Frank Crowther Roberts

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Frank Crowther Roberts
Frank Crowther Roberts VC.jpg
Nickname(s) "Culley"
Born (1891-06-02)2 June 1891
Highbury, London, England
Died 12 January 1982(1982-01-12) (aged 90)
Stanhope Bretby, Derbyshire, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1911–39
Rank Major-General
Unit Worcestershire Regiment
Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Commands held 48th (South Midland) Infantry Division
Poona Brigade
1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Victoria Cross
Distinguished Service Order
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches

Major-General Frank Crowther Roberts, VC, DSO, OBE, MC (2 June 1891 – 12 January 1982) was a senior British Army officer and an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Military career[edit]

Roberts was educated at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where he graduated in 1911 and was subsequently commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Worcestershire Regiment of the British Army on 4 March 1911.[1] He was sent, with his battalion, to Alexandria, Egypt the following year, to relieve the 2nd Worcesters, and was there upon the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914.[2]

The battalion returned to the United Kingdom shortly after the declaration of war and arrived there in October 1914, where it became part of the 24th Brigade of the 8th Division, which was then in process of formation. The battalion was sent to the Western Front and landed in France in early November.[3] Three months after his arrival, Roberts, by now a lieutenant, was awarded the Distinguished Service Order while leading a trench raid. He later fought in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, later becoming the adjutant of his battalion. In October 1916 he was made brigade major of the 23rd Brigade. During the Battle of Passchendaele (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres) in August 1917. In late October he returned to the 1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment and, aged just 26, was promoted to the acting rank of lieutenant colonel, was given temporary command of the battalion.

He was 26 years old, and an acting lieutenant colonel in the 1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, British Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

During the period 22 March/2 April 1918 west of Somme and at Pargny, France, Lieutenant Colonel Roberts showed exceptional military skill in dealing with the many very difficult situations of the retirement and amazing endurance and energy in inspiring all ranks under his command. On one occasion the enemy attacked a village and had practically cleared it of our troops when Colonel Roberts got together an improvised party and led a counter-attack which temporarily drove the enemy out of the village, thus covering the retirement of troops on their flanks. The success of this action was entirely due to his personal valour and skill.[4]

He was wounded on 27 March and returned to England for treatment, returning to his battalion in mid-June, where he again assumed command, remaining in this post for the rest of the war.

He remained in the army during the interwar period, serving briefly with the Egyptian Army in the Sudan from 1919–20, and later attended the Staff College, Camberley in 1921–22, later serving in Egypt in 1923–24 and the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). He transferred to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1927, later commanding the 1st Battalion, in 1937 and went with it to India. The following year he became commander of the Poona Brigade of the British Indian Army. Returning to England, he was promoted to the rank of major general on 1 June 1939, and became general officer commanding (GOC) of the 48th (South Midland) Infantry Division, a Territorial Army (TA) formation. However, aged just 48, he retired from the British Army in December of that year, three months of the Second World War.

He and his wife settled in Stanhope Bretby, Derbyshire. He remained until his death on 12 January 1982, aged 90.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at The Worcestershire Regimental Collection in the Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum, Worcester, Worcestershire, England.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Stephen Butler
GOC 48th (South Midland) Infantry Division
June 1939–October 1939
Succeeded by
Andrew Thorne