Edward Bulfin

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Sir Edward Stanislaus Bulfin
Lieutenant General Sir Edward Bulfin
Born 6 November 1862
Died 20 August 1939 (aged 76)
Boscombe, Bournemouth
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1884 – 1926
Rank General
Commands held Essex Regiment
2nd Infantry Brigade
28th Division
60th Division
XXI Corps
Battles/wars Second Boer War

World War I

Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre

General Sir Edward Stanislaus Bulfin KCB CVO (6 November 1862 – 20 August 1939) was a British general during World War I, where he established a reputation as an excellent commander at the brigade, divisional and corps levels. He was most noted for his actions during the First Battle of Ypres, when he organized impromptu forces to slow down the German assault.

In 1917–18 he commanded XXI Corps in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign.

Early life

Bulfin was born near Dublin, the second son of Patrick Bulfin and Teresa Clare Carroll.[1] His father was a son of Edward Bulfin from Derrinlough, King's County (now County Offaly), and was elected Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1870.[2] He was educated at Stonyhurst College, and then at Kensington Catholic Public School[1] Although he attended Trinity College, Dublin, he did not take a degree, choosing a military career instead.[1]

Military career

Bulfin was commissioned into the Princess of Wales's Own (Yorkshire Regiment) in 1884, following militia service with the Royal Irish Fusiliers.[3] He was promoted to Captain on 30 January 1895. His career did not advance very much until the Boer War, when in November 1899 he was appointed Brigade Major to the 9th Brigade.[4] He saw action at several skirmishes in South Africa, and was promoted to a brevet major in November 1900. He returned to the regular rank of Captain in his regiment on 12 December 1901,[5] but upon his return to England he abandoned regimental soldiering in favor of a staff career.[3] From 1902 to 1904, he served as deputy assistant adjutant-general with I Corps, and from 1906 to 1910 as assistant adjutant and quartermaster-general for Cape Colony.[1] After returning to England, he was promoted to colonel and given command of the Essex Brigade, an unusual appointment as Bulfin had never commanded a battalion.[1] In 1913, he was promoted again, and appointed to the prestigious command of the 2nd Infantry Brigade.[1]

World War I

At the outbreak of World War I Bulfin and the 2nd Brigade were transported to the Western Front as part of the original British Expeditionary Force.[1] During the fighting around Ypres at the end of October 1914, he organized an impromptu force of six battalions (known as "Bulfin's force") and led a counterattack to stem the German advance.[1] This action won him considerable praise from 1st Corps commander Douglas Haig, as well as BEF commander John French.[6] In December, he was promoted to command the newly formed 28th Division, and led this formation through the heavy German gas attacks at the 2nd Battle of Ypres, and also at the Battle of Loos.[1]

Bulfin fell ill in October 1915, and spent the first half of 1916 recuperating in England, thus avoiding a transfer to Salonika.[1] He returned to the Western Front in June 1916 to command the 60th Division during the Battle of the Somme, although the division did not play a significant role in the offensive.[6]

Salonika and Palestine

Bulfin, third from right, with other generals on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, 19 March 1918

In December 1916, 60th Division was transferred to Salonika, although they remained for only six months and took part in no serious fighting.[1] Moving to Palestine in June 1917, Bulfin was promoted to lieutenant-general and given command of XXI Corps.[6] He proved a capable corps commander, leading his formation through Ottoman defenses at the Third Battle of Gaza, opening the way for the capture of Jerusalem.[1] He later commanded the corps in the overwhelming victory at the Battle of Megiddo in the waning days of the war.[1]

Post war

After the armistice, Bulfin remained in the army in a variety of staff positions, gaining a promotion to full general in 1925[7] and finally retiring in 1926.[1] He died in 1939 at his home in Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset.[1]


He married Mary Frances Lonergan in 1898 (immediately prior to posting to South Africa), with whom he had two children.[1]