Robert Bellew Adams

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Robert Bellew Adams
Victoria Cross Winners- Pre 1914. Q80464.jpg
Robert Adams, c1897 (IWM Q80464)
Born (1856-07-26)26 July 1856
Muree, British India
Died 13 February 1928(1928-02-13) (aged 71)
Inverness, Scotland
Buried Glasgow
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Bengal Army
 British Indian Army
Rank Major-General
Battles/wars Second Anglo-Afghan War
Chitral Expedition
Tirah Campaign
Awards Victoria Cross
Order of the Bath
Relations Edward Donald Bellew VC (second cousin)

Major-General Sir Robert Bellew Adams, VC, KCB (Muree, Punjab, India, 26 July 1856 – 13 February 1928, Inverness) was a Scottish general of the Indian Army and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


Robert Bellew Adams, the son of an officer of the Corps of Guides regiment of the Indian Army, entered the Army in 1876 as a sub-lieutenant in the 12th Foot (later the Suffolk Regiment).[1] His promotion to lieutenant in 1878 was backdated to 1876.[2] He transferred to the Bengal Staff Corps in 1879,[3] served with his father's regiment in the Second Anglo-Afghan War and was promoted to captain in 1887.[4] In 1891 he was appointed to command the cavalry of the Guides. He took part in the Chitral Expedition and afterwards was promoted to major in 1896[5] and brevet lieutenant colonel "in recognition of his services during the operations of the Chitral Relief Force, 1895."[6]

In 1897 the Guides took part in the Tirah Campaign, and the following event took place:

During the fighting at Nawa Kili, in Upper Swat, on the 17th August, 1897, Lieutenant-Colonel R.B. Adams proceeded with Lieutenants H.L.S. MacLean and Viscount Fincastle, and five men of the Guides, under a very heavy and close fire, to the rescue of Lieutenant R.T. Greaves, Lancashire Fusiliers, who was lying disabled by a bullet wound and surrounded by the enemy's swordsmen. In bringing him under cover he (Lieutenant Greaves) was struck by a bullet and killed — Lieutenant MacLean was mortally wounded — whilst the horses of Lieutenant-Colonel Adams and Lieutenant Viscount Fincastle were shot, as well as two troop horses.
London Gazette, 9 November 1897[7]

Lieutenant Greaves was acting as war correspondent for The Times of India. Viscount Fincastle was also acting as a war correspondent, for The Times. A fuller account is given by Winston Churchill in The Story of the Malakand Field Force.[8]

Adams and Fincastle were awarded the Victoria Cross (VC). At that time the VC was not awarded posthumously, and the London Gazette noted "Lieutenant Hector Lachlan Stewart MacLean, Indian Staff Corps, on account of his gallant conduct as recorded above, would have been recommended to Her Majesty for the Victoria Cross had he survived." MacLean was awarded a posthumous VC in 1907 after the policy had been changed.[9]

During the same campaign Adams was mentioned in despatches three times and made a Companion of the Order of the Bath. In 1899 he was appointed to the command of the Guides, and in September 1901 he was appointed Aide-de-camp to King Edward VII and received the Brevet rank of colonel.[10] In 1904 he was given the command of the Umballa Cavalry Brigade. In 1906 he was promoted to major-general and transferred to the Derajat Brigade, but due to illness he resigned the command in 1908. He was invalided out of the army in 1911 and appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the King's Birthday Honours of 1912.[11]


Adams was unmarried. He was the second cousin of Edward Donald Bellew, a Canadian WWI VC recipient.


  1. ^ "No. 24362". The London Gazette. 12 September 1876. p. 4962.
  2. ^ "No. 24625". The London Gazette. 17 September 1878. p. 5174.
  3. ^ "No. 24905". The London Gazette. 23 November 1880. p. 5939.
  4. ^ "No. 25758". The London Gazette. 15 November 1887. p. 6067.
  5. ^ "No. 26795". The London Gazette. 17 November 1896. p. 6275.
  6. ^ "No. 26797". The London Gazette. 24 November 1896. p. 6507.
  7. ^ "No. 26908". The London Gazette. 9 November 1897. p. 6143.
  8. ^ Churchill, W.S., The Story of the Malakand Field Force - An Episode of the Frontier War, reprinted by Arc Manor, 2008, pages 81-82
  9. ^ "No. 27986". The London Gazette. 15 January 1907. p. 325.
  10. ^ "No. 27359". The London Gazette. 27 September 1901. p. 6295.
  11. ^ "No. 28617". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 1912. p. 4297.

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