Brigadier General F.H.Maynard CB, DSO, MC, ADC Gen

The article in a recent edition of The Sirmooree, ‘Chukors and Pathans’, written by Bruce Jackman’s father about game shooting on the North-West Frontier in 1937, refers to a shoot being laid on for the Divisional Commander, at the request of the Commandant (possibly Tuker) as he was a very keen shot.  However, because there was a complete absence of any game the shoot was abandoned.  My grandfather Brigadier General F.H.Maynard CB, DSO, MC, ADC Gen (to King George VI), was I think the Divisional Commander being referred to.  Not only was he very keen shot but at that time he was in temporary command of both Waziristan district and The Waziristan Division.  In about 1975 Pat Kent, who had served under him in Waziristan, invited him to be guest of honour at the Delhi Day lunch which suggests that there must have been a tie between him and the 2nd Goorkhas.

My grandfather was born in Ottawa in 1882 into an illustrious Canadian dynasty.  On his mother’s side his grandfather was Senator Robert Dickie of Nova Scotia, an eminent lawyer and politician as well as being one of the Canadian Fathers of Confederation.  On his Father’s side of the family his grandfather was Captain Maynard RN, who was High Sheriff of Halifax County and related to The Honourable Lewis Morris Wilkins, one of the signers of the American Declaration of Independence

He entered The Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario in 1898 at the age of 16 and was commissioned into The Indian Staff Corps in 1901.  He proceeded to India and was attached briefly to the 2nd Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.   He then joined his Regiment, the 25th Bombay Rifles, which became 125th Napiers Rifles as part of the reorganisation of the Indian Army under Lord Kitchener.  He then served and trained in India until 1912 when he was posted to Moscow as Military Attaché.  He met his future wife on the boat to Russia. She was on her way to take over as governess of two children from the Imperial Family.  He became fluent in Russian and experienced life in Tsarist Russia just prior to the Revolution.

In 1913 the future Viceroy of India Field Marshall Lord Wavell GCB, GCSI, GCIE, CMG, MC, one of the few Russian ‘experts’ in the British Army, was in Moscow to attend the Russian Autumn Manoeuvres on behalf of The British War Office.  He and my grandfather spent about a week together and became very friendly.  My grandfather then left by train for England via Riga.  Wavell left the same day also to return to England via Warsaw.  In London my grandfather heard that Wavell had been arrested on his train and then released by the Russian Secret Police.  They met in London to talk over the incident because Wavell was puzzled by the event and couldn’t offer any explanation.  It later transpired that the Police had intended to arrest my grandfather as a spy but arrested Wavell instead by mistake.  Apparently the daughter of a Russian General wanted to marry my grandfather and was rejected, so she reported him to the Russian Secret Police as a spy to try and keep him in Russia.

He returned to his Regiment in 1914, who were ordered to France.  He was then on almost continuous active service apart from brief periods attending the Senior Officers School at Belgaum, being Commandant of The Small Arms School,  Pachmari and Inspector of PT in India.  My grandfather’s success and effectiveness in action comes as no surprise given his wide experience of warfare, summarised as follows:

  • October 1914 to July 1915 in action in France as Company Commander and Machine Gun Officer 125th Napier’s Rifles.  On one occasion he spent an unprecedented 30 consecutive days in the front line supporting not only his own regiment but the 4th Battalion The Black Watch, the 4th Battalion The Suffolk Regiment and 57th Wilde’s Rifles at the Battles of Neuve Chapelle and Aubers Ridge.
  • July 1915 to December 1915 in Egypt as Company Commander in defence of the Suez Canal.
  • December 1915 to January 1916 in action in Mesopotamia. Severely injured in attack to relieve the British Garrison in Kut-el-Amara.  Awarded MC and invalided back to UK.
  • 1918-19 in Palestine. Commanded newly-formed 2/30th Punjabis in action as part of 60th Division at the battle of Megiddo.  They broke the Turkish line to allow the Cavalry to pass through on their historic charge which resulted in the capture of Damascus.
  • 1919 commanded 2/30th Punjabis in action in the 3rd Afghan War.
  • 1920 to 1921 commanded 2/30th Punjabis in action in Waziristan as part of The Wana Column.
  • 1924 commanded his Regiment the 5th Battalion 6th Rajputana Rifles (Napiers) and then briefly The Landi Kotal Brigade.
  • 1933 to 1938 commanded Ahmadnagar Brigade on the NW frontier followed immediately by command of the Bannu Brigade/Tocol and the Waziristan Division.

