Torquhil Matheson

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Sir Torquhil Matheson
BornFebruary 1871
DiedNovember, 1963 (aged 92)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service1890 to 1935
Commands held20th Infantry Division
4th Infantry Division
Guards Division
7th Infantry Division
Western Command, India
Battles/warsSecond Boer War
First World War
Western Front
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George

General Sir Torquhil George Matheson, 5th Baronet, KCB, CMG, (February 1871 – November, 1963) was a senior British Army officer of the First World War who commanded three different divisions in some of the heaviest fighting of the conflict. He had previously served in the militia and with the Coldstream Guards in the Second Boer War. For his service, he was knighted in 1921 and in 1944 he inherited the Matheson baronetcy from his brother Roderick.

Early life and family[edit]

Torquhil Matheson was born in 1871, the youngest child of Sir Alexander Matheson, 1st Baronet, and was educated at Eton College. He inherited the baronetcy in 1944 when his four older brothers (including the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Baronets) predeceased him and three nephews (the 3rd Bt.'s only sons) were all killed in action in World War I.

In 1900 he married Ella Louisa Linton and they divorced in 1923 (no children). He then married Lady Elizabeth Keppel, the youngest child of Arnold Keppel, 8th Earl of Albemarle. They had two sons:

  • Major Sir Torquhil Alexander Matheson of Matheson, 6th Bt. (15 Aug 1925–9 Apr 1993)
  • Major Sir Fergus John Matheson of Matheson, 7th Bt. (b. 22 Feb 1927)

Military career[edit]

Matheson joined the Hertfordshire Militia before being commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Bedfordshire Regiment on 15 December 1888.[1] On 2 June 1894, Matheson transferred from the Bedfordshires, in which he was then a lieutenant, to the Coldstream Guards as a second lieutenant again,[2] and was promoted lieutenant in that regiment on 1 December 1897. He served in the Second Boer War, as adjutant of the 1st battalion from 1899 until May 1902.[3] The battalion took part in the battles of Belmont (23 November 1899), Enslin, Modder River (28 November 1899) and Magersfontein (11 December 1899), and he was mentioned in despatches, and promoted to captain on 20 April 1901.[4] Following the end of the war in June 1902, Matheson left Cape Town in the SS Carisbrook Castle in September 1902, arriving at Southampton early the following month.[5] At the outbreak of the First World War, Matheson went with his regiment to France and fought in several actions, being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1915 in command of the 3rd Battalion.[6]

In July 1915, Matheson advanced to command the 46th Infantry Brigade and remained in this position until March 1917, when he was promoted to Major General and took over the 20th Infantry Division. In August, shortly before the division was due to deploy in the Third Battle of Ypres, Matheson was severely effected by a German gas barrage that struck his headquarters, forcing him to relinquish control of the division. In September he took over the 4th Infantry Division and commanded he force until September 1918, when he was replaced by Louis Lipsett and took charge of the Guards Division for the final months of the war.[6]

In 1918, Matheson was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath and the following year was awarded the Croix de Guerre[7] and appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George on relinquishing command of the Guards. In 1922, he was advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath "for valuable services rendered in the Field with the Waziristan Force"[8] and commanded the 7th Guards Brigade and then the 7th Infantry Division. On 30 June 1931, he was appointed to his last command, as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command, India,[9] and on 30 June 1935 retired from that post as a full General.[10] On 2 July 1935 he was gazetted to the Retired List,[11] and in 1944 succeeded to his grandfather's baronetcy on the death of his elder brother Roderick. He died in November 1963.[6]


  1. ^ "No. 25883". The London Gazette. 14 December 1888. p. 7141.
  2. ^ "No. 26518". The London Gazette. 1 June 1894. p. 3190.
  3. ^ "No. 27454". The London Gazette. 15 July 1902. p. 4511.
  4. ^ Hart 1903, p. 221.
  5. ^ "The Army in South Africa - Troops returning Home". The Times (36882). London. 25 September 1902. p. 5.
  6. ^ a b c Davies & Maddocks 2014, pp. 166-167.
  7. ^ "No. 31514". The London Gazette. 19 August 1919. pp. 10607–10608.
  8. ^ "No. 32778". The London Gazette. 19 December 1922. p. 8949.
  9. ^ "No. 33748". The London Gazette. 28 August 1931. p. 5626.
  10. ^ "No. 34188". The London Gazette. 9 August 1935. p. 5109.
  11. ^ "No. 34176". The London Gazette. 2 July 1935. p. 4258.


Military offices
Preceded by
W. Douglas-Smith
General Officer Commanding the 20th Division
March 1917 – August 1917
Succeeded by
W. Douglas-Smith
Preceded by
William Lambton
General Officer Commanding the 4th Division
September 1917 – September 1918
Succeeded by
Louis Lipsett
Preceded by
G. Fielding
General Officer Commanding the Guards Division
September 1918 – September 1919
Succeeded by
Division dissolved
Preceded by
Sir Charles Harington
GOC-in-C, Western Command, India
1931 – 1935
Succeeded by
Sir Ivo Vesey
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Roderick Matheson
Matheson Baronets
Succeeded by
Torquil Matheson