On Wednesday morning Lady Vickers came to visit Shrewsbury House, accompanied by her daughter. Lady Vickers’ father Major General Pip Roberts CB DSO MC had attended Shrewsbury House School between 1914-1920. During his time here he was the School Captain (Head Boy) and a member of the winning shooting team.
Born in Quetta in 1906, he attended Shrewsbury House as a boarder from 1914. Later he studied at Marlborough College where he was a classmate of John Betjeman and James Mason, before attending Sandhurst in 1926. Major General Roberts was commissioned in to the Royal Tank Regiment and when war began was in Egypt with the newly formed 7th Armoured Division The Desert Rats in the Eighth Army. He saw action in Egypt and Libya notably at Sidi Barrani, Beda Fomm, the relief of Tobruk, Gazala, El Alamein, Alam Halfa and Tunisia, serving under Generals O’Connor and Horrocks and Field Marshall Montgomery.
In 1943 he was given command of the 11th Armoured Division The Black Bull. Being only 37 years old Major General Roberts was the British Army’s youngest Major General. From June 1944, he served in Normandy during Operations EPSOM and GOODWOOD. Later he captured Antwerp, was part of the Arnhem operation and the crossing of the Rhine. He relieved Belsen Concentration Camp and led his division until it reached the Baltic in May 1945 where the Major General captured Doenitz and the German High Command. From 1945 he commanded the 7th Armoured Division. The Major General is often mentioned in history books that cover the North African and Normandy campaigns and in the 1990's he wrote his autobiography.
In 1948 the Major General retired from the Army to work in business. It was said by many that if he had stayed he could have risen to a higher rank but it seemed the peacetime army was not for him. Major General Roberts married and had four children including Lady Vickers. He was highly decorated receiving the Military Cross, the Distinguished Service Order three times, Mention in Dispatches, Officer of the French Legion of Honour, the Belgian Croix De Guerre avec palmes and Companion of the Order of the Bath. Sadly, Major General Roberts died in 1997.
Lady Vickers had lunch with the Headmaster and then toured the School with her daughter meeting many of the boys and seeing where her father would have studied and stayed in his time. She was suitably impressed, especially with the picture of her father and the model of his tank on show in the Irving Room. There is also a School photo from 1916 where her father could be seen standing behind the then Headmaster and his wife.
Lady Vickers' daughter expressed how appropriate it was to visit one hundred years after her grandfather was at the School.
Mr S. Smart
Head of History