Lieutenant Colonel Richard Chester CHESTER-MASTER DSO and bar
Kings Royal Rifle Corps
Date of birth: 1870
Date of death: 30 August 1917
Killed in action aged 43
Buried at II C 8 Locre Hospice Cemetery.
Richard Chester was the son of Colonel Thomas William Chester Master, Conservative M.P. for Cirencester from 1878-1885, and Georgina Emily Rolls.
Richard was educated at The Park, Harrow School 1884-1888 and Christ Church. In 1893, he joined the King's Royal Rifle Corps and retired as Major in 1900. He served through the South African War, being present at the actions of 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, as well as the brevet of Major. He acted as A.D.C. to Lord Milner when he was High Commissioner of South Africa and held the positions of Commandant-General of the British South African Police, Rhodesia, from 1901 to 1905, and Resident Commissioner and Commandant-General in Southern Rhodesia from 1905 to 1908.
In 1901 he married Geraldine Mary Rose Arkwright at Leominster, Herefordshire. They had two sons and a daughter.
In May 1910, he was placed on retired pay from the K.R.R.C. and took the appointment of Chief Constable of Gloucestershire in 1911. In March 1915, he rejoined his old Regiment and after a few months was given command of a Battalion.
In June 1916, he was mentioned in Despatches, again in June, 1917, and a third time in December 1917. In the Birthday Honours List of June 1917, he was awarded the DSO., while a few months later, a bar was added to it. The Gazette containing the following description:
“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."
He was killed in action on August 30th, 1917
" If ever any man was looked up to and respected it was he. Every Officer and man who ever had anything to do with him could have but one opinion of his character as a man, and his qualities as a leader of men. . . .
He was one of the few Commanding Officers who earned the bar to his D.S.O. He earned it more than once, for he was always where danger was greatest."
He is remembered at Harrow School and on the Almondsbury War Memorial, Gloucestershire –
Thanks be to God which give us the Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ
Sacred to the memory of Richard Chester Chester Master D S O, Knole Park and the Abbey Cirencester. Lt Col Kings Royal Rifle Corps, killed in Flanders August 30th 1917 and all who names are here recorded who have died for their King and Country in the Great War 1914-1918 .
The battle honours granted to the K.R.R.C. for the Third Battle of Ypres were YPRES, 1917; PILCKEM; MENIN ROAD; POLYGON WOOD; BROODSEINDE; POELCAPPELLE; and PASSCHENDAELE. During these operations the Regiment lost in action three Battalion Commanders—Lieutenant-Colonel R. Chester-Master, O.C. 13th Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Roberts Manners, O.C. a battalion of Northumberland Fusiliers, and Lieutenant-Colonel A. Blewett, O.C. a labour battalion.
The memorial plaque to Lt Col Richard Chester CHESTER-MASTER DSO, 13th Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps, situated in the St Philip and St James Church, Cheltenham (Right)
His Estate amounted to £18,709 3s 6d. Probate granted to his widow, and William Francis Cornewall Capt. His Majesty’s Army and Samuel Ronald Courthope Bosanquet, Barrister
Archive of the Arkwright Family of Hampton Court in Herefordshire Record Office
Correspondence of Maynard W Colchester-Wemyss, Gloucestershire Archives.