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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
GB0099 KCLMA Robertson W R
Title
ROBERTSON, FM Sir William (Robert), 1st Bt (1860-1933)
Date(s)
Created 1898-1930
Level of description
collection level
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
8 box or 0.08 cubic metres

Context

Administrative / Biographical history

Born in 1860; pupil-teacher at Welbourne School, Lincolnshire; entered the army 1877; served in the ranks with 16 (The Queen's) Lancers, 1877-1888, qualifying as a regimental instructor in musketry, signalling and elementary intelligence duties; 2nd Lt, 3 (Prince of Wales's) Dragoon Guards, Muttra, India, 1888; Lt, 1891; Railway Transport Officer, Miranzai and Black Mountain Expeditions, India, 1891; Staff Lt, 1892-1895 and Staff Capt, 1895- 1896, Intelligence Department, Simla, India, 1892-1896; Intelligence Officer, Headquarters, Chitral Relief Force, India, 1895; became the first ranker officer ever to attend the Staff College, Camberley, Surrey, 1897-1898; Staff Capt, Colonial Intelligence Section, War Office, 1899; Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, Assistant Head of Colonial Intelligence Section, War Office, 1899-1900; Maj, 1900; Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, Intelligence Section, General Headquarters, South Africa, 1900; Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, Assistant Head of Colonial Intelligence Section, War Office, 1900- 1901; Brevet Lt Col, 1900; Assistant Quartermaster General, Head of Foreign Intelligence Section, War Office, and General Staff Officer, Grade 1, 1901-1907; Col, 1903; Assistant Quartermaster General, Aldershot Command, 1907; Brig Gen and Chief of General Staff, Aldershot Command, 1907- 1910; Maj Gen, 1910; Commandant, Staff College, Camberley, Surrey, 1910-1913; Director of Military Training, War Office, 1913-1914; Quartermaster General, BEF (British Expeditionary Force), 1914-1915; Chief of General Staff, BEF (British Expeditionary Force), 1915; Lt Gen, 1915; Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1915-1918; Gen, 1916; Aide de Camp General to HM King George V, 1917; General Officer Commanding, Eastern Command, 1918, and Home Forces, 1918-1919; Commander in Chief, BAOR (British Army of the Rhine), 1919-1920; FM, 1920, making him the only man ever to have risen from the ranks to that position; retired 1921; Col, 2 Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys), 1916-1925, 3 (Prince of Wales's) Dragoon Guards, 1925, and Royal Horse Guards, 1928; entered upon a remarkably successful business career, being appointed Director of British Dyestuffs, the Palestine Corporation, the London General Omnibus Company, and Chairman of the Brewers' Trustees; awarded honorary degrees from Oxford and Cambridge; died 1933.

Publications: 

From Private to Field Marshal (Constable and Co, London, 1921); Soldiers and Statesmen 1914-1918 (Cassell and Co, London, 1926).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Placed in the Centre by the family in 1965 and 1993, and by MRAF Sir John Cotesworth Slessor in 1968.

