Field Marshal Sir William Robert Robertson (1860-1933) [PLOT 28]
Sir William Robert Robertson, 1st Baronet, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, DSO. Born 29th January 1860 was a British Army officer who served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) – the professional head of the British Army – from 1916 to 1918 during the First World War. As CIGS he was committed to a Western Front strategy focusing on Germany and was against what he saw as peripheral operations on other fronts. While CIGS, Robertson had increasingly poor relations with David Lloyd George, Secretary of State for War and then Prime Minister, and threatened resignation at Lloyd George’s attempt to subordinate the British forces to the French Commander-in-Chief, Robert Nivelle. In 1917 Robertson supported the continuation of the Third Battle of Ypres, at odds with Lloyd George’s view that Britain’s war effort ought to be focused on the other theatres until the arrival of sufficient US troops on the Western Front.
Robertson is the only soldier in the history of the British Army to have risen from an enlisted rank to its highest rank of field marshal.