Sir Henry Wilson, 1st Baronet
Henry WilsonSir Henry WilsonHenry Hughes WilsonWilsonGeneral Henry WilsonGeneral WilsonField Marshal Sir Henry WilsonBrigadier-General WilsonField Marshal Henry WilsonGeneral Sir Henry Wilson
Field Marshal Sir Henry Hughes Wilson, 1st Baronet, (5 May 1864 – 22 June 1922) was one of the most senior British Army staff officers of the First World War and was briefly an Irish unionist politician.wikipedia
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Louis SpearsSpearsGeneral Spears
Like French and Spears, Wilson acquired his commission "by the back door" as it was then known, by first becoming a militia officer.
General Henry Wilson, a staff officer acting as a liaison officer to the French Army, had been said to declare that he saw 'no reason for an officer knowing any language except his own'.
Sir John FrenchJohn FrenchFrench
Like French and Spears, Wilson acquired his commission "by the back door" as it was then known, by first becoming a militia officer. As Sub Chief of Staff to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), Wilson was John French's most important advisor during the 1914 campaign, but his poor relations with Douglas Haig and William Robertson saw him sidelined from top decision-making in the middle years of the war.
He suspected a War Office plot led by the rising staff officers Henry Rawlinson and Henry Wilson, whom at this stage he distrusted.
Ulster Volunteer ForceUVFUlster Voluntary Force
During these years Wilson acquired a reputation as a political intriguer for his role in agitating for the introduction of conscription and in the Curragh incident of 1914, when he encouraged senior officers to resign rather than move against the Ulster Volunteers (UVF).
The two key figures in the creation of the Ulster Volunteers were Edward Carson (leader of the Irish Unionist Alliance) and James Craig, supported sub rosa by figures such as Henry Wilson, Director of Military Operations at the British War Office.
Lloyd GeorgeRt Hon David Lloyd GeorgeDavid Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor
Later in 1917 he was informal military advisor to British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and then British Permanent Military Representative at the Supreme War Council at Versailles.
Like many observers he had been taken by surprise by the exact timing of the revolution (it had not been predicted by Lord Milner or General Wilson on their visit to Russia a few weeks earlier) and hoped – albeit with some concerns – that Russia's war effort would be invigorated like that of France in the early 1790s.
Staff CollegeBritish Army Staff CollegeCamberley Staff College
Wilson served as Commandant of the Staff College, Camberley, and then as Director of Military Operations at the War Office, in which post he played a vital role in drawing up plans to deploy an Expeditionary Force to France in the event of war.
George HarperG. M. HarperHarper
Accompanied by Colonel Harper Wilson reconnoitred the likely future theatre of war.
As a protégé of General Henry Wilson, he held important staff positions at the War Office before the war and at British Expeditionary Force (BEF) GHQ in 1914.
MurraySir Archibald MurraySir A.J. Murray
Whilst on Roberts' staff he had made contact with Captain the Earl of Kerry (Tory MP 1908–18, later Marquess of Lansdowne), Hereward Wake (later under Wilson on the Supreme War Council), Walter Cowan (later an admiral) and Archibald Murray (later BEF Chief of Staff in 1914).
It is sometimes claimed that Murray was given the position largely because French's initial choice for the post, Wilson, was vetoed because of his role in the Curragh Affair.
Allied Supreme CouncilAnglo-French CongressSupreme Allied Council
Later in 1917 he was informal military advisor to British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and then British Permanent Military Representative at the Supreme War Council at Versailles. Whilst on Roberts' staff he had made contact with Captain the Earl of Kerry (Tory MP 1908–18, later Marquess of Lansdowne), Hereward Wake (later under Wilson on the Supreme War Council), Walter Cowan (later an admiral) and Archibald Murray (later BEF Chief of Staff in 1914).
The British were represented by Sir Henry Hughes Wilson.
RepingtonCharles RepingtonColonel Repington
Repington, then a staff captain in the Intelligence Section at the War Office, took Wilson on a tour of French military and naval installations in July, after which he had to write a report.
He had given this "parole" to Henry Wilson (a friend of Mary Garstin’s late father, who had been asked by her family to get involved) on 9 October 1899.
London Liverpool StreetLiverpool StreetLondon Liverpool Street station
He was assassinated on his own doorstep by two IRA gunmen in 1922 whilst returning home from unveiling a war memorial at Liverpool Street station.
Over 1,000 GER employees who died during the war were honoured on a large marble memorial installed in the booking hall, unveiled on 22 June 1922 by Sir Henry Wilson.
Sir James GriersonJames Moncrieff GriersonGrierson
Wilson noted that Grierson (Director of Military Operations) and Lyttelton ("absolutely incapable … positively a dangerous fool") had approved the proposed scheme for military action, but neither the Adjutant-General nor the Quartermaster-General had been consulted.
However, little further progress was made until after Wilson became DMO in 1910.
War of IndependenceAnglo-Irish WarIrish War for Independence
He also played an important role in the Irish War of Independence.
Michael Collins held the British Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson (by then MP for North Down) responsible for the attacks on Catholics in the north and may have been behind his assassination in June 1922, though who ordered the shooting is unproven.
William RobertsonSir William RobertsonRobertson
As Sub Chief of Staff to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), Wilson was John French's most important advisor during the 1914 campaign, but his poor relations with Douglas Haig and William Robertson saw him sidelined from top decision-making in the middle years of the war.
During Brigadier General (later Field Marshal Sir) Henry Wilson's tenure as Commandant at Staff College, Camberley (1906–10) Robertson had lectured on Belgium, the Canadian frontier and the Balkans.
