The contribution to the Regiment from 1800-1976 “The Stewart Family”

Taken from the Rifle Brigade Century, 1800-1905. Compiled by Colonel Gerald Edmund Boyle, formerly commanding the fourth battalion.

Lt-General, Hon. Sir William Stewart, K.C.B., K.T.S.

2nd Lieutenant 8th March 1786, 42nd Highlanders.
Lieutenant 24th October 1787, 67th Regt.
Captain 27th January 1791, Independent Company; 22nd Regt, 31st October 1792.
Major 14th January 1795, 31st Regt.
Lt-Col 14th January 1795, 31st Regt.
Appointed to 67th Regt. 1st September 1795.
Appointed to Rifle Corps 25 August 1800.
Appointed by Royal Warrant, 25th February 1801, to command troops employed in the Baltic Fleet.
Colonel 2nd April 1801.
Major-General 25th April 1808.
Appointed Colonel Commandant 3rd Batt. 95th Rifles, 31st August 1809.
Lt.-General 4th June 1813.
Died at Cumloden, Newton Stewart, 7th January 1827.
R.D.C. Notes from correspondence with Major Alastair Stewart: “That Sir William’s tomb is in Minnigaff Churchyard, close to Newton Stewart.”

Gold Medal for Albuhera, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes.
Employed on a diplomatic mission under Sir Robert Keith to Vienna and Bulgaria in 1790-2. Served in campaign of 1794 in West Indies under Sir C. Grey, and wounded at Guadaloupe. St. Domingo in 1796.
In 1798 with the Allied Armies under Archduke Charles, Field Marshal Suwarrow, and General Korsacow, in Suabia, Switzerland, and Italy.
At Copenhagen 1801.
In Sicily and Egypt, 1806-9. Walcheren, 1809
Cadiz in 1810, and to end of war in Spain and south of France.
In 1800 had the chief merit of forming the Rifle Corps.

Lt-Colonel, Hon. James Henry Keith Stewart C.B., youngest brother of Lt-General, Hon. Sir William Stewart.

2nd Lieutenant 23rd July 1803.
Lieutenant 3rd February 1804 64th Regt.
Exchanged to 95th 25th February 1804.
Captain 1st August 1805.
Bt-Major 27th April 1812.
Major 14th January 1813, 90th Regt.
Lt-Colonel 3rd June 1813, 7th West India Regt.
Appointed to 3rd Foot Gds, 25 July 1814.
Retired 31st December 1814.
Died at Northwick Terrace, St John’s Wood, 18 July 1836.
Gold Medal for Salamanca and Vittoria.

Captain Horatio Stewart, son of Lt-General, Hon. Sir William Stewart.

2nd Lieutenant, 10th April 1823.
Lieutenant, 29th October 1825.
Captain, 12th March 1829.
Exchanged to half pay of the Rifle Brigade, 29th March 1833.
Died at Corsbie, 20th September 1835.
R.D.C. writes, the family consider he was named after Admiral Horatio Nelson because of the friendship between the Admiral and Sir William.

Taken from: A Rifle Brigade WHO’S WHO 1905-1963. Compiled by Colonel W.P.S. Curtis O.B.E. 1964.

Lt-Colonel Walter Robert Stewart D.S.O., M.C.

2nd Lieutenant 24th June 1908.
Lieutenant 3rd March 1911.
Captain 30th November 1914.
Brevet Major 1916.
T/Lt-Colonel 1917.
1RB 1908-14.
Adjutant 7RB 1914.
7th Battalion France 1915-16.
Commanded 13th Bn March 1917.
KIA 8th April 1918.

D.S.O., 1918.
M.C., 1916.
2 x Mention in Despatches.

