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

Brigadier-General A.J.McCulloch

Born on 14th July 1876, he bore the name of Andrew Jameson, son of a Scottish judge, he, possibly for inheritance purposes, adopted the name McCulloch in 1892. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy, then St Andrews University and finally New College Oxford. Obtaining his BA he became a Barrister of Law, called later to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1905, an unusual start for a soldier.

During the South African War he served as a ranker in the City Imperial Volunteers Mounted Infantry and was awarded the DCM. On August 4th 1900 he was commissioned from the ranks in to the Highland Light Infantry, and was also attached to the 12th Mounted Infantry. This commision was recommended by the Field Marshall, Commander in Chief South Africa. Whist in Africa he saw service in actions at Paardeberg, Driefontein, Johannesburg, Diamond Hill and Wittebergen. As well as the Distinguished Conduct Medal, he was also mentioned in despatches for service in South Africa.

He had married Esme Valentine, the daughter of Colin Mackenzie of the Honourable East India Company's Service in 1905. They had four Sons of whom one,Andrew Christian McCulloch, died serving in the Royal Navy. Another Walter Jameson McCulloch was a Major in the 1st Lothians and Border Yeomanry (1)

In January 1909 he passed the examination into the Staff College Camberley which would have stood him in good stead for advancement, having the converted psc after his name. He was promoted to full Lieutenant on the 16th march of the same year. The Staff college had some good teachers at this time and he would have learnt from the likes of Sir William Robertson, a brilliant trainer of men, who would go to be not only the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) but the only man to rise from Private to Field Marshall in the British Army. Prior to this Sir Henry Wilson commanded and McCulloch would have studied under him initially, Wilson was another accomplished Staff College Commandant.

On July 11th 1911 some time after passing from the staff college he is gazetted a Captain in the  7th (Princess Royal's) Dragoon Guards. It is not unremarkable that an officer attends the college as a leftnant though it was more normal for them to have obtained the rank of captain proir to passing out! It is a rank that McCulloch will hold as his regimental rank until 1920.  Two years later he is seconded to the Cavalry Staff on the 18th November 1913, and then attached to the staff in India as Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, during 1913-1914.

(Picture Courtesey of the Regimental Headquarters Royal Highland Fusiliers, taken from the 1960 edition of the Royal Highland Fusiliers Journal)

At the outbreak of the war McCulloch seems to be attached to the Artillery Staff as Captain but this is followed on the 5th August until the 12th October with temporary Majority and a position as D.A.A.G. This is followed by some service on the Adjutant-General and Quartermaster-Generals staff from the 8th May 1915 as the deputy assistant adjutant and quartermaster general at the war office. On 15th September 1915 he is once again given the rank of Acting Major and command of the 7th battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, a territorial unit. In 1916 he was assigned to the Cavalry Corps staff. McCulloch it seems was not one to stay long in one place!

Following on from here he commanded the 9th battalion Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry from October 1917 until July 1918. Winning in the process a DSO (2) and then a bar for bravery and leadership under fire. On the second occasion he was gassed but stayed in the line leading his battalion for a couple of days.

The citation reads...

'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. At a most critical time he handled his battalion with great skill and gallantry, and blocked the enemy's advance. While making a valuable reconnaissance he was gassed and wounded, but continued his command of the battalion for another two days until the situation was righted. He showed fine leadership and determination'.

He was promoted to command of 64th Brigade on 28th July 1918 A notable action fought was the taking of Grandcourt during 19th -27th August 1918. Once more wounded, he recounts in his own words that he felt it better to be returned to the rear as the wound was limiting his ability to command and would hamper the advance. It was a thigh wound and was bleeding greatly. Some captured Germans returned him to the safety of the British lines. Once at the hospital he asked for news of his brigades attack and was told it had been a great success.

He was awarded another bar to his DSO for...

‘On a pitch dark night he penetrated 4500 yards into the enemy lines, occupied his objective and captured between 300-400 prisoners and two guns, as well as a village. The advance was over the worst country, and the right flank of his brigade was uncovered throughout. Success was entirely due to his magnificent leadership, moving at the head of his brigade'.

