Sir Herbert Lawrence: new presentation

Lawrence in India 1888-89

A new presentation covering the life and career of Lawrence has been published online. The talk was given in January via Zoom as part of the Western Front Association’s regular webinar series. It can be accessed using the this link:

Herbert Lawrence and Douglas Haig

Haig and Lawrence grandsons

In 1918, Sir Herbert Lawrence worked closely with Sir Douglas Haig as his Chief of Staff. One hundred years on, this photograph was taken in front of Haig’s statue on Whitehall in London. The author is pictured with John Abel Smith (centre), grandson of Lawrence and Lord Astor of Hever (right), grandson of Haig.

Soldier Banker (2012)

General Sir Herbert Lawrence became Chief of Staff in 1918. Many were surprised at this appointment. He had given up his lucrative job as a City banker to rejoin the army at the outbreak of war. This article traces his astonishing rise from retired major to second most important soldier in the army. The team led by Lawrence introduced new ideas and a fresh attitude. He forged a strong partnership with the Commander in Chief, Sir Douglas Haig. This proved crucial in meeting the challenges of a large-scale ‘industrial’ war.

Described as ‘man of outstanding ability both as a soldier and in business’, Lawrence made a significant contribution to Allied victory which has largely been overlooked.

‘Soldier Banker: Lieutenant-General Sir Herbert Lawrence’ was published in The Journal for Army Historical Research in Spring 2012, Volume 90, Number 361.

The drawing of Lawrence shown here is held in the private collection of John and Caroline Abel Smith.

A Lieutenant at Fifteen (2020)

Heads must have turned when a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce Silver Cloud pulled up in front of the War Office on a December morning in 1914.

The young man who stepped out was just over fifteen years old! Dressed in a black silk top hat, Alfred Davis looked older than his teenage years and must have cut an impressive figure. He was there to meet Sir George Arthur, personal secretary of Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War. Alfred wanted to obtain a commission to become an officer. If successful he would become one of the youngest officers in the British army.

This is the remarkable story of Alfred Davis. He survived two major battles and many months of trench warfare. Any lack of experience was more than outweighed by his extraordinary resilience.

How Alfred defied the rules and endured the ordeal of the Western Front is described in this article. ‘A Lieutenant at Fifteen’ published in the journal of the Western Front Association, Stand To No 117 (February 2020).