King's College London
Archive Catalogues

HAMILTON, Gen Sir Ian Standish Monteith (1853-1947)

Introduction

BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY

General Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton was born on 16 January 1853 on Corfu, the son of Col Christian Monteith Hamilton and Maria Corinna Hamilton (née Vereker). Following education at Cheam, Wellington College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, he was commissioned into the 12th (East Suffolk) Foot in 1872. The regiment was posted to Ireland in the following year, where Hamilton gained his first taste of active service by commanding his company during the suppression of a riot at the Curragh on 9 August 1873. Later that year, he transferred to his father's old regiment, the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders), then stationed in India. The next five years were spent in regimental duties, mainly at Mooltan and Dere Ismail Khan, and interspersed by hunting expeditions in Kashmir. His interest in improving the rifle skills of his men led to his appointment as Musketry Instructor and to a reputation of the 92nd as the best shooting battalion in India.

During the Second Afghan War of 1878-1880, the Gordons were attached to the Frontier Force commanded by Maj Gen Sir Frederick Sleigh Roberts. In July 1879 Hamilton's courage, in repelling an enemy raiding party at the Peiwar Kotal while he was recovering from fever at the column's headquarters, brought him to Roberts' attention and secured the beginning of a life-long friendship between the two. Roberts had Hamilton gazetted as aide-de-camp to Brig Gen William Godfrey Dunham Massy, then commanding the Force's cavalry brigade, and Hamilton entered the city of Kabul with the brigade after the battle of Charasia (6 October 1879). Following another bout of illness, Hamilton managed to rejoin the Gordons at the battle of Kandahar on 1 September 1880, and finished the campaign having been mentioned twice in despatches. In January 1881 the 92nd Gordons, en route for England, were diverted to Natal for service in the First Boer War. On 27 February 1881, Hamilton was on piquet duty at Majuba Hill. During the ensuing rout of British forces on the mountain by the Boers, the British commander Gen Sir George Colley, standing near Hamilton, was killed, and Hamilton was severely wounded by a gunshot wound to the left wrist. Despite subsequent treatment, including a consultation with the eminent surgeon Joseph Lister, the injury left Hamilton with a permanently disabled hand, but Hamilton emerged with compensatory plaudits and rewards. He was invited to dine with Queen Victoria, promoted to captain, mentioned in despatches, recommended for the Victoria Cross (which was refused on the grounds of his youth) and appointed aide-de-camp to Roberts, then Commander-in-Chief at Madras.

Thereafter 'Johnny' Hamilton embarked on a staff career marked by an efficient if unorthodox flair and a burgeoning literary talent. He contributed articles on military matters for the Madras Mail and in light of his previous experiences as Musketry Instructor and facing Boer sharpshooting, advocated an overhaul of musketry training in his book The fighting of the future, published in 1885. Returning to India from leave in England in October 1884, he contrived to secure a place with the 1st Battalion of the Gordons, then preparing to depart from Egypt to the Sudan as part of a River Column of the Expeditionary Force charged with relieving Gen Sir Charles Gordon in Khartoum. Given command of D Company of the battalion and moving up the Nile in whalers, Hamilton was present at the battle of Kirkeban on 10 February 1885. Although British forces were withdrawn without taking Khartoum, Hamilton was again mentioned in despatches and promoted to Brevet Major in November 1885. He resumed his staff work for Roberts, who was appointed Commander-in-Chief in India the following year. Hamilton accompanied Roberts when the latter was ordered to Burma commanding a pacification force in 1886. Earlier that year Hamilton had met and courted Jean Miller Muir, the eldest daughter of the businessman Sir John Muir, 1st Bt, of Deanston, Perthshire. On his return from Burma, Hamilton was again mentioned in despatches and promoted to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel; in February 1887 he married Jean Muir in Calcutta Cathedral.

The couple were eager participants in the whirl of Indian society, and Hamilton produced a novel (Icarus), a volume of verse (The ballad of Hádji and other poems), and endeavoured to find an English publisher for a story (later entitled 'The mark of the beast') written by a friend, Rudyard Kipling. Such diversions, while typical of the man, were not to the detriment of his career; Roberts also recognised Hamilton's ability to improve rifle shooting, and appointed him Assistant Adjutant General for Musketry. The results from Hamilton's course of instruction in Madras were so promising that Roberts sought to apply the same to all troops in India, but was permitted to do so only with the Indian Army. Nevertheless, Hamilton's remodelled course and musketry regulations would be used for British troops within two years. In 1891, following Roberts' recommendation, Hamilton was promoted to full Colonel, the youngest in the Army at that time, and awarded the DSO.

