George Milne, 1st Baron Milne

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The Lord Milne
George Francis Milne.jpg
Field Marshal Lord Milne
Born(1866-11-05)5 November 1866
Aberdeen, Scotland
Died23 March 1948(1948-03-23) (aged 81)
London, England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1885–1933
Rank Field Marshal
Unit Royal Artillery
Commands held Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Eastern Command
Salonika Army
VI Corps
27th Division
Battles/wars Mahdist War
Second Boer War
First World War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in Despatches
Grand Cross of the Order of the White Eagle (Serbia)
Grand Officer of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Italy)
Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (Greece)
War Cross (Greece)
Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (France)
Other work Constable of the Tower of London (1933–38)

Field Marshal George Francis Milne, 1st Baron Milne, GCB , GCMG , DSO (5 November 1866 – 23 March 1948) was a senior British Army officer who served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) from 1926 to 1933. He served in the Second Boer War and during the First World War he served briefly on the Western Front but spent most of the war commanding the British forces on the Macedonian front. As CIGS he generally promoted the mechanization of British land forces although limited practical progress was made during his term in office.

Field Marshal has been the highest rank in the British Army since 1736. A five-star rank with NATO code OF-10, it is equivalent to an Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy or a Marshal of the Royal Air Force in the Royal Air Force (RAF). A Field Marshal's insignia consists of two crossed batons surrounded by yellow leaves below St Edward's Crown. Like Marshals of the RAF and Admirals of the Fleet, Field Marshals traditionally remain officers for life, though on half-pay when not in an appointment. The rank has been used sporadically throughout its history and was vacant during parts of the 18th and 19th centuries. After the Second World War, it became standard practice to appoint the Chief of the Imperial General Staff to the rank on his last day in the post. Army officers occupying the post of Chief of the Defence Staff, the professional head of all the British Armed Forces, were usually promoted to the rank upon their appointment.

Distinguished Service Order UK military decoration

The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the Commonwealth, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat. Since 1993 all ranks have been eligible.

British Army land warfare branch of the British Armed Forces of the United Kingdom

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.


Army career

Born the son of George Milne and Williamina Milne (née Panton) and educated at MacMillan's School in Aberdeen and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, [1] Milne was commissioned into the Royal Artillery on 16 September 1885. [2] He was initially posted to a battery at Trimulgherry in India and then joined a battery at Aldershot in 1889 before being posted back to India to a battery at Meerut in 1891. [3] Promoted to captain on 4 July 1895, [4] he joined the garrison artillery in Malta and then took part in the Suakin Expedition in 1896. [5] Next he was appointed battery captain at Hilsea and then attended the Staff College, Camberley in 1897. [5] There he became a friend of his classmate William Robertson. [6] He took part in the Nile Expedition in 1898, seeing action at Omdurman and scoring a direct hit on the Mahdi's tomb with his battery. [6] He served in the Second Boer War in South Africa, where he was appointed Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General on 18 February 1900, [7] and was promoted to major on 1 November 1900. [8] He was mentioned in despatches on 2 April 1901, [9] and awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in the South Africa Honours list published on 26 June 1902. [10] Following the end of the war in June 1902, Milne received the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel on 22 August 1902 (the honour was gazetted in the October 1902 South Africa honours list), [11] and returned to the United Kingdom on the SS Orotava which arrived at Southampton in early September. [12]

Royal Military Academy, Woolwich military academy in Woolwich, in south-east London

The Royal Military Academy (RMA) at Woolwich, in south-east London, was a British Army military academy for the training of commissioned officers of the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers. It later also trained officers of the Royal Corps of Signals and other technical corps. RMA Woolwich was commonly known as "The Shop" because its first building was a converted workshop of the Woolwich Arsenal.

Royal Artillery artillery arm of the British Army

The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA) and colloquially known as "The Gunners", is the artillery arm of the British Army. The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises thirteen Regular Army regiments, King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and five Army Reserve regiments.

Trimulgherry Suburb in Hyderabad District, Telangana, India

Tirumalagiri is a locality and a Mandal in the city of Secunderabad also it falls under Secunderabad Revenue Division, Earlier is a major suburb of Secunderabad, India. Trimulgherry is the anglicised name for Tirumalagiri. It is in the north of Hyderabad District.

He was appointed a Deputy-Assistant Quartermaster-General in the intelligence division at Headquarters on 26 January 1903 [13] and then, having been promoted to colonel on 1 November 1905, [14] became a general staff officer at Headquarters North Midland Division (a Territorial Force formation) in April 1908. [5] He joined the general staff at Headquarters 6th Division in Cork in 1909 and, having been appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the King's Birthday Honours 1912, [15] became Brigadier General Royal Artillery for 4th Division at Woolwich on 1 October 1913. [16]

Colonel (Col) is a rank of the British Army and Royal Marines, ranking below brigadier, and above lieutenant colonel. British colonels are not usually field commanders; typically they serve as staff officers between field commands at battalion and brigade level. The insignia is two diamond-shaped pips below a crown. The crown has varied in the past with different monarchs; the current Queen's reign has used St Edward's Crown. The rank is equivalent to captain in the Royal Navy and group captain in the Royal Air Force.

The 46th Division was an infantry division of the British Army, part of the Territorial Force, that saw service in World War I. At the outbreak of the war, the 46th Division was commanded by Major-General Hon. E.J. Montagu-Stuart-Wortley. Originally called the North Midland Division, it was redesignated as the 46th Division in May 1915.

Territorial Force former volunteer reserve component of the British Army

The Territorial Force was a part-time volunteer component of the British Army, created in 1908 to augment British land forces without resorting to conscription. The new organisation consolidated the 19th-century Volunteer Force and yeomanry into a unified auxiliary, commanded by the War Office and administered by local County Territorial Associations. The Territorial Force was designed to reinforce the regular army in expeditionary operations abroad, but because of political opposition it was assigned to home defence. Members were liable for service anywhere in the UK and could not be compelled to serve overseas. In the first two months of the First World War, territorials volunteered for foreign service in significant numbers, allowing territorial units to be deployed abroad. They saw their first action on the Western Front during the initial German offensive of 1914, and the force filled the gap between the near destruction of the regular army that year and the arrival of the New Army in 1915. Territorial units were deployed to Gallipoli in 1915 and, following the failure of that campaign, provided the bulk of the British contribution to allied forces in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. By the war's end, the Territorial Force had fielded twenty-three infantry divisions and two mounted divisions on foreign soil. It was demobilised after the war and reconstituted in 1921 as the Territorial Army.

First World War


At the outbreak of the First World War in July 1914, Milne was commanding the divisional artillery of 4th Division which formed part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France. [5] He fought on the Marne and the Aisne. [6] He joined the general staff of III Corps in January 1915 and, having been promoted to major general on 23 February 1915, was mentioned in despatches for his service during the Second Battle of Ypres. [5]

The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was the British Army sent to the Western Front during the First World War. Planning for a British Expeditionary Force began with the Haldane reforms of the British Army carried out by the Secretary of State for War Richard Haldane following the Second Boer War (1899–1902).

First Battle of the Marne First World War battle

The Battle of the Marne was a World War I battle fought from 6–12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German armies in the west. The battle was the culmination of the German advance into France and pursuit of the Allied armies which followed the Battle of the Frontiers in August and had reached the eastern outskirts of Paris. A counter-attack by six French armies and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) along the Marne River forced the Imperial German Army to retreat northwest, leading to the First Battle of the Aisne and the Race to the Sea. The battle was a victory for the Allied Powers but led to four years of trench warfare stalemate on the Western Front.

First Battle of the Aisne

The First Battle of the Aisne was the Allied follow-up offensive against the right wing of the German First Army and the Second Army as they retreated after the First Battle of the Marne earlier in September 1914. The Advance to the Aisne consisted of the Battle of the Marne (7–10 September) and the Battle of the Aisne (12–15 September).

He was appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC) 27th Division in July 1915. [17]

The 27th Division was an infantry division of the British Army raised during the Great War, formed in late 1914 by combining various Regular Army units that had been acting as garrisons about the British Empire. The division spent most of 1915 on the Western Front in France before moving to Salonika where it remained with the British Salonika Army for the duration of the war. In 1916 its commander Hurdis Ravenshaw was captured by an Austrian submarine whilst sailing to England. In 1918 in Salonika the division took part in the Battle of Doiran. It carried out occupation duties in the Caucasus in the post-war before being withdrawn from the region in 1919.


