General Robert Bruce


General Robert BruceHe was born on 3rd December 1821. He started his Army career as an Ensign by purchase on the 9th June 1838 in the 74th Foot. By 1857 he was a Lieutenant Colonel by purchase.

In 1857, at a time of military expansion, it was decided that some regiments should be expanded by the formation of 2nd Battalions. The Queen’s was one of those selected. By the 14th August Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bruce was appointed to the command of the new 2nd Battalion.

Under him it achieved very high standards of efficiency. As was often the case with distinguished officers, he proved to be something of a “character”. Not least of his characteristics was an acerbic tongue. On meeting a badly and untidily dressed newly joined Ensign he posed the question, “Whose groom are you?” To an officer wishing to transfer to a cavalry regiment (Hussars) he bluntly stated. “Well, you may make a Cavalry Officer but you will never make an Infantry one”. On one occasion his officers received strict censure when, at the conclusion of dinner, they attempted to leave the room before he did. Returning them to their seats, he reminded them that they were “in The Queen’s and not in a Depot Battalion”.

During his command the battalion served in various stations at home and overseas, always gaining great credit for themselves. After the spring inspection of May 1858 at Malta, Major General C Warren CB stated in his report that “the condition of the Battalion was very creditable to Lieutenant Colonel Bruce, whose zeal and energy in forming the Battalion merited the highest commendation”.

By July 1862 the Battalion was in quarters at Windmill Hill and Buena Vista in Gibraltar and in 1863 its establishment was reduced. On 19th January 1864 Colonel Bruce relinquished command and was succeeded by Lieutenant Colonel J S D Attye, promoted from the 1st Battalion.

After relinquishing command he became Inspector of Volunteers, was promoted Major General in 1868 and was Major General North Britain from 1878 to 1880. Promoted Lieutenant General in 1879, he was placed on the retired list as Honorary General on 1st July 1881. He was appointed Colonel of The Royal West Surrey Regiment on 6th June 1891, and died in Perthshire on 14th October 1891 after only five months as Colonel of the Regiment.

He had served with the 74th Highlanders throughout the Frontier War of 1851-53, and was awarded the medal and a Brevet Majority.

Editors note: When the Colonel of the Regiments Boards were produced after the amalgamation, General Bruce’s name was omitted. The Queen’s had three Colonels in 1891. One can imagine his remarks were he to have seen the Board without his name on it!


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