the Hon. Edward James Montagu-Stuart-Wortley 1857-1933
dward James Montagu-Stuart-Wortley was born on 31st July 1857, the second son of Francis Dudley Montagu-Stuart-Wortley, a grandson of the second Baron Wharncliffe. He went to Eton in 1866 and on 13th October 1877 was commissioned into the 60th (Kings Royal Rifle Corps). In 1879 he was Superintendent of Signalling with the Kuram Field Force in the Second Afghan War.
In 1881 he was part of the Natal Field Force in the First Boer War and the following year, having been selected as Military Secretary to Sir Valentine Baker was involved in the Tel-el-Kebir campaign. As ADC to Sir Evelyn Wood he was responsible for getting a certain Capt Kitchener RE a post with the cavalry in Egypt. In 1884-4 he was involved in the Nile Campaign seeing action at Abu Klea and Metemmeh, later becoming Military Attache to Sir H Drummond Wolff's mission to Turkey. Within 24 hours in 1866 he was promoted Captain and then Major.
In 1889 he attended the Staff College, and on graduation spent three years in Malta as Infantry Brigade Major. 1896 saw him back in Egypt where he was second in command of a gun boat flotilla before he was given command of Arab allies in the advance on Khartoum. He was awarded a CMG in 1896 and a DSO in 1897.
Montagu-Stuart-Wortley saw extensive action in South Africa where he was AAG to Sir Redvers Buller and saw action at Colenso, Pieters Hill, Ladysmith during which he commanded the 2/KRRC. On his return to England he was promoted to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel. In 1901 he was made Military Attache to Paris, which post he held for three years being promoted Colonel on his return. Command of the 10th Infantry Brigade followed in 1908 along with the award of a CB.
The summer of 1907 saw a remarkable incident when the Kaiser rented his house, Highcliffe Castle, for the season. Montagu-Stuart-Wortley was then invited to witness the German Army's manoeuvres in Alsace the following year and his interview with the Kaiser was published in the Daily Telegraph in October, 1908. For his pains, he was awarded the Order of the Red Eagle of Prussia.
He remained GOC, 10th Brigade until 1912 and was promoted Major General in 1913 before being given command of the 46th (North Midland) Division (TF) at the beginning of the war. The Division was the first Territorial Division to land complete in France and, as a result, the King asked Montagu-Stuart-Wortley to write to him regularly about their exploits. Both French and Smith-Dorrien agreed that this could happen. These letters continued until, at the Battle of Loos in October 1915, the 46th Division was ordered to attack the Hohenzollern Redoubt and Fosse 8. Montagu-Stuart-Wortley expressed concerns about the plan for this action but the assault had gone in and the Division had suffered 4,000 casualties. The man who ordered this disastrous attack was none other than Gen Sir Douglas Haig, then GOC First Army. Soon after, Haig realised that Montagu-Stuart-Wortley had been writing to the King and, although the letters had stopped without reference to the Hohenzollern Redoubt affair, he was a marked man from then onwards.
Montagu-Stuart-Wortley suffered the ignominy of being the only commander to be sacked after 1st July 1916 and the 46th Division's performance was the only investigated by a Court of Inquiry. Back home he was given command of the 65th Division in Ireland giving up command in March 1918 and being unemployed until he retired in July 1919.
After the war he spent many years trying to clear himself, writing to Churchill and Lloyd George, amongst others, but the stain remained as did his conviction that he had been used as a scapegoat by Haig and others to cover for their own errors.
© Alan MacDonald 2006. All rights reserved. No publication without permission.