Who's Who - Sir Archibald Murray

Archibald Murray Sir Archibald Murray (1860-1945), after a brief spell as Chief of Staff to Sir John French, served in command of British forces in Palestine and the Middle East during World War One.

When war broke out in August 1914 Murray was in possession of a divisional command; this he relinquished when offered the post of Chief of Staff to the newly-installed Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, Sir John French.

The combination of French and Murray was not a happy one; French's irresolution was merely compounded by Murray's nervous disposition (with the latter on one occasion fainting upon receiving bad news from the front).

Furthermore Murray's appointment as Chief of Staff was widely recognised as a compromise solution at best.  The position had been expected to go to Sir Henry Wilson; however in the aftermath of the so-called 'Curragh Mutiny' this was rendered politically infeasible.  Yet Murray's staff consisted of former colleagues of Wilson, with French himself a close friend.  Taken in all the combination was virtually destined to fail, as it did.

Replaced by Sir William Robertson in January 1915, to the relief of all concerned,  Murray was appointed first Deputy and then Chief of the Imperial General Staff in September before again been superseded by Robertson in December 1915.

Handed command of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in January 1916 Murray, to his credit, reorganised British forces in the region preparatory to leading an advance to the east of Sinai.  Serious mistakes however doomed two attempts to capture Gaza in March-April 1917 to failure.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, like many, viewed Murray's inability to seize Gaza as unacceptable; he was consequently relieved by General Sir Edmund Allenby.

Murray saw out the remainder of the war at the head of the army at Aldershot.  Retiring from the army in 1922, he died in 1945.

A "salient" is a battle line that projects into territory nominally held by enemy forces.

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