|A Real Photo Post card of Admiral Sir Archibald Berkeley Milne (1855-1938)
As a young Lieutenant 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 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.
Known affectionately as 'Arky-Barky' by Queen Alexandra, Milne had no naval wartime experience prior to the
outbreak of 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.
Contemporary opinion of Milne was, on the whole, unfavourable. 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 favouritism.
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
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 (which would have flown in the face
of Admiralty orders) 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 furore 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.
Formally retiring after the armistice Milne published a defence of his actions in 1921.
Real Photo Post Card
Russell & Sons - Photographer