In 1893 Hamilton was selected to be the new Military Secretary to a friend and brother Gordon Highlander, Gen Sir George Stuart White, who had succeeded Roberts as Commander-in-Chief in India. Hamilton demonstrated his ability to combine staff work and active service when in 1895 he was appointed Assistant Adjutant General and Assistant Quarter Master General of the Relief Force tasked to secure the besieged Fort Chitral on the Indian North West Frontier. During the campaign, Maj Gen Edward Stedman, the Quarter Master General in India, suffered a riding accident and was invalided out, resulting in Hamilton taking command of the whole lines of communications for the expedition. Hamilton was mentioned in despatches, awarded the CB, and in August 1895 was appointed Deputy Quarter Master General in India, one of the best staff posts available to a colonel, though it entailed a delicate refusal of the position of Assistant Military Secretary to Roberts, then Commander-in-Chief in Ireland. A further reward was his selection to lead the 1st Brigade of the Tirah Expeditionary Force on the Indian North West Frontier in 1897. This opportunity of field command was curtailed when Hamilton broke his leg in falling from his horse, mere days before the brigade would win renown on the Dargai heights. He was given command of the 3rd Brigade in February 1898, and although the campaign was by then almost over, there obtained an opportunity to renew his friendship with Winston Churchill, then a war correspondent at Malakand. In March, Hamilton turned down the lucrative position of Quarter Master General in India, in favour of the post of Commandant of the School of Musketry at Hythe. Hamilton managed Hythe for over a year, until White, then Quarter Master General at the War Office, appointed Hamilton as his Assistant Adjutant General. Both officers were summoned to South Africa in the autumn of 1899 for the forthcoming campaign against the Boers.

Soon in command of the Natal Army's 7th Brigade as local Major General, Hamilton fought his first major engagement of the Second Boer War at Elandslaagte on 21 October 1899. Hamilton's deployment of his infantry and personal courage, in rallying his men during a desperate Boer counter, moved White to recommend Hamilton for the Victoria Cross. The authorities refused the decoration on the grounds, ironically, of Hamilton's seniority of rank. Following the retreat of White's forces to Ladysmith, Hamilton endured the siege of the town and a series of attempted incursions by the Boers, most notably at Wagon Hill on 6 January 1900, where Hamilton exchanged fire at close quarters with enemy commanders. After the town had been relieved by the British and Hamilton had recovered his health, he was promoted to local Lieutenant General and given command of a division of mounted infantry, part of the forces assembled under Roberts, the new Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, to take Pretoria. Beginning in April from Blomfontein, Hamilton's force completed an epic 400 mile fighting trek (described by Churchill in his Ian Hamilton's march), arrived in Pretoria on 5 June, and participated in the inconclusive battle with the forces of the Boer General Louis Botha at Diamond Hill, east of Pretoria, on 12 June 1900. Hamilton's forces were sent southwards during July 1900 in pursuit of the Boer General Christiaan de Wet. In an encounter at Heidelburg, Hamilton fell from his horse and broke his collar bone; Lt Gen Sir Archibald Hunter was given command of Hamilton's Force and Hamilton was removed to Pretoria to recover. A month later, Hamilton was again leading another large composite column, in support of concerted and unsuccessful attempts to entrap de Wet. Proceeding eastwards, he reached the border of Portuguese East Africa at Komati Poort on 24 September 1900, as the war petered out into guerrilla actions. Roberts was now due to return home as the new Commander-in-Chief of the Army and had appointed Hamilton as his Military Secretary. He returned with Roberts to London on 2 January 1901, having been promoted to substantive Major General, and awarded the KCB.

However the demands of the war overtook domestic administrative considerations; Roberts offered Hamilton as Chief of Staff to Gen Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Baron Kitchener of Khartoum and Aspall, the new Commander-in-Chief in South Africa. Hamilton arrived in Pretoria on 29 November 1901, with intentions both to keep Roberts informed of developments in South Africa, and to decentralize Kitchener's organization. The latter aim was somewhat frustrated by Kitchener's instinctive secrecy and his inclination to use Hamilton as both a deputy at short notice and as a roving trouble-shooter in the field. In April 1902 he ordered Hamilton to Western Transvaal to command some 17,000 troops in the final and decisive drive against the Boers, including the successful repulse of a Boer offensive at Rooival on 11 April. Hamilton was present beside Kitchener during the peace negotiations at Vereeniging at the end of May 1902. He returned home with Kitchener to an ecstatic reception in July 1902, was promoted to substantive Lieutenant General, and resumed his duties at the War Office as Military Secretary.

In the aftermath of the war, reform at the heart of the Army had become necessary; in his evidence to the Royal Commission on the War in South Africa, Hamilton made suggestions for wheeled tank-like shields for infantry, proposed equipping troops with entrenching tools, and indicated the obsolescence of the arme blanche. Hamilton was appointed Quarter Master General to the Forces in April 1903 but had already quit his post before the whirlwind of reforms engendered by the Esher Committee hit the War Office. In February 1904 he left for Japan, having secured permission to act as a military attaché to their army. In due course Hamilton was confirmed as the military representative of India, and was attached to the First Japanese Army in Manchuria. In his official reports, his dismissal of the role of horsed cavalry in the campaign earned him rebukes from the War Office. His own account of the war, A staff officer's scrapbook, a combination of war reportage, travelogue and military analysis, was published in 1905 and 1907, and received widespread acclaim.

