Military Wiki
Sir Charles Douglas
General Sir Charles W. H. Douglas
Born (1850-07-17)17 July 1850
Died 25 October 1914(1914-10-25) (aged 64)
Place of birth Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
Place of death London
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1869 - 1914
Rank General
Unit 92nd Highlanders
Commands held 2nd Division
Southern Command
Battles/wars Second Anglo-Afghan War
First Boer War
Suakin Expedition
Second Boer War
World War I
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath

General Sir Charles Whittingham Horsley Douglas GCB, ADC (17 July 1850 – 25 October 1914) was a British Army officer who served in the Second Anglo-Afghan War, the First Boer War, the Suakin Expedition, the Second Boer War and World War I. He was Chief of the Imperial General Staff during the first three months of World War I but died from strain and overwork without having any meaningful influence on the outcome of the War.

Military career

Born the son of William Douglas and Caroline Douglas (née Hare) and educated privately,[1] Douglas was commissioned as an ensign in the 92nd Highlanders on 16 December 1869.[2] He was promoted to lieutenant on 28 October 1871[3] and became adjutant of the 92nd Highlanders on 31 December 1876.[4]

Douglas served in the Second Anglo-Afghan War and, having been promoted to Captain on 29 July 1880,[5] participated in the 320 mile march from Kabul to Kandahar in Afghanistan between 9–31 August 1880, under the command of General Frederick Roberts, earning the Kabul to Kandahar Star.[1] He also took part in the Battle of Kandahar on 1 October 1880 and was mentioned in despatches.[6]

He also served in the First Boer War between 1880 and 1881 and was again mentioned in despatches.[1] Promoted to brevet major on 1 March 1881,[7] he became adjutant of his Regiment again on 25 February 1882.[8]

He went on the Suakin Expedition to Sudan in 1884 and became Deputy Assistant-Adjutant and Quartermaster-General on the Staff in Egypt on 6 March 1885.[9]

He then returned to England to become adjutant of 7th Middlesex (London Scottish) Rifle Volunteers on 1 November 1886.[10] Promoted to the substantive rank of major on 28 November 1890,[11] he was appointed brigade major to the 1st Infantry Brigade in 1893.[1]

Promoted to lieutenant colonel on 29 May 1895,[12] he became Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General at Aldershot Command on 1 October 1895[13] and Assistant Adjutant-General at Aldershot Command with the rank of brevet colonel on 28 March 1898.[14] He was made ADC to the Queen on 11 May 1898[15] and given the substantive rank of colonel on 18 May 1898.[16]

He served in the Second Boer War as Assistant Adjutant-General on the Headquarters staff in South Africa from 9 October 1899[17] and then as Chief of Staff to the General Officer Commanding 1st Division.[1] He was promoted to major-general for "distinguished service in the field"[18] and made Commander of the 9th Infantry Brigade on 10 February 1900.[19] Following the Siege of Mafeking, Douglas was appointed Commander of Mafeking and the adjacent district on 28 August 1900.[20]

After returning to England, he became Commander of 1st Infantry Brigade at Aldershot Garrison in 1901 and General Officer Commanding 2nd Division within First Army Corps on 1 April 1902.[21] He became Adjutant-General to the Forces on 12 February 1904.[22] At this time the Esher Committee chaired by Lord Esher was proposing far reaching changes to the structure of the British Army including the creation of a "blue ribbon" elite drawn strictly from the General Staff to the exclusion of Administrative Staff:[23] Douglas strongly opposed this aspect of the proposals.[1]

Having been promoted to lieutenant general on 3 April 1905,[24] he became General Officer Commanding-in-chief at Southern Command on 1 June 1909.[25]

He took part in the funeral procession following the death of King Edward VII in May 1910[26] and, having been promoted to full general on 31 October 1910,[27] became Inspector-General of Home Forces on 5 March 1912.[28] He was also Colonel of the Gordon Highlanders from 25 June 1912.[29]

Douglas replaced Field-Marshal Sir John French as Chief of the Imperial General Staff on 6 April 1914.[30] Douglas served in that role during World War I, which started in July 1914, but did not have any major impact on its conduct during the first three months, leaving strategic control to Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener as War Minister.[1] He became ADC General to the King on 30 June 1914.[31]

Douglas, who had not been in the best of health, died from strain and overwork at his home at Eaton Square in London on 25 October 1914 and was replaced by General Sir James Murray.[1]


In 1887 he married Ida de Courcy (née Gordon); they had no children.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Spiers, Edward (2004). "Sir Charles Whittingham Horsley Douglas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  2. "No. 23565". 14 December 1869. 
  3. "No. 23789". 27 October 1871. 
  4. "No. 24429". 6 March 1877. 
  5. "No. 24876". 24 August 1880. 
  6. "No. 24909". 3 December 1880. 
  7. "No. 24944". 1 March 1881. 
  8. "No. 25075". 24 February 1882. 
  9. "No. 25475". 2 June 1885. 
  10. "No. 25634". 15 October 1886. 
  11. "No. 26113". 9 December 1890. 
  12. "No. 26629". 28 May 1895. 
  13. "No. 26669". 8 October 1895. 
  14. "No. 26954". 5 April 1898. 
  15. "No. 26965". 10 May 1898. 
  16. "No. 26967". 17 May 1898. 
  17. "No. 27126". 13 October 1899. 
  18. "No. 27306". 19 April 1901. 
  19. "No. 27188". 1 May 1900. 
  20. "No. 27282". 8 February 1901. 
  21. "No. 27434". 16 May 1902. 
  22. "No. 27646". 12 February 1904. 
  23. Samuels, Martin. Command or Control – Command, Training and Tactics in the British and German Armies 1888–1918" p. 40. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  24. "No. 27781". 4 April 1905. 
  25. "No. 28256". 1 June 1909. 
  26. "No. 28401". 26 July 1910. 
  27. "No. 28433". 4 November 1910. 
  28. "No. 28587". 5 March 1912. 
  29. "No. 28633". 6 August 1912. 
  30. "No. 28819". 7 April 1914. 
  31. "No. 28845". 30 June 1914. 

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Francis Clery
General Officer Commanding the 2nd Division
Succeeded by
Bruce Hamilton
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Kelly-Kenny
Adjutant-General to the Forces
Succeeded by
Sir Ian Hamilton
Preceded by
Sir Ian Hamilton
GOC-in-C Southern Command
Succeeded by
Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien
Preceded by
Sir John French
Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir James Murray

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