Aylmer Hunter-Weston - History of World War I - WW1 - The Great War

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Aylmer Hunter-Weston Information

Sir Aylmer Hunter-Weston

Allegiance: United Kingdom
Service/branch: British Army
Rank: Lieutenant-General
Commands held: 11th Infantry Brigade
British 29th Division
British VIII Corps
Battles/wars: Second Boer War
World War I
Awards: Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Service Order
Venerable Order of Saint John

Lieutenant-General Sir Aylmer Gould Hunter-Weston KCB DSO GStJ (23 September 1864 - 18 March 1940) was a British Army general who served in the First World War and also a politician.

Early career

Commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1884 he served on the Indian North West Frontier and took part in the Miranzai Expedition of 1891 and was wounded during the Waziristan Expedition of 1894-95. During this time he was promoted to brevet major. He was on General Herbert Kitchener's staff in 1896. He later took part in the Second Boer War in South Africa between 1899 and 1902 as commander of the Mounted Engineers. He was General Sir John French's chief staff officer in the Eastern Command from 1904 to 1908, after which he performed the same role in the Scottish Command until 1911. He married Grace Strang-Steel in 1905.

In 1911, he became the Assistant Director of military training; in the same year, he succeeded his mother as the 27th Laird of Hunterston and was made a member of the Order of the Bath.

At the outbreak of the war in 1914, he was a brigadier general in command of the 11th Infantry Brigade based at Colchester, and he commanded this unit on the Western Front.

Dardanelles campaign

When the Battle of Gallipoli commenced in March 1915, Hunter-Weston was promoted to the command of the British 29th Division, which was to make the landing at Cape Helles near the entrance to the Dardanelles. As the campaign proceeded and more reinforcements were dispatched to Helles, Hunter-Weston's responsibilities grew until on 24 May he was promoted to lieutenant general and given command of the British VIII Corps.

He was invalided from Gallipoli in July, supposedly from nervous exhaustion, and returned to England. In an October 1916 by-election, he was elected to the House of Commons as the Unionist member for North Ayrshire.

Return to Western Front

Hunter-Weston returned to command the VIII Corps when it was re-established in France in 1916. At the launch of the Somme Offensive on 1 July 1916 it was Hunter-Weston's divisions that suffered the worst casualties and failed to capture any of their objectives.

Nicknamed 'Hunter-Bunter', Hunter-Weston was a classic example of the stereotyped British "donkey" general - he was described by his contemporary superior Sir Douglas Haig as a "Rank Amateur", and has been referred to by modern historians as "one of the Great War's spectacular incompetents" He was also referred to as "The Butcher of Helles" for his utter disregard for the welfare of his troops and his incompetent battle plans. Hunter-Weston was an advocate of the broad frontal assault made in daylight. When his plan of attack for the Second Battle of Krithia failed on the first day, he proceeded to repeat the plan on the second and third days. He claimed he was "blooding the pups" when he made the inexperienced 156th Brigade of the Scottish 52nd (Lowland) Division attack without artillery support during the Battle of Gully Ravine. Half the brigade became casualties, of which over a third were killed.

At the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916, the plan was to explode ten mines dug by Royal Engineer tunnelling companies to weaken enemy defences. The northernmost mine of 40,000 pounds (18,000 kg) of explosives was under the Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt, a front-line fortification west of the village of Beaumont Hamel on the Somme, held by the VIII Corps under the command of Hunter-Weston. The plan was to detonate all other mines at 7:28 am, two minutes before Zero hour when the infantry advance would begin, but a compromise was reached with Hunter-Weston, who wishing to explode his mine eight hours earlier was actually set-off at 07:20. This led to the successful filming of the explosion by British cinematographer Geoffrey Malins, who was filming the 29th Division's attack.

Post military

Hunter-Weston continued in politics after the war, being elected again for Bute and Northern Ayrshire in 1918. He was the first Member of Parliament to simultaneously command an Army Corps on the field. He resigned from the Army in 1919.

He retired from Parliament in 1935, and died in 1940 following a fall from a turret at his ancestral home in Hunterston.

Landing at Cape Helles
Battle of Gallipoli
First Battle of Krithia
Second Battle of Krithia
Third Battle of Krithia

Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt
First day on the Somme

More aircraft.

Source: WikiPedia

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