THE VICTORIA CROSS, FURTHER GALLANTRY MEDALS AND CAMPAIGN MEDALS AWARDED TO BRIGADIER GENERAL JAMES FORBES-ROBERTSON, COMD 1ST BN, THE BORDER REGIMENT, HAS BEEN LOANED TO THE REGIMENTAL MUSEUM
5 January 2007

In March 2006 the Forbes-Robertson family made a decision to loan the Victoria Cross awarded to Brigadier General James Forbes-Robertson to the Regimental Museum of the Border Regiment in Carlisle. Following a revue and further installation of security the full Victoria Cross medal group was placed on display in Carlisle Castle for the benefit of the public in late September 2006.


Medal entitlement of Lieutenant Colonel James Forbes-Robertson - comd 1st Bn, The Border Regiment

  • Victoria Cross
  • Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ) & Bar
  • Military Cross ( MC )
  • 1914 - 15 Star
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) + MiD Oakleaf
  • Defence Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )


On 11 April 1918, the third day of the Battle of Estaires, the Germans attacked strongly and a gradual retirement was made in the direction of Doulieu. The following day the retirement continued through the village of Bleu to a position close to Vieux Berquin. A lack of artillery support made it even harder to keep the enemy at bay but fortunately for the British Army a stray shell hit a German ammunition dump at Bleu and caused havoc. It was against this backdrop that Lieutenant Colonel Forbes-Robertson began what was to become a series of extraordinary exploits that won him a very well earned Victoria Cross.


For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 22 May 1918 ], Near Vieux Bertuin, France, 11 - 12 April 1918, Captain ( A / Lieutenant Colonel ) James Forbes-Robertson DSO & Bar, MC, comd 1st Bn, The Border Regiment

For most conspicuous bravery whilst commanding his battalion during the heavy fighting. ( near Vieux Berquin, France ) Through his quick judgment, resource, untiring energy and magnificent example, Lt.-Col. Forbes-Robertson on four separate occasions saved the line from breaking and averted a situation which might have had the most serious and far-reaching results.

On the first occasion, when troops in front were falling back, he made a rapid reconnaissance on horse-back, in full view of the enemy, under heavy machine-gun and close range shell fire. He then organised and, still mounted, led a counter-attack which was completely successful in re-establishing our line. When his horse was shot under him he continued on foot. Later on the same day, when troops to the left of his line were giving way, he went to that flank and checked and steadied the line, inspiring confidence by his splendid coolness and disregard of personal danger. His horse was wounded three times and he was thrown five times.

The following day, when the troops on both his flanks were forced to retire, he formed a post at battalion headquarters and with his battalion still held his ground, thereby covering the retreat of troops on his flanks. Under the heaviest fire this gallant officer fearlessly exposed himself when collecting parties, organising and encouraging.

On a subsequent occasion, when troops were retiring on his left and the condition of things on his right were obscure, he again saved the situation by his magnificent example and cool judgment. Losing a second horse, he continued alone on foot until he had established a line to which his own troops could withdraw and so conform to the general situation.


[ London Gazette, 1 January 1917 ], Award of the Military Cross ( MC ), Captain ( T / Major ) James Forbes-Robertson, Border Regiment

Periodic award whilst serving with the Newfoundland Regiment. No citation.


[ London Gazette, 18 June 1917 ], Created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ), Captain ( T / Lieutenant Colonel ) James Forbes-Robertson, MC, comd 1st Bn, Border Regiment

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in command of his battalion during an enemy attack at Monchy. He collected all the men he could find and, taking up a position on the outskirts of the village, brought the hostile advance to an end by his fire. He undoubtably saved a very critical situation by his promptness, bravery and example.


[ London Gazette, 22 March 1918 ], Award of a Bar to the Distinguished Service Order ( DSO ), Captain ( A / Lieutenant Colonel ) James Forbes-Robertson, DSO, MC, comd 1st Bn, Border Regiment

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He let his battalion with great dash and determination in a succesful attack. Later, during continual enemy attack, though wounded in the eye and unable to see, he was led about by an orderly among his men in the front line, encouraging and inspiring them by his magnificant example of courage and determination.


Following the end of the war Forbes-Robertson was with the Army of Occupation as Temporary Lieutenant Colonel in command of various battalions and finally as 155th Brigade Commander and was Mentioned in Despatches three times. His rank reverted to that of Captain but was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in October 1921 and in September 1922 he was appointed to command the 2nd Bn, Border Regiment.

Forbes-Robertson retired in 1934 and went to live in Bourton-on-the-Water some fifteen miles from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. He died at his home on 5 August 1955 and was buried in Cheltenham Cemetery, one of four VC holders buried there.

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Iain Stewart, 5 January 2007