JohnDill01

Field Marshall Sir John Dill Statue and Gravesite

During this week in 1944, British Field Marshal Sir John Dill passed away here in D.C. A memorial service was subsequently held for him in Washington National Cathedral, and the route of the cortege was lined by thousands of troops, following which he was interred in Arlington National Cemetery. Later that year he was posthumously awarded the American Distinguished Service Medal. He also received an unprecedented joint resolution of Congress expressing appreciation for his services. So on this lunchtime bike ride, I set out to visit his grave (MAP), and then learn more about the British general who was so well thought of during his time here in this country.

John Greer Dill was born on Christmas Day, 1881, in County Armagh, Ireland. Always destined for a career in the military, Dill attended the Methodist College Belfast, Cheltenham College and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. At the age of 19, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and sent to South Africa to serve in the Second Boer War. He then served in World War I. Dill was promoted to the office of director of military operations and intelligence of the British War Office in 1934 and knighted for service to the empire three years later, in 1937. He would then go on to also serve during World War II.

From May of 1940 to December of 1941 he was the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, the professional head of the British Army. He subsequently was to the United States by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, where he became Chief of the British Joint Staff Mission and then Senior British Representative on the Combined Chiefs of Staff. It was during this time that Dill developed a close personal friendship with George C. Marshall, the U.S. chief of staff, which resulted in the formation of the “special relationship” between the United Kingdom and the United States. This is evidenced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt description of Dill as “the most important figure in the remarkable accord which has been developed in the combined operations of our two countries.”

Upon Dill’s death, Marshall intervened to have Dill buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  Dill’s plot is marked by one of only two equestrian statues in the cemetery (the other being of Major General Philip Kearny). The Dill statue is located in a prominent spot most visitors to the cemetery pass by en route from the Visitors Center to Arlington House or the The John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame and grave site. There, he is interred alongside his “American friends and associates,” and to this day remains the only foreigner to be so honored.

JohnDill04     JohnDill02     JohnDill03
[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s