Anley, F G (1864-1936) Brigadier-General
GOC Infantry Brigade CB CMG
RMC Sandhurst Essex Regiment

essex_regimentFrederick Gore Anley was the son of a colonel in the Royal Artillery. He was commissioned in the Essex Regiment on 28 August 1884. He quickly saw active service in the Sudan (1884-5), which became something of a motif in his pre-war career. He was later seconded to the Egyptian Army (1896-9), taking part in the Dongola (1896) and Nile expeditions (1899). He was for a time Governor of Wadi Halfa province in the Sudan (1899). During the South African War he commanded a Mounted Infantry battalion at the relief of Kimberley and at the battle of Paardeberg and was twice mentioned in despatches. From 1904 to 1906 he served with the Macedonian Gendarmerie. Anley thus took full advantage of the varied opportunities offered by the late Victorian and Edwardian army. In February 1912 he assumed command of 2nd Battalion Essex Regiment. He was still in command when the European war broke out.

Anley took his battalion to France as part of 12th Brigade, 4th Division. He commanded it at the battle of Le Cateau (26 August 1914) and during the following retreat. This was an arduous period for battalion commanders and casualty rates were high. Anley perhaps owed his survival to his being promoted to command 12th Brigade on 4 October 1914. He was 50. He remained in command until 4 June 1916, including the battles of the Marne, Aisne, and First and Second Ypres. This made him one of the most experienced brigade commanders in the BEF. The reason for Anley's giving up command of 12th Brigade is unclear. He may simply have been sent home for a rest after a long period of continuous command under combat conditions. But in November 1916 his career took a curious and unpredictable turn when he was appointed Commander Administrative HQ and Training Centre Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch), later the Tank Corps. He held this post until June 1917.

The reason for Anley's appointment to the tank staff is also obscure. His predecessor was the tank pioneer Ernest Swinton. Anley had no experience of tanks and - apparently - little faith in them. His appointment did not go down well with the true believers on the tank staff. The GSO2, Lieutenant-Colonel J F C Fuller, described Anley as ‘a pleasant little man, the problem was in inverse ratio to his size. He may have been a good infantry Brigadier but he knew nothing about tanks. On one occasion I heard him say, "Little Anley is like a small china pot, floating among a lot of big iron ones; little Anley is not going to get cracked"'. (1)

Anley returned to infantry duties in June 1917 as GOC 234th Brigade, 75th Division, which he commanded in the Palestine campaign at the Third Battle of Gaza (27 October-7 November 1917). He fell sick on 19 November 1917. After a period on half pay, he was appointed GOC Newhaven Garrison (April-December 1918) and then GOG No 8 Demobilisation Area (December 1918-March 1919). Brigadier-General Anley retired from the army on 19 October 1919. He was later County Director of the Sussex Branch of the Red Cross.

Dr John Bourne

(1) Jonathan Walker, The Blood Tub. General Gough and the Battle of Bullecourt, 1917 (Staplehurst: Spellmount, 1998), pp. 38-39.

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