from ‘the War Illustrated Deluxe’, vol. IV page 1290
'General Sir Ian Hamilton, G.C.B.'

Personalia of the Great War


No commander in modern times has been more under fire than the subject of the following lines. Perhaps none recalls more to mind the " verray parfit gcntil knight " whom Chaucer drew,

That fro the tyme that he first bigan To ryden out, he loved chivalrye, Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisye; or that beau-ideal of a soldier and a gentleman, Sir Philip Sidney. Fortune, having favoured him so well in other respects, in a cruel moment caused him to be sent to the Dardanelles, to undertake one of the most difficult tasks ever imposed on a general—a task the character of which was only imperfectly understood at the time by those at home. His final despatch on the operations in question was being prepared as this page was being written.

Early Studies in the Science and Art of War

General Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton, G.C.B., D.S.O., is a Scot. Born at Corfu, the most northerly of the sunny Ionian Islands, on January 16th, 1853, the eldest son of Colonel Christian Monteith Hamilton, who once commanded the 92nd Highlanders, and Corinna, daughter of the third Viscount Gort, he is a descendant, on his father's side, of an A.D.C. to the first Duke of Marlborough. From a school at Cheam, in Surrey, he entered Wellington College, whence he continued his education in Germany, whither he was sent by his father to learn the science and art of war from an old friend of the family, General von Dammers, a distinguished Hanoverian soldier who had fought against the Prussians before there was a German Empire.

In 1873-—two years after the birth of that Empire— young Hamilton entered the 12th Foot (now the Suffolk Regiment). Drafted later to his father's old regiment, the 92nd, he was next in the 2nd Battalion the Gordon Highlanders, going to India and taking part in the Afghan War of 1878-80, being twice mentioned in despatches, and receiving the medal with two clasps.

While still a subaltern, he served in the Boer War of 1881, being present at Majuba. It is recorded that towards the close of that fatal day he went up to General Sir George Colley, with the remark: "Forgive my presumption, sir, but will you let the Gordon Highlanders charge with the bayonet?" "No presumption, young gentleman," was the reply. "We'll let them charge us; then we'll give them a volley and charge." The gallant leader fell shortly afterwards, and Hamilton, shot through the wrist, was, with Hector Macdonald and others, taken prisoner. To the victorious Boers, however, he refused to give up his sword. It was his father's. General Joubert allowed him to retain it. His wound took six months to heal.

Distinguished Services in Africa and the East

After further service in India—he was given his captaincy in 1882-—Ian Hamilton next took part in the Nile Expedition of 1884-5, gaining mention in despatches, the brevet of major, the medal with two clasps and the Khedive's Star. Once again in India, he served in the Burma Expedition of 1886-7, and again his name figured prominently in despatches, with the result that he gained the brevet of lieut.-colonel, and the medal with clasp. A.-A.-G. in Bengal in 1890-93, he was in 1891 given the full rank of colonel and the D.S.O.; and from 1893 to 1895, in which latter year his services with the Chitral Relief Force were rewarded with the C.B. and medal with two clasps, he was military secretary to the Commander-in-Chief in India, Sir George White, V.C. From 1895 to l898 he was D.-Q.-M.-G. in India; in 1897-8 commanding the 3rd Brigade in the Tirah Campaign, in which his lelt arm was injured by the premature bursting of a shell.

He then came home, and had been for a few months commandant of the School of Musketry at Hythe when the South African War broke out. He was with the Natal Field Force as A.-A.-G. He commanded the infantry at the Battle of Elandslaagte (where he was wounded); he led the Mounted Infantry; his was a leading figure in the Battle of Waggon Hill, Ladysmith. The despatches of the period are punctuated with his name. He was promoted major-general, given the K.C.B. and the medal, and finally became Chief of Staff to Lord Kitchener, gaining the King's medal and the rank of lieutenant-general.

On one occasion he was thrown from his horse, and a broken collarbone kept him in enforced idleness for a time when his ambition was to be in pursuit of De Wet. He commanded the column on the flank of Lord Roberts' main army from Bloemfontein to Pretoria, marching more than four hundred miles, fighting ten general actions, and some fourteen smaller ones, capturing five towns, and wearing down what was the brunt of the Boer resistance. It is understood that he was twice recommended for the Victoria Cross, which would have been awarded him but for his senior rank.

From 1901 to 1903, Sir Ian was Military Secretary at the War Office; from 1903 to 1904 he was Q.-M.-G. to the Forces; in 1904-5, he was Military Representative of India with the Japanese Field Army in Manchuria; from 1905 to 1909 he was General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Southern Command, being made a full general in 1907; in 1909 he was A.-G. to the Forces and Second Military Member of the Army Council; and in 1910 he was appointed General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Mediterranean and Inspector-General of the Overseas Forces, in which capacity he came into that close touch with the Dominions and Colonies which stood him in such good stead when, in April, 1915, he was given the command of the operations on the Gallipoli Peninsula—a command held until the following October, and during his tenure of which, though his headquarters were at Tenedos, he visited every front line of trenches, some of which were only a few feet from those of the enemy.

His Farewell to the Troops at Gallipoli

Sir Ian's farewell Order, issued to the troops on October 17th, was as follows:

On handing over the command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force to Sir Charles Monro, the Commander-in-Chief wishes to say a few farewell words to the allied troops, with many of whom he has now for so long been associated. First, he would like them to know his deep sense of the honour it has been to command so fine an army in one of the most arduous and difficult campaigns which have ever been undertaken; and, secondly, he must express to them his admiration at the noble response they have invariably given to the calls lie has made upon them. No risk has been too desperate, no sacrifice too great. Sir Ian Hamilton thanks all ranks, from generals to private soldiers, for the wonderful way they seconded his efforts to lead them towards a decisive victory, which under their new chief he has the most implicit confidence they will achieve.

Known affectionately by his friends in the Service as "Johnnie," Sir Ian Hamilton, whose despatches from the Dardanelles are models of their kind, and marked throughout by the character of the writer, is the author of several works in both prose and verse: "The Fighting of the Future," "Icarus," "A Jaunt in a Junk," "A Ballad of Hadji," and " A Staff Officer's Scrap Book." A brother scholar, the late Andrew Lang, dedicated a volume of poems to him. In addition to his home decorations— he was appointed A.D.C. to the King in 1914—he possesses the Grand Cordon of the Japanese Order of Sacred Treasure, and the Grand Cordon of the Spanish Military Order of Merit, and the Kaiser bestowed upon him the 1st Class Order of the Crown of Prussia and the 1st Class Order of the Red Eagle. He is colonel of the 9th Royal Scots, 3rd Manchester Regiment, and the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. In 1887 he married Jean, eldest daughter of Sir John Muir, Bart., whose work for the troops at the front will always be gratefully remembered.

Lord Roberts was one of Sir Ian's staunch friends. The veteran Field-Marshal once put him to a severe test. He asked him to preside at a gathering of the Royal Army Temperance Association. The General was unable to refuse his old friend and superior, but it was like him in the course of the meeting to justify his presence by taking the pledge himself. Mr. Winston Churchill, who was attached to Sir Ian's command in South Africa, wrote a book entitled "Ian Hamilton's March," which contains a fine appreciation of the subject of our all-too-brief sketch of a gallant officer, Scottish gentleman, and man of letters.


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