Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts

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Field Marshal
The Earl Roberts

Lord Roberts by John Singer Sargent
Nickname Bobs
Born 30 September 1832(1832-09-30)
Cawnpore, British India
Died 14 November 1914(1914-11-14) (aged 82)
St Omer, France
Buried at St Paul's Cathedral, London
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1851–1904
Rank Field Marshal
Unit Royal Artillery
Commands held Kuram field force
Kabul and Kandahar field forces
Governor of Natal
Commander-in-Chief of British forces in South Africa
Commander-in-Chief in Madras
Commander-in-Chief, India
Commander-in-Chief, Ireland
Command of British troops in Second Anglo-Boer War
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
Battles/wars Indian Mutiny
Siege of Delhi
Siege of Lucknow
Umbeyla Campaign
1868 Expedition to Abyssinia
Battle of Magdala
Lushai campaign (1871–1872)
Second Anglo-Afghan War
Battle of Charasiab
Battle of Peiwar Kotal
Siege of the Sherpur Cantonment
Battle of Kandahar
Second Boer War
Siege of Kimberley
Battle of Paardeberg
Battle of Poplar Grove
Battle of Diamond Hill
Battle of Bergendal
Awards Victoria Cross
Knight of the Order of the Garter
Knight of the Order of St Patrick
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Member of the Order of Merit
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of India
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Indian Empire
Knight of the Order of St John
Relations Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts VC (son)
Sir Abraham Roberts (father)

Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts Bt VC KG KP GCB OM GCSI GCIE KStJ PC (30 September 1832 – 14 November 1914) was one of the most distinguished commanders of the British Empire.

Roberts was Indian born, in Cawnpore (now Kanpur) Uttar Pradesh.[1] The son of a general from County Waterford in Ireland, he regarded himself as Anglo-Irish.[2]

Career[change | change source]

He served in the Indian rebellion, the Expedition to Abyssinia and the Second Anglo-Afghan War before leading British Forces to success in the Second Boer War. He also became the last Commander-in-Chief of the Forces before the post was abolished in 1904.

Roberts was awarded the Victoria Cross for actions on 2 January 1858 at Khudaganj. The citation reads:

"Lieutenant Roberts' gallantry has on every occasion been most marked".[3]

Warning about Germany[change | change source]

In an important speech in Manchester on 22 October 1912 Roberts warned of the threat posed by Germany:

In the year 1912, just as in 1866 and just as in 1870, war will take place the instant the German forces by land and sea are, by their superiority at every point, as certain of victory as anything in human calculation can be made certain...We may stand still. Germany always advances and the direction of her advance, the line along which she is moving, is now most manifest. It is towards...complete supremacy by land and sea.[4]

He claimed that Germany was making enormous efforts to prepare for war and ended his speech by saying:

Gentlemen, I say, “Arm and prepare to acquit yourselves like men, for the day of your ordeal is at hand”.[4]

This speech was much criticised in the liberal and radical press, such as the Manchester Guardian. Much later, a historian said: "At this distance of time the verdict upon Lord Robert's Manchester speech must be that, in speaking out clearly on the probability of war, he was doing a patriotic service comparable to Churchill's during the Thirties".[5]

Death[change | change source]

Roberts died on November 14, 1914. He died of pneumonia. He got sick when he was visiting British troops.[6] Few non-royal people in four centuries have been given a State Funeral in the United Kingdom. Roberts was one of them.

Son a VC also[change | change source]

Robert's son, Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts, died in 1899 in the second Boar War, and received the VC. They were one of only three father and son pairs to receive the Victoria Cross.[7]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Kipling and Lord Roberts". Retrieved 2011-05-29.
  2. Gifford, Don; Robert J. Seidman (2008). Ulysses annotated: notes for James Joyce's Ulysses. University of California Press. p. 438. ISBN 9780520253971.,+1st+Earl+Roberts+anglo-irish#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
  3. Robson, Brian 2008. Roberts, Frederick Sleigh, first Earl Roberts (1832–1914) in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. [1]
  4. 4.0 4.1 James, David 1954. Lord Roberts. London: Hollis & Carter, p. 424/8
  5. Terraine, John 1993. Impacts of War: 1914 & 1918. London: Leo Cooper, p. 38.
  6. "Rugby Union Footballers are Doing their Duty. Over 90% Have Enlisted. British Athletes! Will You Follow this Glorious Example?". 1915. Retrieved 2013-10-27.
  7. London Gazette: no. 27160, p. 689, 26 January 1900.