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Fitton, H.G., Brig. Gen., 1916

Fitton entry in the Eton College Roll of Honour

Newcastle Journal 25th January 1916

Photo : K Buckland 2009 to 2014

Brigadier General Hugh Gregory Fitton Headstone

Public Notice By Order of Fitton

In Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium, is the Commonwealth War Grave of Brigadier General Hugh Gregory Fitton, Commanding the 101st Infantry Brigade, and Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) who died 20/01/1916.

Hugh Gregory Fitton C.B., D.S.O., was born at Gloucester Crescent, Hyde Park, London, 15th November 1863. A.D.C. to the King, 101st Brigade, 34th Division, younger second son of the late Edward Brown Fitton of Malvern. Barrister and Inspector of Factories, and his wife. Harriett Margaret daughter of George Gregory, of London M.D. They were married 5th October 1910, at St Mary Abbot's, Kensington, May, sixth daughter of Sir Alfred Hickman, Baronet, of Wightwick, Wolverhampton.

He was educated at Eton, where he was elected King's Scholar, 1877-1883, he also played in the winning College Wall Elevens in 1881 and 1882. In 1883 he passed First on the list into the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and was gazetted a 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Berkshire Regiment on the 5th February 1884, and became a qualified interpreter in Arabic.

Hugh served in the Royal Warwickshire and Royal West Kent Regiments, Eastern Sudan, 1885 (Medal with clasp and Khedive's Star). He served in the Sudan, 1885-86, with the Frontier Field Force. Action at Ginniss and attack on Ambigole Wells.

He again saw active service in the Expedition to Dongola, 1890. As DAAG, Infantry Division (wounded). Operations of 7 June (horse killed). He received the Egyptian Medal with two clasps, was mentioned in Despatches [London Gazette, 3 November 1896], and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 17th November 1896]: "Hugh Gregory Fitton, Captain, Berkshire Regiment. In recognition of services during recent operations in the Sudan."

In the Nile Expedition of 1897, he served as a Staff Officer to the GOC, Flying Columns, for the occupation of Berber, and the Atbara River. He was mentioned in Despatches [London Gazette, 26th January 1898], received the 4th Class Medjidie, and a clasp to the Egyptian Medal.

Hugh served in the Sudan Campaign of 1898, as DAAG, was present at the battles of Atbara and Khartoum, and was mentioned in Lord Kitchener's Despatch of April 1898, as having "directed the line of advance with the greatest accuracy", and was mentioned in the Despatch of September 1898, for "good service". He received the Medal and two clasps to the Egyptian Medal, and was given the Brevet of Major 16 November 1898.

In the South African War 1899-1902, Hugh was DAQMG, 7th Division, 3rd Army Corps, and took part in the operations in the Orange Free State, February to May 1900, including operations at Paardeberg, actions at Poplar Grove, Karee Siding, Vet River (5 and 6 May) and Zand River. Operations in the Transvaal in May and June 1900, including actions near Johannesburg and Pretoria. Operations in the Transvaal 30 November 1900 to 31st May 1902. He was mentioned in Despatches [London Gazette, 10th September 1901, and 29th July 1902], was given the Brevet of Lieutenant Colonel 22nd August 1902, and received the Queen's Medal with three clasps and the King's Medal with two clasps.

From 1905-07, he commanded the West Kent Regiment in Hong Kong and Singapore. In 1907 he was appointed ADC to King Edward VII, and in that year he was given the Brevet of Colonel 12th February 1907. In 1910, ADC to King George V.

In 1910 he was AAG Eastern Command; in 1911 was created a CB, and in 1913 became Director of Recruiting and Organization at the War Office. In 1914 he was given the command of the 101st Brigade, and went with it to France in January 1916.

"Bimbashi Fitton had led the four Brigades in the half light to within 200 yds. of the exact position they were to take in action". Hugh had previously, in 1898, guided two night marches, to Firket and to Suarda, the 'Spectator' wrote in May 1898 "Capt. Fitton has made a special study of what we may call desert navigation, and is able to do by scientific observation what the Arabs do by instinct, only he beats the Bedouin at his own business."

From Omdurman he bought, by a special request from his old School, one of the Khalifa's flags, which now hangs in [Eton's] the Drill Hall.

In 1884, he was gazetted to the Royal Berkshire Regiment, then transferred as a Major to the Royal Warwickshire's. Then in 1904 as second in command to the Royal West Kents, succeeding to command of a Battalion of that Regiment in 1905.

He and his wife were involved in the Priory Institute, the Y.M.C.A. and many local relief funds in Tynemouth.

