Major-General Robert Wanless-O'Gowan

Major-General Robert Wanless-O'Gowan

Male 1864 - 1947  (83 years)

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  • Name Major-General Robert Wanless-O'Gowan 
    Prefix Major-General 
    Born 5 Sep 1864  Bray and Rathmichael, Dublin, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Military Apr 1886 
    Promoted to Lieutenant 
    • The Times, Wednesday, Apr 28, 1886
      Promoted to Lieutenant - Robert Wanless Smith of the 8th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corp, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), vice [replacing] F.H.W. Fetherstonhaugh, promoted
    Residence Mar 1887  Bombay, India Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • married there
    Residence 1895  Clonard, Dundrum, Dublin, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Newspaper 20 Apr 1895  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • The Times (London), Saturday, Apr 20, 1895
      Notice of Change of Name - I, Robert Wanless-O'Gowan, heretofore called and known by the name of Robert Wanless Smith, at present residing at Clonard, Dundrum, county of Dublin, Lieutenant in Her Majesty's Regiment of Scottish Rifles, do abandon the use of my said surname of Smith and assume and adopt the name of Wanless-O'Gowan, effective 2nd April 1895.
    Newspaper Aug 1897  Osborne House, Isle of Wight, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • The Times, Thursday, Aug 05, 1897
      The visit of the King of Siam...left London for Porstmouth and crossed over to Osborne in the Royal yacht Alberta...at the gates of Osborne House a guard of honour formed by a company of the 2nd Battalion of Scottish Rifles, commanded by Captain Wanless-O'Gowan, presented arms as the Royal party entered the drive.

      The Times, Friday, Aug 20, 1897; pg. 7
      Captain Wanless-O'Gowan and Lieut. Wood, 2nd Battalion, Scottish Rifles (the Queen's Guard at East Cowes), dined at Osborne and had the honour of being presented to the Queen in the evening.
    Arrived 2 May 1900  Southampton, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • London Times (Wednesday)
      p6a The hospital ship Nubia arrived at Southampton yesterday with the following wounded listed:
      2nd Scottish Rifles Capt. R. Wanless O'Gowan
    Military 1900-1901  South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    railway staff officer 
    • The Times, Saturday, Jan 27, 1900
      The following casualties occurred 21 Jan in General Sir Redvers Buller's advance, dated 25 Jan, Spearman's Camp: Capt. Wanless-O'Gowan, severely wounded, 2nd Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

      The Times, Wednesday, Feb 13, 1901
      Recommended for medal of distinguished conduct in the defence of Ladysmith in South Africa, in a letter from Redvers Buller dated 30 March 1900

      The Times, Wednesday, Feb 20, 1901
      Capt. R. Wanless-O'Gowan is seconded for service on the Staff.

      The Times, Wednesday, Oct 30, 1901
      Capt. and Brev. Maj. R. Wanless-O'Gowan is appointed temporarily a District Inspector of Musketry.
    Travel 16 Aug 1901  Cape Town, South Africa Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • The Times, Friday, Aug 23, 1901
      The steamship Custodian left Cape Town for England on Aug 16 with the following invalids: Scottish Rifles - Capt. R. Wanless-O'Gowan. The ship is due at Las Palmas on 1 Sep and Southampton on 7 Sep.

      The Times, Tuesday, Sep 10, 1901
      ship arrived yesterday
    Newspaper 22 Apr 1902  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • The Times, Tuesday, Apr 22, 1902
      The King held a Levee at St James Palace yesterday. Presentations were given by the King to [long list of soldiers] Brevet Major R. Wanless-O'Gowan on promotion and return from active service, by the Deputy Adjutant General.
    Newspaper 23 Mar 1904  York, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • The Times, Wednesday, Mar 23, 1904
      Memorial services and a garrison parade for the Duke of Cambridge were attended at York Minster by Major Wanless-O'Gowan.
    Census 1911  Inkerman Barracks, Woking, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Military 1906-1911 
    • The Times, Saturday, May 05, 1906
      East Lancashire Reg - Major R. Wanless-O'Gowan from the Cameronians, to be Major, to complete establishment

      The Times, Saturday, Sep 25, 1909
      promoted to Lieut. Col., East Lancashire Reg.

