Brigadier Roy Gilbert Thurburn, O.B.E., C.B., C.B.E. (1901-1990)

Roy Thurburn was determined to be a soldier from an early age. He joined the 2nd Battalion of The Cameronians as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1921 after attending Sandhurst. His early career was spent in India, where he was involved in the operations in Southern Kurdistan in 1923. In his free time he shot and played polo and was an active member of the theatrical groups The Nineoughts and The Razmaniacs. Thurburn was a keen historian and archaeologist throughout his life and was awarded the Gold Medal of the United Services Institute of India in 1932, in recognition of his intellectual activities.

By 1935 he had reached the rank of Captain and a year after passing Staff College in 1937 became a Major. On the outbreak of the Second World War he was posted to the War Office and sent to the Middle East. He saw active service in North Africa and Italy and was twice mentioned in Despatches. By the end of the War he was Chief of Staff in Austria. For a period he was also Secretary of the War Office Committee which decided the Battle Honours that were awarded for achievements in the Second World War. This was a prestigious position and a tribute to Thurburn’s experience and research skills.

Thurburn gained several honours; the O.B.E. in 1941, the C.B.E. in 1945 and the C.B. in 1950. He was A.D.C. to the Queen from 1952 to 1953 and was a member of the American Legion of Merit. In retirement, he served as Secretary of the Army Museums Ogilby Trust from 1957 to 1972.

Outwith the regiment, Thurburn organised the V.C. Exhibition of 1956, edited the Index to British Military Costume Prints and contributed to The Encyclopaedia Britannica. His research skills continue to benefit the Museums Service today, due to the Officers Card Index he compiled. This is a complete list of all the Officers who ever served with The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), using information taken from Army Lists and elsewhere. This is no small achievement and is of great help to Museum Staff when answering enquiries.

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Brigadier Roy Gilbert Thurburn

Brigadier Roy Gilbert Thurburn, O.B.E., C.B., C.B.E.

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Programme for Nineoughts

Programme for a Nineoughts production.

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Sketch of Thurburn 1929

Sketch of Thurburn, 1929.

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Thurburn Kurdistan 1923

Tea at dawn at Rowanduz, Kurdistan in 1923. Thurburn is standing sixth from the left.