General Sir Neville Gerald Lyttelton GCB, GCVO, PC (28th of October 1845 – 6th of July 1931) he was a British Army officer who served against the Fenian Raids, and in the Anglo-Egyptian War, the Mahdist War and the Second Boer War. He was Chief of the General Staff at the time of the Haldane Reforms and then became Commander-in-Chief, Ireland.
Born the son of 4th Baron Lyttelton and Mary Lyttelton (née Glynne) and educated at Eton College, Lyttelton was commissioned into the Rifle Brigade in January 1865. As a junior officer he was sent to Canada where he helped defeat the Fenian raids in 1866 and served as Secretary to the Oregon Boundary Commission in 1867. He was promoted to lieutenant on the 14th of July 1869, to captain on 13th of October 1877 and to major on 22st of February 1882. In 1880 he was made Private secretary to Hugh Childers, Secretary of State for War.
He took part in the Anglo-Egyptian War in 1882 as an Aide-de-Camp to Sir John Adye, from 1 August 1882. He saw action at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir and was mentioned in despatches. He was promoted to bevet lieutenant colonel and awarded the Order of Osmanieh (4th Class) on the 17t November 1882.
He became Assistant Military Secretary to Lieutenant-General Sir John Adye in his role as Governor of Gibraltar on the 1st January 1883 and Military Secretary to Lord Reay, Governor of Bombay in 1885. He was promoted to brevet colonel on 18th of November 1886 and became second-in-command of the 3rd Battalion of his Regiment in 1890. Promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant colonel on 9 November 1892, he became Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion of his Regiment in 1893 and went on to be Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion of his Regiment in Ireland.
He went on to be Assistant Adjutant-General at Headquarters in December 1894 and Assistant Military Secretary there in October 1897 and took part in the state funeral of Former Prime Minister William Gladstone in the May of 1898.
He was given command of 2nd Brigade with the temporary rank of brigadier-general on 13th of July 1898 and led his Brigade at the battle of Omdurman in September 1898 during the Mahdist War.
He returned to his role as Assistant Military Secretary at Headquarters on 21st of October 1898 and then, having become a supernumerary major-general for distinguished service in the field on 15 November 1898 and promoted to the substantive rank of major-general on 10th of February 1899, he briefly took back his old command at 2nd Brigade, now based at Aldershot Command, on the 1st of in September 1899.
Lyttelton served in the Second Boer War as Commander of the 4th Brigade in South Africa from 9th of October 1899. He became General Officer Commanding the 2nd and then 4th Division and was involved in the Battle of Spion Kop in the January of 1900, the Battle of Vaal Krantz in February 1900 and the Siege of Ladysmith which was relieved in February 1900. Promoted to lieutenant general for distinguished service in the field on 22nd of March 1900, Lord Roberts in his despatch referred to Lyttelton as an officer “with great coolness under fire, and considerable tactical knowledge and resource…an excellent commander in the field.” He became Commander-in-Chief, South Africa in 1902; in this role Lyttelton and his wife sought to repair relations with the Boer community.
On the 12th of February 1904 he was appointed Chief of the General Staff and a member of the newly formed Army Council. This new post was created following the abolition of the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Forces as recommended by Lord Esher in the Esher Report. Lyttelton was promoted to full general on the 9th of April 1906. This was the time of the Haldane Reforms which sought to implement both a new expeditionary force and a new territorial force, but according to Edward M Spiers, Lyttelton was not up to the task – he was “feckless, malleable, and failed to lead the Army Council”.
Lyttelton moved on to become Commander-in-Chief, Ireland on 10 May 1908. He took part both in the funeral procession following the death of King Edward VII in May 1910 and the coronation procession for King George V in the June of 1911. He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order on 12th of July 1911 and retired on 10th of August in 1912.
In retirement he was a member of the Mesopotamia Commission which sat in 1916/17] as well as Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea from 10 August 1912 until his death there on 6th of July in 1931.
In 1883 he married Katharine Sarah Stuart-Wortley; they had three daughters, the eldest being Lucy Blanche.
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