Gale, Sir Humfrey Myddelton
Gale, Sir Humfrey Myddelton (1890–1971), army officer and administrator, was born in London on 4 October 1890, the elder son and eldest of the five children of Ernest Sewell Gale, architect, of Liphook, and his wife, Charlotte Sarah, daughter of Eugene Goddard, surgeon. He was educated at St Paul's School, and from 1908 to 1910 studied at the Architectural School, Westminster. During this time he served with the Artists' Rifles, a Territorial Army regiment, and then decided to try for the Indian army and applied for the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was successful and became a cadet there in September 1910.
Gale did not pass out high enough to join the Indian army, and instead was gazetted second-lieutenant in the Army Service Corps in September 1911. There followed peacetime soldiering at Woolwich and Aldershot, where he improved his horsemanship and learned something about supply and transport. During the First World War he served in France both at regimental duty and as a staff captain. He was awarded the MC and was twice mentioned in dispatches. In 1917 he married Winifred (d. 1936), second daughter of William Cross, farmer. They enjoyed a very happy marriage and had two daughters.
Between the wars Gale served at regimental duty and on the staff both at home and in Egypt. In 1934 he became an instructor at the Staff College, Camberley, where he also hunted with the drag, and while on holiday enjoyed fishing and painting. In 1937 Gale became a staff colonel in the War Office, and then soon after the start of the Second World War he was appointed brigadier, deputy assistant quartermaster-general in 3rd corps, which went to France in 1940. During the withdrawal to Dunkirk, Gale was responsible for all administrative arrangements for 70,000 men. By his energetic leadership and practical improvisation Gale was able to keep the supply system working and morale high. He was appointed CBE in 1940 for his service.
Back in Britain, Gale became major-general, administration, Scotland, and in 1941 he was in charge of administration for all home forces. Here his cheerfulness, experience, and planning ability did much to prepare for the offensives which the joint Anglo-American forces were soon to undertake. In 1942 he was appointed chief administrative officer to General Eisenhower for the north-west African operation, and it was as Eisenhower's principal administrative expert that Gale made his great contribution to allied victory. In 1942 Gale was also appointed CB. Apart from successfully organizing support for the huge and complex operation Torch, Gale's gift for running a happy, efficient allied team was invaluable. After the successful conclusion of the north African campaign, Gale was appointed CVO (1943) and awarded the American Legion of Merit. Eisenhower then appointed him deputy chief of staff (administration) for the invasions of Sicily and Italy, both of which depended on the smooth assembly and movement of troops and stores at a time when the shortage of shipping was critical. In August 1943 Gale was created KBE.
In January 1944 Gale left allied force headquarters, Algiers, to accompany General Eisenhower to Britain for the intended invasion of Normandy. Never before in the history of warfare had there been such an administrative problem of landing and distributing supplies to support the invading forces and then moving on from the beachheads. Gale's responsibilities were to advise the supreme commander on all administrative matters and to ensure that operational plans were viable. He co-ordinated resources between army groups and generally oversaw all supply, military and civil. Until the very end of the war in Europe, Gale continued to be Eisenhower's administrative right-hand man.
With the war over, Gale was awarded the American Distinguished Service Medal, and in July 1945 he supervised distribution of resources between the allied armies. In this year he also married Minnie Grace (d. 1970), daughter of Count Gregorini-Bingham, of Bologna, and widow of Prince Charles Louis de Beauvau-Craon.
In September 1945 Gale was appointed European director for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. He stayed there until July 1947, when he retired from the army to hold further positions with the Anglo-Iran Oil Company. From 1954 to 1964 he was chairman of the Basildon New Town Development Corporation. It was Harold Macmillan who persuaded him to do this job and who described Gale as one of the most efficient officers he had ever known. Gale was also colonel-commandant of the Royal Army Service Corps from 1944 to 1954 and of the Army Catering Corps from 1946 to 1958. He received foreign awards from France, Panama, and Morocco.
Gale and his second wife had made their home in La Tour de Peilz, Vaud, Switzerland, and it was there that he died on 8 April 1971. It is not only as a superbly successful administrative soldier that Gale is remembered, but as a man devoted to his family, deeply religious, a talented linguist, sportsman, and artist, a fine leader, and a sure friend.
- The Times (10 April 1971)
- Daily Telegraph (10 April 1971)
- W. D. H. Ritchie, ‘Lieutenant General Sir Humfrey M. Gale KBE CB CVO MC’, The Waggoner [journal of the royal corps of transport] (March 1982) [supplement]
- personal knowledge (1986)
- Berks. RO, letters to Lord Glyn
- IWM, corresp. with Sir Thomas Riddell-Webster
- King's Lond., Liddell Hart C., papers and diaries of services at supreme headquarters allied expeditionary force
- NL Wales, corresp. with Sir George Rendel
- H. Carr, oils, 1943, IWM
- W. Stoneman, photograph, 1946, NPG
- W. Bird, photograph, 1959, NPG