FochMarechal FochMarshal Foch
Wilson first met Foch on a visit to the Ecole Superieur de Guerre (December 1909, and again on Wilson's way home from holiday in Switzerland in January 1910).
Like Pétain, Foch favoured only limited attacks (he had told Lieutenant General Sir Henry Wilson, another British Army officer, that the planned Flanders offensive was "futile, fantastic & dangerous") until the Americans, who had joined the war in April 1917, were able to send large numbers of troops to France.
Ballinalee ''(Clonbroney)Ballinalee or SaintjohnstownBallinalee, County Longford
Wilson's father James, the youngest of four sons, inherited Currygrane in Ballinalee, County Longford (1,200 acres, worth £835 in 1878), making him a middle-ranking landowner, more than a large farmer but not a "Big House" Ascendancy landlord; by 1901 the Currygrane estate had 49 Catholic and 13 Protestant (10 of them the Wilson family) inhabitants.
It was also the birthplace of Henry Hughes Wilson, who was the British Chief of the Imperial General Staff before his assassination by Irish Republicans.
Launcelot Edward KiggellKiggellGeneral Kiggell
Launcelot Kiggell was in the year below.
Wilson, liaising with French Grand Quartier General early in 1917, claimed that Kiggell “hated the French”.
JoffreGeneral JoffreMarshal Joffre
In February 1912 Wilson inspected the docks at Rouen, had meetings in Paris with Joffre, de Castelnau and Millerand (War Minister), visited Foch, now commanding a division at Chaumont, and inspected southern Belgium and the Maastricht appendix with Major Sackville-West ("Tit Willow") who had been on his directing staff at Camberley and now worked at MO2.
That same afternoon, Henry Wilson, the BEF sub-chief of staff, was negotiating separate plans with Franchet d'Espèrey, on the British right, which envisaged the Sixth Army attacking north of the Marne.
McKenna dutiesMcKennaR. McKenna
Hankey (letter to McKenna 15 August 1911) complained of Wilson's "perfect obsession for military operations on the Continent", scoffing at his bicycling trips of recent years around the French and Belgian borders, and accusing him of filling the War Office with like-minded officers.
He also attended the famous meeting on 23 August 1911, chaired by the Prime Minister, at which Brigadier-General Wilson, over naval opposition, persuaded ministers to deploy an expeditionary force to France in the event of war.
Curragh MutinyCurragh incident mutinychose to resign
During these years Wilson acquired a reputation as a political intriguer for his role in agitating for the introduction of conscription and in the Curragh incident of 1914, when he encouraged senior officers to resign rather than move against the Ulster Volunteers (UVF). Wilson was summoned home by his wife to see Johnnie Gough, who had come up from Aldershot, and told him of Hubert Gough's threat to resign (see Curragh incident).
Many officers, especially those with Irish Protestant connections, of whom the most prominent was Hubert Gough, threatened to resign or accept dismissal rather than obey, privately encouraged from London by senior officers including Henry Wilson.
Henri BerthelotBerthelotGeneral Berthelot
He told Joffre's staff officer General Henri Mathias Berthelot (13 September) that the Allies would be in Elsenborn on the German-Belgian frontier in four weeks (Berthelot thought three).
Tuchman wrote that Berthelot was “quick and clever, (and) like his British opposite number General Wilson, was an inveterate optimist.
Sir Hubert GoughGoughHubert de la Poer Gough
Wilson was summoned home by his wife to see Johnnie Gough, who had come up from Aldershot, and told him of Hubert Gough's threat to resign (see Curragh incident).
In another meeting at the War Office (23 March), Gough demanded a written guarantee from French and Ewart that the Army would not be used against Ulster (possibly influenced by Major-General Henry Wilson, who had recently suggested similar terms to J.E.B. Seely (Secretary of State for War), and with whom Gough had breakfasted that morning).
Sir Berkeley Vincent
Berkeley Vincent, who had been an observer in the Russo-Japanese War (he was a protégé of Ian Hamilton, whom Wilson appears to have disliked), took a more critical view of Wilson.
The then Commandant, Wilson, was sceptical of Berkeley's claims that Japanese morale had enabled their infantry to overcome Russian defensive firepower.
MacdonoghSir George MacdonoghGeorge Mark Watson Macdonogh
He enjoyed good personal relations with Catholics, although there are unsubstantiated claims that he disliked George MacDonogh, and tried to block the promotion of William Hickie, as both men were Catholics.
Henry Wilson, Director of Military Operations, distrusted him as a convert from Methodism to Roman Catholicism.
Lord KitchenerKitchenerHerbert Kitchener
Robertson visited Camberley with Lord Kitchener (28 July 1910), who criticised Wilson; this may have been one of the causes of the poor relations between Wilson and Kitchener in August 1914.
His decision to hold back two of the six divisions of the BEF, although based on exaggerated concerns about German invasion of Britain, arguably saved the BEF from disaster as Sir John French (on the advice of Wilson who was much influenced by the French), might have been tempted to advance further into the teeth of the advancing German forces, had his own force been stronger.
Sir Horace Smith-DorrienSmith-DorrienHorace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien
In April and May 1910, with his term of office at Camberley still officially running until January 1911, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), William Nicholson, told Wilson that he was to succeed Spencer Ewart as Director of Military Operations that summer and vetoed him from accepting Horace Smith-Dorrien's offer of a brigade at Aldershot.
French had a long discussion with Murray and Wilson (25 August) as to whether the BEF should stand and fight at Le Cateau, a position which had been chosen for both I and II Corps to hold after they had retreated on either side of the Forest of Mormal.