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Archive of General Sir Archibald Hunter GCB GCVO DSO TD LLD
at the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum, Lancaster.

Kitchener - Hunter Letters in India

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 3 Apr 1903

“Commander in Chief, India
3rd April 1903
My Dear Hunter
I had already mentioned your name to Lord Roberts for an Indian Command when the vacancies occur next October.
I of course do not know how the matter will be received.
I am now making a [ ] [ ] tour on the Afghan Frontier and have just visited your station at Quetta where all seems well. I am putting Smith-Dorrien there.
What a horrible thing this has been about MacDonald. I expect he went quite made after leaving SA [South Africa]. Did you ever hear anything of the sort before about him I never did.
Brodrick seems to have been having a rough time of it.
Yours very truly

Accession Number: KO2686/094

* The suicide of General Sir Archibald Hector MacDonald in a Paris Hotel following acquisitions of homosexual activity during his command in Ceylon. There were later suggestions made that MacDonald had been ‘done away with’ because of a plot involving Kitchener

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 12 Aug 1903

Commander in Chief, India
12 August 1903
My dear Hunter
Your wire just received I wonder why you like Madras. Bombay command is far more important but really what I want is to make a change and not have Indian L G C Always going to the same command.
Madras has been British for sometime and Bombay Indian I think.
[ ] a change is advisable and have so told Government of India who agree.
Under there circumstances I think you better go to Bombay.
I am very glad you are coming and that we shall thus renew our service together.
Yours very truly

Accession Number: KO2686/095

Hunter took over the Bombay command on 24 Oct 1903 for 3 1/2 years in Commanding Western Army Corps. For the rest of his five years in India he commanded the Southern Army.

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 11 Jan 1904

Commander in Chief in India
11 January 1904
My dear Hunter
Many thanks for your letter I like having your views. I suppose as we are both free from Indian prejudices it is very natural that Indian practices should strike us in a very insular manner but as these prejudices are very strong we have to go slow in trying to improve matters. I find it takes about a year to get anything done out here.
My best answer to a good many points your raise will be found in the enclosed papers, please consider both confidential. The paper on training I wrote many months ago in Simla but I cannot publish it to the Army until my proposals to Staff College and Staff are approved from home.
I am however expecting the approval any day now and it will then appear.
The redistribution scheme is now before Government and we shall take it in council shortly.
As regards
1. I do not think very highly of [ ] and think I can do better.
2. I have [ ] Indian last edition but should like Protected Provinces to read.
3. Gate was an ass and brought it on himself by his stupidity we can take it over.
4. Redistribution scheme [ ]
5. Manoeuvres I hope we shall get 2 [ ] to spend. I am not fixed as to duties on ground. I want to test troops in the field as they would act in war time. No Harbour defences. New ground essential.
7 & 8 Bombay army is now all on with Indian army impress this on them.
The best regiments of the Indian army may be in Bombay or Punjab but it deals with them where they are.
8 & 9 You will all have got 110 additional officers, it took a year struggling with finances and I hope will be first instalment. I am fully alive to questions.
10. I agree personally about native officers but we must go slow.
I hope to pay you a visit before very long probably after the budget in [ ].
My leg is getting on well now and I see a daily advance which is pleasing.
Excuse a hurried scribble like this.
Yours very sincerely

Accession Number: KO2686/096 & KO2686/097

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 16 Mar 1904

Commander in Chief, India
16 Mar 1904
My dear Hunter
The instructions about venereal will come out if it has not already appeared.
I agree with you about uniform but it is a matter for teach command to decide. At Simla I go to the office once a week in uniform, here I have no office to go to.
The figures Richardson gives are very satisfactory. I think I shall in time be able to work up all commands. Duff has got [ ] [ ] above 3rd Class shots it is what I have been continually forcing on the War Office without much result but Duff says he is going to get through and I hope he may. My proposals for staff have been approved so my instructions on the subject will now appear.
Yours very truly,

Accession Number: KO2686/098
* Duff

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 1 Jun 1904

“Commander in Chief in India
1st June 1904
My dear Hunter
If the occasion arises I will not forget your wishes as regards going to join the Japanese Army as our military attaché. I expect the war will last quite 2 years. In fact it is difficult to see how they are going to make peace. I am glad to see your report on decreased venereal. I am getting out a circular on the subject which will I hope do good.
My redistribution scheme will be discussed at home this week and I hope will be passed for action. It takes a terrible time to get anything done out here. The new army council at home do not seem to be very happy from all accounts.
I have a Bombay officer now acting as Adjutant General so your native army ought to be pleased.
I hope all is going well with you.
Yours very sincerely,
Accession Number: KO2686/099

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 21 Jun 1904

“Commander in Chief in India
21st June 1904
My dear Hunter,
I fear you will have thought me very inattentive to your letter but I was waiting to get a decision about the Bombay manoeuvres. I am sorry to say Tibet is eating up all our available funds and if they go on as they are doing the bill will be a very heavy one. I have done all I could to prevent this [ ] [ ] away with [ ] manoeuvre money but I am sorry to say my efforts have been unavailing and so your manoeuvres will have to put off for a year.
I will let you know what funds will be available for practice camps and field training. This decision does away with a good many of your questions.
Motor car I fear there is little hope I have already tried to get 2 for different generals and failed.
Aden. I cannot go to Aden but later you might go. There is a question of Handing over Aden to the Imperial Government and that better be decided before you go.
I do not think the Aden Hinterland operations will have a medal but it will be classed as Active Service and I should like to hear of those who have done good work there and shown military [ ].
I am writing against time so excuse haste I will write again soon.
Yours very truly

Written across the front of the letter:
“Would you come up and stay with me here for a few days if it would suit you
let me know, but do exactly as you like in the matter.
Accession Number: KO2686/100

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 13 Jul 1904

“Commander in Chief in India
13th July 1904
My dear Hunter
I am very glad that you will be able to pay a visit here. If Tibet is quiet I propose to go away for 3 weeks after the 19th August.
Could you come before that date. I have several subjects that I should like to discuss with you which if is impossible to do by letter.
Yours very truly

Accession Number: KO2686/101

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 22 Sep 1904

Commander in Chief India
22nd September 1904

My dear Hunter,
I see no objection to your going to Aden if the Governor would like you to go, but I think you should refer to him on the subject before deciding. Lord Lavington has written to me about keeping Crawford on till he can find another suitable man which he hopes to do in December. I have agreed to this, I only want to do all I can for his comfort in every way, but you know how precedents are made and used and the office has to be strict in such matters to avoid abuses.
I shall look out with interest for the Bombay defence letter it is a subject in which I take great interest.
I hope soon to introduce some changes in command on the [ ] scheme lines.
Where we get the divisional commands going I think we should do something towards decentralising administration and financial authority from LGC to them will you think over this and let me know your views.
When I leave here on 8th November I am going to Karachi to look at the place. I will remember what you say about it becoming Headquarters of Western Command.
Yours very sincerely,

Accession Number: KO2686/102

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 27 Oct 1904

“Commander in Chief in India
My dear Hunter
Your letters are being attended to. I shall be glad to see you at Karachi although of course it is not necessary for you if inconvenient.
Those Russians are extraordinary people but no doubt we should be as ready as we can be for emergencies.
Yours very truly,

Accession Number: KO2686/103

At the time of the Russo-Japanese War there was still concern that Russia threatened India from the North

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 9 Dec 1904

“Commander in Chief in India
9th December 1904
My dear Hunter
Many thanks for the trouble you have taken about Finch’s China. £1000 is more than I can manage nor do I think the China worth that amount. There are some pieces I should much like to have so if Finch sends the whole lot to a dealer and I have a list I might find out from the dealer at what price they would be sold.
Could you therefore find out for me what dealer Finch intends to employ to sell the collection.
Yours very truly,
I am writing on a steamer which is shaking like the sieve”

Accession Number: KO2686/104

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 4 Jan 1905

“Commander in Chief in India
4 January 1905
My dear Hunter
Finch sent me his list I replied asking him to put his prices on certain marked articles from which I could then select. He is selling 2 of the best pieces to Harrison so I thought he would not object to doing others to me, but he has explained that all that I marked taken together would come to £600 this is again more than I can afford, so I have told Hanning to write and say how sorry I am to have given him so much trouble [ ] he has got his list.
I am obliged to you for the trouble you have taken I cannot bargain so I think it better to stop the matter altogether. I am rather sorry as he has a few pieces I would have given more than their value for.
Yours very truly,

