The King's Royal Rifle Corps


Lieutenant The Hon Frederick H S Roberts VC


Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts was the son of Field Marshal Lord Roberts VC. He performed an act of almost suicidal heroism with two other officers and a corporal to save some guns at the battle of Colenso on 15th Dec 1899. The battle itself was a turkey shoot for the Boer snipers who picked off men of the Devonshire and West Surrey Regiments who were recklessly exposed to their fire. The guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries RA were too far forward and they ran out of ammunition. The gunners ran back to find more rounds but it was too dangerous to return to the guns. The three officers, Capt H N Schofield RA, Capt W N Congreve of the Rifle Brigade, Lieut Roberts, and Corporal George Nurse galloped to the guns to save them from being captured. They only managed to limber up two guns.

Schofield, Congreve and Nurse also won the VC but they survived, and saved two guns, but the 27 year old Roberts died of his wounds two days later. The effect on Lord Roberts, Commander-in-Chief, must have been utterly devastating.

This painting of young Roberts was taken from a photo in which he is only wearing three medals. As he has the Victoria Cross this must have been painted after his death, and apart from the VC there are now 7 or 8 medals. The gold aiguillettes are also in the photo; they were worn on the left shoulder by officers serving as ADC to senior commanders. His uniform is that of an officer of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

1872 2 Feb. born in Umballa, India
1891 10 Jun. Commissioned into KRRC as 2nd Lieut
1894–95 Waziristan. Mentioned in Destpatches
1898 Nile Expedition
1898 Promoted to Lieutenant
1899 17th Dec. died of his wounds in Chieveley, Natal


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by Stephen Luscombe