On his return home, Hamilton was appointed General Officer Commanding Southern Command in June 1905, and was promoted to full General in October 1907. Hamilton's four year tenure was especially marked by his contribution to the Advisory Council to the newly created Territorial Force, and to the training of the Territorials on Salisbury Plain. His appointment as Adjutant General in June 1909 by Rt Hon Richard Burdon Haldane MP, the Secretary of State for War, and Haldane's invitation to Hamilton to write on the themes of recruitment and training allowed expression of Hamilton's deeply felt advocacy of the merits of the Territorial Force and of voluntary military service. This thesis, published as Compulsory service, a study of the question in the light of experience, ensured a hostile response from those at the War Office, the services and elsewhere who were urging the Government to adopt a scheme of conscription in readiness for the possibility of British embroilment in a continental war. In particular, Hamilton's stance led to a temporary chill in the formerly warm relationship Hamilton had enjoyed with his old chief, Lord Roberts, then the President of the National Service League, who countered with his own book, Fallacies and facts, as a riposte to Hamilton's Compulsory service.

In 1910 Kitchener, entertaining hopes of being made Viceroy of India, had refused an invitation to take the appointment of General Officer Commanding Mediterranean Command. Hamilton accepted the post, which had been combined into a formidable twofold role with that of the newly created Inspector General of Overseas Forces. In the same year he was awarded the GCB. Excepting brief intervals spent at the headquarters of Mediterranean Command on Malta, the next four years were spent in almost consecutive tours of the West Indies, South Africa, the Far East, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. During each circuit, Hamilton was required to progress through a series of parades, exercises, social engagements, and produce a report on his inspections of garrisons, regular, reserve and cadet forces.

On the outbreak of war in August 1914, Hamilton had been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Central Force for Home Defence, assigned with the training of its constituent troops (mainly reservists and Territorials) for foreign service and the protection of the area around London from a possible German invasion. However Hamilton was eager for active service; he had even asked FM Sir John French to allow him to serve with the BEF as a corps commander in August 1914, though without success. In early 1915 Hamilton was nominated as the commander of a new Fourth Army to be sent to France. Such plans were cancelled by the summons of Hamilton to an interview with his old chief Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, on 12 March 1915, and Hamilton's precipitant departure to the Dardanelles to command an Allied military force assembling there in support of a naval assault on the Straits. As he left Charing Cross Station on the following day, Hamilton had a premonition that the campaign would be 'an unlucky show'.

Kitchener's initial instructions had envisaged a quick breakthrough by Allied warships to Constantinople, whereupon Hamilton's Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) would rendezvous with Russian forces in occupying the city and its hinterland, and then withdraw to deploy as required elsewhere. The role of the MEF was delineated to a concentrated offensive on the European side of the Straits to overwhelm any Turkish ground forces hindering the passage of the Allied navies. Faced with the loss of four capital ships in the Straits by Turkish mines and shells during the fleet offensive of 18 March 1915, the naval commander V Adm John de Robeck was reluctant to resume operations until the military had landed to neutralise the Turkish guns and allow the safe passage of his minesweepers. At a conference on the fleet's flagship, the Queen Elizabeth, on 22 March 1915, Hamilton concurred, and ordered his forces to Egypt. Here they resupplied and prepared in public view, with their objective, the Gallipoli peninsula, the subject of widespread speculation. Meanwhile Hamilton and his staff planned amphibious landings on six beaches around the south of the peninsula. When executed on 25 April 1915, the landings established beachheads but the MEF failed to gain the vital heights on Gallipoli. During May, June and July, as the campaign settled into a deadlock of trenches, frontal assaults and raids mirroring those of the Western Front, Hamilton claimed a lack of reinforcements and high explosive ammunition denied him the ability to attack the Turkish lines decisively. He had elected to communicate only with Kitchener on his requirements rather than Churchill; the latter, Hamilton's closest ally in the Government, had in any case lost his post at the Admiralty in the restructuring of the Coalition Government. However, by the midsummer of 1915 the Government's Dardanelles Committee eventually determined that Hamilton had to be allocated more resources in order to achieve the necessary thrust. Three new army divisions were dispatched to Gallipoli in July. These troops (the 9th Army Corps) were to land in August further round to the north west of the peninsula in the hope of outflanking and turning the Turkish defenders.

For a few fleeting hours, as this force landed at Suvla Bay on 6 August 1915, it appeared the plan might succeed. Their surprise arrival threatened to overwhelm the few Turkish ground forces present. However a combination of difficulties in disembarking at the assigned sites and in securing sufficient supplies of drinking water had led senior officers of 9 Corps to halt and regroup their troops on the beaches. This inertia in moving inland in sufficient strength allowed the defenders to withdraw to the heights above Suvla, reinforce, and dig in. Despite Hamilton's arrival at Suvla on the 8 August 1915 to urge his commanders onwards and the subsequent replacement of a number of the officers concerned by generals fresh from the Western Front, the MEF had again reached an impasse.

