On This Day…

On the 19 December 1975 Brigadier Henry Robinson Elsdale MC OBE died


Robinson Elsdale was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1911. The outbreak of the First World War found him with the 6 Signal Company in Ireland but shortly afterwards he went to the Western Front in September 1914 and was wounded in 1915 and invalided home. After recovering from his wounds, he went back to the Front in 1916, where he served with signal units, before becoming Brigade Major of an infantry brigade and staff officer at HQ 2nd Army.

A year later he joined General Plumer’s staff in Italy. In November 1917 Plumer was sent to command British troops in Italy after the disaster at Caporetto. Whilst posted in Italy, Elsdale was awarded the MC and the Italian War Cross.


Transfer to the Royal Corps of Signals

In 1918 he attended the Junior Staff Course at Cambridge and, after a short staff appointment in Northern Command, joined the 2nd Wireless Coy in Egypt until 1922 when he transferred to the Corps. After transferring he attended Cambridge University, gaining a first class degree in mechanical science.Between the wars he was an instructor at the School of Signals at Catterick, and served in Palestine for six years, during which he was appointed OBE.

He returned to Palestine during the troubles in 1936 and commanded ‘A’ Corps Signals from 1936-38, when he joined the RE Signal Board at the War Office with the rank of Colonel. His outstanding technical knowledge and administrative abilities kept him on the staff throughout the Second World War, with the Ministry of Supply, as Technical Adviser (Signals Staff) and at British Army Staff Washington, USA from 1941 – 1944.

For his co operation and dedication with assisting the Americans development in communications, he was appointed Officer of the Legion of Merit. His final appointment was as Assistant Director of Communications Intelligence at the War Office with the rank of Brigadier until his retirement in 1945.

Military Cross GR

The Legion of Merit

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