When it comes to British generals of World War One, the clichés tumble for th like confetti. We hear of ‘Lions led by Donkeys’, of cowardly ‘Chateau Generals’ and of incompetent fools wasting ‘millions of lives’ by their stupidity. The generals can appear as fixed points in time, as dodder y men in their 50s and 60s. Yet, they were once young and at the forefront of their profession as the ‘coming men’. If one general proves this wrong , it is Sir Ian Hamilton of Gallipoli notoriety.
As a young officer he was with The Gordon Highlanders at the Battle of Majuba Hill on February 27, 1881. A mixed force had climbed the rise, hoping to take the Boers by surprise. They took it, but forgot a basic principle of war and failed to dig in properly. The Boers approached under cover and poured fire into the British positions.