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  • Christina Drummond

Colonel John Murray Cobbold, the Scots Guards

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1944, Colonel John Murray Cobbold, the Scots Guards, was killed during the highly destructive V-Weapons air assault on London. He was in the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks, St. James’ Park, during Sunday morning service when it was hit by a V-1 flying bomb – the service was to give thanks for the success of the Normandy Landings (and it was also the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo) – over one hundred people died as the roof, supporting walls and pillars collapsed. It was over two days before the last survivor was found.

Colonel Cobbold was the son of John Dupuis Cobbold whose family owned the Tolly Cobbold brewery, and Lady Evelyn Murray, daughter of the 7th Earl of Dunmore. In September of 1915, at the age of eighteen, he joined the Scots Guards, serving as a lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion, and saw action in France in 1916. In 1917 he received a gun-shot wound to his face but refused to return home to recuperate. He served for several months beyond the Armistice, after which time he worked in his family’s brewery, becoming Chairman after his father’s death in 1929.

In October of 1939 he rejoined the Scots Guards as Colonel, and took on a range of roles: Aide-de-Camp to General Officer Commanding, London; Deputy Assistant Provost Marshall, London District; Liaison Officer, U.S. Army Headquarters of the European Theatre of Operations. At the time of his death he was Commanding Officer of the Scots Guards, acting as Liaison Officer with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, working closely with General Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff, General Bedell Smith. As a personal friend of the family, he secured Purdey’s (the gun-makers) Long Room in which General Eisenhower and General Smith drew up plans, the most important of which were for the D-Day Landings.

Lord Cranworth paid this tribute (Ivan was a life-long nickname, after Ivan the Terrible due to his behaviour as a small child): “Ivan Cobbold was a man of many talents, great abilities, and infinite charm. Moreover, he was a patriot with every fibre of his being. There was no-one on his estate or in his business with whom he was not fully acquainted and with whose welfare he was not concerned. He went out doing kindnesses to those in trouble, whether monetary or otherwise. His heart, his hand, and his pocket were every ready with the one proviso, “No-one is to know.” He was a man of true generosity and intense loyalty and these characteristics will stand in the memory of his friends as a monument more enduring than brass.”

John, of Glemham Hall, Suffolk, was 47 years old and married with four children.

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