Walter Braithwaite

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For the English composer, see Walter Braithwaite (composer).
Sir Walter Pipon Braithwaite
General Walter Braithwaite Gallipoli 1915.jpg
At Gallipoli, 1915
Nickname(s) Braith[1]
Born 11 November 1865
Alne, North Yorkshire
Died 7 September 1945 (aged 79)
Rotherwick
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Rank General
Commands held 62nd Division
IX Corps
XII Corps
Western Command, India
Scottish Command
Eastern Command
Battles/wars Boer War
Battle of Gallipoli
Spring Offensive

General Sir Walter Pipon Braithwaite, GCB (11 November 1865 – 7 September 1945) was a British general during World War I. After being dismissed from his position as Chief of Staff for the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, he received some acclaim as a competent divisional commander on the Western Front. After the war, he was commissioned to produce a report analyzing the performance of British staff officers during the conflict.

Early life[edit]

Braithwaite was born in Alne, the son of the Reverend William Braithwaite and Laura Elizabeth Pipon.[2] He was the youngest of twelve children.[1] He was educated at Victoria College between 1875 and 1880, and at Bedford School between 1880 and 1884.[3][4]

Military career[edit]

Braithwaite studied at the Royal Military Academy, and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Somerset Light Infantry in 1886.[2] In 1895, he married Jessie Ashworth, with whom he had a son, Valentine.[2] He served in the Boer War, seeing action at Ladysmith, Spion Kop, Vaal Krantz and Tugela Heights.[3] He was mentioned in despatches three times.[3] After the war, he returned to England and was posted to Southern Command on the staff of Evelyn Wood.[3] In 1906, Braithwaite was promoted to major, and transferred to The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.[3] He was later promoted to lieutenant-colonel, and served as an instructor at the Staff College, Camberley.[3] In 1909, he was assigned to the staff of Douglas Haig at the War Office, and promoted to colonel.[3] He was subsequently named commandant of the Staff College, Quetta, a position he still held at the outbreak of World War I.[1] At this point, the college was closed, and he was again transferred to the War Office, this time as Director of Staff Duties.[1]

World War I[edit]

In 1915, he was appointed Chief of Staff for the Mediterranean Expedition, commanded by Ian Hamilton.[5] He was regarded by many of the Australians involved in that effort as "arrogant and incompetent".[1] After the failure of the Mediterranean expedition, Braithwaite was recalled to London.[2] He was later assigned to the 62nd Division, which was posted to France in January 1917.[5] Here he experienced considerable success. Although the division struggled to make headway during the Battle of Arras, it proved a solid and reliable unit during the German Spring Offensive the following year.[1] Following success in repelling German advances at Bullecourt and Cambrai, he was given command of IX Corps and later XII Corps.[5]

Post war[edit]

After the war, Braithwaite was commissioned by Haig to produce a report evaluating the performance of British staff officers in all theatres of the conflict.[5] Although the decision-making abilities of many staff officers (including Braithwaite) had been seriously questioned during the war, Braithwaite's report was generally favourable.[5]

He became General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command, India in 1920, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief at Scottish Command in 1923,[6] and then General Officer Commanding-in Chief at Eastern Command in 1926[7] before being appointed Adjutant-General to the Forces in 1927.[7] He retired in 1931.[7]

He served as a commissioner of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission from 1927 to 1931, as Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea from 1931 to 1938, and as King of Arms of the Order of the Bath from 1933 until his death.[2]

He died at his home in Rotherwick on 7 September 1945.

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Alexander Hamilton-Gordon
GOC IX Corps
1918 – 1919
Succeeded by
Post Disbanded
Preceded by
New Post
GOC-in-C, Western Command, India
1920 – 1923
Succeeded by
Sir George Kirkpatrick
Preceded by
Sir Francis Davies
GOC-in-C Scottish Command
1923–1926
Succeeded by
Sir William Peyton
Preceded by
Sir George Milne
GOC-in-C Eastern Command
1926–1927
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Whigham
Preceded by
Sir Robert Whigham
Adjutant General
1927–1931
Succeeded by
Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Neville Lyttelton
Governor, Royal Hospital Chelsea
1931–1938
Succeeded by
Sir Harry Knox
Heraldic offices
Preceded by
Sir William Pakenham
King of Arms of the Order of the Bath
1933 – 1946
Succeeded by
Sir Max Horton