There were various athletic sports promoted for the troops in the district, which also had their hearty support. Both were prominent figures at the athletic meeting held at Preston Avenue, North Shields, on May 26th when Mrs Fitton presented the Officers' Cup to a clever and popular athlete, Lieut, Graham R.G.A., who has since been killed. A few days after this function Brigadier- General Fitton left Tynemouth.

An officer wrote about him "Nothing was too much trouble to him as long as his men were thoroughly trained, and he had their love and respect".

Hugh Gregory Fitton served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders, he had been visiting the front line for about 10 days, by 16th Brigade near Vlamertinghe, to learn about trench warfare when he was shot by a sniper near Ypres, Tuesday night, 18th January 1916, shot through the thighs, and died two days later in the 10th Casualty Clearing Station. Buried south of Poperinghe.

The history of the division records: "On 19th January 1916 the Division suffered its first battle casualty. Brigadier-General Fitton, whilst on a visit of instruction to the 16th Infantry Brigade, near Ypres, in company with the GOC of the Brigade [Brigadier-General C. L. Nicholson] was in the front line at night. Owing to a communication trench having been blown in, the party had to cross a bit of open ground, and the night being bright, they were spotted by a watchful sniper, who got General Fitton through both thighs. Brigadier-General Nicholson and his Brigade-Major, Captain B. Tower were the only ones present and they had a difficult job getting the wounded General who was a very big man, down into the trench, though some stretcher bearers of the K.S.L.I.came to their help." [The 1st Battalion KSLI of the 16th Infantry Brigade was at this time in the front line near Forward Cottage NE of Ypres] Brigadier-General Fitton died of his wounds at 1.20pm the next day at No.10 Casualty Clearing Station, the first man of the 101st Infantry Brigade to be killed in action. He is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinghe, Belgium".

Source : from Bloody Red Tabs: General Officer Casualties of the Great War 1914-1918 by Frank Davies, Graham Maddocks.

He resided then at 42 Albert Court, Prince Consort Road, London S.W Kensington, London, W.5.

TheShields Daily News 24/01/1916 reports:-

GENERAL FITTON KILLED. Late Commander of Tyne Defences. News has been received that Brigadier General Hugh Gregory Fitton, C.B. D.S.O. A.D.C. to the King, who lately commanded the Tyne Defences, died in France on Jan 20th. The announcement has created deep regret in Tynemouth, where the officer recently resided while holding the local command. He succeeded General Baylay when that officer broke down in health, and during his comparatively brief sojourn in Tynemouth both he and Mrs Fitton became well known and attained great popularity. The General was remarkable for his great stature, being 6 feet 6 inches in height, and was therefore a very imposing figure.The late General and Mrs Fitton both took a very great interest in the Priory Institute the Y.M.C.A. the local relief funds, and in other movements in Tynemouth. The various athletic sports promoted for the troops in the district also had their hearty support. Both were prominent figures at the athletic meeting held at Preston Avenue, North Shields, on May 26th when Mrs Fitton presented the Officers' Cup to a clever and popular athlete, Lieut, Graham R.G.A., who has since been killed. A few days after this function Brigadier- General Fitton left Tynemouth. It is reported that his death was caused by a shrapnel shell. Deceased was 52 years of age, and the second son of the late Mr. E.B. Fitton and of Mrs Fitton, of Malvern. He was gazetted Lieutenant in the Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1884, captain in 1893, and brevet major in November 1898. Four years later he was transferred to the Royal Warwicks and in February 1904 to the Royal West Kents, of which regiment he was appointed Lieutenant-colonel in 1906, and he was given the substantive rank of colonel in August 1909, In 1913 he became temporary brigadier-general and in November, 1914, he was appointed to the Staff. General Fitton, who was a graduate of the Staff College, had occupied many important Staff positions. For five years from May 1894, he was employed with the Egyptian Army: in the South African War he was D.A.A.G., and afterwards he was D.A.Q.M.G. to the 7th Division. Third Army Corps. In 1907 he was honoured with the appointment of A.D.C. to King Edward Vll and in 1910 he also became A.D.C. to King George. In recent years he held Recruiting and Organisation positions as the War Office, and in 1914 he was given the command of a brigade.

Newcastle Journal 26/01/1916 carried the same report as above.

Sunderland Echo 30/01/1916, also carried the same report.

Illustrated War DeLuxe

Sources:Eton College Roll of Honour Anglo-Boer War

De Ruvigny Roll of Honour

Anglo Boer War website
The CWGC entry for Brigadier General Fitton

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