Sir William Riddell, Bart Birdwood - Encyclopedia


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"SIR WILLIAM RIDDELL BIRDWOOD, Bart. (1865-), British general, was born Sept. 13 1865. He joined the 12th Lancers in 1885 and was in the following year transferred to the Indian staff corps, joining the cavalry. He served in the Hazara expedition of 1891 and the Isazai expedition of 1892, and in the 1897-8 frontier war. He was sent to South Africa in 1899 and served on the staff there during the whole of the war, the close of which found him a brevet lieutenant-colonel. He was afterwards closely associated for several years with Lord Kitchener in India, acting as his military secretary. In 1908 Birdwood, now a full colonel, held the position of chief staff-officer during the operations against the Mohmunds, for which he received the D.S.O., and he was a brigade-commander in India from 1909 to 1912. He had been promoted majorgeneral in 1911; and in 1912, after holding for some months the position of quartermaster-general at Simla, he was appointed Secretary in the Army Department. Lord Kitchener in Dec. 1914 selected him for the command of the Australasian forces which were being assembled in Egypt, and in the following April he commanded the army corps from the Antipodes which carried out the memorable landing at Anzac. He was in charge of the troops clinging to this patch of the Gallipoli Peninsula until Aug., and he then directed the unsuccessful offensive that was attempted from it. His personality had made him much liked and respected by the Australasian troops. After the change that took place in the control of the Mediterranean field force in Oct., Birdwood (who had been awarded the K.C.M.G. and had been promoted lieutenant-general) assumed charge of the forces operating at the Dardanelles, and he carried out the very successful withdrawal of the troops from their dangerous positions in the following December and January. After a short period in Egypt he took his Australasian troops to the western front, and he commanded them there for two years; he was given the K.C.B. and promoted general in 1917. On the reconstitution of the V. Army after the great German effort of the spring of 1918 had been checked, Sir William Birdwood was selected' to lead it, and his troops bore an important part in the last phases of the British advance in the autumn. For his services he was made a baronet and a G.C.M.G., besides receiving a grant of io,000. He paid a visit to the Antipodes a year after the war and received a great welcome; in 1920 he took up command of the northern army in India.

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