242 6 Milne Henrys Franchet d'Esperey.jpg
Milne (left) with General Franchet d'Espèrey (centre) and General Henrys (right)
173 7 Milne remet la GCMG a Michitch.jpg
General Milne (right) shaking hands with Field Marshal Živojin Mišić (left)
Salonika front 1917

Milne was appointed to command XVI Corps in Salonika in January 1916 with orders to oppose Bulgarian advances on the Macedonian front. [17] When he succeeded Bryan Mahon as Commander-in-Chief of the British Salonika Army, Milne became overall Commander-in-Chief of British Troops in Macedonia on 9 May 1916. [18] As late as 3 June 1916 Milne was ordered by Robertson, now Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), not to participate in any attack on the Bulgars. [6] He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the White Eagle (1st Class, with Swords) by the King of Serbia on 1 July 1916. [19]

The British XVI Corps was a British infantry corps during World War I. During World War II the identity was recreated for deceptive purposes.

Thessaloniki City in Macedonia, Greece

Thessaloniki, also familiarly known as Thessalonica, Salonica or Salonika, is the second-largest city in Greece, with over 1 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area, and the capital of Greek Macedonia, the administrative region of Central Macedonia and the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace. Its nickname is η Συμπρωτεύουσα (Symprotévousa), literally "the co-capital", a reference to its historical status as the Συμβασιλεύουσα (Symvasilévousa) or "co-reigning" city of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, alongside Constantinople.

Bulgaria country in Southeast Europe

Bulgaria, officially the Republic of Bulgaria, is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. The capital and largest city is Sofia; other major cities are Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas. With a territory of 110,994 square kilometres (42,855 sq mi), Bulgaria is Europe's 16th-largest country.

The British Government accepted the need to maintain a presence in Salonika to keep the French happy, but Robertson, who often communicated by secret letters and "R" telegrams to generals in the field, privately told Milne that he did not favour offensive operations. Milne broadly agreed with Robertson that any attempt to attack across the mountains to cut the Nis-Sofia-Constantinople railway was logistically impractical, although he did stress that his forces must either advance or retreat from the malaria-infested Struma Valley and that the Bulgarians might be beaten if pressed hard. [20] On 23 July he was told to “engag(e) the maximum of Bulgar forces” whilst the Romanians mobilised and attacked, followed by secret messages from Robertson that he should “guard against being committed for any serious action” until it was certain that Romania was coming in. [6] With Bulgaria seeming close to collapse in October and November 1916, Milne advised Robertson (5 November) that the Germans would do all they could to keep her in the war. [21]

The 60th (2/2nd London) Division was sent to Salonika in December. [22] Milne was promoted to permanent lieutenant general on 1 January 1917. [23] On 3 January 1917 Milne arrived at the Rome Conference independently of the French General Sarrail. [22] The official French record of the Rome Conference did not even mention Milne as a participant. [24] As a result of the Conference Milne was placed under Sarrail's command, with right of appeal to his own government – who overruled him when he protested against Sarrail's movement of a British brigade outside the British zone. This precedent was much discussed in the next few months when David Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, attempted to place the BEF on the Western Front under General Robert Nivelle. [25]

An allied cemetery at Thessaloniki (Salonika). Graves Zeitenlik 1.jpg
An allied cemetery at Thessaloniki (Salonika).

Milne undertook numerous offensives in support of his French and Serbian Allies with limited resources. His attack at Lake Doiran in spring 1917 cost 5,000 dead and seriously wounded, one quarter of all British casualties throughout the entire Salonika Campaign. Another British attack in the Struma Valley was more successful. [26] His troops were constantly suffering from malaria. [17] Milne was appointed a Grand Officer of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus by the King of Italy on 31 August 1917 [27] and advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 1 January 1918. [28] Although Milne was repulsed again at Lake Doiran in September 1918, French and Serbian units were successful in defeating the Bulgarian Army at the Battle of Dobro Pole which took place that same month. [1] Bulgaria then signed an armistice. [1]


In September 1918, Milne became responsible for the military administration of a vast area around the Black Sea at a time of considerable internal disorder following the Russian Revolution and the start of the Turkish War of Independence. [17] Small British forces had twice occupied Baku on the Caspian, while an entire British division had occupied Batum on the Black Sea, supervising German and Turkish withdrawal. British (including Indian and some Arab) troops were in Persia (partly to protect the oilfields at Abadan) and larger British forces were also deployed in Mesopotamia and Syria. [29]

