William Montgomery Thomson

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William Montgomery Thomson
Born 2 December 1877
Died 23 July 1963 (aged 85)
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1897–1934
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands held Seaforth Highlanders

Lieutenant General Sir William Montgomery Thomson KCMG CB MC (1877–1963) was a senior British Army officer who became military governor of Baku in 1918.


Born on 2 December 1877, William Thomson was the fourth son of Captain William Thomson of the 78th Highlanders and Alice Broughton. His older brother was Henry Broughton Thomson; Gwyneth Bebb married another brother, Thomas Weldon Thomson. He was educated at Bedford School.

In 1897 he joined the Seaforth Highlanders. He served in Sudan in 1898. During the First World War he commanded the 1st Seaforth Highlanders in France and Mesopotamia between 1915 and 1916, a Brigade between 1916 and 1917, and a Division between 1917 and 1918. Between September 1918 and May 1919 he commanded the North Persian Force and then British forces in the South Caucasus.[1]

On 16 November 1918, in Bandar-e Anzali, Thomson met with Nasib Yusifbeyli, Musa bey Rafiyev and Ahmet Ağaoğlu, representatives of Musavat, the governing party of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR). He outlined his goals as (i) ensuring the evacuation of military units of the Ottoman Army and the ADR from Baku, (ii) preventing Armenian troops from entering Baku, (iii) creating a British administration of local militia, (iv) facilitating the supply of oil from the Baku oilfields for the British, and (v) securing the eastern terminus of the Transcaucasus Railway. He denied that the British would interfere in internal affairs: "The principle of self-determination of peoples decided at the Paris Peace Conference from which Azerbaijan will not be excluded".[2]

General Thomson arrived in Baku the next day with about 2,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army and a detachment of Russian troops commanded by Nikolai Baratov. This was greeted with enthusiasm by the Russians of Baku. One of Thomson's first actions was to order the removal of the flag of the ADR. He also spoke in praise of Russia, declaring "The Allies cannot return home without restoring order in Russia and placing her in a position to again take her proper place among the nations of the world." [3]

Thomson retired for the British Army in 1934. He was given the Colonelcy of the Seaforth Highlanders in 1939, holding the position until 1947.[4]

He died on 23 July 1963.


  1. ^ Who's Who
  2. ^ Audrey L. Altstadt (1992), The Azerbaijani Turks, Stanford, Calif: Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, ISBN 0817991816, OCLC 24846708, 0817991816 
  3. ^ Tadeusz Swietochowski (1985), Russian Azerbaijan, 1905-1920 (Russian Azerbaijan, 1905-1920 ed.), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521263107, OCLC 10878461, 0521263107 
  4. ^ "Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, The Duke of Albany's)". regiments.org. Archived from the original on 29 December 2005. Retrieved 11 February 2017.