The Life of Lieutenant-General Sir Aylmer Hunter-Weston MP
Chapter Twelve: Holding On
After his departure from the Somme, the record of Hunter-Weston’s military career seems to disintegrate into anecdotes. Many of these are probably apocryphal, but they evoke a powerful personality confined by routine duties. He still attracted his admirers, but more commonly, it was disgruntled subordinates who bemoaned the ‘madness’ of their corps commander. A particularly perceptive portrait from this period emerges from the letters of Cuthbert Headlam.1 A ‘clever outsider’ drawn into the BEF at the outbreak of war, the former civil servant was in close contact with Hunter-Weston, as GSO2 Intelligence, VIII Corps, between November 1916 and April 1918. Despite his Corps Commander’s personal kindness towards him, he found Hunter-Weston to be an intensely conceited, loquacious and meddling little man who generated much fuss, bustle and extra work for his staff merely by his presence. Nevertheless, he remained rather sorry for him, grasping the misfortunes of his later career. While he thought Hunter-Weston ‘a tremendous windbag’ with ‘the hide of an elephant and the vanity of a peacock’, he also seemed a rather pathetic figure, ‘no longer appreciated at his proper value’.2 Headlam recognised his soldierly qualities, but with more Corps HQs in existence than active sectors it was painfully clear that he had been sidelined during a critical period of development for the BEF. Instead, he played the part of the general to perfection, hosting parliamentary delegations and entertaining allied statesmen, before later making his own flamboyant leap into politics...
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.