Edward Fanshawe (British Army officer)

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Edward Fanshawe
Lieut-general Sir Edward Arthur Fanshawe, Kcb Art.IWMART1794.jpg
1917 portrait by Francis Dodd
Born 4 April 1859
Died 13 November 1952
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1878–1923
Rank Lieutenant General
Unit Royal Artillery
Commands held 31st Division
11th (Northern) Division
V Corps
Battles/wars Second Anglo-Afghan War
First World War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Relations Maj-Gen. Sir Robert Fanshawe, Lt-Gen. Sir Hew Dalrymple Fanshawe (brothers)

Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Arthur Fanshawe KCB (4 April 1859 – 13 November 1952) was a British Army general of the First World War, who commanded the 11th (Northern) Division at Gallipoli and the V Corps on the Western Front during the Battle of the Somme, the Third Battle of Ypres, and the 1918 Spring Offensive. He was the second eldest of four brothers Henry Leighton Fanshawe, the eldest, (Edward), Hew, and Robert) and he, together with the last two, all rose to command divisions or corps during the war.

Early career[edit]

Fanshawe was born in 1859, the son of the Reverend Henry Leighton Fanshawe, of Chilworth, Oxfordshire.[1] He attended Winchester College and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, then joined the Royal Artillery in 1878.[2] He was the eldest of three brothers with significant military careers; Hew (b. 1860) joined the cavalry and Robert (b. 1863) joined the infantry, all three rising to command corps or divisions during the First World War.[3][4]

He married Rose Higginson, daughter of Sir James Higginson, in 1893; they had three sons.[5]

He served in the Second Anglo-Afghan War in 1878-80 and the Sudan expedition of 1885, rising steadily through the ranks thereafter; captain in 1886, major in 1896, lieutenant-colonel in 1903, and colonel in 1908.[5] In 1909 he was appointed to command the artillery in one of the regular divisions garrisoned in Ireland;[2] whilst serving there, he was personally commended by the King for saving an artilleryman from being crushed by a cavalry parade in Dublin.[6] In 1913, he was transferred to command the divisional artillery in the Wessex Division of the Territorial Force.[2]

First World War[edit]

At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, Fanshawe remained with the Wessex Division when it mobilised.The division was earmarked for service in India; however, before it sailed, Fanshawe was ordered to the Continent to join the British Expeditionary Force, where he became the Commander, Royal Artillery for 1st Division.[2] He succeeded N. D. Findlay, who had been killed by shellfire on 10 September at the Battle of the Marne.[7] He remained with the division through the winter of 1914-1915.[2]

He was promoted to major-general and recalled home in mid-1915 to command the newly formed 31st Division of the New Army, but was transferred in August to take over the 11th (Northern) Division, which had been sent to Gallipoli in the Mediterranean. He remained with the division through the evacuation of the Dardanelles until, shortly after it arrived in France in July 1916, he was promoted to command V Corps.[2] The corps had previously been commanded by his younger brother Hew, until he had been removed from command as a result of political manoeuvering following the failure of the Actions of St Eloi Craters in late March 1916.[8]

V Corps was holding a position in the Ypres salient at the time Fanshawe took command, but in August it was transferred south, to support the Somme Offensive. In the final phase of the Somme fighting, at the Battle of the Ancre in November, he commanded an attack which captured Beaumont Hamel, one of the initial objectives of the offensive more than three months earlier.[2] He was knighted the following year.[5]

He remained with the corps through 1917, where it fought at the Third Battle of Ypres, and into 1918, where it began the year holding an exposed salient on the boundary between Third and Fifth Armies. It was heavily attacked in Operation Michael, the first phase of the German Spring Offensive of March 1918, and both it and the neighbouring VII Corps were forced to retreat, leaving a gap in the British lines.[2] The responsibility for this was a matter of historical dispute for some decades, but the response at the time was unambiguous; both Fanshawe and the commander of VII Corps, Walter Congreve, were removed from command.[9]

In August 1918 he was appointed to command XXIII Corps, and shortly thereafter transferred to command the garrison on the Firth of Forth, a posting which he held until after the end of the war.[2]


He was formally confirmed in the permanent rank of lieutenant-general in 1919, and retired from the Army in 1923.[5] He then served in the ceremonial position of colonel commandant of the Royal Artillery from 1923 to 1929, and of the Royal Horse Artillery from 1930 to 1934.[10]


  1. ^ Who Was Who gives Edward as the second son; the Times gives him as eldest. This may be an error on one part, or it may indicate an earlier child died in infancy.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Times obituary
  3. ^ "FANSHAWE, Maj.-Gen. Sir Robert", in Who Was Who (Online ed.). London: A & C Black. 2007. 
  4. ^ "FANSHAWE, Lt-Gen. Sir Hew Dalrymple", in Who Was Who (Online ed.). London: A & C Black. 2007. 
  5. ^ a b c d Who Was Who
  6. ^ Article in the Adelaide Advertiser, 19 July 1911
  7. ^ Edmonds (1922), p. 309
  8. ^ Travers (1982), p. 535.
  9. ^ Travers (1987), p. 237.
  10. ^ Dates from the Times obituary. Who Was Who gives 1923-1934 and 1930-1934 for these positions.


  • "FANSHAWE, Lieut.-Gen. Sir Edward Arthur", in Who Was Who (Online ed.). London: A & C Black. 2007. 
  • Obituary in The Times, 19 November 1952, p. 10
  • Edmonds, J. E. (1922). History of the Great War: Military Operations, France and Belgium 1914. Macmillan & Co. 
  • Travers, Tim (1987). The Killing Ground: The British Army, the Western Front, and the Emergence of Modern Warfare. London: Unwin Hyman. 
  • Travers, Tim (1982). "The Hidden Army: Structural Problems in the British Officer Corps, 1900-1918". Journal of Contemporary History. 17 (3). JSTOR 260559. 
Military offices
Preceded by
General Officer Commanding the 31st Division
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Frederick Hammersley
General Officer Commanding the 11th (Northern) Division
August 1915 - July 1916
Succeeded by
Charles Woollcombe
Preceded by
Hew Fanshawe
GOC V Corps
4 July 1916 – 25 April 1918
Succeeded by
Cameron Shute
Preceded by
General Officer Commanding the XXIII Corps
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery
Succeeded by
George Franks
Preceded by
Colonel Commandant of the Royal Horse Artillery
Succeeded by