General Major-General Robert George Kekewich CB

Robert George Kekewich was born on 17 June 1854 the second son of Trehawke Kekewich, of Peamore House, near Exeter, Devon, and the grandson of Samuel Trehawke Kekewich. He was also the brother of Sir Trehawke Herbert Kekewich, 1st Baronet and the nephew of the judge Sir Arthur Kekewich. Robert was educated at Marlborough, and entered the army through the militia joining the Buffs on 2 December 1874. He fought in the Perak War of 1875-6, and in the Sudan, 1884-5, where he gained a brevet majority. He was employed as D.A.A.G. in the Sudan campaign of 1888, and afterwards as military secretary to the Commander-in-Chief, Madras, and was engaged in the operations in Burma, 1892-3.

He was promoted into the Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) and commanded the 1st Battalion in the Second Boer War. He commanded the garrison during the successful 126-day defence of Kimberley, during which time he came into conflict with Cecil Rhodes who owned the de Beers diamond mine there. In late September 1901 he was wounded in an attack by General de la Rey near Moedwil, but soon recuperated. He received the rank of brevet-colonel and was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath. In August 1902 he was promoted major general after winning the Battle of Rooiwal in April of that year. He was appointed colonel of the Buffs on 5 October 1909.

On the outbreak of World War I he was appointed to the 13th (Western) Division, which he commanded until he committed suicide at the age of 60 by shooting himself in the head on 5 November of that year. At the inquest in Whimple Devon it was stated that he suffered from suppressed gout, insomnia and an unsatisfactory state of the heart. He worried over being unable to serve his country and great waves of depression overcame him. The verdict 'suicide whilst temporarily insane' was returned. He was buried with military honours in St Martin's Churchyard, Exminster, Devon.

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by Stephen Luscombe