27 – Viscount Herbert Plumer
Field Marshall Viscount Herbert Plumer
1st Viscount Plumer
1857 – 1932
Governor of Malta 1919-1924
Field Marshal Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE (13 March 1857–16 July 1932) was a British colonial official and soldier born in Torquay. After serving in Sudan and South Africa he was commander of the Second Army in Flanders during World War I, during which he won an overwhelming victory over the German Army at the Battle of Messines in 1917. In 1919 He was appointed Governor of Malta after the June riots. He held this post till 1924.
He became High Commissioner of the British Mandate of Palestine in 1925 and resisted Arab pressure to reverse commitments made by the British in the Balfour Declaration. His three-year term as High Commissioner is generally noted as the calmest period during the British mandate. He was replaced by Sir John Chancellor in 1928.
Plumer is generally regarded as one of the finest army commanders serving in France during World War One. Like the majority of generals on the western front he was from an infantry, as opposed to a cavalry background and deprecated the insistence on the value of the “breakthrough” and the effectiveness of cavalry to exploit the opening and reach the open country beyond the front line.
As a career Infantry officer and it could be argued that he understood somewhat better what could reasonably be expected of his troops bearing in mind the terrain, the weather and morale. Plumer, a meticulous planner, would often express the plans of the his superiors as being too ambitious and more often than not, as seen at the third battle of Ypres, Passchendaele he would be proved to be right.
Plumer was very popular with the men gaining the affectionate nickname “old Plum” and “Daddy Plumer”. He was a cliché of a General to look at; with a receding chin and a white moustache, his appearance suggested on the photographs of the day everything that he was not.
Following the unexpected death of Sir James Grierson on his arrival in France in 1914, Plumer was considered for command of one of two BEF Corps alongside Haig. This position eventually went to Horace Smith-Dorrien. Later in the war, Plumer was sought by Lloyd George for the position of Chief of the Imperial General Staff as a replacement for William Robertson. He declined the position and leaving no private papers and never having expressed a recorded opinion of the conduct of the war, the lengthy debate over the Generalship in World War One largely passed him by.