Military Wiki
The Viscount Plumer
Gen. Sir Herbert Plumer
Born (1857-03-13)March 13, 1857
Died July 16, 1932(1932-07-16) (aged 75)
Place of birth Kensington, London
Place of death Knightsbridge, London
Buried at Westminster Abbey
Allegiance  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1876 - 1919
Rank Field Marshal
Commands held 4th Brigade
10th Division
7th Division
5th Division
Northern Command
Second Army
British Army of the Rhine
Battles/wars Mahdist War
Second Matabele War
Second Boer War
World War I
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Other work High Commissioner of Palestine

Field Marshal Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE (13 March 1857 – 16 July 1932) was a British Army officer who served in World War I. After commanding V Corps at the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915, he took command of the Second Army in May 1915 and won an overwhelming victory over the German Army at the Battle of Messines in June 1917, started with what was described as the loudest explosion in human history, created by the simultaneous explosion of 19 mines by the Royal Engineer tunnelling companies. He later served as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine and then Governor of Malta before becoming High Commissioner of the British Mandate for Palestine in 1925 and retiring in 1928.

Military career

Born the son of Hall Plumer and Louisa Alice Plumer (née Turnley) and educated at Eton College and Sandhurst, Plumer was commissioned as a lieutenant in the 65th Regiment of Foot on 11 September 1876.[1] He joined his regiment in India and became adjutant of his battalion on 29 April 1879.[2] Promoted to captain on 29 May 1882,[3] he accompanied his battalion to the Sudan in 1884 as part of the Nile Expedition.[4] Plumer was present at the battle of El Teb in February 1884 and the battle of Tamai in March 1884, and was mentioned in Despatches.[5] He spent from 1886 to 1887 attending the Staff College, Camberley, before being appointed Deputy-Assistant Adjutant-General in Jersey on 7 May 1890.[6] He was promoted to major on 22 January 1893 and posted to the 2nd Battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment before being appointed assistant military secretary to the General Officer Commanding Cape Colony in December 1895.[5] He went to Rhodesia in 1896 to disarm the local police force following the Jameson Raid and then later that year returned to South Africa where he commanded the Matabele Relief Force during the Second Matabele War.[5] He became deputy assistant adjutant-general at Aldershot with promotion to brevet lieutenant colonel on 8 May 1897.[7]

In 1899 Plumer returned to Rhodesia where he raised a force of mounted infantry and, having been promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant-colonel on 17 October 1900,[8] he led them at the Siege of Mafeking during the Second Boer War.[5] He was promoted to colonel on 29 November 1900 and was then given command of a mixed force which captured General Christiaan de Wet's wagon train at Hamelfontein in February 1901.[5]

After service in South Africa Plumer was appointed Commander of the 4th Brigade within I Army Corps in 1902 and, having been promoted to major-general on 22 August 1902, he became General Officer Commanding 10th Division within IV Army Corps in December 1903.[9] He became Quartermaster-General to the Forces in February 1904, General Officer Commanding 7th Division in April 1906 and General Officer Commanding 5th Division within Irish Command in May 1907.[9] Promoted to lieutenant-general on 4 November 1908, he went on to be General Officer Commanding-in-Chief for Northern Command in November 1911.[10]

World War I

Following the unexpected death of Sir James Grierson on his arrival in France in 1914, Plumer was considered for command of one of two British Expeditionary Force Corps alongside Douglas Haig: this position eventually went to Horace Smith-Dorrien.[11] Plumer was sent to France in February 1915 and given command of V Corps which he led at the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915.[12] He took command of the Second Army in May 1915 and, having been promoted to full general on 11 June 1915,[13] he won an overwhelming victory over the German Army at the Battle of Messines in June 1917, started with what was described as the loudest explosion in human history, created by the simultaneous explosion of 19 mines by the Royal Engineer tunnelling companies[14] and then advancing 3,000 yards.[11] He won further victories at the battle of the Menin Road Ridge and the battle of Polygon Wood in September 1917 and the battle of Broodseinde in October 1917 advancing another 5,000 yards in the process.[11]

Wartime sketch of General Plumer

In November 1917 Plumer was sent to command British troops in Italy after the disaster at Caporetto.[12] Early in 1918, Plumer was sought by Lloyd George for the position of Chief of the Imperial General Staff as a replacement for William Robertson: he declined the position.[11] Plumer instead commanded Second Army during the final stages of the war, during the German Spring Offensive and the Allied Hundred Days Offensive.[12]

Alessio Ascalesi, the Archbishop of Naples, with Herbert Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer, and Luigi Barlassina, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, on the right, 11 August 1926

