General Herbert Alexander Lawrence

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by forester, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. forester

    forester New Member

    Sir Herbert Alexander Lawrence (1861–1943), was born on 8 August 1861 at Southgate, London. He was the son of Sir John Laird Mair Lawrence, viceroy of India, 1864–9, and his wife, Harriette Katherine. Lawrence was brought up in England and educated at Harrow School and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was commissioned into the 17th Lancers in 1882. In 1892 he married Isabel Mary Mills. He went into the Staff College at Camberley in 1894 and after graduating in 1896, he was appointed staff captain (intelligence) at the War Office. In the South African War he served on the intelligence staff of Sir John French's cavalry division. It was here that he first worked alongside Douglas Haig. In 1903 he resigned his commission, allegedly after he was passed over for the post of commanding officer of the 17th Lancers, in favour of Haig.

    From 1903 to 1914 Lawrence made a successful career for himself in banking and was a director of the Midland Railway. He did however retain some connections with the military and commanded the King Edward’s Horse from 1904 to 1909.

    In September 1914 Lawrence was recalled and became general staff officer of the 2nd Yeomanry Division, with which he served in Egypt and Gallipoli. In June 1915 he took command of the 127th (Manchester) Brigade, part of the 42nd (East Lancs) Territorial Division. He also commanded the 52nd (Lowland) and 53rd (Welsh) Divisions at Gallipoli During the evacuation of Gallipoli at the end of 1915 he successfully oversaw the withdrawal at Cape Helles beach. In 1916 he returned to Egypt, but asked to be relieved of his command later in the year over the plan to invade Palestine, which he thought unwise. He fell from grace and was sent to the 71st Home Service Division.

    In February 1917 he returned to the command of a fighting unit, one with which he was to see the Western Front for the first time. He took command this time, of the second-line East Lancashire Territorial Division, the 66th, replacing Major-General C J Blomfield, on the eve of the division’s embarkation. Lawrence remained with 66th Division throughout 1917.

    Coincidentally, Lawrence’s home was Ashdown Place, Forest Row, which looked out onto the training camp established by the War Office in 1915. During the winter of 1915/1916 the camp’s main occupants were the divisional artillery of 66th Division, (330, 331, 332 and 333 Brigades). The division's infantry was also encamped on Ashdown Forest, at nearby Crowborough.

    In January 1918 Lawrence’s career took another turn when he replaced Brigadier-General John Charteris as chief intelligence officer on Haig’s staff. By the end of the month he had been promoted to chief of general staff, a post he was to hold for the remainder of the war. Over the period of the war, Lawrence had risen in rank from Major to General.

    In 1917 Lawrence had been appointed KCB and returning to life in the City after the war, he was appointed GCB in 1926. He became chairman of Vickers in 1926 and of Glyn’s Bank in 1934. He died in 1943.

    The Lawrence family paid a high price in the war. Both of Herbert and Isabel’s sons were killed on the Western Front. 2nd Lieut. Oliver John Lawrence, 8th Bn, London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) was killed in action 26th May 1915. Captain Michael Charles Lawrence, 1st Bn, Coldstream Guards died of wounds 16th September 1916. Both are commemorated on the Forest Row village war memorial.
  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Just as an aside Phil ...... :)

    Generals' Nicknames .......... No 42 - Herbert Lawrence ('Lorenzo')

    General The Hon. Sir Herbert Alexander Lawrence (1861-1943) succeeded Sir Launcelot Kiggell as Douglas Haig’s Chief of Staff in January 1918. This was a curious turn of events in the career of a man who had resigned from the army in 1903 after Haig had been promoted to the command of Lawrence’s regiment, the 17th Lancers, over his head! Lawrence retired to the City, where he made a fortune. He combined, in Simon Robbins’s felicitous phrase, ‘the thrust of a Lancer with the circumspection of a banker’. Lawrence was also known as ‘Bertie’, but ‘Lorenzo’ - with its echo of Renaissance princes - suits him better. Both his sons were killed during the Great War.
  3. forester

    forester New Member

  4. forester

    forester New Member

    This is the only picture of him in uniform that I can find.
    From the front cover of The Great War - The Standard History of the World-Wide Conflict: Part 183, February 16th 1918,
    Our Victories at Passchendaele.

    Attached Files:

  5. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

  6. spidge

    spidge Active Member

  7. forester

    forester New Member

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