||Frederick Sleigh Roberts
Field Marshall Lord Roberts of Kandahar, V.C.,
G.C.B., O.M., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E.
Lord Roberts of Kandahar
Lord Roberts commanded
the British forces in Afghanistan during Baden-Powell's service in
1881-1882. He was later to become the Commander-in-Chief in India
(1885-1893), in the South African War (1899-1902) and, finally
Commander-in-Chief of the British Army (1901-1904). For much of
Baden-Powell's active military service, Lord Roberts was among the highest
ranking and most respected officers of the British Army. He became known
as "Kipling's General."
His life was jewelled
and upheld by those ideals the poet himself sought to glorify - courage,
faith and honour. But ... to Kipling's Tommy) Atkins he was just
"Bobs," a well-loved commander who had been with them since
most of them were recruits, a shrewd tactician, yet careful of his men's
lives and solicitous of their welfare. Nothing endears a leader to his
men more than sparing them needless hardship, and for this reason his
men would follow Bobs through all necessary perils, partly for their
belief in him, and partly to see that no harm befell him.
Bobs served for a total of forty-one years in India, at a time when the
India Army was both unfashionable and unadvantageous. In those years he rose
from Horse Artillery subaltern to Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army. He served with distinction in the Indian Mutiny, winning the V.C. for repeated acts of heroism, but he will chiefly be remembered as the man who curbed the unruly spirit of the treacherous Afghans, wiping out the
memory of British defeats and bringing peace to the North-West Frontier. His us march from Kabul to Kandahar long be cited as a remarkable feat of both strategy and administration.
Beset by Sir Garnet Wolesley's jealousy of all Indian officers, though the Indian Command was by far the most enlightened and experienced, Bobs still succeeded in rising, being first C-in-C Ireland, Bobs himself was an Irishman, and finally, the last C-in-C of the whole army before the post was abolished. Sent to reprieve the disasters of the early stages of the Boer War, his energy and decision saved the situation and caused the Boers never to take the field again as an organised army.
Characteristically, Bobs died while visiting his beloved soldiers on the Western Front in 1914, and thus passed into history a man of tact and understanding, dignity and firmness of purpose, courage and honour - Kipling's "Father Bobs."
From: W. H. Hannah,
Bob's, Kipling's General. The Life of Field Marshal Earl Roberts of
Kandahar, VC, 1972.
Roberts (of Kandahar, Pretoria,
and Waterford), Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl, VISCOUNT ST. PIERRE.
Also called (from 1892) BARON ROBERTS OF KANDAHAR (born Sept. 30, 1832, Cawnpore,
India--died Nov. 14, 1914, Saint-Omer, France), British field marshal, an outstanding
combat leader in the Second Afghan War (1878-80) and the South African War (1899-1902),
and the last commander in chief of the British Army (1901-04; office then abolished).
Foreseeing World War I, he was one of the earliest advocates of compulsory military
Roberts first distinguished himself
during the suppression of the Indian Mutiny (1857-58). On September 1, 1880, he scored the
decisive victory of the Second Afghan War, defeating Ayub Khan's Afghan Army near
Qandahar. From 1885 to 1893 he was commander in chief in India. As the second British
commander in chief (December 1899-November 1900) in the South African War, he ended a
succession of British defeats; captured Bloemfontein, capital of the Orange Free State
Republic (March 13, 1900), and annexed that Boer state as the Orange River Colony (May
24); took the cities of Johannesburg (May 31) and Pretoria (June 5); and defeated Boer
commandos at Bergendal (August 27). A field marshal from 1895, he gave way to Horatio
Herbert Kitchener as commander in chief in South Africa in November 1900.
Roberts was created a baron in 1892 and
an earl and viscount in 1901. Both of his sons having predeceased him, the barony became
extinct, but the earldom and viscounty devolved, in turn, on his elder and younger
|"Roberts (of Kandahar, Pretoria, and
Waterford), Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl, VISCOUNT ST. PIERRE" Britannica
Online. [Accessed 16 January 1999].
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Last Modified: 8:14 AM on October 23, 1999