By September 1915, further efforts in the Dardanelles were doomed. Contingents of Hamilton's troops were siphoned off for service in Salonika, and the battle of Loos claimed the lion's share of men and ammunition for the Western Front. In addition two war correspondents on Gallipoli, Ellis Ashmead Bartlett and Keith Arthur Murdoch, had attempted to publicise, as they saw it, failures of leadership and logistics on the peninsula. In so doing, they had fallen foul of Hamilton and his staff, who viewed their reports as false and inclined to weaken morale, and the authors as dishonourable in breaking their oaths against the transmission of uncensored material. On his return to London, Murdoch had persuaded Rt Hon David Lloyd George MP, the Minister of Munitions, to have his report on the operations at Gallipoli published as a state paper and placed before the Cabinet and Committee of Imperial Defence. Government disquiet over Gallipoli was by now profound and the possibility of evacuating the peninsula had to be broached. On 12 October Hamilton, in response to Kitchener's enquiry on estimated casualties in withdrawing from the Dardanelles, had recoiled at such an eventuality, pointing at potential losses of half of the MEF forces on the peninsula. Hamilton's reply had sealed his fate; he was recalled from command on 16 October 1915, and replaced by Gen Sir Charles Monro. The Allied forces were successfully evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915 and January 1916 with minimal casualties. Until his death Hamilton maintained both a robust defence of the attritional gains made against the Turks during the offensive and an immense pride in the achievements of those who had served under him, particularly the ANZACs and men of the 29th Division and Royal Naval Division. He repeatedly excoriated the decision to evacuate the peninsula.

As a coda to an ill-starred campaign, the British Government constituted a Royal Commission, sitting during 1916 and 1917, to investigate the origin of the plan to attack the Dardanelles and the conduct of operations on Gallipoli. Hamilton appeared as a witness to the Dardanelles Commission several times and submitted voluminous evidence, including a privately printed version of his Gallipoli diary, which he had compiled originally as an aide-memoire for Churchill. The failure of the Government to lay papers relating to Gallipoli before Parliament and its embargo on the publication of the second report of the Commission (on the conduct of operations) until 1919 denied Hamilton an opportunity to clear his name and effectively ended prospects for his future employment. Finally, in August 1918 Hamilton was appointed Lieutenant of the Tower of London and in the following March, Churchill, then Secretary of State for War and keen to resuscitate his friend's career, offered him the Northern Command. Hamilton declined, stating that the post should be given to a younger man. He received the GCMG in 1919, and retired from the Army in 1920.

In October 1918 Hamilton had been appointed by the Government to chair a consultative committee charged with drawing up proposals for the administration of the large profits (some £10 million) accumulated by the canteens on the Western Front to the benefit of ex-servicemen. This committee assembled representatives from the armed services and the often rival ex-service organizations, and submitted a scheme for establishing a unified ex-service association. The Government remained suspicious of allowing ex-servicemen access to such funds and unification was delayed until 1921, with the creation of the Royal British Legion under FM Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig. Hamilton was to remain intensely loyal to the cause of veterans; in 1922 he was elected President of the London Metropolitan Area British Legion until 1935, when he was subsequently elected President of the British Legion in Scotland, an office he retained until his death. A readily-recognised figurehead, he undertook an unremitting interwar schedule of speeches, parades and fund-raising events in aid of the Legion, and acted as a focus for veterans seeking work or financial assistance; in many cases the latter came straight from his pocket. In the 1920s, he unveiled possibly more war memorials than any other individual, often accompanied by speeches in which he appealed for reconciliation with former enemies, and condemned the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which he felt were unjust to Germany.

Similarly, he pursued efforts to promote more cordial relations between Great Britain and Germany in the 1930s, under the auspices of the Anglo-German Association, of which he was a prominent and active member. The Association was dissolved in the wake of Adolf Hitler's accession to power; however Hamilton, often controversially, continued to propound a pro-German line, as he saw it, in the interests of peace and mutual understanding. In 1936, for example, he expressed approval in the national press of the German militarization of the Rhineland, and attacked the boycott by British universities of commemorative celebrations at Heidelburg University. Hamilton also arranged numerous meetings between British and German ex-servicemen, including a reception for some 800 German veterans at his own home in September 1938. One such visit of British Legionnaires to Germany in August 1938 culminated in Hamilton spending a weekend retreat with Hitler at Berchtesgaden. These activities attracted a range of contemporary reactions, ranging from express approval to open condemnation from those convinced Hamilton maintained anti-Semitic propensities, and were to cause some estrangement between himself and Churchill.

