Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion


General Rt Hon Sir
Redvers Buller

Son of James Wentworth Buller, M.P., of Crediton, Devonshire, and the descendant of an old Cornish family, long established in Devonshire, tracing its ancestry in the female line to Edward I., he was born in 1839 at Downes, Crediton, Devon, and educated at Eton. He was a major benefactor in Crediton and Exeter during the early years of the last century. He was General Officer Commanding at Aldershot, October 1898 to October 1899 and January to October 1901

Commissioned into the 60th Rifles (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) in May 1858 he served in the Peking expedition of 1860, in the Red River Rebellion (Canada) 1870, and Ashanti (Ghana) 1873-4, where he came to the notice of General Garnet Wolsley. He then served in South Africa during the Kaffir War, 1878 and the Zulu War, 1879, where he commanded a Regiment of irregular horse. Buller lost approximately ninety men of his force in the retreat from Inhlobane where he was awarded the Victoria Cross for rescuing three of his men from the Zulus.

He served as Chief of Staff in the first Boer War and then to General Wolsley in both the Egyptian campaign of 1882, where he was commended for coolness under fire at Tamai, and the Gordon relief expedition of 1885. He was employed as a civilian on police duties in Ireland in 1886 but returned to the Army as Quartermaster General and then Adjutant General for the next eleven years, from 1887 to 1897.

As GOC at Aldershot in 1899 Buller became commander of the Field Force for Natal during the South African War. Following a series of setbacks in South Africa, Lord Roberts replaced Buller. Notwithstanding that, Buller returned to a heroes welcome in Aldershot in January 1901.

A disagreement over policy led to his retirement in October 1901 and he died in Devon in June 1908, aged sixty-eight. He is remembered as the ‘father’ of the Army Service Corps (now incorporated in the Royal Logistics Corps). The Royal Logistics Corps barracks, in Aldershot, bear his name.

Many references to his name and deeds can be found in Exeter, including Buller Road and Ladysmith schools. At the junction of New North Road and Hele Road in Exeter can be seen the statue of the General sat astride his horse, as he must often have been seen leading his troops on the battlefields of South Africa. The statue was unveiled in 1905 and thousands of people attended, including General Buller himself. Seen as the saviour of the Boer War, he was acclaimed as having saved Natal from the Boers.


22 April 2004

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