Permanent link to this item
HOW "BOBS" DIED, Issue 15694, 7 January 1915
HOW "BOBS" DIED
THE FATAL ILLNTJSS. -'GLAD TO DIE NEAR COMRADES OF OTHER DAYS." Lord Roberts visited the army mainly for the purpose of seeing the Indian troops, being accompanied, by Lady Aiken Roberts (his daughter! and' Major Lewin (his son-in-law). The following is the official account of his illness and death:- *• He arrived in France on Wednesday, N<>Tcinher 11. and motored to General Headquarters, after inspecting an Indian hospital ship in port and the Royal Flying Corps on the way. On the following day. -which was cold, Lend Roberts made a "engthv journey round the positions. At the various headquarters of the Indian troops he was received by the Staff_ and guards of honor composed of men of. the 'different units present, also by the native princes, F.n route Lord Roberts inspected numerous units and detachments. On the "Friday the tour of inspection ww continued in a different direction, and the commander of on* of the French armies was visited. On every side Lord Roberts was greeted bv both British and native soldiers with the greatest enthusiasm and affection. On Friday evening it was found that he had contracted a chill, probably on this tour oi inspection. Congestion of one lung and pleurisy developed very ouiehiv. "' This proved 100 great a. strain for the heart, and m spite of the assistance of tho eminent medical inert whose advice was available, and of the care of the nurses, ho gradually crew weaker, relapsed into unconsciousness, and succumbed at 8 p.m. on Saturday, the 14th, at General Headquarters." Apparently Lord Roberta had no need to he told what the medical examination -regaled. " I don't exnect to recover.'' he said, "and I am ghd to die near so many old comrades of other days." He passed av-av in what, seemed a- sleep, and on the dsv'that ho was to return home. When the news of his death reached the trenches tLany —"Old-timers" Broke .Down and Sobbed.— Describing his visit to the hospital ship. the wife of the. principal jivdical officer nn hoard has placed the following touching account on record : —" Lord Roberts came to inspect- the ship and see the wounded. It. was- wonderful to see them directly he was recognised—they were all frving'to get up and salute him. He was very kincLto them all and heard all about their wounds, patting ih-ir heads and saying 'Poor chap, ]-oor chap.' "When lie left the ward there was a general murmur iiom them aii blessing hint. 1 have never e*H--!i such mi affecting sighl. 'lhe tears ran down the old man's face, but, _ he turned round on me verv sharp and said : " Your hospital is as near perfection as a-nv 1 have seen. 1 congratulate yon." Ho then saw two native officers, both of whom knew him. wrote his name in my book, shook hands, and went. He i> simply worshipped by the-e- men. Other generals have been'round often, bin- there is never hj sound. Yesterday was like a- whole .•hurch full of men praying. Such is my first official experience of 'Bobs.' and it brings the water to my eyes. . . • His face "is old. but his back is as straight as a line, and Iv* signature, the large, tirm. willing of a young man." THE LAST HOMECOMING. THE TRIBUTE OF THREE NATIONS. Though devoid of funeral pageantry, vet- ia"its simplicity and in the deep manifestations of sympathy which it evoked, there was something sublime about the first, stage of the- hornetoming of the illustrious 'Field Marshal, The •mall F"rench town in which are at present stationed the General Headquarters of the- Expeditionary Force witnessed a deeply-impressive ceremony when the mortal remains of Lord Roberts were conveyed through the town in procession with military honors from the house, in which he died to tho Mairie, or town hall, where th# funeral setwice was performed. Along the whole distance between these two points, of some half a mile, and for a quarter of a mile farther to the point v; he re tho Boulogne road leaves the town the rout* was lined with British and French troops. At 9.30 a.m. the. coffin. draped in the Union Jack, with the dead Field Marshal's sword and cap on top of it, was borne from the house and placed upon the waiting gun-carriage by a. carrying party of tight non-commissioned ofrilers. Within the courtyard of the house was a guard of honor composed of representatives from different Indian regiments, who afterwards took their places in the procession. Outside, drawn up in line in the street, was a guard of honor of British infantry. To the wail of 'The Flowers of the Forest' from the pipers at the head of the column the cortege moved up the street, over -which white sand had been strewn. Slowly it proceeded between the double rank of soldiers clad in khaki resting on their arms reversed, and below the houses, whoso windows were crowded with the sympathetic inhabitants of the. town watching with every rnark of respect. Trie service was held in the vestibule of the Mairie, which, by kindness of tho. Mayor and the civic authorities, had been converted into a temporary chapel. With the aid of some of the residents it had been furnished -with an altar and altar furniture, and was beautifully decorated with palms and white chrysanthemums. The chapel was larige enough to contain the. whole- of the officers attending the funeral, and these denied in on two sides of th»- coffin, the British officers altogether on one side, ■while on tho oth«=r stood the French and Belgian representatives and the representatives of India. At one end of tho bier stood the I'rince of Wales and Major Prince Arthur of Connaught. The service, conducted by the Rev. F. J. Anderson, Chaplain to" the Forces, was very simple. The music was led by a choir of ioldiers, accompanied by a 'harmonium. At the conclusion of the service.