Alan P. Herbert, Z/159

To be revised


Alan Patrick Herbert was born on 24th September 1890 in Ashtead, Surrey. He was the eldest of Patrick Herbert and Beatrice Selwyn's three sons, his mother died when he was seven years old. Alan enlisted with the RND after the outbreak of war, initially allocated the service number Z/159 he would serve as a sub lieutenant in the Hawke Battalion. On New Year's Eve 1914 Alan married Gwendolyn Harriet Quilter.

Alan was diagnosed as suffering from pyrexia whilst on the Gallipoli Peninsula and was invalided back to England onboard H.S. Caledonia during May. After recovering and reporting back to the Division Alan was appointed Bombing Officer & Trained Scout. He rejoined the Hawke Battalion in early July 1916 and was mentioned in despatches shortly after for his actions during the Dardanelles Campaign. When General Shute inspected the Division prior to the Battle of the Ancre and issued a formal complaint to High Command he particuarly expressed his dislike for the latrines. This prompted Alan to compose the following lines which were to become a favoured song of the British Army for the remainder of the war.
The General inspecting the trenches
exclaimed with a horrified shout,
"I refuse to command a Division
Which leaves its excreta about."
And certain responsible critics
Made haste to reply to his words
Observing that his Staff advisers
Consisted entirely of turds.
But nobody took any notice
No one was prepared to refute,
That the presence of shit was congenial
Compared with the presence of Shute.
For shit may be shot at odd corners
And paper supplied there to suit,
But a shit would be shot without mourners
If somebody shot that shit Shute.
Royal Naval Division .info Alan P. Herbert, Z/159
Alan P. Herbert
Following the battle Alan was promoted to Adjutant and would see further action when the Division returned to the Ancre in early 1917. He was wounded at Gavrelle during the Battle of Arras, receiving a bullet to his posterior in the murderous hail of gunfire that ensued following the capture of the village. This wound resulted in Alan being invalided back to the UK and brought an end to his service on the Western Front. In the September he was discharged from the RND and transferred to HMS President.

After the war Alan became a noted humorist, novelist, playwright and law reform activist. In 1935 he was elected Independent Member of Parliament for Oxford University. During WWII Alan re-enrolled in the Royal Navy and combined his service in patrol boats on the River Thames with his duties as an MP. He was knighted in 1945. In 1950 the parliamentary seat for Oxford University was abolished and Alan stood down. He continued to write up until his death on 11th November 1971.
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