Content & structure

Scope and content

Pre-war papers and correspondence, 1898-1914, including lectures, texts and notes written whilst Commandant of the Staff College, Camberley, Surrey. Papers relating to his service as Quartermaster General to the BEF (British Expeditionary Force), Western Front, 1914-1915, including correspondence with Maj Gen Sir Stanley Brenton von Donop, Master General of the Ordnance, and Maj Gen Sir John Steven Cowans, Quartermaster General to the Forces, relating to supplies of equipment, provisions and munitions. Papers and correspondence, 1915, as Chief of General Staff, BEF (British Expeditionary Force), Western Front, principally comprising reports and memoranda prepared for the War Office and the War Council by General Headquarters Staff, 1915; memoranda relating to general military strategy, 1915, notably in the Balkans, Dardanelles, Gallipoli and Egypt; papers in French concerning the Allied Conference at Chantilly, 1915. Papers relating to service as Chief of the Imperial General Staff during World War One, 1915- 1918, principally comprising Army Council and War Cabinet papers relating to manpower, 1915-1918; papers of FM Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener of Khartoum and Broome, Secretary of State for War, given to Robertson following Kitchener's death in Jun 1916; personal telegrams, 1916- 1917, mainly comprising unofficial messages to and from various army commanders and military attachés in Salonika, Russia, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Italy, Romania, Palestine and the Western Front; memoranda and papers on military operations in the Middle East, 1915-1917, and general strategy, 1917-1918, prepared by Robertson for the War Cabinet; documents relating to the creation of the Allied Supreme War Council, and its various powers and functions, 1917-1918. Papers created as Commander in Chief, Eastern Command and Home Forces, 1918-1919, consisting of inspection reports of various depots and units in the UK, and general correspondence. Papers created as General Officer Commanding in Chief, BAOR (British Army of the Rhine), 1919-1920, including printed memoranda by French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Allied Supreme Commander on the Western and Italian Fronts, on the conditions required to ensure peace in Europe, 1918-1919; papers relating to the organisation and functions of the British Zone of Occupation in Germany, 1919; correspondence with Gen Sir Henry Hughes Wilson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, the Rt Hon Winston (Leonard Spencer) Churchill, Secretary of State for War, and Maj Gen Sir Charles 'Tim' Harington Harington, Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff, 1919; inspection reports of BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) units, 1919. Private correspondence, mainly relating to Robertson's work during World War One, including correspondence with Lt Col Arthur John Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham, Private Secretary to HM King George V, 1914-1918; Maj Gen Charles Edward Callwell, Director of Military Operations at the War Office, 1915; Gen Sir Archibald (James) Murray, Chief of the Imperial General Staff and General Officer Commanding in Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 1915-1916; the Rt Hon David Lloyd George, Secretary of State for War, 1916, and Prime Minister, 1916-1918; FM Sir Douglas Haig, Commander in Chief, British Armies in France, 1915-1918; Maj Gen Frederick (Barton) Maurice, Director of Military Operations at the War Office, 1917-1918; and the Rt Hon Winston (Leonard Spencer) Churchill, Secretary of State for War, 1919-1920. Also including correspondence, memoranda and notes concerning the events leading up to the resignation of Robertson as Chief of the Imperial General Staff in Feb 1918, dated Jan-Feb 1918. Semi-official papers and private correspondence, 1915-1918, collected by Brig Gen Cecil Courtenay Lucas, Robertson's Aide de Camp, mainly comprising correspondence between Robertson and Gen Sir Archibald (James) Murray, Gen Sir Beauchamp Duff, Gen Sir Charles Carmichael Monro, and Gen Sir Edward Henry Hynman Allenby, relating to military operations in India, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Palestine, 1916-1918; Lt Col Sir Maurice Pascal Alers Hankey, Secretary to the War Cabinet and the Committee of Imperial Defence, 1916-1917; Lt Gen the Rt Hon Jan Christian Smuts, South African Representative on the British War Cabinet, 1917; Gen Sir (Francis) Reginald Wingate, Governor General of the Sudan, 1916, and High Commissioner of Egypt, 1917; and Lt Col Charles A'Court Repington, Military Correspondent of The Times, 1916-1917. General correspondence with various on military matters, 1916-1918, including Reginald Baliol Brett, 2nd Viscount Esher, Lt Gen George Francis Milne, French Gen Robert Georges Nivelle, Italian Gen Luigi Cadorna, Lt Gen Sir Frederick Stanley Maude, and Gen Sir Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer.

System of arrangement

Arranged in sections as shown above and in the Brief List.

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, attention of the Director of Archive Services.

Language/scripts of material

English

Finding aids

This detailed Catalogue and also in hard copy in the Centre's reading room.

Allied materials

Existence and location of originals

King's College London College Archives

Existence and location of copies

A preservation microfilm has been made of sections 1-7.

Related units of description

Papers of Gen Sir Alexander John Godley include letters from Robertson, 1910-1932 (Ref: GB99 KCLMA Godley 3/556-615). Papers of Lt Gen Sir Launcelot Kiggell include correspondence with Robertson relating to operations on the Western Front, 1915-1917 (Ref: GB99 KCLMA Kiggell 4/1-11). Department of Western Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, Oxford University: papers of Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl Asquith of Oxford and Asquith, include correspondence; papers of Arthur Augustus William Harry Ponsonby, 1st Baron Ponsonby of Shulbrede, include correspondence, 1914-1918. British Library, London: papers of Gen Sir Archibald (James) Murray include correspondence with Robertson, 1916-1917, relating to the Mediterranean and the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (Ref: Add Mss 52461-52463). Department of Documents, Imperial War Museum, London: papers of Howell Arthur Gwynne include correspondence, 1915-1927; papers of FM Sir Henry Hughes Wilson, 1st Bt, include correspondence, 1917-1920. Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge: papers of Maurice Pascal Alers Hankey, 1st Baron Hankey of The Chart include correspondence; papers of Maj Gen Sir Edward (Louis) Spears, 1st Bt, include correspondence, 1923 (Ref: SPRS 1/290). Department of Manuscript and University Archives, Cambridge University Library: papers of Lord Hardinge include correspondence, 1916-1917. House of Lords Record Office, London: papers of Rt Hon Andrew Bonar Law include correspondence, 1915-1918; papers of the Rt Hon David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor, include correspondence, 1916-1918 (Ref: Vols 1/D, 2/E and 3/F). India Office Library, London: papers of George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, include correspondence. National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh: papers of FM Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, include correspondence. Public Record Office, London: correspondence with Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener of Khartoum (Ref: PRO 30/57, WO 159); papers of Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey, include correspondence (Ref: FO 800/102 Grey Mss). Royal Archives, Windsor: papers of King George V include correspondence.

