Tuesday 19 August 2014

A Change in Command

Sir James Grierson

Wednesday 19th August 1914: The 1st Bedfords have been billeted in Le Pommereuil all day as they await the arrival of the rest of their division, the 5th, which is part of II Corps, now commanded by General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien. Sir Horace is from Hertfordshire and was a survivor of the Battle of Isandhlwana, that great disaster of January 1879 when the Zulus overwhelmed a British force and annihilated it almost to a man, only fifty British soldiers making their escape. Until two days ago II Corps commander was General Sir James Grierson, an appointment which, it is commonly viewed in the army, was a mistake. This was no slur on Sir James’ ability but on his state of health. He had very high blood pressure and was, it must be stated, not the most slender of figures. He had a heart attack on the morning of 17th on a train near Amiens. We understand that his body has been repatriated to Scotland. How many more of his former command will follow him in the days to come?

Source: X550/2/5

Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien

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