The Life of Lieutenant-General Sir Aylmer Hunter-Weston MP
Chapter Eleven: A Day of Disaster
A Day of Disaster
At first, the failure of the Gallipoli campaign was eclipsed by the heroism of its participants. For all the mutterings on the peninsula, Hunter-Weston’s name remained linked at home with the ‘Incomparable’ 29th Division. He was knighted by King George V on the day after his return to Britain and quickly received two prestigious job offers. Lord Kitchener wanted him as his Chief of Staff on his mission to the Balkans and the Dardanelles, while Sir John French invited him to become his deputy as Commander of the British Home Forces.1 These approaches were extremely flattering, but there was no doubt that his real desire was for another field command. His patience was rewarded in March 1916 with a return to VIII Corps, which was reforming in Picardy in preparation for the next great offensive, which was to take place around the River Somme.
Although the Western Front seemed to offer a new beginning, ultimately it was corps command at the Somme that would decisively check Hunter-Weston’s career ambitions. His role was not as conspicuous as it had been at Gallipoli, but historians have since been unrelenting in their analysis of the disaster that befell his men. Travers, for example, uses VIII Corps as a case study of what went wrong on the first day of the battle.2 Prior and Wilson cite Hunter-Weston’s ‘malign effect’ on corps artillery arrangements, while Farrar-Hockley categorises his pre-battle preparation ← 211 | 212 → as...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.