Publication note

Victor Bonham Carter used the papers for his biography Soldier true, the life and times of Field-Marshal Sir William Robertson (Frederick Muller, London, 1963). A number of letters and telegrams from the collection are reproduced in Military Correspondence of FM Sir William Robertson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, December 1915- February 1918 edited by David R Woodward (Army Records Society, Volume 5, London, Bodley Head, 1989).

Notes

Note

Decorations: GCB, GCMG, GCVO, DSO

Description control

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

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Subjects

  • Armed forces
  • Central government
  • Government
  • Government departments
  • Higher science education
  • Humanitarian law
  • International conflicts
  • International relations
  • Military engineering
  • Military logistics
  • Military organizations
  • Military theory
  • Occupied territories
  • Organizations
  • Peace
  • Public administration
  • State security
  • War
  • Warfare
  • Wars (events)
  • World War One (1914-1918)
  • World wars (events)

Personal names

  • Allenby, Edmund Henry Hynman, 1861-1936, 1st Viscount Allenby of Megiddo and Felixstowe, Field Marshal
  • Bigge, Arthur John, 1849-1931, 1st Baron Stamfordham
  • Brett, Reginald Baliol, 1885-1930, 2nd Viscount Esher, politician
  • Cadorna, Luigi, 1850-1928, Italian General
  • Callwell, Charles Edward, 1859-1928, Major General
  • Churchill, Sir, Winston Leonard Spencer, 1874-1965, Knight, statesman
  • Cowans, Sir, John Steven, 1862-1921, Knight, General
  • Donop, Sir, Stanley Brenton, Von, 1860-1940, Knight, Major General
  • Duff, Sir, Beauchamp, 1855-1918, Knight, General
  • Foch, Ferdinand, 1851-1929, French Field Marshal
  • George V, 1865-1936, King of Great Britain and Ireland
  • George, David Lloyd, 1863-1945, 1st Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor, statesman
  • Haig, Douglas, 1861-1928, 1st Earl Haig, Field Marshal
  • Hankey, Maurice Paschal Alers, 1877-1963, 1st Baron Hankey of the Chart, civil servant
  • Harington, Sir, Charles Harington, 1872-1940, Knight, General
  • Kitchener, Horatio Herbert, 1850-1916, 1st Earl Kitchener of Khartoum and Broome, Field Marshal
  • Lucas, Cecil Courtenay, 1883-1957, Brigadier General
  • Maude, Sir, Frederick Stanley, 1864-1917, Knight, Lieutenant General
  • Maurice, Sir, Frederick Barton, 1871-1951, Knight, Major General and author
  • Milne, George Francis, 1866-1948, Field Marshal, 1st Baron Milne of Salonika and Rubislaw
  • Monro, Sir, Charles Carmichael, 1860-1929, 1st Baronet, General
  • Murray, Sir, Archibald James, 1860-1945, Knight, General
  • Nivelle, Robert Georges, 1856-1924, French General
  • Plumer, Herbert Charles Onslow, 1857-1932, 1st Viscount Plumer of Messines and Bilton, Field Marshal
  • Repington, Charles, A'Court, 1858-1933, Lieutenant Colonel, military correspondent
  • Smuts, Jan Christian, 1870-1950, General, Prime Minister of South Africa
  • Wilson, Sir, Henry Hughes, 1864-1922, Knight, Field Marshal and politician
  • Wingate, Sir, Francis Reginald, 1861-1953, Knight, General

Corporate names

  • Army Council
  • British Army
  • British Army of the Rhine
  • British Expeditionary Force
  • Supreme War Council
  • The Times
  • War Cabinet
  • War Office

Places

  • Balkans, Eastern Europe
  • Camberley, Surrey, England
  • Chantilly, France
  • Crimea
  • Dardanelles, Turkey, Middle East
  • Egypt, North Africa
  • Gallipoli, Turkey, Middle East
  • Iraq, Middle East
  • London, England
  • Mesopotamia, Middle East
  • Palestine, Middle East
  • Romania, Eastern Europe
  • Russia, Eastern Europe
  • Salonika, Greece

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