A clash of military doctrine : Brigadier-General Wilfrid Malleson and the South Africans at Salaita Hill, February 1916

Katz, David Brock (2017)

CITATION: Katz, D. B. 2017. A clash of military doctrine : Brigadier-General Wilfrid Malleson and the South Africans at Salaita Hill, February 1916. Historia, 62(1):9-47, doi:10.17159/2309-8392/2017/v62n1a2.

The original publication is available at http://www.scielo.org.za


Brigadier-General Wilfrid Malleson (1866–1946) received his commission into the Royal Artillery in 1886 and transferred to the Indian Army in 1904. He was relatively inexperienced in combat having served on the staff of Field Marshal Kitchener as part of the British military mission in Afghanistan. Malleson was later transferred to East Africa where the 2nd South African Division fell under his overall command during the catastrophic attack on Salaita Hill. This was the first occasion, since the formation of the Union Defence Force (UDF) in 1912, where a British officer commanded South African troops in battle – with disastrous consequences. There were deep underlying reasons behind the fledgling UDF’s first defeat at the hands of the veteran Germans, commanded by the wily Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck (1870–1964). Malleson’s lack of combat experience was a factor in the defeat, but more importantly, the uninspired plan of attack doomed the UDF to failure.

Brigadier-Generaal Wilfrid Malleson (1966–1946) het in 1886 sy kommissie ontvang in die Koninklike Artillerie, waarna hy in 1904 na die Indiese Leër toe verplaas is. Ten spyte daarvan dat hy deel was van veldmaarskalk Kitchener se staf tydens die Britse militêre missie in Afghanistan, was sy gevegservaring relatief beperk. Malleson is later verplaas na Oos-Afrika waar hy in bevel was van die Suid-Afrikaanse 2de Divisie tydens die katastrofiese aanval op Salaita-heuwel. Dit was die eerste geval, sedert die stigting van die Unieverdedigingsmag (UVM) in 1912, dat ʼn Britse offisier in bevel was van Suid-Afrikaanse troepe tydens ʼn geveg – met rampspoedige gevolge. Daar was diep onderliggende redes vir die UVM se eerste nederlaag teen ervare Duitse troepe onder die bevel van die uitgeslape kolonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck (1870–1964). Hoewel Malleson se gebrek aan gevegservaring ʼn rol gespeel het in die nederlaag, was dit grotendeels die ongeïnspireerde plan vir die aanval wat gelei het tot die UVM se mislukking.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104376
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