Brian, (or Lumb as he was always known), was commissioned into the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars in 1916. They were serving on the Western Front.

Col TBA Evans-Lombe, OBE
Col TBA Evans-Lombe, OBE

Before this, after Cheltenham, he had been one of the ten public school boys out of a total of 20 at the Brownsea Island Camp organised by Lord Baden Powell, (the other 10 being state school boys).

In 1916, the 8th Hussars were often used as front-line infantry but always had, in addition, to be ready and trained for their cavalry role. After the war in 1919, he became the Signals Officer of the Cavalry Division in the Army of occupation, 1920 saw him in India at the Cavalry School at Saugor while his Regiment was at Lucknow. There he took part in show jumping and riding cross-country.

Next came the Middle East, Mesopotamia north near Mosul, with his Regiment. Back in England, the Regiment was posted to York, a popular cavalry station with plenty of shooting, hunting and racing. Lumb suddenly took up golf, Rather to his brother officers’ surprise, he became pretty good and did well in local tournaments.

He was back again in Wiesbaden in Germany on the staff before going out to Egypt with the Regiment in 1938. He had been adjutant from 1929 to 1930. Polo in Cairo was much the order of the day though long periods of training took place with the new mechanised regiment in the Western Desert at Mersa Matruh.

The Regiment’s Light Ford pick-up trucks had four crew with a light machine gun on its mounting. A Royal Tank Corps officer named Bagnol had done a good deal of work inventing a form of the sun compass, Lumb, realising its possibilities, did further work on it and perfected it.

It became known as the Evans Lombe sun compass, but higher authority decided it should be named the Universal Sun Compass. It was much used in the later Western Desert battles.

In 1936, he went on active service with the Regiment in Palestine. With Regimental Headquarters in Jerusalem and squadrons and their troops spread out over a wide area, a number of small engagements were fought against the local insurgent bands.

In 1940, Lumb was posted to the War Office as GSO1 Training RAC. After this, he became Commander A1 Group Pioneer Corps at Stranraer with some two thousand men under him. The main work involved the construction of an enlargement of the harbour at Liverpool, which could possibly be considered the forerunner of the 1944 Mulberry at Arromanches.

Lumb landed in France on D-Day + 1, wading ashore under fire at Courseulles. During the whole of the fighting in North West Europe, he took every opportunity of visiting the Regiment and ‘cheering us all on’ In 1945, he was posted to Allied Land Forces South East Asia at Candy, then as Director of Pioneer Labour Burma, following that coping with Japanese prisoners of war, among other things making them build golf courses.

He retired in 1947 and was appointed to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield as Secretary. There he spent a successful and happy seventeen years. The Open Championships of 1948 and International Championships of 1949 were held at Muirfield.

He got married in 1930 to Marjorie Laudale Campbell, daughter of Sir Gordon Campbell. They had a son and a daughter.

To sum up Lumb – a hardworking, clever and ingenious man, brave – he was mentioned in Despatches. His sun compass was useful in the early Western Desert battles. His time at Stranraer with harbours was perhaps of international importance. He was awarded the OBE in 1944.

From the point of view of his Regiment, the 8th Hussars, he was a splendid trainer of young officers and NCOs – a firm disciplinarian but in the pleasantest ways, however, there was never any doubt what was required.

He lived to be a hundred years old.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 8th Hussars
  2. Timeline: Western Front 1914-18
  3. Timeline: Middle East (Egypt and Libya)