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Sir Reginald Byng Stephens
Born 10 October 1869
Died 6 April 1955 (age 85)
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1890–1931
Rank General
Commands held 25th Infantry Brigade
5th Division
X Corps
RMC Sandhurst
4th Division
Territorial Army
Battles/wars Second Matabele War
Second Boer War
First World War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Other work Deputy Lieutenant, Gloucestershire

General Sir Reginald Byng Stephens KCB CMG DL (10 October 1869 – 6 April 1955) was a British Army general of the First World War and later Commandant of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, from 1919 to 1923, Major-General commanding the 4th Division, 1923 to 1926, and finally Director-General of the Territorial Army, 1927 to 1931.

Early life[edit | edit source]

The son of Captain Frederick Stephens JP, late the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards, of Bentworth Lodge, Alton, Hampshire, by his marriage on 13 January 1869 to Cecilia Mary, daughter of Captain H. Byng RN, of Quendon Hall, Essex, Stephens was educated at Winchester College.[1] His sister, Mabel, was born and died in 1870, and he also had five younger brothers, Berkeley, Lionel, Gerald Edmund, Evelyn Edward, and Frederick Geoffrey, and a second sister, Cicely Mary.[2]

Military career[edit | edit source]

Stephens trained at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, from where he was commissioned into the Rifle Brigade as a Second Lieutenant on 9 April 1890.[3] He was promoted Lieutenant in 1892 and Captain in 1897. He served in Matabeleland in the Second Matabele War in 1896-1897[4] and in the Nile Expedition of 1898, then in the Second Boer War of 1899–1902, during which he was severely wounded, was three times mentioned in despatches, promoted Brevet Major, and received the Queen's South Africa Medal with three clasps and the King's Medal with two clasps.[1]

He served in the European War of 1914 to 1918, when he was three more times mentioned in despatches. He began the war as commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion the Rifle Brigade (1914–15), was promoted Brevet Colonel, appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George and of the Order of the Bath and promoted temporary Brigadier and then temporary Major-General.[1] On 1 April 1916 he took over the command of the 5th Division.[5] In December, 1917, he led the 5th Division to Italy as part of the British participation in the Italian campaign.[6]

He was Commander of X Corps from 1918 to 1919, when he was made a Knight of the Bath, then was Commandant of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, from 1919 to 1923; Major-General commanding the 4th Division, 1923 to 1926; and Director-General of the Territorial Army, 1927 to 1931. Promoted Lieutenant General in 1925 and General in 1930, Stephens retired the service in 1931. He settled in Gloucestershire, where he was appointed a Justice of the Peace and a Deputy Lieutenant for the county.[1]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

On 10 August 1905, Stephens married Eleanore Dorothea, the younger daughter of Edmund William Cripps, of Ampney Park, Cirencester, and they had one son and two daughters.[1][7]

Their son, Frederick Stephens, was born on 19 June 1906. He followed his father into the Rifle Brigade, during the Second World War commanded its 1st Battalion in the Western Desert and Tunisia, and retired as a Brigadier in 1959, when he was appointed CBE.[8]

Honours[edit | edit source]

Arms[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 'Stephens, General Sir Reginald Byng', in Who Was Who, 1951–1960 (London: A. & C. Black, 1984 reprint, ISBN 0-7136-2598-8)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, Armorial families: a directory of gentlemen of coat-armour (Hurst & Blackett, 1929) p. 1837
  3. London Gazette dated 8 April 1890, "Gentleman Cadet Reginald Byng Stephens, from the Royal Military College, to be Second Lieutenant, vice E. W. H. Somerset, deceased. Dated 9 April 1890."
  4. 4.0 4.1 'Stephens of Church House' in AN ARMORIAL OF ZIMBABWE AND RHODESIA at heraldic-arts.com, accessed 31 May 2011
  5. Arthur Herbert Hussey, D. S. Inman, The Fifth Division in the Great War (London: Nisbet & Co., 1921), p. 103
  6. George H. Cassar, The Forgotten Front: the British campaign in Italy, 1917-1918, p. 104
  7. Joseph Jackson Howard, Visitation of England and Wales, vol. 12 (1906), p. xix
  8. 'Stephens, Frederick' in British Army Officers 1939-1945 at unithistories.com, accessed 31 May 2011
  9. London Gazette, 21 August 1919 (Supplement), p. 10606
Military offices
Preceded by
Charles Kavanagh
General Officer Commanding the 5th Division
1916–1918
Succeeded by
John Ponsonby
Preceded by
William Peyton
GOC X Corps
1918–1919
Succeeded by
Post Disbanded
Preceded by
Lionel Stopford
Commandant of the Royal Military College Sandhurst
1919–1923
Succeeded by
Herbert Shoubridge
Preceded by
Cameron Shute
General Officer Commanding the 4th Division
1923–1926
Succeeded by
Percy Radcliffe
Preceded by
Sir Hugh Jeudwine
Director-General, Territorial Army
1927–1931
Succeeded by
Sir William Thwaites

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