Charles Granville Fortescue

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Hon.
Charles Granville Fortescue
Born 30 October 1861
Died 1 February 1951 (aged 89)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1881–1919
Rank Brigadier-General
Unit Rifle Brigade
Commands held 80th Infantry Brigade
212th Infantry Brigade
226th Mixed Brigade
Battles/wars 2nd Boer War
World War I
Relations Hugh, 3rd Earl Fortescue (father)
Hugh, 4th Earl Fortescue (brother)
Sir John Fortescue (brother)
Sir Seymour John Fortescue (brother)

Brigadier-General The Hon. Charles Granville Fortescue, CB, CMG, DSO, (1861–1951) was an officer of the British Army in the colonial wars of the late 19th century, the Second Boer War and World War I.

Early life[edit]

The Honourable Charles Granville Fortescue was born on 30 October 1861, the sixth and youngest son of Hugh, 3rd Earl Fortescue. Sir John Fortescue, the historian of the British Army, was his elder brother.[1][2]

Fortescue was educated at Harrow School and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into the Rifle Brigade in 1881, rising to Lieutenant later that year.[2][3][4]

Military career[edit]

Fortescue saw his first active service with the 4th Battalion of his regiment in 1888–9 during the pacification operations in Upper Burma that followed the Third Anglo-Burmese War. Promoted to Captain in 1890, he became adjutant of 4th Rifle Brigade in 1895. In 1897 he was employed by the Colonial Office in the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast, including an expedition to Karaga, receiving a Mention in Dispatches and a CMG. Having achieved the rank of Major at the end of 1898, he was also promoted to Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel.[1][2][3][4]

Fortescue returned from West Africa in 1899 to take up the post of private secretary to the Secretary of State for War, the Marquess of Lansdowne, but just before the outbreak of the Second Boer War he went to South Africa as a Brigade Major in the Natal Field Force under Sir George White. He was in the Siege of Ladysmith, and afterwards served as a staff officer in the operations in Northern Natal (including the action at Laing's Nek) and in Eastern Transvaal (including the actions at Belfast and Lydenburg). For the last six months of the war he relinquished staff work and commanded a column in the field. He was mentioned in dispatches four times during the war and awarded the Distinguished Service Order. After the war ended Fortescue stayed on for four months as military secretary to the general commanding the occupation force before returning to regimental duty.[2][4] He was awarded CB in the 1911 Coronation Honours.[5]

In April 1912, Fortescue was appointed Brigadier-General, General Staff, (BGGS) in Eastern Command. On the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 he became BGGS to Third Army of Central Force within Home Forces, but shortly afterwards he was appointed to command a brigade of Regular Army troops returning from overseas garrisons for service on the Western Front. This became 80th Brigade in 27th Division and assembled around Winchester. The brigade included his old battalion, the 4th Rifle Brigade, returned from India, and the first Canadian volunteer unit to arrive in Europe, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.[2][6]

27th Division landed in France in December 1914 and was concentrated by 25 December. In February 1915 it was holding the line near St Eloi, with localised fighting going on. On 28 February the 'Princess Pat's' carried out a successful local attack. On 14 March the Germans made a surprise attack on 80th Brigade in the late afternoon, firing two mines and capturing St Eloi village, the surrounding trenches, and an artificial heap of earth known as 'The Mound'. There was severe hand-to-hand fighting in which the 2nd King's Shropshire Light Infantry and 4th Rifle Brigade distinguished themselves, but Fortescue was unable to make an immediate counter-attack because no reserves were on hand. The neighbouring 82nd Brigade did make a counter-attack after midnight that included 4th King's Royal Rifle Corps of 80th Brigade and retook some of the ground, but the Germans had already consolidated their hold on The Mound.[7][8]

Shortly after St Eloi, Fortescue returned to Home Forces to take up the position of BGGS with First Army of Central Force.[2] In November 1916 he received command of 212th Brigade of 71st Division, a new Home Defence formation composed of men who were unfit for overseas service. Once it had formed, 71st Division was assigned to guard the coast of Essex.[9] After a year in command of 212th Brigade, Fortescue took over 226th Mixed Brigade, which was attached to 71st Division. In January 1918 the War Office decided to break up 71st Division by mid-March.[10] Fortescue was then sent as part of a military mission to the Serbs fighting on the Macedonian front until the end of the war.[2]

Fortescue was awarded the Order of the White Eagle (Serbia) 1st Class, with swords. He retired from the British Army on 31 October 1919 with the honorary rank of Brigadier-General.[11]


In 1906 Fortescue married Ethel Rosa, daughter of General Sir Charles Clarke, 3rd Baronet and widow of Captain Ernest Campbell. They had two daughters:[1]

Before World War I, Fortescue had accompanied his historian brother to some of the old battlefields of Europe, and he did a considerable amount of research for the last volume of Sir John's History of the British Army, which appeared in 1930.[2]

Charles Fortescue died on 1 February 1951.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c d Burke's Peerage and Baronetage 106th edn, 1999.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Obituary, The Times (London) 3 February 1951.
  3. ^ a b Hart's Army List 1904.
  4. ^ a b c Quarterly Army List, January 1919.
  5. ^ "No. 28505". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 June 1911. p. 4590. 
  6. ^ Becke, Pt 1, pp. 97–103.
  7. ^ Edmonds & Wynne, pp. 30–1.
  8. ^ Armchair General
  9. ^ Becke, Pt 2b, pp. 101–5.
  10. ^ Becke, Pt 2b, pp. 75–82.
  11. ^ Quarterly Army List, January 1921 Part II.


  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 1: The Regular British Divisions, London: HM Stationery Office, 1934/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-38-X.
  • Maj A.F. Becke,History of the Great War: Order of Battle of Divisions, Part 2b: The 2nd-Line Territorial Force Divisions (57th–69th), with the Home-Service Divisions (71st–73rd) and 74th and 75th Divisions, London: HM Stationery Office, 1937/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2007, ISBN 1-847347-39-8.
  • Burke's Peerage and Baronetage 106th Edn, 1999.
  • Brig-Gen J.E. Edmonds and Capt G.C. Wynne, History of the Great War: Military Operations, France and Belgium, 1915, Vol 1, London: Macmillan, 1927/Imperial War Museum & Battery Press, 1995, ISBN 1-870423-87-9.

External sources[edit]