21st Division 1914-18...a divisional history

Lt-Colonel George Henry Addison

George Henry was born on the 13th may 1876, son of Lt-Colonel G W Addison, Royal Engineers. He was educated at Wellington and militarily at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich [RMA], as was the normality for aspiring Engineer officers. He graduated on the 1st of October 1895, gaining his full lieutenancy on the 1st October 1898.

He saw a and varied tour of service during the Souith African war. He was involved in the relief of Kimberley, following this up with action in the Orange Free State from February to May 1900 which included the action at the Zand River. He was in the Transvaal during May and June then still in the Transvaal he saw action east of Pretoria from July to 29th November. He then moved to the Cape Colony south of Orange river before once more returning to the Transvaal for a third time from 30th November until September 1901 after which he switched to the Zululand frontier of Natal in September and October, including the defence of Forts Itala and Prospect. Ending his tour of South Africa once more in the Transvaal from November 1901 to 31st May 1902. His service in the Boer War entitled him to the Queens South African medal with three clasps and the Kings South African medal with two claps.

On the 1st of October 1904 he was promoted to Captain and was Instructer RMA from the 3rd August until 1st September of the same year. Addison married Margaret Henderson in 1905 and they were to have a son and daughter. In 1909 he was Officer, Company of Gentleman Cadets RMA from 1st January to 2nd August. Finally succeeding to Company commander RMA. Following this service at Woolwich he became an instructer of the School of Military Engineering at Chatham.

At the outset of hostilities in 1914 he was adjutant Royal Engineers (3rd November), having been promoted to Major on the 30th October. He was awarded the DSO 23rd June 1915 for distinguished services in the field. He was brevet Lt-Colonel 3rd of June 1916 and awarded the 3rd class Order of Anne of Russia with swords in September 1916. On the 16th January 1917 he was appointed Commander Royal Engineers (CRE) of 21st division, holding this post until 19th July 1918. He was assistant to Engineer-in-chief from the 20th July until 14th November. He was awarded the CMG in 1918 for services.

After the war he worked on the Armistice Commission. He was appointed to the War office in 1927 and was given responsibility for dealing with the organisation and administration of the Royal Engineers and Signals. Following this he occupied the position of Chief Engineer at Aldershot whilst a full Colonel he was given a temporary rank of Brigadier. On December 16th 1931 he was promoted to Major-General and on the 24th February 1932 Major-General Addison was appointed to Engineer-in-chief Army headquarters in India, actually taking office on the 9th July.

In March 1936 Major-General Addison CB, CMG, DSO retired leaving behind a distinguished career. He had ably seen to 21st divisions engineering requirements during the battles of 1917 and the trying times of the the German attacks of 1918. The engineering side of war is often neglected, yet remains at the core of all military matters. As such Addison would have been at the centre of all divisional activities, a key component of Campbell's staff.