Hamilton's energy in his retirement was enormous. He continued to take an active role as Colonel of his beloved regiment, the Gordon Highlanders, until 1939 (he had become their Colonel in 1914 after ten years as Colonel of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders). In 1934, he organised a visit to Germany to receive the drums of the Gordons from President Hindenburg, which had been left in Belgium by the regiment in 1914, and brought to Germany during the war. In addition, Hamilton spent three years as Lord Rector of Edinburgh University (1933-1936), and was also a long-standing Governor of Wellington College. In 1919 he had bought Lullenden, a farm in East Sussex from Churchill, which inspired a keen interest in agriculture and especially with the Belted Galloway breed of cattle. He was instrumental in gaining recognition for the breed, showed his own prize-winning beasts frequently and wrote a book on the subject in 1930.

Hamilton was an unconventional soldier with natural aesthetic leanings, a wide circle of cultured and artistic friends and acquaintances, and a picturesque and witty literary style. Already famous before World War One for his Compulsory service and Staff officer's scrapbook, his recall from the Dardanelles, subsequent unemployment and retirement from the Army were followed by a productive literary period, in which five books were published within the space of five years-The millenium? (1919), an erudite discussion on the post war world; Gallipoli diary (1920), a classic war memoir, cast as daily journal of his experiences in the Dardanelles, and by turns elegiac in its praise of the men under his command, and pained in the frustrations to which he and they were subjected; The soul and body of an army (1921), an essay on the future organization of the British Army, prophetic in its proposals for a unified Ministry of Defence and for mechanized divisions supported by aircraft, and The friends of England (1923), a lively appraisal of other European states, Russia, Japan and the USA as potential allies, based on his own experiences. He was even able to revive Kitchener's own blunt epithet for Hamilton ('a bloody poet'), by publishing Now and then, another collection of his verse, in 1926.

Hamilton was never one to shy from public notoriety in the interwar years; his many speeches, newspaper and magazine articles, and letters to the press were complemented by frequent BBC radio broadcast appearances, especially on the themes of the Dardanelles Campaign, Anzac Day and Armistice Day. He made personal appearances in two films-replaying his role as Commander-in-Chief of the MEF in Tell England (1930), based on Ernest Raymond's account of the Gallipoli Campaign, as well as introducing the World War One documentary of 1934, Forgotten men. He also wrote two volumes of memoirs on his boyhood and early military life, When I was a boy (1939) and Listening for the drums (1944).

Lady Hamilton died at Blair Drummond, Perthshire, in February 1941, and Hamilton compiled Jean, a memoir on Jean, Lady Hamilton,a deeply affectionate tribute in her honour. There were no children of the marriage. Lady Hamilton had adopted two children, Harold Stone Knight, later commissioned into the Scots Guards and subsequently killed in action in Libya in 1941, and Rosaleen James, who married and lived abroad. Hamilton died on 12 October 1947 at his home at 1 Hyde Park Gardens, London. He was buried at Doune, Perthshire, in a grave alongside his wife. A monument to Hamilton in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral, London, was unveiled by his old friend, Sir Winston Churchill, on 6 November 1957.

PROVENANCE

Following Hamilton's death in 1947, the papers were retained in the custody of Mrs Mary Forbes Shield, his former secretary and one of his literary executors, and then by Mrs Janet Leeper, his other literary executor. The papers were placed in the Centre by the literary executors, in several deposits from 1968 to 1976. Other material in the custody of Hamilton's nephew, Ian Bogle Monteith Hamilton, which had been used by for his biography The happy warrior, a life of Gen Sir Ian Hamilton (Cassell, London, 1966), was transferred to the Centre in 1969. Hamilton's account of the battle of Majuba Hill (letter to Maj Gen Martin Andrew Dillon, 28 October 1881, Hamilton 1/2/7/1) was presented to the Centre by the Library of the Ministry of Defence, London, in 1976.

SCOPE AND CONTENT

Researchers are asked to refer to the Brief List above, for a summary of the contents of the collection. The survival of papers prior to 1910 has been intermittent, confined in the main to Hamilton's correspondence with relatives and his wife, though these contain fascinating material on the social and sporting life of an Army officer in India (section 1/2). A notable exception is Hamilton's first hand account of the battle of Majuba Hill, written several months after the event (1/2/7/1). The letters to his wife form revealing personal descriptions of the Chitral and Tirah Expeditions of 1895 and 1897, and the setbacks and triumphs Hamilton experienced during the Second Boer War (sections 1/2 and 2/2). Hamilton's diaries during the Siege of Ladysmith, 1899-1900, describe not only the travails endured during the siege but also confide Hamilton's contempt for the generalship of Sir Redvers Buller, the Commander-in-Chief in South Africa (2/1). Perhaps the most celebrated items from this period are Hamilton's letters of 1901-1902 to FM Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts of Kandahar, Waterford and Pretoria, then Commander-in-Chief of the British Army (section 2/3), providing a rich and informed commentary on Hamilton's pivotal dual duties as a leading column commander and as Lord Kitchener's Chief of Staff in South Africa, and also include much frank dissection of the performance and relative merits of senior British officers during the latter stages of the war. Other official material from the war is represented in the archive largely by the operational correspondence of 10 Division and Hamilton's Force (sections 2/5-6) from April to October 1900 (in effect the same composite force, as in July 1900 Hamilton was ordered to take command of Lt Gen Sir Archibald Hunter's 10 Division). It is possible that at the conclusion of the war in 1902, Hamilton may have returned with more material than is now extant. After World War One, Hamilton consulted Sgt Maj H Stuart, his former confidential clerk in Gallipoli, on the retention of papers relating to the Second Boer War, but it is not known which papers, if any, were destroyed as a result of these reviews. Press coverage of Hamilton's activities (section 17) is comprehensive from 1899 up to his death in 1947.

