Robert Bellew Adams VC

b. 26/07/1856 Muree, Punjab, India. d. 13/02/1928 Inverness.

Sir Robert Bellew Adams (1856-1928) was born on 26th July 1856 at Muree, Punjab, India, the son of Major Robert Roy Adams, Bengal Staff Corps, and of Frances Charlotte, daughter of Captain F. Bellew, Honourable East India Company Service. Robert’s father served with distinction in a number of campaigns including the Indian Mutiny of 1857-1858. Tragically, his father would be assassinated by a fanatic when Deputy Commissioner of Peshawar in 1865, when Robert junior was just 9.

Robert was educated privately and by tutors, before attending the Forest School, Walthamstow. He became a Sub Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, 12th Regiment of Foot on 11th September 1876, and served in India until May 1879. He then transferred into the 3rd Punjab Cavalry, and then in the Queen Victoria’s Own Corps of Guides from 1879-1904.

He served with the Corps of Guides as part of the Afghanistan Field Force, 1879-1880, joining the Headquarters at Jagdalak in November 1879. He marched with the Corps to Kabul, and was present with the Infantry in all subsequent operations. He became the Officiating Adjutant of the Corps in July 1880, was mentioned in despatches, and received an Afghan Medal with Kabul clasp. He would be promoted to Captain in 1887.

In 1895, Captain Adams served with the Chitral Relief Force in command of Guides Cavalry, and, after the death in action of Lieutenant-Colonel Battye, commanded the Corps of Guides Infantry. He was present at the storming of the Malakand Pass, at the action near Khar, at the passage of the Swat River, and at the action at Mamugai. He was mentioned in despatches twice, and received the Brevet of Lieutenant-Colonel with substantive rank of Major in September 1896, and the India Medal with clasp.

In 1897, he served with the Malakand Relief Force, being present at the defence of Malakand, where he would be cited to receive the Victoria Cross (London Gazette, 9th November 1897). During the fighting at Nawa Bali, in Upper Swat, on the 17th August, 1897, Lieutenant-Colonel R. B. Adams proceeded with Lieutenants H. L. S. MacLean and Viscount Fincastle, and five men of the Guides, under a very heavy and close fire, to the rescue of Lieutenant R. T. Greaves, Lancashire Fusiliers, who was lying disabled by a bullet wound and surrounded by the enemy’s swordsmen. In bringing him under cover he (Lieutenant Greaves) was struck by a bullet and killed — Lieutenant MacLean was mortally wounded — whilst the horses of Lieutenant-Colonel Adams and Lieutenant Viscount Fincastle were shot, as well as two troop horses.

Adams received his medal at Windsor Castle from Queen Victoria on 9th July 1898, before returned to India to serve with the Buner Field Force. He commanded a column invading Buner, was created a Companion of Bath, and mentioned in despatches. In April 1899, he was appointed Commandant of the Queen’s Own Corps of Guides, and in September 1901 was appointed Aide de Camp to the King. He was promoted eventually to Major-General in 1906. An accident in November 1908, brought on an illness which forced his retirement in 1911. In 1912 he was knighted by King George V.

Adams retired to the Highlands of Scotland, where on 13th February 1928, he died in Inverness at the age of 71. He was cremated in Glasgow and his ashes were interred in Tomnahurich Cemetery, Inverness. His medals are in private ownership.