Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas D'Oyly Snow KCB KCMG


Thomas was the eldest son of the Rev George D'Oyly Snow, born on 5 May 1858 at Newton Valence, Hants. He was educated at Eton and St John's College, Cambridge. He was commissioned into the 13th Light Infantry in 1879 in time for the Zulu War. He took part in the Nile Expedition as part of the Mounted Infantry Regiment of the Camel Corps. He was at Abu Klea and the battle of El Gubat in Jan 1885. In 1897 he was a major in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and appointed brigade major in the 1898 Sudan campaign, being present at Atbara and Khartoum.

He reached the rank of major-general in March 1910 and took part in the last major peacetime army manoeuvres before WW1. Years before the war, as a staff officer, he had written Eastern Command's Defence scheme in the event of war. When the war started he was in command of the 4th Division deployed for home defence on the east coast. He found that no-one had read his report and as result the defences were in chaos. His division was sent to the front in late August 1914 in time for the battle of Le Cateau. But the BEF was in retreat. In September he suffered a serious hip injury in the Battle of the Marne when his horse fell and rolled on him. He was not fully recovered when he was given command of the 27th Division. In the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915, the division was subjected to the first German gas attack. In September of that year Snow was given command of VII Corps.

Snow's best known battle was at Gommecourt. This was a diversionary attack to allow the Somme offensive more of an element of surprise on 1 July 1916. Snow knew it was doomed to failure but was overruled by Haig and he sent in the 46th and 56th Divisions who fell victim to German artillery placed behind Gommecourt wood. In 1917 his Corps were at Cambrai where Snow was described as a safe pair of hands but his hip injury was causing him pain and he showed signs of old age. He was nearly 60 years old when he was replaced in Jan 1918. He was promoted to Lieutenant-General and appointed KCMG. He retired from the army in 1920 but retained his colonelcy of the Somerset Light Infantry to which he had been appointed in Aug 1919. He gave that up at the end of June 1929. He had also been Colonel of the Suffolk Regiment from 3 Oct 1918 until 31 July 1919. He relied on a bath chair in later life and moved from Blandford to Kensington where he died on 30 Aug 1940 aged 82. He is buried at Brookwood in Surrey.

Thomas D'Oyly Snow was married on 12 Jan 1897 to Charlotte Geraldine Coke, daughter of Major-General John Talbot Coke of the KOSB, and a descendant of the Earls of Desmond. They had a son who was Brigadier John FitzGerald Snow, father of Peter Snow the TV presenter and historian. Another son was George D'Oyly Snow, Headmaster, and Bishop of Whitby, he was father of Jon Snow famous for presenting Channel 4 News for many years.


Regimental Details | Colonels




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by Stephen Luscombe