GOVERNORS OF GIBRALTAR
January 13, 2022
LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIR ALEXANDER WOODFORD
Alexander George Woodford was born at 30 Welbeck Street, London on 15th June 1782. He was the son of Lieutenant-Colonel John Woodford and his second wife Lady Susan Gordon, daughter of Cosmo Gordon, 3rd Duke of Gordon and previously the widow of John Fane, 9th Earl of Westmorland. He was educated at Winchester College and subsequently continued his studies at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. On 6th December 1794, then aged 12, he was commissioned as an Ensign in the 9th (East Norfolk) Regiment of Foot, subsequently being promoted to Lieutenant in the 22nd (the Cheshire) Regiment of Foot, less than a year later on 15th July 1795. However, on the following year, he had to be placed on half-pay as he was too young to serve in the Army. In 1799, he transferred as Captain-Lieutenant in his previous regiment, before seeing action at the Battle of Alkmaar, during the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland, being severely wounded at Bergen on 19th October. Less than two months later, on 11th December, he was promoted to Regimental Captain in the Coldstream Guards.
In 1803, Captain Woodford was appointed Aide-de-Camp to Major-General Sir James Ochoncar Forbes, re-joining his regiment in 1807 and participating at the investment and bombardment of Copenhagen (16th August - 5th September 1807). This was an attempt to capture or destroy the Dano-Norwegian fleet during the Napoleonic Wars and would lead to the outbreak of the Anglo-Russian War of that year. A few months later, in March 1808, he re-joined the Staff as Aide-de Camp to Lord Forbes in Sicily, where the latter had recently been appointed second-in-command of the British troops in the Mediterranean. Woodford remained there until June 1810, in the meantime having purchased a commission to Lieutenant-Colonel. In due course, he returned on duty to London where he re-joined his company and was then deployed to Spain, arriving at Isla de León, prior to participating in the siege of Cádiz in March 1811. Fighting under the command of Sir Arthur Wellesley [later the Duke of Wellington], he commanded the Light Brigade of Guards at the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo on 19th January 1812 and at that of Badajoz on 6th April of that same year.
This was followed by action at the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812 and at the Siege of Burgos in September of that year. During 1813, he commanded the 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards at the Battle of Vitoria in June, the Siege of San Sebastián in August and the Battle of Nivelle in November, as well as the Battle of the Nive, a month later. The following year, after seeing action at the Battle of Bayonne in April, he was appointed Aide-de-Camp to the Prince Regent, with the rank of Colonel on 4th June 1814. Photo 2.
The following year, he commanded the 2nd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards at the Battle of Quatre Bras on 16th June 1815 and took part, two days later, at the Battle of Waterloo. Upon the specific orders of the Duke of Wellington, he had been appointed the senior officer in the assault and subsequent defence of the Château d’Hougoumont, one of the advanced key defensible positions of the Anglo-Allied army. Woodford later took part in the storming of Cambrai on the 24th of that same month and entered Paris with the victorious armies on 7th July. Photo 3.
During the Peninsula War, he was often mentioned in Despatches and received the gold medal with two clasps for his service at the Battle of Salamanca (22nd July 1812), Vitoria (21st June 1813) and the Nive (9th - 13th December 1813), the silver medal with two clasps for Ciudad Rodrigo (7th - 20th January 1812) and Nivelle (10th November 1813). On 4th June 1815, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath, Military Division, and on 2nd August of that same year, was permitted to accept the Insignia of Knighthood of the Military Order of Maria Theresa from the Austria-Hungarian Empire as well as the First Clasp of the Order of St. George from the Russian Tsar.
On 18th January 1820, Woodford was promoted to Regimental First Major and on 9th August 1820, at St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, he married Charlotte Mary Ann, daughter of Charles Henry Fraser, the British Minister at Hamburg. The couple would have a total of nine children. By 25th July 1821, he had risen to Regimental Lieutenant-Colonel and four years later, on 27th May 1825, he had again been promoted, this time to Major-General. That same year, he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor and Brigade Commander in Malta, with similar appointments made, two years later, in respect of Corfu where he also acted, temporarily, as Lord High Commissioner. On 13th September 1831, he was advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath and also appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George on 30th June 1832 (20 years later, on 6th April 1852, he was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of this prestigious Order). In 1832, he became Commander of the Ionian Islands, serving briefly as British High Commissioner. (to be continued)
Battle of Waterloo.