Who's Who - Sir William Glasgow

Sir Thomas William Glasgow (1876-1955) was an effective and widely regarded Australian divisional commander during World War One.

With a background as a bank clerk Glasgow, born on 6 June 1876 in Maryborough, Queensland the son of an Irish farmer, enlisted with the Wide Bay Regiment, Queensland Mounted Infantry at 19 and served with distinction in the Boer War, where he won the DSO while still a Lieutenant.

Returning from South Africa Glasgow, along with a younger brother, went into business maintaining their father's grocery store; and in April 1904 he was married to Annie Isobel.  Deciding that storekeeping was not perhaps his ideal occupation he retired instead to central Queensland where he bought a cattle ranch.

Glasgow's military career continued in parallel with his various commercial activities.  Having organised the 13th Light Horse Regiment at Gympie in 1903 he was promoted first to Captain in 1906 and then to Major in 1912.

With the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 Glasgow was attached to the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) with the latter rank, serving with the 2nd Light Horse Regiment.

Landing at Gallipoli via Egypt Glasgow earned distinction when leading the Australian assault on Dead Man's Ridge, of which he was one of only 46 to emerge unwounded (out of 200).  The following day he was appointed to the regiment's command with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

The evacuation of Gallipoli brought Glasgow to the Western Front and in March 1916 he was appointed commander of 13th Infantry Brigade, which saw service at Mouquet Farm, Messines and Polygon Wood among others.

Glasgow worked closely with Pompey Elliott at the important Australian counterattack at Villers-Bretonneux on 25 April 1918 which played a significant role in turning back the German's Spring 1918 advance.

In recognition of his successful efforts Glasgow was given command of 1st Australian Division in June 1918, much to Elliott's chagrin (who considered himself better qualified than Glasgow).  1st Division subsequently fought at Amiens, Lihons, Chuignes and at the Hindenburg Line.

Glasgow was a generous and co-operative commander with a formidable personality; he was also blessed with an apparent absence of vanity, a valuable quality in wartime command.

He was also a firm advocate of the death penalty for desertion; and having experienced a higher than average number of desertions in his own division as the war drew to a close he brought charges against each man.

Stubbornly refusing to commute the men's sentences the task finally fell to the long-suffering Talbot Hobbs (who had previously suffered under the somewhat mercurial if brilliant command of Elliott).

In the New Year's honours list of 1919 Glasgow was knighted.  After the war he commanded 4th Division from 1921 and led the Anzac Day parade in Brisbane for 20 years.

Glasgow's post-war career was similarly extensive.  He served as a Nationalist in the Australian Senate from 1919, accepting appointments as Minister for Home and Territories in 1926 and as Minister of Defence between 1927-29.

From October 1929 Glasgow acted as deputy leader of the opposition.  Committed to an anti-inflationary stance he worked extensively to prevent the government's implementation of policies to the contrary.  He nevertheless lost his Senate seat in 1931.

In 1939 Glasgow was appointed his country's first High Commissioner to Canada.  He was one of the Australian attendees at the Quebec Conferences of 1943 and 1944, which brought together U.S. President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Churchill and Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King.

He returned to Australia in 1945 where he resumed his business interests.  Upon his death in Brisbane on 4 July 1955 at the age of 79 he was afforded a state funeral.

A "Brass Hat" was a high ranking officer.

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