Archibald James Murray Edit Profile
Murray passed the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and in 1879 was gazetted to the Twenty-seventh Regiment.
He served in Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Cape Colony (Zulu campaign 1888 as captain), before returning to attend the Staff College in 1897; his fellow students included the future field marshals William Robertson, Douglas Haig, and Edmund Allenby (qq.v.). Murray was dispatched to Natal in 1899 and to India two years later. Next came staff appointments at Aldershot and at the War Office, promotion to major general in 1910, and two years later appointment as inspector of infantry. His outlook was conventional and nar¬row; his personality was regarded as chill and reserved.
In August 1914, Murray surrendered command of the Second Division in order to accompany Sir John French and the British Expeditionary Force to France as chief of staff. He took part in the retreat from Mons, the battle of Le Cateau, and the retreat on Paris. During these critical days, Murray was seemingly immobilized by the frequent absence of General French from the front. Early in September Murray led his forces to advance from the River Marne, and in October supervised the transfer of the British to Flanders. The heavy losses suffered in the First Battle of Ypres stunned him, and French claims in his book 1914 that his chief of staff was a sick man at the end of that year. It was widely known at the time that Murray had fainted at an inn in St. Quentin on August 26, the day of the battle of Le Cateau. In any case, the French, irritated at what they considered his obstructionism, applied pressure on General French who yielded, sending his staff chief home in 1915 to be replaced by General Robertson.
The secretary of state for war, Lord H. H. Kitchener, in February 1915 appointed Murray deputy chief of the Imperial General Staff and in September permanent chief with responsibility for training the New Army then being recruited. However, in the general reorganization of December 1915, Haig replaced French as British commander in chief in France and Murray was offered the command in Egypt and replaced as chief of the Imperial General Staff by Wully Robertson.
Murray's tenure in Egypt was not to be a productive one. Nine of the fourteen divisions stationed there were sent to France before the opening of the Somme offensive; it is a small wonder that with the remaining forces he managed to defeat the Turks at Romani, Magdhaba, and Rafa in the autumn of 1916. Unfortunately, Murray proved overanxious and his thrust into Palestine early in 1917, after the fall of Baghdad, was ill planned. Abandoning the previous policy of merely guarding the Suez Canal, on March 26 he attacked Gaza and nearly took the town; however, a premature victory dispatch to London trapped him into making a second attempt to take the gateway to Palestine, and though launched in a grand manner with tanks and gas, it, too, failed by April 19. Murray had pressed the attack despite feeling understaffed by two divisions, and it cost him his command. On June 29, 1917, General Allenby succeeded him and six months later entered Jerusalem.
Coming home, Murray was given the Aldershot Command to November 1919, having been promoted general in August of that year. He retired from the army in 1922 and died at Makepeace, Reigate, on January 23, 1945.
Club : Junior United Service.
In 1890 he married Caroline Helen Sweet (daughter of late Lt.-Col. Henry Baker Sweet, of Hillersdon, Tiverton); they had one son. Following the death of his first wife he married Mildred Georgina Dooner in 1912.