Brigadier General RALPH HAMER HUSEY
Unit Cdg. 25th Inf. Bde. 8th Div. General Staff late London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade)
Awards D S O and Bar, M C, 4 times Mentioned in Despatches, Order of Danilo, 4th Class (Montenegro).
Buried at VENDRESSE BRITISH CEMETERY
Obituary – The Times 8th November 1918
Brigadier-General Ralph H. Husey, who is reported as having died in a German field hospital on May 30 of wounds received in action on May 27, was educated at Marlborough, and, on leaving, spent a year in Germany. On returning home, he joined the Herts Yeomanry as a trooper, and subsequently took a commission in the London Rifle Brigade. He devoted much time to the regiment, being vice-president of the skill-at-arms, and three times leading a team in the Territorial Marathon race, finally, in 1913, winning in “record” time at Stamford Bridge, and against All England at Newport the same year. He also led a team of 60 men in a march to Brighton in 1914, when the distance was accomplished in 14hrs. 23min., which constituted a “record” for troops under service conditions. On the declaration of war he volunteered for foreign service, and proceeded with the regiment to France on November 3, 1914, being gazetted captain before leaving. He was appointed to the command of the battalion in July, 1916, and, after twice acting temporarily as brigadier-general, was given command of an infantry brigade on May 4 last. Except when home wounded or on short leave, he was continuously at the front. He was four times wounded. He was three times mentioned in despatches, and held the 1914 Star. In 1915 he was awarded the M.C. For his services on the Somme in 1916 he received the Order of Danilo of Montenegro. On January last he was given the D.S.O., and received a bar to the D.S.O. in “immediate award” for his conduct at Arras, March 27-28, when the German advance was help up, the account in the Gazette being as follows: “During an enemy attack, when the enemy approached close to his battalion headquarters, he held the forward part of a communication trench with the personnel of his headquarters and a few other men, and largely assisted in breaking up the enemy attack. He used a rifle himself at close range and inflicted many casualties on the enemy. He then conducted an obstinate withdrawal to the next line of defence, where the enemy was finally held up. He set a magnificent example of courage and determination.” He was unmarried.
The History of the London Rifle Brigade 1859-1919 :
Ralph Hamer Husey – Born 25th November 1881 – Eldest son of Charles Hubert Husey. Four year at Marlborough, followed by a year in Germany. On his return he tried the Stock Exchange then went into his father’s office before starting to train as a Chartered Accountant when an opening occurred in his Uncle’s Office; He was about to qualify when war broke out .
So far from looking upon Germany as his spiritual, he came back from that country firmly convinced that the Germans, as a nation, were bent upon removing the British Empire from their path, and that, as war was inevitable, it was his duty to prepare himself to do his share when it came, and to induce others to do the same. Accordingly he joined the Hertfordshire Yeomanry as a trooper in 1901, and, after five years’ service with them, accepted a commission in 1906 as 2nd Lieutenant in the London Rifle Brigade. He was posted to “A” Company and remained with it until he became a Field Officer, rising to Lieutenant in 1909 and Captain in 1912.In August ’14 he was one of the first to volunteer for active service and was so keen to get involved in fighting that he considered changing regiments because of the delays and uncertainties in the LRBs movements, but did remain with it until it moved to France in November.
January ’15 commanding one of the new double companies set up when the Territorials adopted that organisation.
17th April ’15 promoted to 2nd in command of Bn
13th May ’15 (2nd Ypres) Returned to England after he was severely wounded (two shrapnel to his knee) when he went in the open in a characteristic fashion and endeavoured to restore the situation, which had become unsatisfactory owing to the retirement of some men of some other regiments through misunderstanding an order.
4th October ’15 after rest at Tadworth with the 3rd (reserve) Bn, allowed to return to 1st Bn then at Blendecques.
Spent the following months in harassing work in the line and preparing for the attack on Gommecourt (1st July ’16) in which he wasn’t able to take part because of new orders that 2ICs were in future to be sent back to the transport lines. his protests, however, against being sent such a distance back were so vigorous and persistent that eventually a post was found for him as Liaison Officer at Divn. HQ.
3rd August ’16. Slightly wounded in the head while in the trenches but did not interfere with his duties
15th August ’16. Took over command of the Bn. when Lieut. Col. Bates was invalided home.
5th September – 8th October ’16. Directed Bn operations in heavy fighting on the Somme then took it to Laventie, where he was wounded for the third time while moving around the front line on the 17th February 1917 checking that arrangements for a raid that night were complete. Although the top of his finger had been shot away, he insisted on having it merely dressed, and came away from the hospital next day, as his absence would have prevented his second in command from going on leave; but this unselfish neglect ended in his having to go back to hospital on 20th March, where his condition was so serious that he was not allowed to leave until after the Battle of Arras.
Wounded for the fourth time severely in the stomach: at the disastrous attack of 14th August on Polygon Wood and had to return to England again, rejoining 3rd December: though only his iron determination and strong personality can account for any Medical Officer having been persuaded to sign him up as really fit for service by then.
26th December ’17 appointed to the temporary command of 169th Infantry Brigade, as much as an honour to the man, as a compliment to the regiment
January ’18 well-deserved” D.S.O published in the Honours List.
He put the seal on his magnificent work by his conduct of the stubborn defence at Gavrelle against the great German attack on Vimy on 26th March, for which he was given a bar to his D.S.O on the field, the official account being as follows:-
‘ During the enemy attack, when the enemy approached close to his battalion Head-quarters, he held the forward end of a communication trench with the personnel of his head-quarters and a few other men, and largely assisted in breaking up the enemy’s attack. He used a rifle himself at close range and inflicted many casualties to the enemy. He the conducted an obstinate withdrawal to the next line of defence, where the enemy were finally held up. He set a magnificent example of courage and determination.’
20th April ’18 appointed to temporary command of 167th Infantry Brigade
4th May ’18 promoted Brigadier-General to command the 25th Infantry Brigade, which was then stationed on the Aisne, but his gallant career was closed during the fighting there on 27th. The official statement was that in the early hours of that day the Germans attacked on the brigade front, and in a very short time reached the Brigade Head-quarters. When the enemy was only a few yards distant, Brig.-General Husey made his way to the river to order a second line of defence. He also sent Lieut. Rice to organise the line, placing himself at the head of the bridge in order to make sure, before allowing it to be demolished, that all his troops had crossed. A few hours afterwards the enemy crossed the river and captured the village. It was a long time before anything more definite was known. At last information was eventually received that a German orderly had reported that he had been brought into Le Thour unconscious from concussion, and that he died there. As he had always said that he would never be taken prisoner, and had always instilled into his men that their duty was to fight to the last, there can be little doubt that he was stunned with a rifle while living up to his words.
He was mentioned four times in despatches 22nd July, 1915; 4th January, 1917; 24th, December 1917; and 29th December 1918. March 1917 awarded 4th class of the Montenegrin Order of Danilo. (The picture and his details in the “Nominal Roll of officers” give him as having been awarded an M.C. but there is no specific mention of this award)
The chapter concludes with tributes, of which this one from Brig.-Gen E.S. D’E Coke, who commanded 169th Brigade from its formation until the Armistice, is typical: I regard Husey as the finest example of the ‘Born Soldier’ I have ever met. Courageous and cool in emergencies, his men would follow him anywhere. One of his secrets of success was undoubtedly that he never asked more of any man than he was prepared to do himself. His great popularity naturally added to his influence, and I can think of no name in the whole 56th Division which stood higher than did Husey’s.
Elsewhere in the book there is an indication that Husey was not an advocate of an “all work and no play” ethic with a report on a battalion sports meeting held on the 14th July ’17: In the mounted events Lieut.-Col. Husey was second in musical chairs, which Lynch (his horse) thoroughly enjoyed….