Milne toured the Caucasus in early 1919 and thought “the country and the inhabitants are equally loathsome” and that British withdrawal “would probably lead to anarchy” but “the world would (not) lose much if the whole of the country cut each other’s throats. They are certainly not worth the life of a single British soldier”. At the end of August 1919 the British withdrew from Baku (the small British naval presence was also withdrawn from the Caspian Sea), leaving only 3 battalions at Batum. Lord Curzon, Foreign Secretary, wanted a British presence in the region, although to Curzon’s fury (he thought it “abuse of authority”) the CIGS Henry Wilson gave Milne permission to withdraw if he deemed it necessary. After a British garrison at Enzeli (on the Persian Caspian coast) was taken prisoner by Bolshevik forces on 19 May 1920, Lloyd George finally insisted on a withdrawal from Batum early in June 1920. Financial retrenchment forced a British withdrawal from Persia in the spring of 1921. [30]

Milne was appointed Grand Cross (First Class) of the Order of the Redeemer by the King of the Hellenes in October 1918, [31] appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George on 1 January 1919, [32] advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George on 3 June 1919 [33] and given the Greek Military Cross in July 1919. [34] He was also awarded the Grand Cross of the French Legion of Honour in August 1919 [35] and made a Knight of Grace of the Venerable Order of Saint John on 9 April 1920. [36] In March 1920 he occupied Constantinople and took over the administration of the City which was collapsing. [1]

Later career and life

Promoted to full general on 26 April 1920, [37] he was appointed Lieutenant of the Tower of London on 15 December 1920 [38] and General Officer Commanding Eastern Command on 1 June 1923. [39] Having been made ADC to the King on 31 July 1923, [40] he became Chief of the Imperial General Staff on 19 February 1926. [41] In that role he supported the publication of the study Mechanised and Armoured Formations (issued in 1929) and generally promoted the mechanization of British land forces although limited practical progress was made during his term in office. [1] Having been advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the New Year Honours 1927, [42] he was promoted to field marshal on 30 January 1928 [43] before retiring in 1933. [44] On 26 January 1933 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Milne, of Salonika and of Rubislaw in the County of Aberdeen. [45]

He was also a Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery from 21 November 1918, [46] Honorary Colonel of the Hampshire Heavy Brigade, RA, from 24 April 1926, [47] Master Gunner, St James's Park from 1929, Constable of The Tower of London from 1933 and Colonel Commandant of the Pioneer Corps from 1940. [44]

During the Second World War he was an Air Raid Warden in Westminster. [44] He also wrote a weekly column for the Sunday Chronicle. [1] He died in London on 23 March 1948. [44]


In 1905, he married Claire Maitland, daughter of Sir John Nisbet Maitland, 5th Baronet; they had a son and a daughter. [5]


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  2. "No. 25514". The London Gazette . 25 September 1885. p. 4517.
  3. Heathcote, Anthony pg 208
  4. "No. 26640". The London Gazette. 5 July 1895. p. 3818.
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  41. "No. 33134". The London Gazette. 19 February 1926. p. 1242.
  42. "No. 33235". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1926. p. 3.
  43. "No. 33362". The London Gazette. 2 March 1928. p. 1494.
  44. 1 2 3 4 Heathcote, Anthony pg 211
  45. "No. 33907". The London Gazette. 31 January 1933. p. 663.
  46. "No. 31113". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 January 1919. p. 438.
  47. "No. 33154". The London Gazette. 23 April 1926. p. 2781.
  48. Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage. 1985.

Further reading

Military offices
New title GOC XVI Corps
January – May 1916
Succeeded by
Charles Briggs
Preceded by
Bryan Mahon
GOC British Salonika Army
Succeeded by
Henry Wilson
Preceded by
Lord Horne
GOC-in-C Eastern Command
Succeeded by
Sir Walter Braithwaite
Preceded by
The Earl of Cavan
Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Lord Horne
Master Gunner,
St. James's Park

Succeeded by
Viscount Alanbrooke
Preceded by
Lord Methuen
Constable of the Tower of London
Succeeded by
Sir Claud William Jacob
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New title Baron Milne
Succeeded by
George Douglass Milne