Clan Carruthers

Clan Carruthers: Brigadier General R A Carruthers

(Left) Brig Gen R  A Carruthers and (Right) Brig Gen C B B White of the 1st ANSAC Corp, France 1917.


Carruthers have reached all strata in society and this blog is covers one of our own Here is a man who attained an army field officers rank during the First World War, being in command of a brigade of up to 8,000 men. Interestingly the Army abolished the rank of Brigadier-General in 1921, when it ceased to use the brigade as a tactical formation. The subsequent unitary division proved unwieldy, and brigades were reinstated in 1928, commanded by a Colonel holding the temporary appointment of Brigadier, but still on Colonel’s pay. In 1947 a Brigadier became a substantive field officer rank, and pay grade.

Brigadier General Robert Alexander Carruthers CB CMG was a highly decorated, extremely experienced career soldier in the Indian Army. He was seconded to ANZAC as Quarter-Master General. In this capacity, he helped make the case for better medical provision than had originally been planned for.

The Gallipoli Campaign (April 1915-December, 1915) was the British and Allies’ attempt to capture the Dardanelles (the straights leading from Sea of Marmara and Istanbul to the Mediterranean) and eventually march on Istanbul, forcing the surrender of the Ottoman Empire and gaining control of the Black Sea beyond.

It is widely viewed that this campaign was mismanaged and suffered from a lack of commitment from the start. The most successful operation of the campaign, in fact, was the evacuation.

On the night of 25th April, AIF Commander Birdwood wrote to the overall commander Sir Ian Hamilton asking whether; given the landings’ difficulty, the AIF should re-embark from ANZAC cove’. This was discussed on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. Carruthers, who had seen how difficult the situation was at Helles, recommended sending the troops there (the 29th Division) to ANZAC, and in crease the concentration of troops there. Hamilton sadly decided to keep them all in place, and sent Birdwood the famous letter saying he must ‘dig, dig, dig, until you are safe.’

Of the Australian brigades that made it all the way to Chunuk Bair and Hill 60 and the full New Zealand force, which, all combined, began at the full strength of 18,000 men for this final push, only 4,000 lived to see the rest camps Anzac troops were sent to afterward.

The Brigadier General’s career went back to 1890-1891 when as a Lieutenant, appointed to the Upper Burma Military Police. In 1900 as a Captain he was transferred to the 11th Bengal Lancers in India as a Squadron Commander.  On the 14th August, 1908 he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and Regimental Officer, 1st Brigade, 59th Rifles in India. Robert was Quarter Master General (QMG) in the Mediterranean and Egyptian Expeditionary Forces, 1914 -1919. He was honoured by King George V with a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB), and a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG).

As a Brigadier General, he was the Deputy Assistant and Quartermaster General of the Australian Corps units of ANZAC. Towards the end of WWI Brigadier General Robert Alexander Carruthers was still serving his country at the Somme in France.

His son Walter emigrated to Canada after leaving school and served in their armed forces, but was also seconded to ANZAC, in 1916.

Robert is one of the original subscribers to Rev Arthur Stanley Carruthers book “Records of the Carruthers Family” and lived at Pall Mall, London after he retired in 1938.

Our Society Genealogist (Australasia), Mr Gary Carruthers, who gathered much of this information, suspects that he is from the the House of Carruthers of Wormanbie, which dates back to 1472 as a probable branch directly descended from Holmains.

iu-5.jpegThe Order of the Bath is an order of chivalry and was founded in 1725 for service of the highest calibre. The order has a civil and military division and is awarded in the following ranks: Knight Grand Cross (GCB), Knight Commander (KCB) and Companion (CB). The Order takes its name from the symbolic bathing, which in former times, was often part of the preparation of a candidate for knighthood.

iu-8.jpegThe Order of St Michael and St George was founded by King George III in 1818 and is awarded to British subjects who have rendered extraordinary and important services abroad or in the Commonwealth. Ranks in the Order are Knight or Dame Grand Cross (GCMG), Knight or Dame Commander (KCMG or DCMG) and Companion (CMG).

iu-2.jpegANZAC, were the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, a combined corps that served with distinction in World War I during the ill-fated 1915 Gallipoli Campaign, an attempt to capture the Dardanelles from Turkey.

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica: In 1916 Australian and New Zealand infantry divisions were sent to France. They took part in some of the bloodiest actions of the war and established reputations as elite shock troops, at the price of heavy casualties. They remain highly respected for their heroism and bravery to this day.

The New Zealand Division, eventually sustained by conscription, was second to none in combat, planning, and administration.

The Australians, eventually reaching a strength of five divisions, faced difficulty replacing losses as Australia twice rejected conscription. Grouped into a single corps commanded by Sir John Monash, who complemented the panache and the tactical skill of his soldiers with comprehensive, careful planning, the Australians nevertheless were central to defeating the German offensive of March 1918 and to the “hundred days” from August 8 to November 11 that ended the Great War.

The ANZAC cavalry units remained in the Middle East, playing a major role in the 1917–18 Palestine campaign. A unique mentality based on concepts of manhood, mateship, and meritocracy is frequently cited as the key to Australian and New Zealand soldiers’ valour and effectiveness.

In Australia and New Zealand, ANZAC Day—April 25 (the date of the Gallipoli landing)—has been a major occasion for expressing national sentiment and pride.


Above is His Majesty King George V, knighting Lieutenant General Sir John Monash, Australian Corps Commander, at the Corps Headquarters in the Chateau, when General Monash was invested as a Knight Commander of the Bath. The ordnance shown in the background is captured material brought back from the vicinity of Warfusee-Abancourt; it was captured on 8 August by Australian troops.

When General Monash took leave of His Majesty, Major General M. W. O’Keeffe KCMG CB, DMS, Fourth Army, who is standing on the right showing three rows of ribbons, was invested with the KCMG. Second from the right is Brigadier General R. A. Carruthers CB CMG.

Anzac Cove (capturing the melancholy of war)

There’s a lonely stretch of hillocks:
There’s a beach asleep and drear:
There’s a battered broken fort beside the sea.
There are sunken trampled graves:
And a little rotting pier:
And winding paths that wind unceasingly.
There’s a torn and silent valley:
There’s a tiny rivulet
With some blood upon the stones beside its mouth.
There are lines of buried bones:
There’s an unpaid waiting debt :
There’s a sound of gentle sobbing in the South.

By Leon Gellert

Lest we Forget

Clan Carruthers Society WP footnote grey

1 thought on “Clan Carruthers: Brigadier General R A Carruthers”

  1. Brilliant – a brigadier general in the clan with the ANZAC`s. As an ex Black watch piper in the 51st Volunteers and an ex RAF serviceman (Aden,Singapore and Oman) I am fair chuffed we had some “guid` Sojers” up the line.Also chuffed our new clan chief Dr Simon is a Fifer so I`ll hae tae bring a lang spoon to sup with him!! As an ex KInghorn resident I think thats great news..CU CCC.

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