George Kemball

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Sir George Vero Kemball
Born (1858-10-01)1 October 1858
Fairseat, Wrotham, United Kingdom
Died 10 January 1941(1941-01-10) (aged 83)
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Artillery, British Army
Years of service 1878–1919
Rank Major General (1914–1919)
Colonel Commandant Royal Artillery (1927–1929)
Commands held 28th Indian Brigade
5th (Mhow) Division
Battles/wars Second Afghan War (1878–1880)
Chitral Expedition (1895)
Tochi Expedition (1897)
Kaduna Expedition (1900)
Bida Expedition (1901)
Kano-Sokoto Expedition (1903)
World War I (1914–1918)
- France (1914–1915)
- Mesopotamia (1916)
Awards DSO (1901)
CB (1903)
K.C.M.G. (1917)

Major-General Sir George Vere Kemball, KCMG, CB, DSO, R.A. (1859–1941) was a British Army officer of the 19th and early 20th century. He was a career officer in the British Army spending most of his career in India and Africa.

Early life and family[edit]

George Kemball was the son of Major-General John Shaw Kemball. He had a younger brother, Arnold Henry Grant Kemball, who commanded the 54th (Kootenay) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. His father and uncle were both generals in the British Army. His grandfather, Vero Shaw Kemball, had been the Surgeon-General for Bombay. Other ancestors served various regiments of the British Army, including the Black Watch, as well as the Indian Army. In 1889, he married Hattie Elliot.[1] With his brother, he attended Twyford before going to Harrow.[2]

Military career[edit]

Early career[edit]

After attending Twyford School and Harrow, he obtained a commission as a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in 1878. After serving in the Second Afghan War (1878–1880), he was promoted to captain in 1886. In 1895, he was assigned to the staff of the Chitral Relief Force, working as the Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General for Intelligence, for which he was mentioned in dispatches and be brevetted to major.[3][4] In 1898, he was promoted to major.

In 1897, Kemball took part in the Tochi Expedition along the North-West Frontier, for which he was also mentioned in dispatches. In 1900, Kemball saw action in Africa, campaigning in Nigeria in the Kaduna Expedition. He was appointed Inspector general and thus acting commander of the West African Frontier Force, taking command of an expedition against the Bida and Kontagora in January 1901,[5] for which he would receive the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in April 1902.[6] He was also promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1901, and made a local brigadier general. He commanded British forces in the Kano-Sokoto Expedition in 1903, for which he was rewarded with a C.B.

Service in Africa and first commands[edit]

After the Kano-Sokoto Expedition, Kemball was recalled to London, where he was involved in the recruiting and selection of personnel for service in Nigeria.[7] From 1909 until 1913, he worked at the War Office. In 1914, he returned to India, where he was given command of a brigade and promoted to major general.

Great War service[edit]

During World War I, Kemball served in Mesopotamia and was involved in efforts to relieve the Siege of Kut.[8] He commanded the 28th Indian Brigade of the 7th (Meerut) Division through the battles of 1916. He was wounded at the Battle of Sanniyat in April 1916. For his service in the Mesopotamian Campaign, he was knighted and made a Knight Commander of Order of St Michael and St George.[9]

After his service in the Mesopotamian Campaign, he returned to India, where he was given command of 5th (Mhow) Division in 1917. He remained in command of the division until 1919. After his retirement, from 1927 to 1929 he served as the colonel commandant of the Royal Artillery.[10]

Kemball died in 1941, survived by his wife and children.


  1. ^ Peter Beauclerk Dewar, Burke's landed gentry of Great Britain: together with members of the titled and non-titled contemporary establishment, (Wilmington, Delaware: Burke's Peerage & Gentry, 2001) p. 791.
  2. ^ The Kemballs
  3. ^ London Gazette, 11 February 1898, p. 859.
  4. ^ London Gazette, 21 January 1896, p. 358.
  5. ^ "No. 27426". The London Gazette. 18 April 1902. pp. 2583–2584. 
  6. ^ "No. 27428". The London Gazette. 25 April 1902. p. 2759. 
  7. ^ Boyle, Andrew (1962). "Chapter 4". Trenchard Man of Vision. St. James's Place London: Collins. pp. 71 and 72. 
  8. ^ Sir John Nixon's Second Despatch, London Gazette, 9 May 1916, p. 4657
  9. ^ London Gazette, April 1917, p. 3401
  10. ^ Twyfordians - Biographies