HC Deb 19 November 1917 vol 99 cc865-7
The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Lloyd George)

It is with deep regret and sorrow that I have to announce to the House the death of one of the most distinguished soldiers in command of the British Forces in the field. I refer to General Sir Stanley Maude. Sir Stanley Maude passed away yesterday, after a very short illness, at Bagdad. Sir Stanley Maude, after a very distinguished career in subordinate positions in the early period of the War, assumed supreme command in Mesopotamia at a time when our arms were still under the stigma of the failure at Kut, and of the breakdown of our transport organisation. By his power of organisation, his indefatigable energy, and his personal influence he not only overcame all the difficulties which had hitherto paralysed our efforts, but raised to the highest pitch the fighting spirit and enthusiasm of his men. He then led his armies to a series of victories which thwarted the enemy's ambition and safeguarded our position in the East, and in the fighting which led up to the capture of Bagdad, and secured the town after it had fallen into our hands, Sir Stanley Maude displayed qualities of resource, decision, and enterprise which marked him out as a great leader of men and as a commander of the first rank. Now, in the hour of his triumph, he has been stricken down by a fell disease, and the country mourns the loss of one of its most valued sons. I am sure that the House would like to express sympathy with those whom he has left behind him.

May I be permitted before I sit down to utter one word of another who held an inconspicuous position in the Army but who was well known to all Members of this House. I refer to Captain Neil Primrose. The House knew his bright and radiant spirit well. To his intimates he was one of the most lovable men we ever met. He had ability far above the average, and, in spite of the reserve and shyness which held him back, his future was full of hope. He had already rendered distinguished service in the field, and for that service he had been recognised at the suggestion of his commanding officer; and he might well, for he had many offers, have occupied positions where he could have rendered services to the public, positions honourable to him, but positions of personal safety, and the fact that he had been chosen by his constituents to serve in this House would have rendered his acceptance of these positions honourable to himself. He chose deliberately the path of danger. He fell charging at the head of his troops, at the very moment of victory, and Members of the House will, I feel certain, join me in an expression of deepest sympathy with those whom he has left behind to mourn him.


The House, I am sure, will associate themselves with my right hon. Friend in the expressions he has used in regard to these two very great national losses. Of Sir Stanley Maude's death I only heard since I came into the House. Sir Stanley Maude was an officer who had served his country well, and shown his great ability in positions which did not lend themselves to the public knowledge, and he was universally esteemed, respected, and loved by all those who came into contact with him. His opportunity came at last, and no one ever made better and greater use of a great opportunity. He died, almost in the moment of victory, in the service of his country. In regard to the other loss to which my right hon. Friend has referred, and which more particularly affects this House, a more familiar and well-loved face has passed from among us, and I only trust myself to say this, that there are few who can realise better than myself how much of hope and of promise there was for his future, and I am sure that his distinguished father and family will have the heartfelt sympathy of every Member of this House.