Obituary from the Rifle Brigade Chronicle of 1918:

WALTER ROBERT STEWART was the only son of the late Major-General Hon. Alexander Stewart (son of the 9th Earl of Galloway) and Adela Maud, daughter of the late Sir Robert Loder, Bart., and was born 7 February 1888. He was educated at Harrow and the R.M.C. Sandhurst and was gazetted to the Regiment 24 June 1908.
Upon the 7th (Service) Battalion being raised in 1914 he was appointed Adjutant of it, dated 14 September, and was promoted Captain on 30 November.
He accompanied the 7th Battalion to France in May 1915 and took part in all the fighting about Hooge, and in June was awarded the Military Cross for his gallant services. In September he was given command of a Service Battalion but shortly afterwards was wounded in the fighting on the Somme and had to return to England. In January 1917 he was mentioned in despatches by Sir Douglas Haig and was given a Brevet Majority.
In March 1917 he returned to France and was given command of another Service Battalion, the 13th,* and, after taking part in the fighting about Arras, was again mentioned in despatches. He was a most ardent soldier and a keen Rifleman and more than once declined to accept an appointment in order to remain with his own Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. He was killed in the fighting on 8 April 1918. His Divisional General wrote of him:—" He was beloved by his Battalion which he had raised—both officers and men—to a very high level of efficiency. The Army has lost a brilliant leader just on the threshold of his career. I shall always be grateful to him for the magnificent example he set to his Battalion and to the whole Division of what a Commanding Officer should be."
Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart married in January 1914, Mollie, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Riversdale Grenfell, of The Hall, Welwyn and leaves two sons. Walter Stewart was of "Founder's kin," Colonel Hon. William Stewart who assisted Colonel Coote Manningham to raise and train the first British Rifle Corps being his father's great-uncle. All readers of our Regimental History know how William Stewart was with Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen and how the world is indebted to him for the famous story of "Nelson's blind-eye"!
*R.D.C. Notes from correspondence with Major Alastair Stewart that this was at 9.30pm on 25th April 1917.

Major Alastair Grenfell Stewart, the Grandson of Lt-Colonel Walter Robert Stewart, and the Great Great Great Great nephew of the co-founder of the Regiment, Lt-General, Hon. Sir William Stewart.

2nd Lieutenant, 1964.
Lieutenant, 1966.
Acting Captain, 1969.
Captain, 1970.
Major, 1974.
3 Green Jackets, The Rifle Brigade, 1964.
3rd Battalion The Royal Green Jackets (RB), 1966.
The Royal Green Jackets Depot, 1967-68.
1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets, 1969-70.
3rd Battalion The Royal Green Jackets, 1971.
Adjutant, 4th Battalion The Royal Green Jackets, 1972-73.
Training Major, 4th Battalion The Royal Green Jackets, 1974.
1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets, 1975-76.
Retired 1976.

This article by Major Stewart taken from: The Last Campaign of The Rifle Brigade Borneo 1965-1966

2nd Lieutenant Alastair Stewart, OC 7 Platoon B Company.

At about 11am on the 1st of January 1965 the telephone at home rang. It was a Sergeant Roberts from the RifleDepot, Winchester, requiring me to report to 3 Green Jackets, The Rifle Brigade, stationed at Felixstowe, Suffolk, in two days time; several days earlier than I had anticipated but he could not tell me the reason why. He did say, however, that I should take such uniform that I had (I had only been commissioned just before Christmas) and advised me to have a hair cut and, alarmingly, go to the dentist as I might not be seeing one for a bit!

Thus I embarked on one of the best years of my life. I met my platoon as soon as I arrived in Felixstowe, quite an experience, with Sergeant ‘Mac’ Macready and a significant number of platoon characters, who were going to make my life fun, challenging, rewarding and frustrating over the next twelve months. Hong Kong and Malaya were both eye opening experiences for a twenty year old youth for a variety of reasons.

By the time we all arrived in Balai Ringin, Borneo, and lined up on the helicopter pad for the flight to our base at Gunan Gajak, (my diary records simply “Chaos”) we were all ready for our first active service patrol. Disappointingly for us it was to be “Hearts and Minds” in the many villages in the rear of B Company’s area, but we came to enjoy these as an opportunity to relax from the greater exertions of patrolling the Jungle. We got to know some of the villagers and their animals and would often stay for a party in the evenings, drink too much rice wine with the obvious headache in the morning.

The Medical Corporal who used to come with us learnt to carry a large “sweet jar” of aspirin to treat the tribesmen’s aches and pains and ours too I guess. When he ran out he would stick a plaster on their forehead; which always seemed to work!The highlight of the whole tour for 7 Platoon was the ambush that we successfully laid on an Indonesian forward base camp at Boenkang some five or six thousand yards over the border. At the end of September we were tasked to ‘Recce’ this place on information received. We also studied maps and air photographs of the layout of the camp to decide how best to approach it. It was out of the primary jungle by some distance and therefore many tracks were well used by civilians as well as Indonesian patrols so getting close to it looked potentially very difficult. We were airlifted to the border ridge on Salangchang and set off from there with all of us suddenly more alert than usual particularly when we got out of the primary jungle.