—The 'Last Post,'— ts.l<2.w*3. Vy ißxllWr*. ranp mix aero?? the square, and tire sad. notes"made many r>f those present realise with a pang that they had followed their old chief for tho last time. The echo of the tall gradualiv died away, the coffin was carefully and reverently borne down the steps and placed with its mass of wreaths in the waiting pjotor ambulance which wa.s to convey it to Boulogne. As> this was done the aims i>f the guard of honor once more sprang to the present, the French trumpeters again blew a fanfare, anil the 1 , guns of Lord Roberts's old regiment began to roar out their last farewell. At this moment a fresh sound was heard above the roar of the artillery and the brassv music of the trumpets as. a British aeroplane, one of the aerial guard that had been watchine and _ protecting the procession, swooped tip into sight, circled tho square, and dipped in salute. The last wreath was put in, tho door was closed, and the ambulance slowly moved off on its road to Boulogne, and deeply-sympathetic crowds awaited the arrival of the Fieldtnarahal's remains at Boulogne. Probably .hever before were honors rendered to "a British _ Field-marshal's remains abroad under similar dramatic conditions. Silence >wa» the order up to the last minute bofore tho arrival of the Red Cross motor car which brought the body from the British Headquarters in. Franco. Nobodv ■was to divine the. secret, yet by that mysterious intuition which crowds seem to have, the people of Boulogne know when the hour had come. At half-past 12 the bridge across the basin was closed to traffic. Instantly a silent, respectful crowd lined the pavements. Troops beto march into the square opposite the Jbridge. A British battalion took up position in _ front of tho Hotel du Louvre. Companies of French, marines next appeared, and formed a long row of darkblue along the water's edge. Then more French troops marched into the square, and drew- up in a line two deep in the direction of the railway station. The pentre of the square, was occupied bv a large group of British and French staff officers. Tha Sub-Prefect of Boulogne, the s£ayor, and the Judges of tho various tribunals, and other local civil officials formed another group. Meanwhile the crowds in the space allowed them behind the quays deepened, and in addition to the entire farrison of Boulogne nearly all the inabdtantgjct ___ j
—Last Honors,to England's National Hero.— A few minutes after 1 o'clock a large Red Cross motor ear that showed marks of a rough campaign drew up in front of the bridge and came to a halt. It contained the 'cherished remains. Immediately the band of the French regiment struck up the 'Keveil arcs: Champ,' and eight officers, with bared heads, representing the British and native Indian troops, lifted the bier out of the car. The troops presented arms, the command to reverse rifles rang out, officers presented swords, and all in the vast multitude behind uncoveied their heads. The scene was an impressive one, a.s the officers stood immovable, with tho bier on their shoulders, in front of the bridge, whilst the bugle again rang out and "sounded the last call for the honored dead on the soil of France. The bier was draped in a large British flag, the folds of which almost touched the ground. A procession of flower-bearers then led the way, carrying vast wreaths of white and purplo chrysanthemums and evergreen, with appropriate inscriptions, from the General in Command of tho Northern Division, from the Governor of Boulogne, from the officers of the garrison, from the civil authorities, front the Keel Cress Society, and the ladies of France, and a great many more. Slowly the cortege moved down to the boat, preceded by the band pitying a plainlive funeral dirge, whilst the British and French soldiers and French marines on either side presented arms. Before tho coffin was carried on to the boat there ivas another command, a final salute from all the officers on tho quay, and the troops marched past. The bier was then carried to its appointed place on the Onward, the ship that had carried Lord Boberts only a few days previously to France, and on which the Prince of Wales had travelled only the day before. The boat left at 5 o'clock lor Folkestone with "is mournful burden. It was growing dusk when the Onward arrived at Folke-.-tone, searchlights from Hover were sweeping the- sea. for 20 mikb around, and they lit up the, funeral ship. —With a Great Halo of Light.—■ On tho quayside was Major-general f>pens, the commandant at Shorneiilfe, and the members of his staff, including Major Stewart, carrying a Union Jack, together with a large- number of officers stationed in Folkestone and Dover. All were in khaki. A guard of honor was provided by the Iloval Fusiliers, and drawn up immediately above the. portion of the jetty where the Onward berthed. The first to board the vessel was Major-general Speus, followed by his aides-de-camp. The coffin was lying on tho aft deck in a veritable lake of perfume from dozens of wreaths, many of them being of remarkable si/.e. To the 6th Battalion Welsh Regiment (Territorials) was accorded the privilege of furnishing the guard of honor from Boulogne to Folkestone. It consisted of a color-sergeant and six men, who wore (stationed on either side of the coffin with reversed arms. To these were added when tho vessel berthed a small detachment of Royal Fusiliers, the men of which regiment also provided the bearer party. Major-general Spens stood for a moment beside the bier, and saluted the famous dead. Then the hearer party, with uncovered heads, proceeded aboard. Before they shouldered the coffin some 20 young officers each took up a wreath and walked aside with it, forming up in a line of khaki figures ho Wing giant white emblems between the ship's side and the- chapelle ardente. In a subdued tfoice, that scarcely broke the hissing of the arc lamps and the wash of the waves against the jetty_. the officer in command of the shore guard of lienor gave the order "Present arms!" Preceded by a detachment of the Fusiliers, with reversed anus, the bearer party then carried the little coffin from the boat to the room on the quayside, close at hand, prepared as a chapel to receive it. Following the cortege came General Wilson, Sir Pertab Singh, a French officer. General Spens. and Major Lewin (son-in-law of Lord Roberts). Then the wreaths were laid around the tiny chamber. There were fully 50 of these splendid floral offerings, and the- beauty of their design was the subject of general comment. One was tied up with the British colors, another with the tricolor. and yet another with the gold, red. and black that stands to-day for the bright heroism, tho sacrifice in blood, and the deep mourning of the heroic Belgian nation. In the chapelle ardente. simply draped in purple cloth, and upon a catafalque above which glimmered a couple of gas jets, the great soldier was left to rest on the iirst stage- of his home-coming. One by one the officers took leave of him, and then two sentries, with fixed bayonets, were set to keep guard through- the night within the temporary death chamber, and two without. '■ First relief, forward!" Those were the only words spoken. A PUBLIC! MONUMENT. j ELOQUENT APPRECIATION BY THE ! PRIME MINISTER. In the House of Commons the Prime Minister paid an eloquent tribute to the memory of the illustrious soldier, in moving the following resolution, which the House, accepted unanimously: That on Monday next this House will resolve itself into a committee to consider an humble address to His Majesty praying that he will give directions that a monument bo erected at the public charge to the memory of the late-Field-marshal Earl Roberts, with an inscrigiion expressing tho admiral ion of this House tor his illustrious military career, and its gratitude for his devoted seisices to the State. Mr Asquith said": The British Empire experienced the sense of a personal loss for which it was wholly unprepared when it realised that death had suddenly taken from us the oldest and the most illustrious of our soldiers. Lord Roberts, an Irishman by race and hlood, born in India of a distinguished military stock, educated hero in England, entered the Indian Army when he was still little more than a boy, won the Victoria Cross in tho Mutiny, and fought his way step by step, unaided . Vj;r a.n.%- \ni~ except. V\is own vatm- n.nd skill, "to the highest place in tho famous force to which ho gave tho best years of his life. During the 40 years he spent in the- service of the country and of the Crown in our great dependency there was. from the first, no hazard which he did j not encounter, no daring adventure in I which he was not- to the front : and in : his maturer days there was no campaign : in wliich he did not stand out from among ! his contemporaries by his consummate I strategy, his rare powers of leadership, ! his unique, faculty of attracting the. devoi tion of his men —icheers) —and his mas- | tery over the science and the practice of j the" art of war. I will not presume to I pass judgment on his military qualities ! and achievements, but I am confident that I I am not going a step in advance of the i ultimate verdict of history when I say that lie takes a high and undisputed place j among our greatest British captains, as lour poet says, "on fame's eternal bead 'roll worthy "to be found." I recall tho I last talk that I had with him only two or threo weeks ago, when he pressed upon me his desire to be of use, in whatever capacity—lcheers)—in this tho latest and greatest of our wars. To the end he was ! not only wishing but working for the sue- | cess of "our arms. (Cheers.) Mr Bonar Law. in seconding the resoI lution, said -. Loixl Roberts understood | better than any man British soldiers of all ranks and of all nationalities. He underi stood them,, he loved them, and they loved him He was. and he deserved to be, the idol of the British Army. He was a great soldier, great in the courage, great in the originality and in the breadth of his strategy, but great most of all, perhaps, in the cjuality which has always distinguished tamous rcommanders—in the blmd confidence which inspired every man who followed him. K. OF K.'S TRIBUTE. In the House of Lords the War Minister said that during the 41 years that the deceased Field-marshal had passed in India there had hardly been a battle within its confines in which he did not contribute by his valor and skill. Roberts's name and that of Nicholson—under whom he served in the glorious siege of Delhi—ara a in every o'azaa.r in India. "He would himself, I feel sure," said | Lord Kitchener, '" have wished for no hap- i
soldier of our day. in the midst of the j greatest armv the' Empire has ever put in* the held, with the sound of the shells and S the cheers of his comrades still ringing |, in his ears. I, more than most men, h«"occasion to learn and admire his (iu.ihtie.-s_;. of head and heart: his ripe, and sage counsel were fully and ireeiy j offered "to rue to the end." Earl Curaon said Lord Roberts was a, ; general who never knew defeat, who more than once retrieved the trembling fortunes of armies, and conducted great operations on large fields of warfare with an amazing . rapidity and astonishing success. _ j Lord" Crowe. Secretary for India., in a concluding speech, alluded to the courtesy < and absence of bitterness with winch Lord Roberts bad prosecuted his compulsory service campaign.
HOW "BOBS" DIED, Issue 15694, 7 January 1915
Use these buttons to limit your searches to particular dates, titles, and more.
Print, save, zoom in and more.