Founder of The Army Museums Ogilby Trust, 1954

Colonel Robert James Leslie Ogilby was born on 27 November 1880.

He was commissioned, when still a boy at Eton, into the 4th Battalion The Suffolk Regiment (Militia) on 26 February 1898. Two years later he joined the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards as a subaltern at Rawalpindi in India and, after transferred to the 2nd Life Guards in 1903. He resigned in 1905.

Recalled in 1914, he served with the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards in France until 1916 when he was appointed by Sir Douglas Haig to command the 2/14th Battalion of the London Regiment, the London Scottish. In November he led this Territorial battalion, to reinforce the allied army on the Salonica front. Awarded the DSO in 1917 and a bar in 1918 and the Croix de Guerre (Belgium), he remained in command until his retirement in 1919.

In 1936 he married Isobel, widow of the Reverend Charles Brocklebank. She died in 1940, in which year he joined the Army as a staff officer in XII Corps during the Dunkirk evacuation. In 1941 he was appointed Honorary Colonel of The London Scottish Regiment, an appointment which he held until 1955 jointly with the Queen, later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

Robert Ogilby
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Ogilby’s experience of military life convinced him that the fighting spirit of the British soldier was rooted in the Army’s regimental system and that it was this “esprit de corps alone which held men together in tight corners”. He believed regimental and corps museums were key to preserving the heritage and promoting the traditions that enriched the system and, having joined the Society for Army Historical Research in 1929, he was instrumental in establishing its Museum Committee in 1936. He served as chairman from 1951 until 1960, when he became a vice-president.

In 1954 he endowed a trust for the encouragement, equipment and maintenance of existing regimental and army museums, as well as the fostering of interest in regimental and military tradition; the Trust was named The Army Ogilby Trust. He “steered the Trust through its early days of official, if benign, War Office scepticism” and it came to play a significant part in the establishment and development of 136 regimental and corps museums in Britain.

Colonel Ogilby died on 27th January 1964 at the age of 83. He left bequests to the London Scottish Regiment and the residue of his estate to be held as the Robert Ogilby Trust for general charitable purposes analogous to those of the Army Ogilby Trust. The two Trusts were amalgamated as The Army Museums Ogilby Trust in December 1993. His life-long friend and brother officer Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart described him in his book “Happy Odyssey” as someone “who wastes no sympathy on you when you have no need of it, but stands like the Rock of Gibraltar when you do.”