On the second day I and four others formed the ‘Recce’ party and left Sergeant ‘Mac’ and the platoon whilst we moved forward to the camp. Crawling up to it we found that it was on a slight incline and had one ‘Atap’ sentry box which was unmanned but which dominated an area where the surrounding undergrowth had been cleared to give a significant field of fire to the sentry. We wondered whether it was only manned at night. We crawled round to one side of the camp to get a different view and saw that the main hut was occupied. We then withdrew back to the platoon and the next day back to Gunan Gajak.

Our ‘Recce’ had obviously not been thorough enough as after our debriefing we were sent back again to find out more. It was easier going back a second time for although we used a different route in the route from the border was the same. The sentry box was still unmanned and we were able to identify firing positions for an ambush that we knew was the ultimate aim.More debriefing and planning over the next four days and we were tasked with Sergeant Cameron’s Recce Platoon to lay the ambush; with Captain Mark Scrase-Dickins commanding the two platoons. It was amazing watching him in the jungle; a veteran of Malaya he was in his element and we learned so much from him in just a short time. The plan was that he would cover the ground with the recce platoon that was facing the sentry box and 7 Platoon would be on his left at approximately ninety degrees. This gave us the ability to cover two sides of the perimeter and also a field of fire over the other two sides.

We all crawled into position soon after dawn maintaining radio silence from leaving the final RV. I had got an excellent position next to my machine gunner and could clearly see the main part of the camp only some thirty yards away with a group of Indonesian soldiers at its base. After some time a sentry with his rifle at the ready walked slowly towards us, stopping thankfully about fifteen feet away. Amazingly he didn’t see us and turned back to the camp where he stayed for a bit and smoked a fag. Starting out again he stopped just short of us and then returned to the hut. When he set out toward us a third time the ambush was sprung.

What we didn’t know at the time was that part of the Recce Platoon was pinned down by observation of a sentry occupying the previously unmanned sentry box. The result was a crescendo of rifle and machine gun fire before we withdrew to the first RV. During this time we were effectively and accurately supported by the 105mm gun detachment which had been moved up to a helicopter pad on the border. Debriefing and intelligence told us that we had killed eight and wounded five others so it was a very successful operation that might have been even more so had the sentry box been unmanned.

Our other excitement came right at the end of the tour when Major David Ramsbotham, Officer Commanding B Company, had planned to patrol the whole length of the border in B Company’s sector with his relieving Company Commander from the Durham Light Infantry (DLI). We patrolled to a helicopter pad right on the company boundary and in clearing the pad discovered an anti-personnel mine. We had no radio contact at this remote pad and David arrived by air with a particularly ‘Cabby’ pilot who ignored, until the last moment, the red smoke and other entreaties not to land.

That was the second time that he had been lucky with a mine; in all we found eight anti-personnel mines on that pad and that made us that much more cautious at every helicopter pad thereafter. We spent Christmas in camp; Sam Shepard who had arrived from the desert in Aden to command the Recce Platoon was not so lucky. He found himself on top of Bukit Niyat that night so we sang carols over the radio to them to help them feel in the right spirit. Sergeant Bristow is an abiding memory with a Coca-Cola can on the end of a piece of string leading it about the camp like a dog and even tying it up outside the mess! Also Company Sergeant Major Bagley DCM sitting on the bog one night with a two inch mortar firing off Para flares when we thought we were being attacked. (It was Pigs….. who was on stag that night?) Bunny Nicholson, Simon Adams and I all shared twenty-first birthdays within about a week in August.

David Ramsbotham and Mark Scrase-Dickins had managed to get several bottles of champagne onto an airdrop manifest. George Blunden must have had something to do with that but definitely not Colour Sergeant George Smythe who didn’t love us at all then; but we all loved him!!! Rifleman Marsden on R and R in Kuching telling me on the first morning that it isn’t possible nine times in one night!!! And seeing the photograph of the medic pulling a tooth of some unfortunate Rifleman with a pair of pliers I now realise of course why Sergeant Roberts told me to go to the dentist.