George Francis Milne (1866 - 1948)

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About George Francis Milne

Lieutenant of the Tower of London 1920-23; Chief of Imperial General Staff 1926-33; Field-Marshal 1928; Master Gunner, St James's Park 1929-46; Constable of the Tower of London 1933-38


Field Marshal George Francis Milne, 1st Baron Milne, GCB, GCMG, DSO (5 November 1866 – 23 March 1948), was a British military commander who served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff from 1926 to 1933. He served in the Second Boer War and during World War I he served briefly on the Western Front but went on to spend most of the war playing an important role commanding forces on the Macedonian front. As Chief of the Imperial General Staff he generally promoted the mechanization of British land forces although limited practical progress was made during his term in office.

Army career

Born the son of George Milne and Williamina Milne (née Panton) and educated at MacMillan's School in Aberdeen and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, Milne was commissioned into the Royal Artillery on 16 September 1885. He was initially posted to a battery at Trimulgherry in India and then joined a battery at Aldershot in 1889 before being posted back to India to a battery at Meerut in 1891. Promoted to captain on 4 July 1895, he joined the garrison artillery in Malta and then took part in the Suakin Expedition in 1896. Next he was appointed battery captain at Hilsea and then attended Staff College, Camberley in 1897. He took part in the Nile Expedition in 1898 and served in the Second Boer War earning promotion to major on 1 November 1899, and having been appointed Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General on 18 February 1900, saw further promotion to lieutenant colonel on 1 November 1900. He was mentioned in despatches on 2 April 1901[8] and then awarded the Distinguished Service Order in June 1902.

He was appointed a Deputy-Assistant Quartermaster-General in the intelligence division at Headquarters on 26 January 1903 and then, having been promoted to colonel on 1 November 1905, became a general staff officer at Headquarters 46th North Midland Division in April 1908. He joined the general staff at Headquarters 6th Division in Cork in 1909 and, having been appointed CB in the King's Birthday Honours 1912, became Brigadier-General Royal Artillery for 4th Division at Woolwich on 1 October 1913.

At the outbreak of World War I in July 1914 Milne was commanding the divisional artillery of 4th Division which formed part of the British Expeditionary Force in France. He joined the general staff of III Corps in January 1915 and, having been promoted to major-general on 23 February 1915, was mentioned in despatches for his service during the Second Battle of Ypres.

He was appointed General Officer Commanding the 27th Division in July 1915, and was appointed to command XVI Corps in Salonika in January 1916 with orders to oppose Bulgarian advances on the Macedonian front. As Commander-in-Chief of the British Salonika Army he became Commander-in-Chief of British Troops in Macedonia on 9 May 1916. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the White Eagle (1st Glass, with Swords) by the King of Serbia on 1 July 1916. Promoted to lieutenant general on 1 January 1917, he undertook numerous offensives in support of his French and Serbian Allies with limited resources who were constantly suffering from malaria and was appointed a Grand Officer of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus by the King of Italy on 31 August 1917 and advanced to KCB on 1 January 1918. Although Milne was replused at the Battle of Doiran in September 1918, French and Serbian units were successful in defeating the Bulgarian Army at the Battle of Dobro Pole which took place that same month. Bulgaria then signed an armistice.

In September 1918 Milne became responsible for the military administration of a vast area around the Black Sea at a time of considerable internal disorder following the Russian Revolution and the start of the Turkish War of Independence. He was appointed Grand Cross (First Class) of the Order of the Redeemer by the King of the Hellenes in October 1918, appointed KCMG on 1 January 1919, advanced to GCMG on 3 June 1919 and given the Greek Military Cross in July 1919. He was also awarded the Grand Cross of the French Legion of Honour in August 1919 and made a Knight of Grace of the Venerable Order of Saint John on 9 April 1920. In March 1920 he occupied Constantinople and took over the administration of the City which was collapsing.

Promoted to full general on 26 April 1920, he was appointed Lieutenant of the Tower of London on 15 December 1920 and General Officer Commanding Eastern Command on 1 June 1923. Having been made ADC to the King on 31 July 1923, he became Chief of the Imperial General Staff on 19 February 1926. In that role supported the publication of the study Mechanised and Armoured Formations (issued in 1929) and generally promoted the mechanization of British land forces although limited practical progress was made during his term in office. Having been advanced to GCB in the New Year Honours 1927, he was promoted to field marshal on 30 January 1928 before retiring in 1933. On 28 January 1933 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Milne, of Salonika and of Rubislaw in the County of Aberdeen.

He was also Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery from 21 November 1918, Honorary Colonel of Hampshire Heavy Brigade from 24 April 1926, Master Gunner, St James's Park from 1929, Constable of The Tower of London from 1933 and Colonel Commandant of the Pioneer Corps from 1940.

During World War II he was an Air Raid Warden in Westminster. He also wrote a weekly column for the Sunday Chronicle. He died in London on 23 March 1948.


In 1905 he married Claire Maitland, daughter of Sir John Nisbet Maitland, 5th Baronet; they had a son and a daughter.[

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Field Marshal George Francis Milne, 1st Baron Milne, GCB, GCMG, DSO's Timeline

November 5, 1866
February 10, 1909
Age 42
March 23, 1948
Age 81