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
Colonels | Regimental details
Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames | British Empire on Ebay