William Riddell Birdwood

William Riddell Birdwood

Birth
Pune (Poona), Maharashtra, India
Death 17 May 1951 (aged 85)
Hampton Court, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London, England
Burial Whitton, London Borough of Hounslow, Greater London, England
Plot Section A, Grave 378 special
Memorial ID 15398747 · View Source
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British Army Field Marshall. He is remembered for his military service during World War I, especially in the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign in Turkey. Graduating early in 1885, he earned his commission from the Royal Military College in Sandhurst and served with the 12th Lancers and the 11th Bengal Lancers from 1885 to 1887. He was an experienced military officer who served in numerous campaigns in India and in the African War under General Horatio Herbert Kitchener . In 1908 he was awarded the Champion of the Distinguished Service Order and the Champion of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire. He was promoted to major general in 1911 and served as secretary to the Army Department, government of India and in 1912 with the Viceroy's Legislative Council. In November 1914 he was promoted to Lieutenant General in command of the World War I forces raised in Australia and New Zealand. These two countries' armies were combined to become the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp or “ANZACS.” He became known as “the soul of ANZACS.” From February 7, 1915 to January 9, 1916, he was commander of the combined army during the failed Gallipoli Campaign in Turkey. He was a very cautious commander, affectionately known to others as “Birdie,” had the respect of his troops, and often in the trenches near the front line with his men or swimming with them in the ocean waters. He had requested Kitchener for more troops for the Gallipoli Campaign and received them before the April 25th invasion. Under the leadership of Sir Ian Hamilton, he led the landings on the peninsula and then the evacuation eleven months later after losing 180,000 men. During the evacuation, he had to destroy thousands of dollars worth of equipment before it landed in the enemy's hands. Being the commander of the Australian Imperial Forces, he was responsible by 1916 for increasing the Australia Imperial Forces base and its training posts in England. In 1917 he commanded the Fifth Army and in 1925 was promoted to the rank of Field Marshall. His highest goal was to be appointed Governor-General of Australia, but the post was never offered to him as he was not an Australian but an Englishman. He retired in 1930 and in 1938 was made "Baron Birdwell of Anzac and Totnes". He died in Hampton Court Palace, in Middlesex and was buried with full military honors. The Australian government maintains his grave site, and a town in Southern Australia was named in his honor. His autobiography, “Khaki and Gown,” was published in 1941 and a shorter book in 1946, “In My Time.” His portraits are on display at the Australian War Memorial and the Royal Military College, Canberra as well as the National Gallery of Victoria. Other British awards and honors received were the Knight Grand Cross of Order of Bath, Knight grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, and Knight of Grace of Venerable Order of St. John. Foreign honors were the Croix de Guerrel from France, Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown from Belgium, Croix de Guerre from Belgium, Distinguished Service Medal from the United States, Grand Cross of the Order of the Tower and Sword from Portugal and the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Gun from Japan.

Bio by: Tom Denardo



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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Tom Denardo
  • Added: 17 Aug 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 15398747
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Riddell Birdwood (13 Sep 1865–17 May 1951), Find A Grave Memorial no. 15398747, citing Twickenham Cemetery, Whitton, London Borough of Hounslow, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .