Field Marshal Paul Sanford Methuen, 3rdBaron Methuen is another of the quintet of Field Marshals to be associated with the Old Wellingtonian Lodge.
After Eton and two years in the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, Methuen joined the Scots Fusilier Guards (later renamed the Scots Guards) in 1864.
He saw active service with a number of his future Lodge brethren: at Amoaful in the Second Anglo-Asante War of 1873–4 on the staff of Sir Garnet Wolseley, a fellow Governor and Honorary Member of the Lodge. Promoted Brevet Colonel he was commandant at headquarters in Egypt for three months in 1882, being present at the battle of Teb el Kebir, with Dalgety and Connaught. Methuen served in Sir Charles Warren’s Bechuanaland expedition in 1884, where he commanded Methuen’s Horse, a corps of mounted rifles raised for the expedition, and obtained his first experience of South Africa and the Boers. He was bitterly disappointed when Wolseley did not select him for the Gordon relief expedition. In 1897 he went privately as an observer to the Tirah campaign, with John Forster, one of the Lodge Founders, and he served as press censor at its headquarters.
According to Miller he was favoured by the Queen and Prince of Wales, and he trod a middle path in the Army. He was a member of neither Wolseley’s nor Roberts’ factions, working with both and “preferred the company of other aristocratic officers.” That all three would be Governors of College and members of the Lodge paints an interesting picture of College’s and the Lodge’s status in these years.
It was in South Africa, promoted Lieutenant General, that he was given command in equivocal circumstances, with neither Wolseley nor Lansdowne thinking him capable of “an almost independent command”. His poor handling of troops, first the Naval Brigade at Graspan and then the Highland Brigade at Magersfontein, earned him strong criticism. Censure was avoided by Buller’s refusal to make him the scapegoat and Roberts took him into his command and under him Methuen was restored to some measure of success.
Again in independent command in 1902, his column was attacked by De la Rey’s commando. Methuen, wounded in the thigh, was forced to surrender and the defeat ranked as the heaviest the British had suffered, and he was the only British general captured by the Boers, sealing an unenviable record in the campaign.
Methuen was appointed Colonel of the Scots Guards in May 1904 in succession to the Dule of Connaught & Strathearn, an appointment that gave him great pleasure and one that would be held by the present Duke of Kent. Methuen was promoted General the same month and in June received command of the Fourth Army Corps. He put into practice the lessons of South Africa, advocating mounted infantry in preference to cavalry, and emphasising accurate rifle fire. As a trainer and administrator he contributed to the high standards of the British Expeditionary Force in 1914.
In April 1908 Methuen was appointed General Officer Commanding-in-Chief in South Africa, Governor, Commander-in-Chief of Natal in 1910, and was promoted Field Marshal in June 1911. Methuen became Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Malta in 1915, and Constable of the Tower, an office previously held by Wellington. In late life he continued to dedicate himself to the Household brigade, and died in 1932 at Corsham Court.
S. M. Miller, Lord Methuen and the British army: failure and redemption in South Africa(1999)
J. Gooch, ed., The Boer War: direction, experience and image(2000) ·