21st Division 1914-18...a divisional history

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Gilbert John Acland-Troyte,

Acland-Troyte was born on the 4th September 1876, the 3rd son of Colonel Charles Arthur William and Katherine Mary (nee Walrond), spending his early years at Huntsham Court, Devon, the family home. Education at Eton was followed in 1895
by entry to Trinity College, Cambridge.

He was commissioned in to the 60th Rifles, Kings Royal Rifle Corps in 1899 as a 2nd Lieutenant and accompanied the battalion to South Africa, seeing action as part of the Mounted Infantry, before he was, as the Times says ‘dangerously wounded abdomen’, badly enough to be shipped home on the Hospital ship Dunera on the 20th December. Docking in Britain on the 20th January 1902. An account of his wound and the events around it was printed in The Times of  Friday December 13th 1901 and is worth recounting here. At the time much was made of the Boers striping the dead and wounded of all valuables.

I was wounded on 25th October in a rearguard action with Colonel Benson’s force, near Kaffirstadt. The Boers came up and stripped me of everything except my drawers, shirt and socks, they gave me an old pair of trousers and later a coat. They left me some time to see if our ambulance would come, as it did not they took me into a farmhouse, used as a temporary hospital, and there treated me as well as they could. Commandant Grobelaar’s family were there. There was also a sergeant and two privates in the same room. They also had been stripped, but were well treated in the house. They took a silver watch and gold ring. I was removed in the ambulance two days after.

It may be that by the time the ship docked he had recovered for many of the men on board had done so and only a small proportion were sent to the hospital on docking. He was certainly recovered by 1903 when he was sent to East Africa and the campaign in Somaliland. He returned aboard the hired freight ship Malta from Berbera arriving home in early July 1904.

Promotion on the 28th January 1905 was followed by marriage on the  October 12th 1909 to Gwladys Eleanor, daughter of Ernest Henry Godolphin Quicke, of Newton St Cyres, Devon. By now he was in the 2nd battalion, having seen active service with the 4th battalion in Somaliland.

The Great War saw him a Major in the KRRC and on the 28th November 1915 he took over the position of Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General (AA&QMG) of 21st division on the western front. He must have been a capable officer being that he remained in this position giving David Campbell, commander of the 21st from mid 1916, continuity in this vital staff role.

He was mentioned in despatches seven times during the war (1), received the Distinguished Service order (DSO) in 1916 and was made a Companion, Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) in 1917. During the war he was also rewarded with the French Croix de Guerre. He was made a Brevet Lieut.-Colonel in 1919.

Upon the death of his brother Hugh on the 17th  April 1918(2) in action in France, who left no issue, he inherited the family home at Huntsham Court, Tiverton, Devon, being a member of parliament for this region from 1924-45. He was also a Justice of the peace (J.P.) and held the office of the County of the Alderman for Devon.

Acland-Troyte was President, Central Landowners' Association, 1937-9, Knighted in 1945 and was joint Master of the Tiverton Foxhounds, from 1946-50.  He was also a member of the Home Guard from 1940-44.

He died on 27 April 1964 at age 87. Lady Acland Troyte died on her birthday, 21 October 1968, aged 85. They left no children and the home passed to another brother.


1..MiD's were dated.19/1/14, 17/2/15, 22/6/15, 1/1/16, 24/2/17, 17/5/17, 20/12/18.

2...Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Leonard Acland Troyte, 4th Bn., Devonshire Regiment, attd. XI Corps, H.Q. was killed on the 17th April 1918 and   is buried at Berguette Churchyard