Archibald Berkeley Milne was born in 1855 the son of the highly regarded Admiral Sir Alexander Milne.
As a young lieutenant attached to the HMS Active Milne served as naval aide-de-camp to Lord Chelmsford during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.
The morning of the disaster at Isandlwana, Milne left the ill-fated camp with Chelmsford's advance column and it was he who climbed to the top of
a tree to observe the events at the camp with his telescope when the first reports of a Zulu attack began to trickle in. He reported that the draught
oxen appeared to have been moved into the camp but that all else looked normal. The "oxen" were in actuality the mass of Zulu warriors who by
that time had overwhelmed the camp and its garrison.
He continued on as Chelmsford's ADC until the end of the war and was present at the final battle at Ulundi where he was slightly wounded. He
received the South Africa Medal with the “1879” clasp.
While still a lieutenant and assigned to the HMS Penelope Milne was present at the bombardment of Alexandria and was entitled to the Egypt
Medal with the “Alexandria” clasp as well as the bronze Khedive’s Star.
Known affectionately as 'Arky-Barky' by Queen Alexandra, Milne had no wartime command experience prior to the outbreak of the Great War in
August 1914, having spent ten years in royal yachts (two as commander). Having once said "They don't pay me to think, they pay me to be an
Admiral", Milne was appointed to command of naval forces in the Mediterranean in November 1912, having risen from Rear-Admiral in 1904 to
full Admiral in 1911. He was created a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) in 1904 and in 1909, he was further honored with
investiture as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB). In 1905 he was made a Commander of the French Legion of Honour.
Contemporary opinion of Milne was, on the whole, unfavorable. Admiral John Fisher, the formidable former (and soon to return) First Sea Lord,
regarded Milne with contempt, attributing (correctly) his successful naval career to be based upon royal favoritism.
In the days immediately prior to the start of war in August 1914 Milne was instructed to monitor the whereabouts of two German warships in the
region commanded by Admiral Wilhelm Souchon, the cruisers SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau.
Milne reported seeing the cruisers on 4 August, a mere matter of hours prior to the expiration of the British ultimatum to Germany at midnight.
Instead of taking action on his own account he permitted the two cruisers to escape to the Dardanelles - with significant consequences for Turkey's
subsequent decision to enter the war against the Allied powers.
Milne's failure to stop the Goeben and Breslau caused a furor in the British press and Milne was vilified. Although exonerated of any blame by the
Admiralty in London (well aware of their own failure in the matter), Milne was never again given an active command. Milne was awarded the 1914-
15 Star and the British War and Victory medals for his brief wartime service.
Formally retiring after the armistice Milne published a defense of his actions in 1921. He died on 4 July 1938 never having escaped the stigma of
the Goeben and Breslau affair.
Real Photo Post Card
Russell & Sons - Photographer
|Above: The cut signature autograph of Archibald Berkeley Milne. Signed: "Yours Faithfully A. Berkeley Milne" the autograph was cut - in
Victorian fashion - from a larger sheet and laid down on ruled notebook paper.
3 3/4 Inches by 2 Inches
9.5 cm x 5 cm