Field Marshall Lord Roberts

Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, Bt, VC, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, PC

Sept 30, 1832 to Nov 14, 1914

Field Marshall Lord RobertsRoberts was born at Cawnpore, India, the second son of General Sir Abraham Roberts and Isabella Bunbury. He was educated at Eton, Sandhurst and the Addiscombe Military Academy before entering the British East India Company army as a Second Lieutenant with the Bengal Artillery in 1851.

He married Nora Henrietta Bews on May 17, 1859 and they had six children. He fought in the Indian Rebellion during the siege and capture of Delhi and was present at the relief of Lucknow. In 1858 Roberts was awarded the Victoria Cross for actions at Kudaganj. After serving in the Umbeyla and Abyssinian campaigns between 1863 and 1868, Roberts fought in the Lushai campaign for which he was appointed Companion of the Order of Bath. Six years later he was promoted to Major-General and given command of the Kuram field force in the Second Anglo-Afghan war distinguishing himself so that he was appointed commander of the Kabul and Kandahar field force, leading his 10,000 troops to relieve the latter city at the Battle of Kandahar and capture Kabul. Receiving further awards including Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire, Roberts became a Baronet in 1881.

After a short interval as Governor of Natal and Commander-in-Chief of British forces in South Africa he returned to India as Commander-in-Chief of the Madras army having been promoted to Lieutenant-General in 1883. In 1885 he succeeded this appointment as Commander-in-Chief throughout the whole of India receiving further awards and being promoted to General in 1890 and receiving the title of Baron Roberts in 1892. After relinquishing his Indian command Roberts was moved to Ireland as Commander-in-Chief of British forces there becoming Field Marshal in 1895.

Two years later he returned to South Africa in command of British troops fighting in the Second Boer War, relieving Kimberley and advancing to Pretoria. After a year he was succeeded in this command by Lord Kitchener and returned to England where more honours were bestowed upon him including being made a Knight of the Garter and an Earl. In 1902 he was appointed one of the first members of the Order of Merit.

Lord Roberts remained very active in his later life being showered with numerous honours.  His home was at ‘Englemere’ at Ascot in Berkeshire. He died of pneumonia in St Omer, France while visiting Indian troops fighting in the First World War and was given a state funeral at Westminster (one of two non Royals to be so recognized in the 20th century, the other being Winston Churchill).

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