Solly Flood 1925The first publication of the South Lancashire Regimental Chronicle (SLRC) in July 1925 contains a photograph and short summary about their Colonel who performed in number of significant roles during the Great War.

Major General A Solly Flood was appointed to the South Lancashire Regiment in 1891, becoming Adjutant of the 1st Battalion in 1895. On promotion to Major he was transferred to the 4th Dragoon Guards being promoted Lieut. Colonel in November, 1914. He became Brevet Colonel in January, 1917, and was promoted to his present rank in June, 1919, having served as (Temp) Major General for two years during the war.

He saw service in South Africa during the war of 1899-1902 and for distinguished service in that campaign was awarded the DSO.

The opening months of the Great War saw him in command of his Squadron of the 4th Dragoon Guards in France, and later in the year he commanded that Regiment until promoted Brigade Commander of the 35th Infantry Brigade, early in 1915. In 1917, after nine months as Brigadier General on the General Staff at General Headquarters, British Armies in France, he was given command of the 42nd Infantry Division, which command he retained until March 1919, when he took over command of the 3rd Brigade, Lancashire Division, British Armies of the Rhine.

He was wounded in France, was mentioned in Despatches seven times, awarded Brevets of Lt Colonel and Colonel, and was decorated with both the CB and CMG for distinguished service. In addition he was awarded the following foreign orders: The Belgian Order of the Crown, the Belgian War Cross, and the French War Cross.

At present he is Divisional Commander of the 42nd (The East Lancashire) Division T.A., his old division.

He became Colonel of the Regiment on May 1st, 1921, in succession to Major General S. H. Sartorius, V.C., C.B. (since deceased).

In 1927 he was appointed Deputy Adjutant-General, Army Headquarters, India and from 1927 to 1931 (when he retired) was Major General of cavalry in India and Commandant of the School of Equitation.

He was born 28 January 1871 (son of Maj-Gen Sir F R Solly Flood) and he died on 14 November 1940.

It was an article in the WFA's eNews in July which sparked my interest in him and resulted in this item (initially published in the WFA Lancashire North's Despatch). The article was entitled "Haig and the Implementation of Tactical Doctrine on the Western Front" by Dr Christopher Pugsley of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. In it Pugsley describes how Haig assessed the calibre of commanders at every level, was central to tactical doctrine and how Haig's GHQ took a leading role in the dissemination of information. This was given special impetus with the appointment of Brigadier General Arthur Solly Flood to command the new Training Directorate of GHQ on 30 January 1917.

On reading the article I recalled from my digitisation of the Regimental journals at the Lancashire Infantry Museum in Preston the many references to Solly Flood in the SLRCs. A Google search revealed that Alistair Geddes had given a presentation in 2009 to the Yorkshire branch of the WFA about him and the presentation had been usefully summarised by Peter Palmer and posted on the WFA's website.

From Palmer's summary I learned that in late 1916 he was appointed acting Commander of Third Army School and went, along with a party of British officers, to investigate French methods at their Fourth Army training school at Chalons in November 1916. On his return he worked with the French approach to develop SS143, 'Instructions for the Training of Platoons for Offensive Action', the most important tactical manual for the BEF of the whole war. On 30 January 1917 Haig appointed Solly-Flood to command the new Training Directorate at GHQ. In addition to codifying the BEF's tactical doctrine, Solly-Flood unified the training which had been carried out by the separate army schools, abolished the divisional training schools and put the newly emerging Corps schools on a sound footing.

According to Geddes (and Palmer) when Solly Flood moved to command 42nd Division in October 1917 his "contribution to training was consigned to a dusty corner; his name was forgotten and he was lost in the shadow of Ivor Maxse. The contrary should be the case: he should be remembered as the man who preceded Maxse in authorising SS143, unifying the BEF's schools system and promulgating good practice with the excellent training manuals he was responsible for.

For convenience of readers copies of the articles by Dr Christopher Pugsley and Peter Palmer have been placed as links above. In both articles Arthur Solly Flood is wrongly indicated to have been created a Knight*.

Article and image contributed by Terry Dean, WFA North Lancashire "Despatch" Editor.

 

* For which fault only the Editor can be considered culpable, not the contributors. In mitigation, we have all been confused by Major-General Sir Frederick Richard Solly-Flood KCB (1829 – 1909), a British Army officer who became Commandant of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.

 

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