Some idea of Hamilton's perception of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, may be observed in his diaries and correspondence of the campaign (sections 3/1-2), which formed the raw material for his celebrated A staff officer's scrapbook. The campaign continued to inspire Hamilton; around 1909 he wrote several chapters for another book, which was never published, placing the Russo-Japanese War in a wider context, with its implications for relations between the major powers and their national military recruitment and ethos (section 15/1). Although Hamilton held the key posts of Military Secretary and Quarter Master General, unfortunately little has found its way to Hamilton's archive to elucidate his own activities from 1902-1905. Hamilton's time as General Officer Commanding Southern Command (1905-1909) is only marginally better documented, by his reports on the training of his troops and on his observations on foreign army manoeuvres (section 4/2).

In contrast, the survival of papers for the period 1910-1914 appears appreciably complete. A measure of Hamilton's contribution as Adjutant General to the great national debate on the issue of national service may be seen in the papers relating to his Compulsory service, a study of the question in the light of experience (section 5/4); his correspondence with Lord Roberts in particular (5/4/3) gives some indication of the tensions between these two opposing spokesmen of the voluntary versus compulsory service camps. Correspondence from this period (section 5/1) attests to Hamilton's workload during his tours as Inspector General of Overseas Forces, during which routine administration had to be completed as well as letters to those at home who needed to be informed of his progress, in particular the King, Prime Minister, Secretary of State for War and Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and the periodic creation of a report on the forces he had inspected (section 5/3). Press reports collated during the tours indicate the local reactions to these visitations of such a senior military figure (section 17).

At the heart of the Hamilton archive lies the material emanating from the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915 (section 7). A large section of correspondence (7/1) ranges from Hamilton's routine personal and semi-official letters and requests from officers seeking service with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF), to letters to those at the highest level of political interest or operational military involvement with the campaign, such as Prime Minister Asquith, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff Lt Gen Sir James Wolfe Murray, the First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, Gen Sir John Maxwell, commanding forces in Egypt, and Lt Gen Sir William Riddell Birdwood, commanding ANZAC forces on Gallipoli. Hamilton's weekly letters to the Secretary of State for War (7/1/6) comprise the most lengthy and detailed of these situation reports, though perhaps one may observe in these a reticence in both demanding resources and informing of the worst of his adversities. During these months of intense stress, as each new Allied offensive on the peninsula ground to costly stasis, perhaps Hamilton's mood is best gauged by his letters to his wife (7/1/4). Their tone seem to maintain fading hopes of success or at least a Stoic perseverance in fighting on, but also swing towards fatalism and at times despondency.

A variety of papers illustrate the Suvla Bay landings of August 1915, inextricably linked to subsequent failings in command and control (section 7/2). These range from a number of reports by unit commanders at corps, division and brigade level, telegram communication between Hamilton and Kitchener on the need for replacing senior officers, and correspondence between Hamilton and the individuals concerned. Especially notable are those files of letters between Hamilton and Lt Gen the Hon Sir Frederick William Stopford on the controversy of Hamilton's orders and the inability of 9 Corps to move off the beaches. In later years Hamilton set great store by his correspondence with John Still (7/2/62-63) which indicated that British troops occupied, albeit briefly, the crucial summit of Tekke Tepe, above Suvla Bay, on 8 August 1915. Some idea of Hamilton's conflict with the journalists Ellis Ashmead Bartlett and Keith Arthur Murdoch over their reports on the conduct of operations on Gallipoli may be seen in section 7/3. The papers of General Headquarters of the MEF (section 7/4) contain a number of variant versions of Kitchener's original instructions to Hamilton for the execution of the campaign, and also the staff diary (7/4/9) maintained by Hamilton's confidential clerk. The latter item, containing a brief narrative of each day's events, apparently acted as the skeletal basis for Hamilton's own Gallipoli diary, which he dictated to record in 1916 prior to the hearings of Dardanelles Commission (though it is not known if he maintained a personal diary during the campaign). A notion of the reaction to the publication of Gallipoli diary in 1920 may be gained from the correspondence in 7/10/12. Section 7 also contains correspondence relating to Hamilton's Gallipoli despatches and to rewards for service on the peninsula, as well as a number of fully described maps, MEF orders, intelligence bulletins, orders of battle and official photographs.

