Remembering General Sir Andrew Skeen, KCB, KCIE, CMG (1873-1935)

On the wall inside St Michael and All Angels Church, Church Street, Broadway is a wooden memorial plaque in remembrance of General Sir Andrew Skeen, KCB, KCIE, CMG, who died, aged 61, in Broadway in 1935. General Sir Andrew Skeen was one of Britain’s most experienced frontier warfare officers.

Andrew was born in Meerut, India, on 20th January 1873, the fifth son of Scottish parents, Deputy Surgeon-General William and Janet Keane Skeen. He was educated and Aberdeen Grammar School and first commissioned on 5th December 1891 to the British Indian Army. In 1897 he served on the North West Front with the Malakand Force and was lated posted to China (in 1900) during the Boxer Rebellion before being posted to Somaliland from 1901 to 1904.

On 22nd December 1905 he married Margaret Jane Farquharson in Bombay, India.

Following the outbreak of the First World War he served in Gallipoli as staff officer to General Sir William Birdwood, Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. In 1915 he was mentioned in dispatches for reinforcing Anzac Cove in full view of the enemy prior to the Battle of Sari Bair. For his service at Gallipoli he was awarded the CMG and the French Croix de Guerre. Andrew’s brother, Major Oliver St John Skeen DSO, whilst serving with the 62nd Punjabis was killed in action, aged 41, in Mesopotamia on 21st January 1916 and he is buried in Amara War Cemetery, Iraq. At the time of his death, Oliver’s wife, Mabel, was living in Cheltenham.

Andrew went on to be Director of Military Operations at the Indian Army Headquarters in 1916 and in 1917 was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff, Indian Army.

He was promoted to Major General in 1918 and, during the 3rd Afghan War in 1919, he commanded the 3rd Indian Infantry Brigade and the Kohat Kurram Force. During the subsequent revolt in Waziristan (1919-1920) he successfully led the Tochi and Derajat Columns. Andrew served as commander of the Kohat District from 1921 to 1922 and of the Peshawar District from 1922 to 1923. He was promoted to Lieutenant-General then appointed Commander of Southern Command (1923-1924) before serving as Chief of the General Staff, Indian Army from 1924 to 1928.

Due to poor health he retired in 1929 and his book, published in 1932, entitled Passing it on: short talks on tribal fighting on the North-West Frontier of India was issued to all officers’ and sergeants’ messes in India and remains a classic on the subject to this day.

Andrew Skeen and his wife, Margaret Jane (née Farquharson), lived at Trinafour in Broadway. He died, aged 61 on 18th February 1935. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium in London and his ashes were scattered in Scotland. Lady Margaret Jane Skeen died in 1965.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers

 

Sources:
Ancestry.co.uk
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
National Army Museum

 

 

 

 

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