Robert George Kekewich was the second son of Trehawke Kekewich, of Peamore, Devon. Born on 17th June 1854, he joined the Buffs on 2nd December 1874. He fought in the Perak expedition of 1875-6, and in the Soudan, 1884-5, where he gained a brevet majority. He was employed as D.A.A.G. in the Soudan campaign of 1888, and afterwards as military secretary to the Commander-in-Chief, Madras, and was engaged in the operations in Burma, 1892-3. He was promoted into the Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) and commanded the 1st Battalion of that regiment in the South African War. He commanded the garrison during the siege of Kimberley; received the rank of brevet-colonel and the C.B., and in August 1902, was specially promoted major-general. He was appointed colonel of the Buffs on the 5th October 1909. On the outbreak of war in 1914 he was appointed to the 13th (Western) Division, which he commanded until his death on 5th November of that year.

Extract from "British Commanders in the Transvaal War 1899-1900" published by W.D. & H.O. Wills Ltd:


There are many comparatively youthful officers now serving in South Africa who have gained great fame since October last, of whom not the least is Colonel Kekewich, the hero of Kimberley. He is one of a well-known West Country family of Cornish extraction, now settled at Peamore, near Exeter.

Entering the army in 1874 his admirable qualities of untiring energy, tenacity, and buoyancy of spirit paved the way to popularity and rapid promotion, for in a couple of years we find him appointed to the adjutancy of his regiment —the historical "Buffs." At the age of twenty-one he saw active service in the Malay Peninsula. In Egypt, during the Nile Expedition of 1884-5 and at Suakin in 1888, he gained excellent commendation.

Promoted to the rank of Lieut.-Colonel of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, he was at Kimberley when besieged by the Boers on October 14th, 1899. With half his own regiment and a small composite garrison he successfully defended the town for four months, practically improvising means of defence during the progress of the siege. Relief arrived on February 15th, 1900. For his brilliant services he was promoted to the rank of Colonel.

Last updated 5 February, 2009
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