      The Times, Thursday, Oct 07, 1909
      posted to the 1st Battalion (East Lancs Reg) at Woking

      The Times, Friday, Jun 09, 1911
      present at the annual dinner of the Scottish Rifles at Trafalgar Square
    Military 27 Apr 1914 
    Assistant Quartermaster General 
    • Colonel Robert Wanless-O'Gowan, from the half-pay list, to be an Assistant Quartermaster General, vice Colonel C.T. Dawkins, C.M.G., dated 27th April 1914.
      [London Gazette, 5 May 1914]
    Military 24 Aug 1915 
    Major-General of the 31st Division 
    • 31st Division aka "The Leeds Pals".
    Military 1886-1920 
    • King's College London
      Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
      Survey of the Papers of Senior UK Defence Personnel, 1900-1975
      Name
      O'GOWAN, Robert Wanless- (1864-1947), Major General
      Service biography
      Joined Army 1886; railway staff officer, South Africa 1900-1901; Assistant Quartermaster General 1914; World War I 1914-1918; Commander, 13 Bde, 5 Div 1915; 31 Div 1915-1918; Reserve Centre 1918-1920; retired 1920
      Papers
      PUBLIC RECORD OFFICE, LONDON: The correspondence files of the official historian of World War I include some letters describing his commands (ref: CAB 45)
      [Source: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lhcma_new/locreg/OGOWAN1.shtml ]

      The Army List for 1914 shows him as a lieutenant in the Cameronians with date of rank from 22 July 1912. I know that during World War One he was appointed brigadier at some point, but I have no further details on his military career or his life in general.
      [ckilvert@pobox.com]

      The Battles of Ypres, 1915 - 22nd April to 25th May
      Second Army, II and V Corps,
      General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien commanded 2nd Army until 27th April 1915.
      Replaced by Lt.Gen Sir H. Plumer, officially on 6 May 1915, but effectively 27th April.

      Divisions - 1st,2nd and 3rd Cavalry. 4th, 27th, 28th, 50th, Lahore and 1st Canadian.
      also 13th Infantry Brigade of 5th Division.
      The 5th Division was within the battle boundaries but did not take part in a battle.
      Hill 60 - 5th Division -Major General T.L.N. Morland. Hill 60 was actually the spoil heap from work done on the Ypres-Comines Railway.
      13th Brigade - Brigadier General R. Wanless O'Gowan.

      13th Infantry Brigade of 5th Division took part in Battle of St Julien 24th April - 4th May 1915.
      5th Division - Major General T.L.N. Morland.
      13th Infantry Brigade - Brigadier General R. Wanless O'Gowan. -

      [http://www.ypressalient.co.uk/2nd%20Ypres%20Order%20of%20Battle.htm]

      Commanders of the 31st Division:
      Maj-Gen. R.Wanless O'Gowan (24/8/1915)
      [http://www.1914-1918.net/31div.htm]

      Sheffield City Battalion
      The very fine camp at Ripon, on the Harrogate Road, was, naturally, with the headquarters of the 4th Army Training Centre close at hand, the scene of important fresh work for the Battalion. ...
      Major-General R. Wanless O'Gowan, C.B., who took over command of the 31st Division on 24th August from Major-General E. A. Fanshawe, C. B., inspected the Battalion on September 8th, and expressed himself as extremely pleased with the physique and turn-out of the regiment and the smartness with which they handled their arms.
      ---
      The Battalion was inspected by Sir A. H. Paget, G.O.C., Salisbury Training Centre; by Major-General Wanless O'Gowan, G.O.C., 31st Division, and by BrigadierGeneral T. Carter Campbell, D.S.O.

      23 June 1916 Brigade practiced the attack over training ground,and was subsequently addressed by Major-General G. Wanless O'Gowan, GOC Division, on 24 June.

      Courtesy of Diana Stockford, extract from the memoirs of Brigadier-General Hubert Conway Rees C.M.G. D.S.O. describing the attack on Serre by the Pals battalions of 94th Brigade (31st Division) on 1st July 1916. Rees held temporary command of the brigade from 15th June to 2nd July. His memoirs are held at the Imperial War Museum Department of Documents (IWM 77/179/1).
      "The wildest reports were rife at divisional headquarters at this time. I was ordered to send a company to bomb the Germans out of the front trench of the 93rd Bde. I expostulated & said that no front trenches existed, but to no purpose. I therefore ordered seventy men near Bde Hdqtrs to draw bombs from the dump & take their time about it. A little later I was talking to General O'Gowan4 & told him that I didn't believe the Germans were in the 93rd's trench at all. He said, to my considerable astonishment, "Nor do I". "In that case" said I "I will stop the attack which you have just ordered me to make" & rushed out of the dug out to cancel the order. "
      Footnote 4: Maj.-Gen. R. Wanless O'Gowan, 31st Div. Commander.
      [http://www.pals.org.uk/rees2.htm]

      Order Of Battle For The British Expeditionary Force
      On The Somme. July - November 1916
      31st Division
      Major General R. Wanless O'Gowan