Accession Number: KO2686/105

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 14 Jan 1905

“Commander in Chief, India
Private 14 Jan 1905

My dear Hunter
You will I feel sure read enclosed with interest and see that I have burnt my boats.
As it will probably lead to serious results.
I should like to have your opinion on it.
Of course you will treat the paper as secret and all correspondence on the subject as private.
Yours very truly,

Accession Number: KO2686/106

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 27 Jan 1905

“Commander in Chief, India
27 Jan 1905

My dear Hunter
I am glad you like my paper. I think all the Generals in India will be unanimously with me on this question but still it will be met by great opposition as the Viceroy does not agree with me in this question. I have told him that it is one on which I feel so strongly that I shall resign if the present system is to continue.
I shall probably if it comes to my giving leave in May next.
Yours very truly

Accession Number: KO2686/107

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 8 Feb 1905

“Commander in Chief, India
8 February 1905
My dear Hunter
I am very sorry to hear of your loss if you have to go home we can arrange matters. I fear I shall have a great deal of trouble to get my proposals about army administration through. The Viceroy backs up the Military Department. I have told him it is in my opinion so vital to the well being and further success of the Army in the field that if not accepted I resign. I can hardly expect Generals to take your view if that contingency happens but we shall see.
I believe all the Generals in India back me up in this matter and I shall want all the assistance they can give to induce the authorities to make the changes I propose.
Yours very truly

“Lady [ ] and Mrs [ ] called [?] here yesterday.”

Accession Number: KO2686/108

*In the event is was the Viceroy, Lord Curzon, who would resign over Kitchener’s Army Reforms. Curzon resigned on 21 Aug 1905 and left India in Nov 1905.

*Hunter’s mother had died at home in Scotland, age 71, on 1 Feb 1905

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 20 Feb 1907

“Fort William, Calcutta
20 February 1907

My dear Hunter
I see by the papers you have been having a great time with the Amir.
I should like to know if any thing of interest happened. Thanks for yours of the 14th.
No news here plenty of work. We shall have the Duke of Connaught and Conky Maxwell over on the 7th. The latter stays with me.
I see the Amir has been giving ladies presents he does a little too much of that sort of thing.
Yours very truly

Accession Number: KO2686/109

*Duke of Connaught, Commander in Chief of Ireland between 1900 and 1904, and Inspector General of the Forces between 1904 and 1907.
* General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell, nicknamed  ‘Conky’

Letter to Hunter from Kitchener, dated 20 May 1907

“Commander in Chief in India
20 May 1907

My dear Hunter
Last mail received the enclosed from Maxwell. I have told Birdwood to send in the necessary recommendation [ ] so I hope that is all right.
I am leaving Watkis with you for the present but I shall want him soon for a Brigade. The new order will give you an extended command to inspect. I am now preparing letters for the new command and for the Division based on the order.
I have at last got [ ] letter but have to wait Secretary of States sanction.
The unrest in the Punjab is giving us a good deal of work. The troops are I am glad to say unaffected by the agitators.

Yours very truly

Accession Number: KO2686/110

* General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell ‘Conky’
* Captain H B Birdwood - Indian Army, Brigade Major, Western Command.
* Colonel H B Watkis - Temporary Brigadier General, Indian Army. Deputy Adjutant General, Western Command, India
* Secretary of State for War - Haldane?

Telegram from Kitchener to Hunter 28 Oct 1906

“From Simla, Chief [Kitchener] to General Hunter Bombay
Goodbye my dear Hunter I am so sorry to be losing your services and most heartily wish you all good luck and good fortune and hope we may meet again at home.
After five years in India Hunter returned to the UK.
Accession Number: KO2686/119

Photograph of the Army Staff of India circa 1904, signed by twenty eight officers including Earl Kitchener and Lieutenant General Sir Archibald Hunter.

Accession Number: KO2686/001

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