14 September 2008

Following his death in 1931 General Sir Alexander Cobbe VC was buried in St Peter's Churchyard, Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire. Over the years his headstone had weathered badly and the grave and surrounding area had become very overgrown.

Now the Victoria Cross on Cobbe's grave has been replaced and the grave has been tidied up by the local Army Cadet unit. A local stonemason kindly worked on the headstone and donated the bronze plate where the original had been located.

The Somaliland Protectorate, established in 1884, was administered from India until October 1898 when it was taken over by the Foreign Office. Apart from one uprising in 1890 and another much smaller, in 1893 there were no problems, civil or military until 1898 when the Mulla, Haji Muhammad Abdullah, started to cause trouble.

Initially a good influence among the tribes it became clear, in 1898, that the Mulla intended to organise a Jehad against the British and in 1899 he carried out two raids into the Protectorate across the border from the south. After another raid in July 1900 authority was given to raise a protective and punitive local force, the formation of which led to the various operations and expeditions between 1901 and 1904.

Lieutenant Colonel Swayne's Column of the Somaliland Field Force consisted of about 150 mounted troops and 500 infantry with two 7 pounder guns and four Maxim machine-guns and apart from the 2nd Bn, King's African Rifles, was made up entirely of Somali troops and levies. ( At the time of the action, Lt. Colonel Cobbe was serving with the 2nd Bn, King's African Rifles ).

For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 20 January 1903 ], Erego, Somaliland, 6 October 1902, Captain ( local Lieutenant Colonel ) Alexander Stanhope Cobbe, 32nd Punjab Pioneers, Indian Army - seconded to 1st ( Central Africa ) Bn, King's African Rifles.

During the action at Erego, on 6th October 1902, when some of the Companies had retired, Lieutenant-Colonel Cobbe was left by himself in front of the line, with a Maxim Gun. Without assistance he brought in the Maxim and worked it at a most critical time. He then went out under an extremely hot fire from the enemy about 20 yards in front of him, and from his own men ( who had retired about the same distance behind ), and succeeded in carrying in a wounded Orderly.

Colonel Swayne, who was in command of the Force, personally witnessed this Officer’s conduct, which he describes as most gallant.

Alexander Cobbe was invested with his Victoria Cross by Major General W. Manning at Obbia, Somaliland, on the 22nd February 1903.

Alexander Cobbe was initially commissioned into the South Wales Borderers on 21 September 1889, before joining the Indian Army with the 32nd ( Punjab ) Regiment of Bengal Infantry ( Pioneers ), on 12th August 1892. Cobbe took part in the Relief of Chitral on the North West Frontier in 1895, before being seconded to the 1st ( Central Africa ) Bn of the King's Africa Rifles with whom he served from May 1898 to January 1905. Cobbe then held various Staff posts in India and in France and Mesopotamia during the First World War.

[ London Gazette, 26 April 1901 ], Created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ), local Major Alexander Stanhope Cobbe, 1st ( Central Africa ) Bn, King's African Rifles

In recognition of services during operations in Ashanti.

Medal entitlement of General Sir Alexander Stanhope Cobbe - 32nd Punjab Pioneers ( att'd King's African Rifles )

  • Victoria Cross
  • Knight Grand Cross, Order of the Bath ( GCB )
  • Knight Commander, Order of the Star of India ( KCSI )
  • Distinguished Service Order ( DSO )
  • India Medal ( 1895-1902 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Relief of Chitral"
  • Central Africa Medal ( 1891-1898 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Central Africa 1894-98"
  • East and West Africa Medal ( 1887-1900 )
  • Africa General Service Medal ( 1902-1956 )
    • 3 clasps:
    • "B.C.A. 1899-1900" - "Somaliland 1902-04" - "Jidballi"
  • Ashanti Medal ( 1900 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Kumassie"
  • 1914 Star + clasp "5th Aug-22 Nov 1914"
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )
  • King George V Coronation Medal ( 1911 )
  • Commander, Legion of Honour ( France )
  • Commander, Order of St Maurice & St Lazarus ( Italy )


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Iain Stewart, 18 September 2008