MAJOR LORD EDWARD CECIL, D.S.O.
LORD SALISBURY may well be proud of his soldier son, for there are few officers of the Brigade of Guards of his age and service who have had a wider experience, and none who are more universally popular. Lord Edward Herbert Cecil was born on July 12th, 1867, and obtained his Second Lieutenancy in the Grenadier Guards on April 30th, 1887. After doing regimental duty for four years, during which time there was no young officer more painstaking than himself, Lord Edward joined the Staff of Field Marshal Lord Wolseley, Commanding the Forces in Ireland, as Aide-de-Camp, on April 30th, 1891. On March 16th, 1892, he obtained his Lieutenancy, and on November 16th following left his lordship's staff. Shortly afterwards he was selected to accompany a diplomatic mission to Abyssinia, when he was decorated by King Menelik with the Third Class of the Star of Ethiopia.
The Expedition to Dongola, in 1896, gave the young Guardsman his first chance of seeing active service, for Major-General Sir Herbert Kitchener, who was selected to conduct the difficult enterprise, hearing that Lord Edward Cecil was desirous of wetting his spear, offered him the position of Aide-de-Camp on his Staff, which he readily accepted. Thus he served under most favourable auspices, took part in all the dangers and privations of what seemed at first a perilous enterprise, and came out of it unscathed, though he was on two occasions—on June 7th and September 19th—in the thick of the fighting, and bore himself so well that his distinguished chief took occasion, when forwarding his dispatches, to call attention to the marked ability he had displayed. His reward was a Brevet-Majority, the medal with two clasps, and the fourth class of the Medjidie.
Returning to England, he rejoined his battalion, with which he did duty during a great part of the following year. But the war fever had now attacked him, and when it was made known that an advance was to be made on Khartoum, he decided to obtain employment in Egypt so that he might not lose his chance of getting once more to the front. As a first step, he obtained employment with the Egyptian army in January, 1898, and as soon as the Staff of the Nile Expedition was formed, he rejoined Sir Herbert Kitchener's Head-Quarters as Aide-de-Camp. In this capacity he was present at the battles of Atbara and Khartoum, being afterwards “Mentioned in Dispatches” and decorated with the Distinguished Service Order.
He was in London when Colonel Baden-Powell was selected, in the summer of 1899, to proceed on special service to South Africa. This chance was too good to be lost, so Lord Edward offered himself for service and was accepted. He left England in July. remained with Colonel Baden-Powell all through the anxious period of the negotiations. eventually reached Mafeking and in due course found himself shut up there as Chief Staff Officer during the siege. What General Baden-Powell thinks of Lord Edward is well known, for he has already acknowledged how great were the services he rendered. The siege of Mafeking promises to be historic, and it is quite in the fitness of things that one of the principal actors in that brilliant achievement of arms should have been a son of the able statesman to whose vigorous policy it is due that the Union Jack now flies as a symbol of Imperialism over the Capitals of the late Orange Free State and Transvaal Republic.
Lewis P. Orans, 2002