Three DSO’s and wounded three times. Andrew McCulloch was certainly no 'Donkey' (3) . After the end of the war in 1919 he returned to service when recovered from his wound to command the 62nd brigade, taking over from George Gater who returned home. During the War he was also awarded the Legion d' Honneur and Coix de Chevalier and mentioned three times in despatches.

His time in charge of 62nd was short lived as he was promoted to chief instructor at the staff college Quetta in India and shortly after this appointment he was finally promoted to Major this time in the 14th Hussars. It is of some note that since his passing of the staff college in 1909/10 he had risen up the command ladder yet was still by 1920 only a Captain, all his other ranks being brevet, temporary or acting! The Gazette shows on the 30-1-1920 that... 14th Hrs (one assumes 14th Hussars).—Capt. & Bt. Lt.-Col. (temp. Brig.-Gen.) A. J. McCulloch, D.S.O., D.C.M., from 7th D. Gds., to be Maj. 31st Jan. 1920. Once again McCulloch changes regiment.  In fact he did not relinquish his temporary Brigadier rank until early 1921.

He returned to England in the middle of 1923, taking up command of the 157th Highland Light Infantry brigade in march 1924. In 1926 he became Brigade commander, having the dubious honour of the short used title of Colonel Commandant (4) of 2nd brigade at Aldershot where he was involved in as the Times puts it ‘Mobility and the new armour’ training exercise, serving under his old Divisional commander again, David Campbell (5) , who had the Aldershot command at this time. He followed up in 1930 as Commandant of the Senior Officers School, Sheerness, the last two years service here saw him also an ADC to the King. Like David Campbell, he was an exceptional horseman and rode and owned the winner of the 1929 Aldershot point to point Steeplechase.

In 1931 he presided over the change of the memorial of 64th brigade on Henin Hill, this had been raised sometime after the battle of Arras in April 1917, and rested near to the British Cojeul Cemetery, started in June of the same year by the 21st division burial officer. The wooden cross was replaced by a stone one and the wooden original was removed to Beverley Minster, and resides there to this day.

He was made a CB in 1934 and took up command of the 52nd Lowland Division, Territorial Army, Scottish Command from 1934-1935, interrupting this to go to Malta with the local rank of Lieutenant-General in command of the troops on the islands, again serving under David Campbell, who was Governor at the time. He returned in 1936 to the 52nd division and commanded for a further two years, being awarded a KBE, in 1937, before retiring on 30th March 1938 with the rank of Major-General. He also served as Colonel of the Highland Light Infantry Regiment from 1936-46.

During the Second World War he served, 1941-44, as Inspector of Oil Protection. Also on 12th March 1941 he gained the position of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.

Major General Sir Andrew Jameson McCulloch, K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., D.C.M., of Gaitgil, Gatehouse of Fleet, died on the 19th April 1960.





1...Lieutenant Andrew Christian McCulloch, DSC was killed whilst serving aboard H.M.S. Laforey., Royal Navy. He was 28 and died on 30 March 1944. He is remembered on the PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL. Major Walter Jameson McCulloch was taken prisioner at St Valery covering the evaquation of the BEF at Dunkirk and spent the war in a POW camp.

2...The citation for the first DSO reads...'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty throughout many days of severe fighting. His courage, energy and unfailing cheerfulness contributed in a most marked manner to the various successful withdrawals of the battalion, and were a magnificent example to his men, whose confidence he gained in the highest degree. Later, in command of a mixed force, his skill and coolness in difficult operations were worthy of the highest praise.'

3...The phrase 'Lions led by Donkeys' coined by Alan Clarke in his book has come to symbolise, wrongly, the Generals of the First World War. The phrase was aledgedly said by Gen. Hoffman, though it is now accepted that Clarke made up the phrase, which somewhat defeats the point Clarke was trying to make. Whilst some Generals were lacking in ability others like McCulloch and Campbell certainly were not, and it is/was unfair of Clarke to tarnish with a wide brush.

4...This was an apparent attempt by the Government/Army to down grade the amount of ‘Generals’ in the army. The title would shortly be replaced by the less cumbersome Brigadier, which remains to this day.

5...Campbell did not sit well with his fellow officers and superiors and only stayed at Aldershot for a year before he was moved on. Whilst a 'proper' soldier, he did have ideas that did not mix well with other senior officers, who it could be said wanted to get back to proper soldiering.