Who's Who - Archibald Hunter

"Kitchener's Sword Arm", a recent biography published about Archibald Hunter Archibald Hunter (1856-1936) was, as Commanding Officer at Aldershot, responsible for organising the training of Britain's New Army during the First World War.

Hunter's military reputation was constructed during service in Africa where he worked alongside Kitchener (subsequently Minister of War during the First World War).  Hunter played a part during the first Gordon Relief Expedition of 1884-5 during which he first began to garner the praise and attention of higher officers as well as incurring a notable wound to his left arm, an injury he carried for the rest of his life.

In 1896 Hunter became Britain's youngest Major-General at the age of 40.  He was to achieve full General status by the age of 50.

Hunter also served at Omdurman in 1898 (along with another Great War politician-soldier, Winston Churchill) and most notably during the Boer War of 1899-1902.  Arriving at Natal shortly before war broke out in October 1899 he was appropriated for service at Ladysmith by Sir George White, who valued Hunter's services highly.  Also present in Ladysmith were Britain's two future Western Front Commanders-in-Chief, John French and Douglas Haig.  Hunter, unlike French and Haig, did not make it out of Ladysmith before the siege.

Following the end of the siege of Ladysmith Hunter served during the Relief of Mafeking and during the first (unsuccessful) De Wet hunt in the Brandwater Basin; Hunter was held responsible by some for De Wet's ultimate escape owing to a lack of planning.

Hunter next spent several months hunting down guerrillas in the Orange Free State before being invalided back to England in January 1901.  Aside from a reputation for impulsiveness his stock was otherwise considered high.

Hunter subsequently served in India prior to an appointment as Governor of Gibraltar from 1910-13 after which he accepted an appointment as Colonel of the King's Own Regiment, a post he retained for the next thirteen years.

When war broke out in Europe in August 1914 he was considered too old at 58 for a field appointment in spite of repeated pleas to Kitchener.  He was instead appointed GOC at Aldershot and given responsibility for training Britain's New Army of volunteers.

In 1918 Hunter was elected to Parliament as a Unionist M.P. for Lancaster although he never actually made a speech in Parliament.

He died in June 1936.

A 'Woolly Bear' comprised a German shrapnel shell, which burst with a cloud-like explosion.

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