Lieutenant-General Sir Louis Bols

Accompanying General Allenby to Palestine as his chief of staff in June 1917, Bols showed his profound knowledge of the handling of troops, their limitations, and their skilful use, which enabled him to effect one of the most brilliant feats of the war: the capture of Jerusalem (9 December 1917) and the final defeat of the Turks in Syria. In 1918 he was created KCMG at the hands of the duke of Connaught in Jerusalem, and in the following year he was promoted KCB. He had been twelve times mentioned in dispatches, and besides his two military knighthoods had received many decorations from the allied powers.

Bols attended the peace conference in Paris in 1919 (January–March) and returned to Palestine later that year as chief administrator of the province (still a military appointment). Despite great hopes of what he could achieve, he felt stymied by the Zionist commission, which he described as an administration within the administration. A civil administration led by Herbert Samuel took over from Bols and the military in 1920. However, before transferring power the latter was forced to sign ‘one of the most quoted documents in Zionist history’. This read: ‘Received from Major-General Sir Louis J. Bols K.C.B.—One Palestine, complete’. Samuel described the event in his Memoirs (1945).

In 1920 Bols was appointed to command the 43rd Wessex division and the south-west area, and in 1921 he became colonel of the Devonshire regiment and of the 12th London regiment (the Rangers). Seven years later he was appointed governor and commander-in-chief of Bermuda. As an executive officer he had few equals in the service, and carried out the plans of others when that was his duty with the same enthusiasm and efficiency as he devoted to his own. He was of a kindly and sympathetic disposition, and the possessor of a keen sense of humour, these attributes attracting the admiration and affection of his comrades. Bols died at 8 Upper Church Street, Bath, on 13 September 1930. He was survived by his wife.

Image courtesy of National Portrait Gallery

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by Stephen Luscombe