Later career

Plumer became General Officer Commanding-in-Chief the British Army of the Rhine in December 1918 and Governor of Malta in May 1919.[15] He was promoted to Field-Marshal on 31 July 1919 and was created Baron Plumer of Messines and of Bilton in 18 October 1919.[16] In October 1925 he became High Commissioner of the British Mandate for Palestine.[17] He resisted Arab pressure to reverse commitments made by the British in the Balfour Declaration and dealt firmly with both the Zionists and the Arab Nationalists.[17] On 24 July 1927 he conducted the inauguration ceremony for the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres in Belgium.[18]

Plumer was created Viscount Plumer for his "long and distinguished public services" on 3 June 1929.[19] He died at his home in Knightsbridge in London on 16 July 1932 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.[17]


In July 1884 Plumer married Annie Constance Goss; they had three daughters and one son.[11]




See also


  1. "No. 24761". 12 September 1879. 
  2. "No. 24777". 31 October 1879. 
  3. "No. 25241". 12 June 1883. 
  4. Heathcote, p. 240
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Heathcote, p. 241
  6. "No. 26052". 20 May 1890. 
  7. "No. 26850". 7 May 1897. 
  8. "No. 27238". 16 October 1900. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Army Commands". Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  10. "No. 28551". 17 November 1911. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 "Herbert Plumer". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Heathcote, p. 242
  13. "No. 29459". 1 February 1916. 
  14. Wolff, p. 88
  15. "No. 31352". 23 May 1919. 
  16. "No. 31610". 21 October 1919. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Heathcote, p. 243
  18. "The Menin Gate Inauguration Ceremony - Sunday 24 July 1927". Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  19. "No. 33501". 31 May 1929. 
  20. "No. 30450". 28 December 1917. 
  21. "No. 27926". 26 June 1906. 
  22. "No. 27306". 19 April 1901. 
  23. "No. 29438". 11 January 1916. 
  24. "No. 30216". 3 August 1917. 
  25. Whitaker's Almanack 1925
  26. "No. 33059". 23 June 1925. 
  27. "No. 30431". 14 December 1917. 
  28. "No. 30568". 8 March 1918. 
  29. "No. 31222". 7 March 1919. 
  30. "No. 31451". 11 July 1919. 
  31. "No. 32201". 18 January 1921. 


  • "Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives". Viscount Plumer. King's College London. 2008. Retrieved 5 July 2012 CITEREFLiddell_Hart_Centre2008. 
  • "War Peers' Titles". Times Newspapers Ltd. 22 October 1919. p. 12. 
  • "King's Birth Honours". Times Newspapers Ltd. 3 June 1929. p. 10. 
  • "Lord Plumer (tribute)". Times Newspapers Ltd. 18 July 1932. p. 13. 
  • "Field-Marshal Lord Plumer: A Great Leader of Men (obituary)". Times Newspapers Ltd. 18 July 1932. p. 17. 
  • Heathcote, Tony (1999). The British Field Marshals 1736–1997. Barnsley (UK): Pen & Sword. ISBN 0-85052-696-5. 
  • Wolff, L. (1958). In Flanders Fields: Passchendaele 1917 (2001 ed.). London: Penguin. ISBN 0-14139-079-4. 

Further reading

  • Harington, General Sir Charles (1935). Plumer of Messines. Murray. 
  • Powell, Geoffrey (1990). Plumer: The Soldier's General: A Biography of Field-Marshal Viscount Plumer of Messines. Pen and Sword Books Ltd. ISBN 0-85052-605-1. 
  • Sykes, Frank W. (1897). With Plumer in Matabeleland: an account of the operations of the Matabeleland Relief Force during the rebellion of 1896. Constable & Co, London. ISBN 0-8371-1640-6. 
  • Yockelson, Mitchell A. (2008). Borrowed Soldiers: Americans under British Command, 1918. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0-8061-3919-7. 

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Ian Hamilton
Quartermaster-General to the Forces
Succeeded by
Sir William Nicholson
Preceded by
Gerald Morton
General Officer Commanding the 7th Division
Succeeded by
Post Disbanded
Preceded by
Henry Grant
General Officer Commanding the 5th Division
Succeeded by
William Campbell
Preceded by
Sir Laurence Oliphant
GOC-in-C Northern Command
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Lawson
Preceded by
New Post
GOC V Corps
February 1915–May 1915
Succeeded by
Edmund Allenby
Preceded by
Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien
Commander, British Second Army
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Rawlinson
Preceded by
New command
Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine
Succeeded by
Sir William Robertson
Government offices
Preceded by
The Lord Methuen
Governor of Malta
1919 – 1924
Succeeded by
Sir Walter Congreve
Preceded by
Sir Herbert Samuel
High Commissioner of Palestine
1925 – 1928
Succeeded by
Sir Harry Luke
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Plumer
1929 – 1932
Succeeded by
Thomas Plumer
Baron Plumer
1919 – 1932

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).