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Sir Thomas D’Oyly Snow
5 May 1858(1858-05-05)–30 August 1940 (aged 82)
LtGen Thomas DOly Snow.jpg
Lt-Gen Sir Thomas D’Oyly Snow
Place of birth Newton Valence, Hampshire
Place of death Kensington Gate, London
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1879 - 1920
Rank Lieutenant-General
Commands held British 4th Division
British 27th Division
Battles/wars Zulu War

Mahdist War
World War I:

Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
Mention in Despatches (8)

Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas D’Oyly Snow KCB, KCMG (5 May 1858–30 August 1940) was a British General in the First World War who commanded during some of the major battles of the Western front. He had two nicknames, ‘Slush’ and ‘Snowball’, both plays on 'Snow'.[1]

Contents

Education and early military career

Snow was born on 5 May 1858 at Newton Valence, Hampshire. Snow attended Eton College (1871–1874) and went to St John's College, Cambridge in 1878.[2]

Snow obtained a commission in the 13th Regiment of Foot in 1879,[3] taking part in the Anglo-Zulu War in South Africa the same year.[3] In 1884–1885, having transferred to the Mounted Infantry Regiment of the Camel Corps,[3] Snow fought with them in the Nile Expedition of the Mahdist War at the Battle of Abu Klea[3] and the Battle of El Gubat[3] (Abu Kru) (19 January 1885), where he was severely wounded.

In 1887, he was promoted to captain and studied at the Staff College, Camberley from 1892 to 1893. Snow was promoted in 1895 to Brigade Major at Aldershot[3] and further in 1897 to Major in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.[3]

Snow was Brigade Major for Major-General Gatacre in the Nile campaign of 1898, fighting at the Battle of Atbara[3] and the Siege of Khartoum.[3] He was promoted to a brevet lieutenant-colonel. In April 1899, he became the second-in-command of the 2nd Battalion, The Northamptonshire Regiment,[3] spending time in India. In March 1903, he was promoted to substantive lieutenant-colonel and in June 1903 he was further promoted to colonel and appointed assistant quartermaster-general of the 4th corps (which later became Eastern Command).[3] He stayed there being promoted to assistant adjutant-general (1905),[3] brigadier-general, general staff (1906),[3] and commander 11th Infantry Brigade (October 1909).[3] He was then promoted to major-general in March 1910. Snow became the General Officer Commanding of the 4th Division, Eastern Command in early 1911.[3] In 1912, as commander of the 4th Division, Snow took part in the Army Manoeuvres of 1912, the last major manoeuvres before the First World War, as part of the 'Blue Force' under Sir James Grierson which gained a clear 'victory' over the 'Red Force' of Douglas Haig.

First World War service

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1914

On the outbreak of the First World War, Snow was in command of 4th Division[3] which deployed to France in time to take part in the Battle of Le Cateau. The 4th Division covered the left flank of the 2nd Corps and successfully retired. The diary of General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien recorded:

I learned in the course of the morning that the 4th Division (General Snow, now Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas D'Oyly Snow) had reached Le Cateau from England, and was delighted to hear that the Chief [that is, Sir John French ] had immediately pushed it out to Solesmes, about seven miles north-west of Le Cateau, to cover the retirement of the Cavalry and 3rd Division.

In September, during the First Battle of the Marne, Snow was hospitalised, badly injured with a cracked pelvis, after his horse fell and rolled on him. In November, after partially recovering (he required further treatment for the rest of the war), he took command of British 27th Division.[3]

1915

During Second Battle of Ypres, April 1915, Snow led the 27th division through the first German poison gas attack. His performance resulted in his creation as a KCB.

In June, General Lambton, the British Commander in Chief's Military Secretary, wrote to King George V recommending Generals Julian Byng, Thomas Snow and Edwin Alfred Hervey Alderson, as candidates for command of the proposed Canadian Corps. However, General Alderson was appointed to command the Canadian Corps and, on 15 July, Snow became commander of British VII Corps.[3]

1916

VII Corps, under Snow's leadership, was responsible for the diversionary attack on Gommecourt on 1 July 1916, the First day on the Somme. The pincer attack was carried out by the 46th (North Midland) Division and the 56th (1/1st London) Division. Although the 56th division made good progress, the attack of the 46th division failed.

Following the failed attack, on the 2 July Snow wired GHQ that:

"I regret to have to report that the 46th Division in yesterday’s operations showed a lack of offensive spirit. I can only attribute this to the fact that its Commander, Major-General the Hon. E J Montagu-Stuart-Wortley, is not of an age, neither has he the constitution, to allow him to be as much among his men in the front lines as is necessary to imbue all ranks with confidence and spirit … I therefore recommend that a younger man, and one more physically capable of energy, should be appointed to command the Division."

This resulted in the removal of Major-General Montagu-Stuart-Wortley from command. However, some officers felt the blame for the failure lay with Snow. Major General S E Hollond, tried to persuade General Allenby to dismiss Snow because of the in his view "monstrously bad" planning of the Gommecourt attack.

Snow himself felt happy with his performance, writing in his diary on 4 July regarding the attack on Gommecourt:

"I was quite content with my show … I think if things are kept humming on all fronts like they are now that the war cannot last long. The Boche losses must be colossal and they can't last much longer."

1917

In 1917, Snow served at the Battle of Arras and the Battle of Cambrai. In late 1917, after criticism of his leadership during the German counter attack at Cambrai, and with his lameness worsening, he requested to be relieved. After handing over command of VII Corps, he returned to the UK, being appointed general officer commanding Western Command. He was appointed Lieutenant-General and he also received a KCMG in recognition of his wartime service.

Post-war life

In 1918, Snow became General Officer Commanding-in-Chief for Western Command.[3] He retired from the army in 1920.[3] He was also Colonel of the Suffolk Regiment and from 1919 to 1929 he was Colonel of the Somerset Light Infantry.

He became largely confined to a bath chair and moved from Blandford to Kensington. He devoted much of his time to charitable work and became chairman of the Crippled Boys' Home for Training.

He died at his home in Kensington Gate in London on 30 August 1940, aged 82.

Awards

Family

Snow was the eldest son of Reverend George D'Oyly Snow of Langton Lodge, Blandford Forum and his wife Maria Jane, the daughter of Robert Barlow.

Snow married Charlotte Geraldine, second daughter of Major-General John Talbot Coke of Trusley, Derbyshire on 12 January 1897. They had two sons and two daughters. One of his sons was the schoolmaster and bishop George D'Oyly Snow. He was the grandfather of British broadcasters Peter Snow and Jon Snow and great grandfather of Dan Snow.

References

  1. ^ Generals' Nicknames No33: Thomas D'Oyly Snow ('Slush')
  2. ^ Snow, Thomas D'Oyly in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives

External links

Archival material relating to Thomas D'Oyly Snow listed at the UK National Register of Archives


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