Henry Hughes Wilson

From Academic Kids

Sir Henry Hughes Wilson, Bt., GCB, DSO, (May 5 1864 Edgeworthson, Longford, Ireland - June 22 1922) was a British field marshal and Conservative politician.

He was born in Currygrane,County Longford, Ireland and was the second son of James and Constance Wilson, of Currygrane. He was educated at Marlborough School, and made unsuccessful attempts to get into the army colleges at Woolwich and Sandhurst between 1880 and 1882. In 1882 he succeeded in being commissioned as a lieutenant in the Longford militia (which was a militia battalion of The Rifle Brigade) and then transferred to a regular battalion.

He served in Burma where he received several serious wounds, including an eye wound and one which forced him to use a walking-stick for the rest of his life. He later worked in Intelligence Department of the War Office where his quite fluent French and German was useful.

In 1897 he became Brigade Major of the 3rd Brigade at Aldershot, and from 1899 to 1901 he saw active service during the Second Boer War with the 4th (Light) Brigade before becoming assistant military secretary to Lord Roberts and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

He returned to England in 1901 and spent some time as commander of the 9th Provisional Battalion, and the rest as a staff officer. Promotion followed in 1907 when he became a Brigadier-General and commanded the Staff College at Camberley, Surrey until 1910, when he became Director Of Military Operations at the British War Office.

In 1914 he surreptitiously supported British army officers who refused to lead troops against Ulster Unionists opponents of Third Irish Home Rule Bill in the Curragh Mutiny. This damaged his career and he failed to be appointed Chief of Staff to Sir John French. At the start of the First World War he was liaison officer to the French Army but poor relations with Henri-Philippe Petain. From December 1915 until December 1916 he commanded IV Corps in France.

In September 1917, he took over the Eastern Command, which allowed him to live in London and worked closely with Prime Minister David Lloyd George. In February 1918 he was promoted to Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), effectively the head of the British armed forces, and was the principal military adviser to Lloyd George in the last year of First World War.

After the war, on July 3 1919, he was appointed British field marshal. He was also awarded 10,000 by Parliament and made a baronet. At the Paris Peace Conference he acted as Britain's chief military adviser but found himself in increasing disagreement with Lloyd George. He resigned from the army and became a Member of Parliament for North Down, Ulster. A staunch Protestant, after 1921 he was Sir James Craig's parliament's military adviser.

On June 22 1922 two English born members of the IRA, Reginald Dunne and Joseph O'Sullivan, shot Sir Henry Wilson as he returned to his Eaton Square home after unveiling a war memorial in Liverpool Street Station. Two policemen were also shot as the pair tried to make good their escape. They were then surrounded by a crowd and arrested by other policemen. They were hanged on August 10 1922. The assassination may have been ordered by Michael Collins in retaliation for the continuing troubles in Northern Ireland.

Preceded by:
Sir William Robertson
Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Succeeded by:
The Earl of Cavan

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  • Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson : his life and diaries, By: Sir C E Callwell, Publisher: London : Cassell, 1927.

External links

sv:sir Henry Hughes Wilson de:Henry Hughes Wilson


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