Expanded British Army Personnel Records from Robin William George Stephens

Robin William George Stephens
Robin William George Stephens
A few months back, I received an expanded version of the British Army personnel record for Robin William George Stephens. A couple of years ago, I was contacted by a cousin of Stephens' and with his assistance was able to apply as a "family member", which meant that more documents were released than to a general member of the public.

One of the most intriguing documents in Stephens' folder was a letter written by his father, William Henry Stephens to The War Office on 25 February 1946. I mentioned the letter in a previous post and in this one, I would like to address some supporting documents that Stephens' father sent to the War Office.

The first document is entitled: Career of Captain R.W.G. Stephens (Indian Army, Retired 1931). The document covers some of the key moments in Robin's career and confirms much of what we already know about his history.

  • Dulwich School; Athlete; Captain of Ist.XV.
Army Service:
  • Woolwich Entrance [likely the Royal Military Academy at Woolich];
  • Quetta [likely the Command and Staff College in Quetta].
  • 2nd Goorkhas. 4 years active service [probably 1919-1923].
  • Mentioned in Despatches. G.S. [General Service] and I.G.S. [India General Service] medals, (latter 6 clasps). G.S.O.3 [General Staff Officer 3rd Grade] (age 19); Adjutant II/I8 R.G.R. [Royal Gurkha Rifles] Staff Captain.
  • Cantonment Magistrate
Political Service:
  • Commandant Muscat State Forces [likely the Muscat Levy Corps - a more detailed blog post coming soon.]
  • Built 80 Mile Road through mountains and desert.
  • Official thanks of the Government of India.
Judicial Service:
  •  J.A.G.'s Department, 5 years. Qualified Judge Advocate (Reward I.I30) Assistant Judge Advocate General, etc. Prosecuted and defended a number of complicated cases. Conducted a considerable number of cases including murder and sedition, both under the English Law and under the Indian Penal Code. No case ever set aside on appeal.
Subsequent Activities:
  • Three books on legal subjects; one on Evidence in collaboration with a jurist. [I have only discovered two of the books.]
    • A Digest of the Law of Evidence in Courts Martial (Under the Army and Air Force Acts), adapted from Sir James Stephen's Digest of the Law of Evidence. by Harry Lushington Stephen and R. Townshend-Stephens - published 1934. N.B. Stephens' first wife's maiden name was Townsend/Townshend and Robin seems to have used a hyphenated name for several years.
    •  A Practical Digest of Military Law by Capt. R. Townshend Stephens - published 1933.
  • Adjutant to British Red Cross Expedition to Ethiopia during Italo-Abyssinian War. [Newspapers from April 1936 carried reports of mustard gas attacks by the Italians and quoted Captain R. Townshend Stephens. Apparently Robin hyphenated his surname with that of his first wife (Phyllis Gwendolen (née Townshend) Fletcher) - a more detailed blog post coming soon.]
  • French, Urdu (Interpreter), Arabic (Omani), Punjabi, Khaskura and Garhwali, etc.
Physical Fitness:
  • Usual activities, including U.S. XV. [unclear what this might be...]
  • Equitation course, polo, etc.
  • Instructor, Army Physical Training.
  • Age in 1946, 46. Height 5-II. 
Later Information:
  • Invalided home from Abyssinia.
  • Masonic Hospital, Ravenscourt.
  • Hospital for Officers, 4 Percival Terrace, Brighton 7. (1937).
As noted above, I'll be writing some expanded blog posts on different aspects of this information.


Stephen Denne said…
Another instance of (presumably) RWGS using the Townshend Stephens surname, this one from 1934:

Shark in the deep
In 1934 R Townshend Stephens wrote to The Times to recall an incident in Sohar when a game was taking place on a matting wicket laid out on a beach. A ball was swung out to the deep, "but it fell not into the sea but was swallowed by a shark," he explained. Townshend Stephens, who was umpiring, gave the batsman out and the entry in the scorebook read "caught Fish bowled Burkitt Ullah".


Original letter here: https://archive.org/stream/NewsUK1983UKEnglish/Sep%2028%201983%2C%20The%20Times%2C%20%2361649%2C%20UK%20%28en%29_djvu.txt

Another reference: https://archive.org/stream/VOL318941956/VOL%203%201894-1956_djvu.txt

Giselle Jakobs said…
Hi Stephen,
Yes, I've come across that reference as well - a funny story!

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