Copies of the evidence of some of the sailors, soldiers, politicians, journalists and other concerned parties who were called to the Dardanelles Commission are contained within section 8/2, together with Hamilton's analysis of their testimonies and his comments thereon. The archive is particularly strong in Hamilton's correspondence with a number of these witnesses for 1916-1918 (section 8/1). These files, now divided by individual correspondent and fully supplemented with material from former files of general correspondence, provide an insight into Hamilton's attempts to justify decisions taken during his command of the MEF, his desire to explore recollections of crucial incidents during the Gallipoli Campaign with fellow witnesses (in particular the failures of generalship and logistics following the Suvla Bay landings of August 1915), and to evolve a coherent response to the cross-examination of the Dardanelles Commissioners.

Following extensive sorting, the archive has revealed over one hundred individual files of correspondence from 1916 to 1947 with major figures associated with Hamilton (section 13). These include senior officers of the Gallipoli Campaign, notably FM William Riddell Birdwood, 1st Baron Birdwood of Anzac and Totnes, AF Roger John Brownlow Keyes, 1st Baron Keyes of Zeebrugge and Dover, and Gen Sir Walter Pipon Braithwaite; political friends, such as Rt Hon Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, Rt Hon Richard Burdon Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane of Cloan, and Leopold Stennett Amery; the eminent military commentators Capt Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart and Col Charles à Court Repington, and writers and artists including John Masefield, Erich Maria Remarque, John Singer Sargent and Henry Woodd Nevinson.

The collection also contains substantial material relating to Hamilton's long association with the Royal British Legion (sections 11/2-3), and which centres on Hamilton's role in publicising the plight of veterans, rather than on routine matters of policy or administration. Hamilton's concern for their welfare is mirrored in his often poignant correspondence with ex-servicemen in severe financial difficulties (section 11/4), and in his presidency of the South African War Veterans' Association (11/5). These letters disclose Hamilton's deeply felt charitable and philanthropic sentiments, augmented on many occasions by personal gifts of money and clothes, and demonstrate his profound sense of responsibility for the welfare of these men, both in wartime and beyond. Papers in section 11/1 and 11/2/32 recount the assignment given Hamilton by the British Government in 1918 to chair a committee charged with establishing a scheme for a unified ex-service body. It is possible to gather from these a sense of Hamilton's frustration at the opportunities lost during the three intervening years before the creation of the Royal British Legion in 1921, and the ensuing weakness of the Legion in attracting as members all who had served in World War One. Speeches, press cuttings and correspondence also attest to his, at times, hectic activity in unveiling war memorials around Great Britain in the 1920s (sections 11/4, 16 and 17).

Papers to be found in section 14/2 also bear witness to Hamilton's contentious forays into the sphere of interwar relations between Great Britain and Germany. These comprise papers relating to the Anglo-German Association, correspondence with German acquaintances (especially veterans), reaction from British citizens to his pro-German activities, and even some correspondence with Rudolf Hess. Further evidence here may be gleaned from the large amount of relevant press cuttings (section 17).

Aside from the issues described above, Hamilton actively cultivated the image of writer and soldier-poet, and section 15 contains papers relating to his own publications, as well as correspondence with others on literary matters. Copies of most of his speeches, letters to the press and smaller articles for publication for the period 1918-1947 may be found in section 16. His term as Lord Rector of Edinburgh University (1933-1936) is well documented in section 12. Hamilton's old regiment, the Gordon Highlanders, occupied a central position in his thoughts and activities as their Colonel. Evidence of his energetic participation in regimental affairs maybe found in sections 9 and 10, which concentrate on issues relating to commissions and promotions in the Gordons during the interwar years, and which also feature letters from officer friends serving with the first and second battalions during World War One. The archive also contains an extensive range of photographs of Hamilton (section 18), particularly for the interwar years illustrating Hamilton's involvement with the British Legion and the unveiling of war memorials, as well as his visits of Germany in 1934 and 1938. A number of exceptional albums also depict late Nineteenth Century life in India, the Tirah Campaign, and his tours as Inspector General of Overseas Forces.

The correspondence of Lady Hamilton (section 20/2) contains letters to her husband, reciprocating the deep affection displayed in his own letters to her. This section gives some idea of her circle of friends and acquaintances which included Hilaire Belloc, Robert Bridges and G K Chesterton. Her lengthy series of diaries (20/1) also contain some of her most treasured correspondence, and are marked by much brooding reflection on the nature of life, religious belief and love as well as melancholy introspection on the frequent bouts of ill health she suffered. In contrast, the diaries also contain superb evocations of dinners and other gatherings presided over by this eminent society hostess, often coupled with acerbic comments on the manners, appearance and conversation of her guests.

