General Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien
GCB GCMG DSO


Smith-Dorrien is one of the most famous members of the Sherwood Foresters. He commanded the regiment in 1899 and was Colonel of the regiment from 1905 until his death in 1930. His fame was due to his being the target of Sir John French's spite during World War 1 and to the fact that he was one of the few survivors of the Battle of Isandlwana during the Zulu War.

He was popular with the soldiers and he was instrumental in bringing welcome reforms to army practice. He made enemies by ignoring bad orders and making sensible decisions on his own initiative. In the Boer War he ignored Colville's order to leave wounded men in an exposed place and made a successful withdrawal. He also disobeyed Sir John French's orders at Ypres and was sacked by him. Before World War 1 he subscribed to the idea that cavalry should be used more in the Mounted Infantry role and began to train cavalrymen to be more proficient marksmen. This angered French and Haig who held a more old-fashioned view of the cavalry.

He did not bear a grudge against French for persecuting him so vindictively. When Sir John French died, Smith-Dorrien was one of the pall-bearers at his funeral. The photo dates around 1895 and shows him in the uniform of a major on the staff, scarlet tunic with blue collar and gold lace, braid and cords.

1858 Born at Haresfoot in Berkhamstead and educated at Harrow
1876 Went to RMA Sandhurst
1878 Commissioned into 95th Foot and sent to South Africa
1879 Battle of Isandlwana. One of 50 survivors.
1882 Egpyt. Appointed Assistant Commissioner of Police.
1882 Raised and commanded corps of Mounted Infantry
1885 At Battle of Gennis. Awarded DSO
1887 Staff College
1897 Tirah, as Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel
1898 Battle of Omdurman. Fashoda Incident.
1899 Promoted to Colonel and given command of Sherwood Foresters in Malta.
1900 Promoted to Major General and given command of 19 Brigade in South Africa.
1901 India. Appointed Adjutant General under Lord Kitchener
1905 Appointed Colonel of The Sherwood Foresters
1907 Posted to Aldershot as GOC
1911 ADC to King George V
1912 GOC Southern Command
1914 Appointed commander of the British Expeditionary Force by Kitchener
1914 Dec 14th. Given command of 2nd Army
1915 Sacked by Sir John French
1916 Sent to German East Africa but catches pneumonia.
1917 Jan 29th Appointed Lieutenant of the Tower of London
1918 July 9th Appointed Governor of Gibraltar
1923 Retires
1926 Played himself in a film: The Battle of Mons
1930 Dies after car accident in Chippenham. Buried in Berkhamstead.


Colonels | Regimental details






by Stephen Luscombe