Cochrane, Douglas Mackinnon Baillie Hamilton, twelfth Earl of Dundonald 1852-1935, lieutenant-general, was born at Auchentoul House, Banff, 29 October 1852, the second son of Thomas Barnes Cochrane, eleventh Earl of Dundonald, a soldier, by his wife, Louisa Harriet, daughter of William Alexander Mackinnon of Mackinnon. He was a grandson of Thomas Cochrane, tenth Earl of Dundonald [qv.].
Dundonald (then Lord Cochrane) was educated at a private school at Walton-on-Thames and at Eton, and in 1870 entered the army as cornet and sub-lieutenant in the 2nd Life Guards. During the following fifteen years he visited Germany and South America and in 1884 was sent in command of a contingent of the 2nd Life Guards to relieve General Gordon [qv.] at Khartoum. He took part in the battles of Abu Klea and Gubat in 1885. His rides with dispatches across the desert to announce the seizure of Gakdul Wells and again to tell of the death of Gordon and the fall of Khartoum made him famous at the time. During this campaign he succeeded to the title (1885). For his services in Egypt he was mentioned in dispatches and promoted lieutenant-colonel on his return early in 1885. Four years later he became a brevet colonel. In 1890 he was made captain of the Queen's Guard, and in 1895 he took command of the 2nd Life Guards. Four years later the Boers attacked Natal, and, although his period of command had in the meantime expired, within a few weeks (October 1899) he landed at Cape Town and offered his services to Sir Redvers Buller [qv.] and was given command of the South Natal Field Force. With it he was engaged at Colenso, and early in 1900, in command of the 2nd Cavalry brigade, he took part in the Tugela fighting and on 28 February 1900 entered Ladysmith. Later the same year he commanded the combined 3rd Mounted and Natal Volunteer brigades in the fighting on the Biggarsberg, and at Laing's Nek and in the eastern Transvaal. When Buller resigned the command of the Natal army in October 1900 the brigade was broken up and Dundonald returned to England. For his services in the campaign he was mentioned in dispatches six times and promoted major-general (1900).
In December 1900 Dundonald sat on the Yeomanry Reorganization Committee which brought about many changes, particularly in replacing the sword by the rifle. In 1902 he was invited to take command of the Canadian Militia with a view to its reorganization and he accordingly proceeded in July to Ottawa where two years of inspections resulted in a scheme for a Canadian citizen army. He was author of Cavalry Training, Canada (1904). Owing, however, to political conflict, his work came to an end and he returned to England in 1904, and in 1906 served on the committee for the reorganization of the Territorial Army under the chairmanship of R. B. (Lord) Haldane [qv.]. In 1906 he was promoted lieutenant-general and retired from the army in 1907. During the next few years he exerted himself in the interests of ex-servicemen and the work of their national association. He had, in 1897, designed a light machine-gun and a light ambulance, but neither was adopted for army use.
When war broke out in 1914 Dundonald was prevented by age from active participation, but he served his country as chairman of the Admiralty committee on smoke screens (1915), making use of plans drawn up by his grandfather, the proposals of which bore fruit in 1918. In 1921 he served as special ambassador on the occasion of the Peruvian centenary. He was appointed C.B. in 1896, K.C.V.O. in 1907, and K.C.B. in 1913.
In 1878 Dundonald married Winifred (died 1924), daughter of Robert Bamford Hesketh, 2nd Life Guards, of Gwyrch Castle, Abergele, Denbighshire. They had two sons and three daughters. Although as a young officer in Africa he suffered an injury that somewhat handicapped him thereafter, he remained active to a late age, and at the age of seventy-seven he sailed a 14-ton boat across the Atlantic to South America. He died at his residence at Wimbledon Park, London, 12 April 1935, and was succeeded as thirteenth earl by his elder son, Thomas Hesketh Douglas Blair (born 1886)
A cartoon of Dundonald by Spy appeared in Vanity Fair 8 May 1902. He is also included in the cartoon A General Group by Spy, which appeared in Vanity Fair 29 November 1900.
The Times, 13 April 1935
Lord Dundonald, My Army Life, 1926.
Contributor: C. V. Owen.