Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts VC

b. 08/01/1872 Umballa, India. d. 17/12/1899 Colenso, South Africa.

Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts (1872-1899) was born on 8th January 1872 in Umballa, India, the son of Lord Frederick Sleigh Roberts VC. Roberts attended Eton College and joined the army soon after completing his studies.

Frederick H S Roberts VC

He entered the King’s Royal Rifle Corps on 10th June 1891, and during the following four years, he was on active service on the North-West Frontier of India, including Chitral, receiving the Medals and clasps and being mentioned in despatches. In 1898 he took part in the Nile Expedition following which he was promoted lieutenant, and awarded Order of Meijidieh of the Fourth Class. He served in the Second Boer War, particularly in the relief of Ladysmith prior to the Battle of Colenso on the 15th December 1899.

On 15 December 1899 at the Battle of Colenso, South Africa, Roberts, with several others, tried to save the guns of the 14th and 66th Batteries, Royal Field Artillery, when the detachments serving the guns had all become casualties or been driven from their guns. Some of the horses and drivers were sheltering in a donga about 500 yards behind the guns and the intervening space was swept with shell and rifle fire. Roberts with two other officers (Walter Norris Congreve and Harry Norton Schofield) and Corporal George Edward Nurse helped to hook a team into a limber and then to limber up a gun. While doing so, he fell badly wounded and two days later died of his wounds at Chieveley, Natal. The action was observed by the Commander-in-Chief, Redvers Buller who recommended Roberts for the VC in a despatch written on 16 December, before Roberts had died from his wounds.

It was due to the fact that Buller had recommended Roberts for the VC in a despatch prior to his death, which saw that Roberts was gazetted on the 2nd February 1900 for the VC. At the time of his award, no posthumous awards had previously been given, but the decision regarding Roberts’ award would eventually need to in 1907 a number of further posthumous awards to be given for earlier conflicts. Roberts’ medal was presented by Queen Victoria to his father, Lord Roberts VC at Windsor Castle.

Roberts was buried in Chieveley War Cemetery, Chieveley, just south of Colenso, Kwazulu-Natal. His medals are now held (like his father’s) in the National Army Museum, Chelsea, though sadly only his father’s group is currently on display.