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Lieutenant Colonel Richard Chester-Master, D.S.O. and bar, 13th Battalion, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps

August 30, 2019


Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Chester-Master, D.S.O. and bar, 13th Battalion, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, was killed in action in Flanders.

The son of Colonel Thomas Chester-Master, Conservative M.P. for Cirencester, he was educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford. In 1893, he joined the King's Royal Rifle Corps; during his service in South African Wars he saw action at Belmont, Graspan, Modder River, Magersfontein, Paardeberg, Driefontein, and Sanna's Post. He was twice Mentioned in Despatches and received the Queen's Medal with six clasps and the King's Medal with two clasps. He held the positions of Resident Commissioner and Commandant-General of the British South African Police in Rhodesia from 1901 to 1909. May of 1910 saw him retired and taking up the appointment of Chief Constable of Gloucestershire.

In March 1915, Lieutenant Colonel Chester-Master rejoined his old regiment, and was Mentioned in Despatches three times from June of 1916 to December 1917. In June of 1917 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, with a bar being added a few months later. The citation includes: “During operations for six days he displayed great courage and ability. His Battalion was very short of Officers, and he had no rest during that period. His splendid example and total disregard for safety inspired his men with great confidence."

After his death, the.Acting Chief Constable paid this tribute: "In him the country has lost a brave and experienced soldier; the county of Gloucestershire has lost a valued and high-minded official; the Police Force has lost a head who had devoted the best energies of his life, since he became Chief Constable, to their official and private welfare; and a great many people have lost a friend whom they had learnt to honour and love. He has passed away in the midst of what promised to be a brilliant military career, leaving behind him a memory which will never be forgotten of a "gallant gentleman" in the best and noblest sense of the word."

Lieutenant Colonel Chester-Master is buried in the Locre Hospice Cemetery in Belgium. On his gravestone are these words from the Remembrance hymn “O Valiant Hearts”, written by his wife’s brother, Sir John Arkwright, in 1917:

“O valiant hearts who to your glory came Through clouds of conflict and through battle flame; Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved, Your memory hallowed in the land you loved.”

Richard, from Cirencester in Gloucestershire, was 47 years old and married with two sons and a daughter.




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