12 October 2015

Lt. Col. Charles R.T.M. Gerard - The Man in Charge of Josef Jakobs' Execution

When Josef Jakobs was found guilty of Treachery (espionage) by a military court martial in early August 1941, his fate was placed into the hands of the London District Deputy Provost Marshal, Colonel Charles Robert Tolver Michael Gerard. It was Gerard who would make arrangements for Josef's execution and who would ensure that everything surrounding the event was carried out with military precision.

Early Life
Charles Robert Tolver Michael Gerard (we'll just call him Charles) was born on 28 February, 1894, in the rather posh district of St. George/Hanover Square in London. His parents were the Hon. Robert Joseph Geard-Dicconson and Eleanor Sarah Bankes.

Charles' grandfather was the 1st Baron Gerard of Bryn but Charles' uncle ended up inheriting the title. But as fate would have it, eventually Charles' own grandson would inherit the 5th Baron Gerard of Bryn title due to a lack of male heirs in the other line. Charles' family was quite well-to-do and the household bristled with an array of maids, cooks, footmen, butlers and coachmen. It comes as no surprise then to learn that Charles was educated at the prestigious Eton College in Windsor, Berkshire.

Badge of the Grenadier Guards
Badge of the Grenadier Guards
World War I
With the outbreak of the war in 1914, Charles was a prime officer's candidate. He obtained a commission in the 1st Battalion of the Grenadier Guards as a 2nd Lieutenant.

Charles arrived in France on September 19, 1914, with the 2nd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. Within a month, Charles and his battalion were enmeshed in fighting around Ypres. The battalion suffered heavy officer losses and by December, Charles had risen to the rank of Lieutenant.

Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Distinguished
Service Order (DSO)
In early 1915, Charles was appointed as an Aide-de-Camp to the Commander of the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, a move that took him out of the trenches but not out of harm's way.

That fall, likely whilst on leave in England, Charles married Aimee Gwendolyn Clarke in London. By 1917, Charles had risen to the rank of Captain and was serving as Adjutant to Lt. Col. Viscount Gort, Commander of the 4th Battalion, Grenadier Guards. In early 1918, Charles was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.). He was also Mentioned in Despatches twice (1916 & 1918), having earned those for gallant and distinguished service in the field.

Inter-War Years
Badges of the Manchester Regiment. In 1923, the badges changed to the fleur-de-lis.
Badges of the Manchester Regiment. In 1923, the badges
changed to the fleur-de-lis.
Charles is rather hard to pin down during the inter-war years. Some information suggests that he served with the 5th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, ending up as a Brevet Colonel.

On the family front, Charles and his wife Aimee, had two sons together. Rupert Charles Frederick Gerard was born in October 1916 and Robert Guy Standish Gerard was born in 1921. Both sons were educated at Eton College, but by 1929, it was clear that Charles and Aimee's marriage was not an amicable one.

Aimee filed for divorce which was granted in 1930. That same year, on 25 September, some might say with unbecoming haste, Charles married Norma Rogers.

5 Great Scotland Yard - offices of the Deputy Provost Marshal, London District during World War 2.
5 Great Scotland Yard - offices of the Deputy Provost
Marshal, London District during World War 2.
World War II
With the outbreak of the war, 45 year old Charles was remobilized from the Reserve of Officers as an officer in His Majesty's Armed Forces.

Charles eventually gained the rank of Colonel in the Grenadier Guards, but he saw no active fighting.

His role in the war was to serve as Deputy Provost Marshal for the London District, essentially the chief Military Policeman for the London District.

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.)
Officer of the Order of the
British Empire (O.B.E.)
It was in this role that Lt. Col. Charles R.T.M. Gerard would come to oversee the execution by firing squad of Josef Jakobs.

In 1944, Charles was invested as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.). Both of his sons would end up receiving commissions into the Grenadier Guards. Rupert would end up a Major and Robert, a Lieutenant.

After the war, Charles disappears from view, and we only know that he passed away in Windsor, Berkshire, on 14 January, 1971, at the age of 76.










References
Ancestry.com - genealogy information
British Army List
The Gazette
The Grenadier Guards in the Great War of 1914-1918, Volumes 1-3, published 1920.
The Peerage - entry on Charles R.T.M. Gerard

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