Who's Who - Alexander Hamilton Gordon

Sir Alexander Hamilton Gordon (1859-1939), known as 'Merry and Bright' and 'Sunny Jim' on account of his customarily melancholy demeanour, served as commander of IX Corps from 1916 until his dismissal at the hands of Sir Henry Rawlinson in 1918.

Hamilton Gordon served as a staff officer at the War Office in London between 1904-08 at a time when Douglas Haig served as Director of Operations.  Haig, who could be (and generally was) severe in his judgement of the commanders who served underneath him nevertheless formed a high opinion of Hamilton Gordon's abilities.

Haig's view of Hamilton Gordon was in stark contrast to his contemporaries, including Bulfin and Rawlinson, with the former terming Haig's eventual wartime appointment of Hamilton Gordon to GOC of IX Corps as "a joke".  Since Haig's assessments of others' strengths were by no means always reliable it seems likely that Hamilton Gordon's detractors may have been correct given his subsequent wartime career.

Given IX Corps by Haig in June 1916, immediately prior to the Somme Offensive, Hamilton Gordon saw success the following year during Sir Herbert Plumer's sweepingly successful conduct of the Battle of Messines.  Alas for Hamilton Gordon IX Corps subsequently lost the ground gained at Messines during the great German Spring offensive in April 1918.

However it was the events of the following month which finally undid Hamilton Gordon's career.  In spite of numerous representations made by his subordinate officers to warn of German movement on the Aisne, and despite his own personal visits to the front, he failed to adequately prepare - along with French General Duchene, to whom Hamilton Gordon invariably deferred - Allied lines for the German Aisne Offensive which was unleashed on 27 May 1918.

Duchene's career did not survive the Aisne Offensive, summarily dismissed by French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau on 9 June.  Hamilton Gordon was more fortunate, lingering on until September when Rawlinson removed him from command prior to his successful attack on the Hindenburg line.

Sir Alexander Hamilton Gordon died in 1939.

"Bully Beef" comprised cans of boiled or pickled beef used by the British Army.

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