The archive also contains some correspondence of Eleanor Charlotte Sellar (c1854-1934), the eldest daughter of William Young Sellar, Professor of Latin at Edinburgh University, 1863-1890, and Eleanor Sellar (née Denniston), and an old friend of the Hamiltons from Indian days. These papers (section 21) include correspondence between Sellar and Hamilton, FM Sir George Stuart White, and FM Sir Neville Bowles Chamberlain, and may possibly have come into Hamilton's possession after Sellar's death.

ARRANGEMENT

The task of maintaining and arranging the bulk of Hamilton's papers prior to their deposit at King's College may be attributed to his secretary Mary Shield. She commenced working for Hamilton in 1916, as a successor to a series of military clerks, and was thus especially responsible for the safekeeping of papers relating to the Dardanelles Commission, and the voluminous general, business and British Legion correspondence which would accrue up to and beyond Hamilton's death. Some earlier parts of the archive, especially papers relating to Hamilton's role as Inspector General of Overseas Forces, and to a lesser extent some of Hamilton's General Headquarters files of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, have remained in the original state established by Hamilton's previous clerks. Where possible, the order and content of such files have been retained in the latest recataloguing.

The collection, after Hamilton's death, was moved from his house at 1 Hyde Park Gardens, London, to successive apartments of the literary executors, contained in a variety of bookcases, cupboards, chests and other of their original containers. Handlists were compiled by Mary Shield in 1952, describing the papers according to their physical location. Some material was removed by Hamilton's nephew, Ian B M Hamilton, during his writing of the biography The happy warrior. On arrival at King's College in 1968-1969, the papers were identified and listed in accordance with the Shield lists-for example the reference '16/4/7' would refer to the seventh item in the fourth folder described on page 16 of the 1952 handlists. Certain files were described in great physical detail, especially those pertaining to some aspects of the periods 1886-1914, and also to the Gallipoli Campaign and the Dardanelles Commission, but contained limited information on content. In particular, the bulk of the general correspondence for the years 1916-1947 (nearly 100 boxes) had been largely untouched, and had remained in the administrative files established by Mary Shield. Each of these files were sorted into an A-L or M-Z division, based on the name of the correspondent, and each file usually covered a three month period. While this system allowed Hamilton and Shield to consult current and recent correspondence, it presented problems for later researchers who had to read through many files to find the papers they required.

Because of the difficulty in retrieving information from disparate parts of the archive and the thinness of coverage of Hamilton's later correspondence, a decision was taken to recatalogue the entire collection from scratch. The new cataloguing scheme reflects Hamilton's career and activities, and papers are described at file level, with some listed at piece level where warranted, as in the case of Hamilton's letters to FM Sir Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts of Kandahar, Waterford and Pretoria, 1901-1902 (section 2/3), the official photographs of the Dardanelles Campaign (section 7/12), and Hamilton's speeches (section 17). The run of general correspondence for the years 1916-1947 was grouped into new files, based on major correspondents and themes. Accordingly, these papers may now be found among the files for the Gordon Highlanders (section 10); ex-servicemen, British Legion and war memorials (section 11); principal military, political and literary correspondents (section 13); Anglo-German relations, correspondence with officers, members of the public and other acquaintances, societies, charities and social engagements (section 14), and correspondence relating to publications (section 15/5).

Some of this material also needed integrating with correspondence pertaining to witnesses called to the Dardanelles Commission. Files were thus created for individual witness correspondents, and all relevant papers were transferred to these (section 8/1). Papers for the period of the Gallipoli Campaign (section 7) have, where possible, received only minor attention, mainly to redirect strayed material to an appropriate home, and to ensure the collation of correspondence by theme or by named individuals. Papers created during Hamilton's time as Commander-in-Chief Central Force Home Defence, 1914-1915 (section 6) have been treated likewise.

Much of Hamilton's earlier correspondence (1886-1914) had previously been listed individually in annual bundles, the entries giving date and a brief comment on content or even merely the location of the author when writing. In most cases, new files were created for the correspondents concerned, and these files were then placed in the relevant chronological section (i.e. Second Boer War, General Officer Commanding Southern Command, etc). In particular, coherent files created during Hamilton's service as Inspector General of Overseas Forces (section 5) have been left intact, apart from a few bundles of contemporary general correspondence which have now been divided by theme or name of correspondent. Separate sections have also been created for press cuttings, photographs, printed material, and for the papers of Jean, Lady Hamilton, and the correspondence of Eleanor Sellar (sections 16-21), and little re-arrangement was required, except to place material in each section into a chronological order. A full concordance, to be found at the end of this catalogue, has been provided between the old and new catalogues.

 


Search

Search within THIS catalogue for:

Detailed catalogue

W3C Semantic Web LogoPlease note:
This catalogue may contain links to external data sources as part of the W3C Semantic Web initiative.

ARCHIOS™ | Total time:0.0431 s | Source:cache | Platform: NX