian Society and a passionate defender of Victorian architecture...

, mentions Horace in Chapter III "Highgate" of his autobiographical blank-verse poem Summoned by Bells
Summoned by Bells
Summoned by Bells, the blank verse autobiography by John Betjeman, describes his life from his early memories of a middle class home in Edwardian Hampstead, London, to his premature departure from Magdalen College, Oxford....

:

In late September, in the conker time,

When Poperinghe and Zillebeke and Mons

Boomed with five-nines, large sepia gravures

Of French, Smith-Dorrien and Haig were given

Gratis with each half-pound of Brooke Bond tea.


Horace also features in the poem "Canada to England" by Craven Langstroth Betts
Craven Langstroth Betts
- Books by Betts :* The Perfume-Holder 1891* Tales of a Garrison Town New York ; D.D. Merrill, 1892 * A Garland Of Sonnets 1899* Selected Poems Of Craven Langstroth Betts 1916* The Two Captains 1921...

:
Lead out, lead out, Brave Mother, for the sake of sacked Louvain!

Give us our own Smith-Dorrien, yield us the van again!

Further reading

Principal references
  • Ballard, C
    Colin Robert Ballard
    Brigadier-General Colin Robert Ballard, CB, CMG was a Brigadier-General in the British Army, a knight of the Order of the Star of Romania, recipient of the collar of the Order of Carol I and a military author...

    , Smith-Dorrien, London: Constable and Co Ltd, 1931. — This is largely a condensed version of Smith-Dorrien's autobiography but for the first time included material from Smith-Dorrien's defence against French's allegations in 1914, now that both Smith-Dorrien and French had died.
  • Beckett. Dr. Ian F, The Judgement of History: Lord French, Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien and 1914 Tom Donovan Publishing, 1993; ISBN 1-871085-15-2 — The bulk of this book is Smith-Dorrien's General Sir Horace Smith-Domien’s statement with regard to the first edition of Lord French’s book "1914”, his privately circulated rebuttal of French's criticisms of Smith-Dorrien's actions at Ypres. Useful introductory essay by Dr. Beckett.
  • Beckett. Dr. Ian F, Corvi, Steven J. (editors) Haig's Generals Pen & Sword, 2006 ISBN 1-84415-169-7 — Includes a 25-page chapter by Steven Corvi with an emphasis on Smith-Dorrien's contributions to the Great War
  • Fortescue, John William, Sir, 'Horace Smith-Dorrien' in Following the Drum Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh, 1931, pp251–98.
  • Neillands, Robin The Death of Glory: the Western Front 1915 (John Murray, London, 2006) ISBN 978-0719562457
  • Smith-Dorrien, Sir Horace, General Sir Horace Smith-Domien’s statement with regard to the first edition of Lord French’s book "1914” c.1920
  • Smith-Dorrien, Sir Horace, Memories of Forty-Eight Years' Service, John Murray, 1925. — Sir Horace's autobiography. (Republished as Smith-Dorrien: Isandlwhana to the Great War Leonaur, 2009 ISBN 978-1846776793)
  • Smithers, A J, The Man Who Disobeyed: Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien and His Enemies, London: Leo Cooper, 1970 ISBN 0-85052-030-4 — Only modern biography.

Theses
  • Corvi, Steven J. General Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien: Portrait of a Victorian Soldier in Modern War, unpublished PhD thesis, Northeastern University (Boston), 2002
  • Siem, Richard Forging the Rapier among Scythes: Lieutenant-General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien and the Aldershot Command 1907-1912, unpublished MA dissertation, Rice University
    Rice University
    William Marsh Rice University, commonly referred to as Rice University or Rice, is a private research university located on a heavily wooded campus in Houston, Texas, United States...

     (Houston), 1980

Archives relating to Smith-Dorrien
Other references
  • Altham, E. A., Sir. The principles of war historically illustrated. With an introduction by General Sir Horace L. Smith-Dorrien 1914.
  • Anon. Report on the 4th (Quetta) Division Staff Ride Under the Direction of Lieut.-General H.L. Smith-Dorrien C.B., D.S.O., Commanding 4th (Quetta) Division, May 1907 4th (Quetta) Divisional Press, 1907. (This was a five-day exercise conducted around Gulistan and north to Chaman
    Chaman
    Chaman is the capital of Qilla Abdullah District, Balochistan, Pakistan. It is situated just south of the border with Afghanistan. Across the border in Afghanistan is the neighbouring town of Spin Boldak, in Kandahar Province...

     on the North-West Frontier
    North-West Frontier Province
    Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province and various other names, is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, located in the north-west of the country...

    , involving an imaginary war with Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

    .)
  • Childs, Wyndham
    Wyndham Childs
    Major-General Sir Borlase Elward Wyndham Childs KCMG KBE CB was a British Army officer who also served as Assistant Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis from 1921 to 1928.-Military career:...

     Episodes and reflections: being some records from the life of Major-General Sir Wyndham Childs, K.C.M.G., K.B.E., C.B., one time second lieut., 2nd Volunteer Battalion, the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Cassell, 1930
  • Barnett, Kennet Bruce Handbook on Military Sanitation for Regimental Officers ... With an introduction by Lt.-General Sir Horace L. Smith-Dorrien Forster Groom & Co. London, 1912
  • Gilson, Capt. Charles J. L. History of the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts. and Derby Regt.) in the Boer War 1899–1902 Swan Sonnenschein & Co. Ltd. 1908. Introduction by Lieut.-Gen. Sir H L. Smith Dorrien. Reprinted by Naval & Military Press. Much of this introduction can be read in this PDF extract.
  • Holmes, Richard The Little Field Marshal: A Life of Sir John French Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004 ISBN 0-297-84614-0 — Includes a good account of French's relationship with Smith-Dorrien.
  • Paice, Edward Tip and Run: The Untold Tragedy of the Great War in Africa Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2007, ISBN 978-0297847090 – Has some details of S-D's involvement with the East African campaign
  • [Pilcher, Major-General T. D.] A General's Letters to His Son on Obtaining His Commission Introduction by Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien. Cassell, 1917 (Author is uncredited in the book itself.) Reprinted 2009 by BiblioBazaar ISBN 978-1103992683 (Authorship of this book is incorrectly attributed by the publisher of the reprint to an "H. S. Smith-Dorrien")
  • Who Was Who Vol. III (1929–1940) A & C Black Publishers Ltd Second Edition 1967 ISBN 9780713601701
  • Winnifrith, Douglas Percy The Church in the Fighting Line: With General Smith-Dorrien at the Front, Being the Experiences of a Chaplain in charge of an Infantry Brigade London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1915 (Available online at: archive.org)
  • Some books referring to Smith-Dorrien
  • Live Search books referring to Smith-Dorrien
  • Google Book Search books referring to Smith-Dorrien

External links


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