Frederick McCracken

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Frederick McCracken
Frederick william nicholas mccracken.png
Sir Frederick McCracken, 6 July 1915
Born (1859-08-18)18 August 1859
Kent, England
Died 8 August 1949(1949-08-08) (aged 89)
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1879–1922
Rank Lieutenant-General
Unit Royal Berkshire Regiment
Commands held 7th Infantry Brigade
15th (Scottish) Division
XIII Corps
Scottish Command
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order

Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick William Nicholas McCracken, KCB, DSO, (18 August 1859 – 8 August 1949) was a British Army officer who saw regimental service in Africa during the late nineteenth century, and later held senior command during the First World War. He commanded an infantry brigade in the British Expeditionary Force of 1914, was appointed to command 15th (Scottish) Division in the New Armies from 1915 to 1917, and then briefly commanded XIII Corps on the Western Front before being posted to a home command in the United Kingdom.

Early career[edit]

Born in 1859, the youngest son of R. de Crez McCracken of Kent, he studied at Sandhurst and then took a commission as a second lieutenant in the 49th Regiment of Foot in 1879. He was promoted to lieutenant the following year, and served in the Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882 with his regiment, which had since become the 1st Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. After Egypt he was appointed the battalion adjutant, and promoted to Captain in 1884. He saw service during the Mahdist War in 1885, at Tofrek, where he was mentioned in despatches and given a brevet promotion to Major. Serving on the Egyptian frontier later in the year, he saw action at the Battle of Ginnis.[1]

He married Ann Liston Glover in 1887; the couple would have a son and two daughters before Ann's death in 1923.[2]

In April 1892 he was seconded to the staff and appointed Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General[3] in Barbados.[2] He received a full promotion to Major in 1897,[1] and when his term on the staff expired in April that year he returned to his regiment.[4]

At the outbreak of the Second Boer War, he fought in South Africa with the 1st Berkshires through 1900, and in 1901 took command of the 2nd Berkshires. In 1902, he commanded a garrison force of several battalions.[2] For his services in the war, he was again mentioned in despatches and given a brevet-promotion to lieutenant-colonel. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, as well as the Queen's medal with three clasps, and the King's medal with two.[1]

First World War[edit]

"Until after dark Brigadier-General McCracken maintained his stand under severe gun and rifle fire, and did not retire until the rear of the column was in safety. He then withdrew skilfully and with comparatively few casualties. I consider that his ready and daring handling of the rear-guard averted a mishap which might have been a disaster. I am glad to be able to bring his action to your notice, as I think it deserves recognition."

— Major-General Edmund Allenby writing to General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, 1 November 1914.[5]

After the Boer War, McCracken received a full promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1903, then a brevet promotion to Colonel in 1905. He commanded a battalion of his regiment until 1907, when he was placed on half-pay.[6] He held staff postings in India until 1911, when he was made a brigadier-general on the staff at Irish Command.[2] In 1912 he was given command of 7th Infantry Brigade, with the temporary rank of Brigadier-General, a position he was holding on the outbreak of the First World War.[1]

He commanded the 7th Brigade when it was sent to France in 1914 as part of 3rd Division.[7] At the Battle of Le Cateau in August, McCracken was briefly disabled by an artillery shell on the 26th and was relieved by Colonel W. D. Bird, one of his battalion commanders.[8] The 7th Brigade covered the retreat of II Corps, and after a personal recommendation to the corps commander by Edmund Allenby, who was commanding the Cavalry Division, McCracken was promoted to Major-General in October,[5] and appointed Inspector of Infantry.[9]

In 1915 he took command of 15th (Scottish) Division,[2] a New Army division, and led it through the Battle of Loos, the Battle of the Somme, and the Battle of Arras. Whilst he had been praised for his resilience in command of 7th Brigade, reports on his command of 15th Division were less favourable, with one observer describing him as "weak and lazy". These failings did not stop him being promoted to command XIII Corps in June 1917.[10] He remained with the corps until March 1918, when he was sacked and sent home to take over Scottish Command.[11]

During the war, he was mentioned in despatches a further seven times, and made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. He retired from the Army in 1922, and died in 1949, a few days before his ninetieth birthday.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Who Was Who.
  2. ^ a b c d e Obituary in The Times.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 25229. p. 2497. 17 May 1892. Retrieved 2 February 2010.; The London Gazette: no. 26295. p. 3352. 7 June 1892. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26841. p. 2078. 13 April 1897. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  5. ^ a b Chapter 24, Memoirs of Forty-Eight Years Service, General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, 1923. Digitised copy.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28018. p. 2994. 3 May 1907. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  7. ^ Edmonds, p. 419
  8. ^ Edmonds, p. 172
  9. ^ McCracken, Frederick; Survey of the Papers of Senior UK Defence Personnel, 1900-1975.
  10. ^ Robbins, p.65
  11. ^ Robbins, pp. 65-6; Who Was Who


Military offices
Preceded by
15th (Scottish) Division
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Sir Walter Congreve
XIII Corps
Succeeded by
Sir Beauvoir de Lisle
Preceded by
Sir Spencer Ewart
GOC-in-C Scottish Command
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Davies