While at Bannu between 1934 and 1938 he he led his brigade successfully in action on the North-West Frontier eight times.  He also commanded the Waziristan Division in action on 3 occasions in August 1934, July 1935 and May 1937.  Among these 11 actions the most famous was a Divisional night advance to contact onto the Sham Plain in pursuit of The Faqir of Ipi in May 1937.  It succeeded in pushing The Faqir back into Afghanistan and became known as a classic of Frontier Warfare.  John Masters describes, with obvious pride, the role of 4GR in this action in the final chapter of “Bugles and a Tiger”. To commemorate it a new service medal was granted to supersede the general service medal 1908.  The ribbon consisted of three colours: red for the sun rising over the Sham Plain, khaki for the colour of the hills and green for the low scrub at the summit of the hills.  For the outstanding leadership he demonstrated during this period he was awarded both the CB and the DSO in 1937. He was also mentioned in dispatches during his career 5 times. I have in my possession a letter from the then Chief of Staff India later Commander in Chief India Field Marshall Sir Claude Auchinleck GCB, GCIE, CSI, DSO, OBE, dated 20/5/1937:

‘My Dear Maynard,

May I offer you my heartiest congratulations on your CB which everyone was glad to see. I would also like to congratulate you very much for your show on May 11/12th. I have had the story in considerable detail from Mayne (General Sir Mosley Mayne GCB,CBE,DSO) who has just got back and I must say it gave me a good thrill.  I am a bit of a night hawk myself as you may know.  Yours was a grand affair which owes its success to your experience and determination.  I wish I had been with you leading the advance as it must have been great fun when dawn broke etc etc.’

He was also a direct contemporary and close friend of Field Marshall Lord Gort VC, GCB, CBE, DSO**, MVO, MC who served in India from 1930 to 1936.  Gort was a great supporter of my grandfather who in late 1938 was arguably one of the most experienced Brigade/Divisional commanders in the British Army having successfully engaged with the enemy 11 times.  The award of both a CB and a DSO in 1937 underlined his ability and effectiveness in action.  Gort wanted him to command a Division in the BEF alongside Montgomery but his promotion to Major General was undermined by a less than “Outstanding” confidential report from a 2nd Gurkha officer, the then GOC Northern Command India, General Sir Kenneth Wigram GCB, GCSI, CBE, DSO.  Wigram eventually admitted to Gort that he was wrong in his judgment of my grandfather but by that time it was too late.

He retired from the Army in December 1938 but was almost immediately given a commission as an Honorary Lieutenant in the RAF Volunteer Reserve under The Kingsley Wood scheme.  He ran the centre that was responsible for arranging and organising the theoretical training of young men who had signed up to fly for the RAF.  It was a great success and many of the young men involved went on to fight in the Battle of Britain.  The centre was closed when the pilots were mobilised so he applied for a commission in the RAF.  He was appointed to Cranwell as acting Pilot Officer on probation.  In three weeks he was promoted to Wing Commander and served in a number of administrative jobs for the duration of the war.

My grandfather died in at the age of 99 in 1981. As I write this article I am looking at the bloodstained Tocol Banner and The Tocol Bugle which I inherited from him.  Also his Rosary which he always carried in battle.  A convert to Roman Catholicism his rock like faith sustained him particularly in enduring the horrors of trench warfare.  They are potent reminders of a man who I had the great good fortune to know, respect and love for nearly 40 years.