OW Alexander Stanhope Cobbe Victoria Cross Anniversary

06 October 2018

Alexander Cobbe, pictured as a student in the Hardinge in 1887.

6th October marks the anniversary of the action in 1902 for which Old Wellingtonian Alexander Stanhope Cobbe was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Alexander came to Wellington in 1883, two years after his elder brother. They were both in the Hardinge. The sons of Lt-General Sir Alexander Cobbe, they came from an Anglo-Indian family, their grandmother being an Indian woman named Nuzzeer Begum Khan. Both brothers went to Sandhurst and embarked on successful military careers, Alexander being commissioned into the South Wales Borderers in 1889, but soon transferring to the Indian Army Staff Corps.

In the 1890s he served in both India and Africa, and in 1900 was involved in the Ashanti War alongside Old Wellingtonian Charles Melliss, whose VC was commemorated on 30 September. In 1902 he was appointed Commandant of the 1st (Central Africa) Battalion, the King’s African Rifles, and with them took part in the Somaliland campaign, in which local leader Mohammed Abdullah Hassan led a revolt against British rule. It was during this campaign that he carried out the action described thus in his VC citation:

During the action at Erego, on October 6th, 1902, when some of the companies had retired, Lieutenant-Colonel Cobbe was left by himself in front of the line, with a Maxim gun. Without assistance he brought in the Maxim, and worked it at a most critical time. He then went out under an extremely hot fire from the enemy about twenty yards in front of him, and from his own men (who had retired) about the same distance behind, and succeeded in carrying in a wounded orderly.

During his subsequent service he commanded an Indian Army Division in the Middle East during the First World War, and later worked at the India Office. He ended his career as a full General, and was knighted in 1917. He was also an active member of the Old Wellingtonian Society up to his death in 1931. His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Regimental Museum of The Royal Welsh in Brecon.