Sunday, 24 July 2011

A Right Royle Faux Pas

The Herald newspaper published an interesting article by Trevor Royle on their website today about the future of some MoD properties across Scotland and the redeployment of soldiers from Germany to former airbases here.

In the middle of the article Scotland's foremost military historian makes a quite staggering error when he attributes the 1881 Childers army reforms (which we discussed in a blog article on 1st July) to the Edinburgh born politician Richard Haldane.

Haldane's reforms of 1906 -1908 were far reaching but it was Cardwell who first linked the Scottish regiments in the Depot System of 1873 and Childers who amalgamated them in 1881.

After years of writing about the Scottish regiments I would have thought Mr Royle would have known who was responsible for the reforms of 1881.

Even if he couldn't remember, only two minutes on the internet would have saved him from making this embarrassing schoolboy error for a historian.

It just shows you that even the experts don't always know it all, and so we amateurs perhaps can be forgiven our mistakes when we make them.

As luck would have it we have a 'Who's Who' about Richard Haldane scheduled for 30th July, the 155th anniversary of his birth. It will describe the reforms this Scottish politician did actually make to the army.

If you can wait a week you can find out just how important this mild-mannered man was to the defence of our country. Then there will be no excuses for mixing up the War Office reformers!

(Text by Adam Brown)


  1. Whilst I hesitate to proffer a correction to an article which is itself predicated upon a correction, in the interests of accuracy I'll point out that 30th July 2011 will see the 155th, not the 150th, anniversary of RBH's birth. His collaborator in the reforms of 1906/7, Douglas Haig, saw his 150th anniversary on June 19th this year. Although five years apart, both were born in Edinburgh's Charlotte Square, within a few doors of each other.

  2. Whoops! Consider it corrected. I blame Adam!

  3. Yes it was my fault and I fell into the very trap I mentioned of not checking the date of birth and got mixed up with Haig's one which we blogged about last month.

    However I was typing it up on my phone and not getting paid by a national newspaper to get my facts right!

    As George points out Haig and Haldane were born within doors of each other in Edinburgh and worked closely together to reform the army (which amongst other things led to the creation of the Territorial Force in 1908).

    All this will be covered by our Haldane Who's Who.