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Haig’s Tower of Strength: General Sir Edward Bulfin

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Brigadier John Powell

Thursday 10th October 16:40 - 17:40 | Northwood House

Edward Bulfin was an unusual general who rose to high rank in the Great War, in spite of his Irish Catholic birth and close nationalist relations, nor having attended Sandhurst, the Staff College or commanded his regiment.

In his early career, he was protégé of Sir William Butler, a fellow Irishman, during the run-up to the Boer War, where he earned his spurs. In 1914, Haig found him a ‘tower of strength’, helping to save the day at First Ypres. Seriously wounded at the height of the battle, Bulfin, on recovery, was given 28th Division, which he led through Second Ypres and Loos. Unable to get on with General Gough, he was sent home to raise the 60th London Division, taking it to France, Salonika and Egypt where Allenby chose him to command a corps. His success against the Turks at Gaza, Jerusalem and Megiddo justified Allenby’s confidence.

Despite ruthlessly crushing disturbances in post-war Egypt, Bulfin refused Churchill’s order to command the police against his fellow Irishmen in 1920.

This determined fighting general, who played such an active role on the Western Front and in the Palestine campaign, as well as being present at the birth of the modern Middle East, deserves to be better known in Britain as well as Ireland.

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