Who's Who - James Harbord

James Harbord James Guthrie Harbord (1866-1947) served as wartime Chief of Staff to U.S. Commander-in-Chief John Pershing, and led forces in the field for a short period, including at the Second Battle of the Marne.

Harbord joined the 4th Infantry Brigade in 1889 following his inability to gain a place at West Point.  Two years later he was commissioned into the 5th Cavalry Regiment and, in 1895, he successfully graduated from the Infantry and Cavalry School at Fort Leavenworth.

Serving with the 10th Cavalry from 1899 Harbord began his long friendship and working relationship with future AEF Commander-in-Chief John Pershing.

By now a Captain, Harbord was dispatched to the Philippines in 1902 to work with the Philippines Constabulary.  Upon his return to the U.S. in 1914 he was promoted Major prior to his entry to the Army War College, where he remained until America's entry into World War One in April 1917.

Through his long-time friendship with Pershing - who was clear in his admiration of Harbord - Harbord was appointed as American Expeditionary Force (AEF) Chief of Staff in May 1917, where he efficiently helped to organise the successful despatch of U.S. forces to the Western Front.

In May 1918 Harbord relinquished his role as Chief of Staff and was instead handed field command as GOC 4th U.S. Marine Brigade.  In this role he brought the German attack at Belleau Wood to a halt in June 1918.

Less successfully he led the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division (having been promoted to the role) at the Second Battle of the Marne in July 1918, serving alongside the French Tenth Army.  Although he had been assigned his role in the battle at a mere day's notice he was nevertheless subsequently criticised for his apparent willingness to launch infantry attacks without proper artillery support.

In his defence however it has to be said that he experienced great difficulty in pulling together his forces (in poor weather) in time to assist the French at the Marne.  Given this heavy casualties were perhaps not so surprising.

A few days following overall success at the Marne Harbord was given command of the AEF's supply department, perceived as a weak link in the army chain.  He succeeded in transforming its operations into a model of efficiency.  In his new capacity Harbord worked alongside Pershing in arguing for increased supply estimates to Army Chief of Staff Peyton March.

Harbord was promoted Brigadier-General in November 1918 and then reappointed AEF Chief of Staff.  He was promoted again, to Major-General in September 1919 and placed in command of 2nd Infantry Division in the U.S.

With Pershing's appointment as Army Chief of Staff in 1921 Harbord followed him as Deputy Chief of Staff.  He retired the following year, in 1922.  Promoted Lieutenant-General on the retired list in July 1942, James Harbord died in 1947.

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

- Did you know?

Who's Who