Field Marshal's baton : Field Marshal Lord W R Birdwood of Anzac

Unit British Army
Accession Number REL/04253.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Silver gilt; velvet
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Australia Goes To War: General Birdwood
Maker Garrard & Co Ltd
Date made 1925
Conflict Period 1920-1929

Silver gilt field marshal's baton. Both ends are wreathed in laurel, tudor rose, thistle and shamrock pattern. The baton is surmounted by a silver gilt figure of St George killing the dragon. Body of baton is covered with crimson velvet studded with gilt lions. Each end bears 'SG', London hallmarks for 1925, and hallmarks for 18 carat gold. Base is engraved 'FROM His Majesty GEORGE V King OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND TO FIELD MARSHAL SIR WM. RIDDELL BIRDWOOD BT. C.C.B., G.C.M.G., K.C.S.I., C.I.E., D.S.O. 1925'.

History / Summary

This Field Marshal's baton was presented in 1925 to Field Marshal Lord William Riddell Birdwood of Anzac in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army (1925-1930). The traditional sign of a Field Marshal is a baton and Birdwood would have carried it with him during ceremonial occasions.

In November 1914 Birdwood had been appointed to command the forces raised by Australia and New Zealand for service in Europe. Initially he took command of the Anzac contingent on Gallipoli only. Birdwood did not prove to be a brilliant commander in this campaign but he was popular with his troops and maintained their morale. Birdwood moved with his Anzac Corps to France in March 1916. When the Corps was split into two in 1917 he took command of I Anzac Corps. Birdwood was promoted to command the British Fifth Army in May 1918, leaving the command of the Australian Corps to Lieutenant General Monash. In 1920 Birdwood toured Australia to great acclaim from his Australian veterans.