      1917
      Primary Documents: Sir Douglas Haig's 4th Despatch (1917 Campaigns), 25 December 1917

      On the evening of the 28th June a deliberate and carefully-
      thought-out scheme was put into operation by the First Army, to give the enemy the impression that he was attacked on a twelve-mile front from Gavrelle to Hulluch.
      Elaborate demonstrations were made on the whole of this front, accompanied by discharges of gas, smoke and thermit, and a mock raid was successfully carried out south-east of Loos. At the same time real attacks were made, with complete success, by English troops (31st Division, Major-General R. Wanless O'Gowan, and the 5th Division) on a front of 2,000 yards opposite Oppy, and by Canadian and North Midland troops (3rd and 4th Canadian Divisions, and the 46th Division) on a front of two and a half miles astride the Souchez River.
      [http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/haigcampaign1917despatch.htm]
    Newspaper 1920  Dublin, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • The Times, Monday, May 10, 1920
      member of a group drawing up a bill to form a Parliament for Ireland and setting up an Irish government

      The Times, Wednesday, Sep 15, 1920
      signed a telegram to the Prime Minister as a member of the Standing Committee of the Irish Peace Conference, requesting the release of the Lord Mayor of Cork and other hunger strikers from prison
    NAME Robert Wanless Smith 
    Retired 1920 
    from Army 
    Died 15 Dec 1947  Hindhead, Surrey, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Notes 
    • Re his name change, O'Gowan is a Gaelic form of Smith - apparently Robert decided in 1895 to revert to this historic form of his surname. Debrett's Peerage 1919 mentions that he reverted to the family name in 1895. Apparently he kept Wanless as part of his new surname, linking him to his mother's paternal grandmother's family.

      "The name McGowan in Ireland is derived from the native Gaelic Mac Gabhann Sept that was located in County Cavan. The name is usually Anglicised as Smith or Smithson. Variations include O'Gowan.
      It is in the ancestral homeland, Cavan, that the name can be most commonly found."

      Siblings:
      Edward John Shirley Smith (14/10/1865 Croom, Limerick, died 1887); and
      Leah Leonora Mary Smith (4/8/1867 Rathfarnham, Dublin)

      Marriage notice says he is the eldest son of E.J. Smith of Clonard, Dublin. Note this is where his maternal grandmother Mary Anne Kelley died.

      Resided at Islanmore, Tilford, Surrey at the time of his death on 15 Dec 1947, but died at Hindhead. Note his house Islanmore in Surrey seems to have been named after his father's house Islanmore in Croom, Limerick.
    Person ID I3181  100: Small Groups of Wan(d)lesses Worldwide
    Last Modified 1 Aug 2012 

    Father Edward John Smith,   b. Abt 1834, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 5 Mar 1896, Rathdown, County Dublin, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 62 years) 
    Mother Dorcas Maria Kelley,   b. 1838-1839, Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Apr 1923, Dublin, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 84 years) 
    Married 1863  Birkenhead, Cheshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Family ID F57  Group Sheet

    Family Alice Phillis Bland,   b. Est 1864-1870, County Kerry, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 May 1940, Hill House, Farnham, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 70 years) 
    Married 21 Mar 1887  Bombay, India Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Children 
     1. Lynedoch Wanless-O'Gowan,   b. 29 Jul 1889,   d. Yes, date unknown
     2. Phyllida Mary Wanless-O'Gowan,   b. 30 Nov 1890, Clonard, Dundrum, Dublin, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1961-1962  (Age 71 years)
    Last Modified 25 Jul 2008 
    Family ID F1042  Group Sheet

  • News
    Obituary: Major-General Robert Wanless-O'Gowan, 1864-1947
    Obituary: Major-General Robert Wanless-O'Gowan, 1864-1947
    Major-General Robert Wanless-O'Gowan, C.B., C.M.G., who died at Hindhead, Surrey on Monday at the age of 83, had a considerable reputation as a fighting soldier.

  • Sources 
    1. [S18] Newspaper, LONDON TIMES, 17 DECEMBER 1947 (Reliability: 3).
      Died 15 Dec at Hindhead, Major-General Robert Wanless-O'Gowan, C.B., C.M.G. of Islanmore, Tilford, Farnham, Surrey, aged 83. Funeral private. No flowers or letters.

    2. [S61] Marriage Index (Reliability: 3).
      GRO marriage index shows:
      Dec 1863 KELLEY      Dorcas Maria Birkenhead 8a 687
      Cheshire BMD shows:
      KELLEY Dorcas Maria, SMITH Edward John, Egremont, St John Wirral C1/1/172

    3. [S18] Newspaper, THE TIMES, THURSDAY, MAR 24, 1887; PG. 1 (Reliability: 3).
      Married on the 21st inst at Bombay, R. Wanless Smith, 2d Battalion, Scottish Rifles, eldest son of E.J. Smith, Clonard, county Dublin, to Alice Phillis (Alt), fourth daughter of F.C. Bland, Derriquin Castle, county Kerry, Ireland.