1899, Battle of Elandslaagte

ROBERTSON, WILLIAM, Lieutenant, was born at Dumfries, 27 February 1865, the son of John M and Janet Robertson. He was educated at Dumfries, and joined the Army on 1 December 1884. He married, 29 March 1891, in Belfast, Sara J Ferris, daughter of Mr and Mrs S Ferris, of Belfast, and their children are: William J Robertson, born 18 February 1892 (now Captain, RAMC); Marion M Robertson; Jan Gordon Robertson, born 18 August 1897 (Second Lieutenant The Gordon Highlanders; killed at Beaumont Hamel), and Hector E Robertson. William Robertson served for some years in India. He landed in South Africa on 8 October 1899, two days before the Boer ultimatum to Great Britain, and proceeded to Ladysmith. During the defence of that town he fought and was wounded in the Battle of Elandslaagte, where he won the Victoria Cross. The following is the account from the London Gazette of 20 July 1900: "William Robertson, Sergeant-Major (now Quartermaster and Honorary Lieutenant) The Gordon Highlanders. Date of Act of Bravery: 21 October 1899. At the Battle of Elandslaagte, on the 21st October 1899, during the final advance on the enemy's position, this Warrant Officer led each successive rush, exposing himself fearlessly to the enemy's artillery and rifle fire to encourage the men. After the main position had been captured, he led a small party to seize the Boer Camp. Though exposed to a deadly cross-fire from the enemy's rifles, he gallantly held the position captured, and continued to encourage the men until he was wounded in two places". The recommendation was endorsed by the Brigadier (Ian Hamilton), who was an eye­witness to the second part of the Sergeant Major's feat of arms. He writes now to say that no better VC was ever won than William Robertson's. There was no vainglory about it, but the danger was incurred in a cool and reasoned spirit for a military end of real importance. On his return from South Africa the Freedom of the Royal Burgh of Dumfries was conferred upon him. Lieutenant Robertson was decorated with the Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria at Osborne. For his services in this campaign he also received the Queen's Medal with clasps for Ladysmith, Elandslaagte and Cape Colony. During the Great War he was Recruiting Staff Officer, at Edinburgh, for which he was promoted Lieutenant Colonel and made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

VC, OBE (mil), QSA (3) Eland DofL, CC, KSA (2), DM, 1911 Coronation Medal, 1937 Coronation Medal, Special Constabulary, Fr Legion d' Honour.

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