The Life of Lieutenant-General Sir Aylmer Hunter-Weston MP
Chapter Five: Brain of the Army
Brain of the Army
After six months of convalescence, Hunter-Weston was given command of the 11th Field Company and posted to Shorncliffe Camp in Kent.1 After being so close to the centre of events in South Africa, he found the return to routine duties frustrating. As his professional world shrank over the next few years, he also faced the risk of being leapfrogged by colleagues with equally impressive war records.2 At the root of his problem was the British Army’s fondness for operating in separate compartments. While the South African war had blunted this tendency – as his own attachment to the Cavalry Division proved – the old barriers between the different service arms soon re-asserted themselves.3 Despite his connection with French, whose own turbulent star continued to rise during these years, his affiliation to a specialist corps now threatened to limit his opportunities, particularly as the Royal Engineers were experiencing a painful period of post-war contraction.4 The threat of being marginalised was particularly irksome given that the debate over the army’s future tactics and mission was just beginning to gain momentum. Recognising the influence of modern firepower and weaponry, the officer corps struggled to balance the destructive reality of the new military technology with a professional culture that prioritised the human factor in winning battles. A complex process of administrative reform was also underway, involving both staff work and ← 65 | 66 → command structures, as the British military establishment began to prepare for the growing likelihood...
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