Acquisition – The Orders, Decorations and Medals of Brigadier George Frederick Arthur Pigot-Moodie OstJ, MC, (1888-1959).

By March 30, 2017 Acquisitions No Comments
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Brigadier Pigot-Moodie’s decorations ‘court-mounted’ on a bar-brooch, from left to right as follows:
–        Military Cross 1915,
–        Badge of an Officer (Brother) of the Order of St John 1952,
–        1914 Star (‘Mons Star’) with clasp ‘5th August-22nd November’,
–        British War Medal 1914-20,
–        Allied Victory Medal 1914-19 with Oak Leaf (signifying Mention in Dispatches),
–        King George V Silver Jubilee Medal 1935,
–        King George VI Coronation Medal 1937,
–        Russian Order of St Anne, 2nd Class, with swords, 1915.

Late in 2016, the Museum acquired the orders, decorations and medals of Brigadier George Frederick Arthur Pigot-Moodie, OstJ, MC. Brigadier Pigot-Moodie served with the 2nd Dragoons (The Royal Scots Greys) 1908-1938.

George Pigot-Moodie was born in Cape Colony, South Africa, on 3 November 1888. His family were Scots who had emigrated to the colony earlier in the 19th century and subsequently became distinguished within the community. The young George was sent to Britain to be educated, first attending Harrow School and then the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.[i]

George was commissioned into the 2nd Dragoons (The Royal Scots Greys) from RMC Sandhurst on 19 September 1908.[ii] At the outbreak of the First World War, Pigot-Moodie, by then a lieutenant, mobilised with the Greys and departed for France from York on 15 August 1914.[iii] Pigot-Moodie was the Regiment’s machine-gun officer, commanding twenty-nine other ranks armed with three Maxim machine-guns.[iv]

[An example of a cavalry machine-gun section on the eve of the First World War: the machine-gun section, 3rd (Prince of Wales’s) Dragoon Guards dismounted. Egypt, 1914. T16.]
[The machine-gun section, 3rd (Prince of Wales’s) Dragoon Guards mounted. Egypt, 1914. T16.]

The Greys, with 12th Lancers and 20th Hussars, formed the 5th Cavalry Brigade of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). The 5th Cavalry Brigade was deployed every day of the BEF’s withdrawal subsequently known as the march ‘from Mons to the Marne’ (23 August – 5 September 1914). The 5th Cavalry Brigade played a vital role in protecting the rear of the eastern column, First Army Corps.[5]

On 22 August Lieutenant Pigot-Moodie demonstrated the effectiveness of well-concealed machine-guns when: “Pte. Dykes (Greys) met a patrol of 17 men. Hiding in a wood, the men were allowed to pass. Suddenly Lieut. Pigot-Moodie opened on them with his machine guns at a range of about a mile, and with the first burst hit every man”.[6]

Following the Battle of the Marne (5-12 September) and the checking of the German advance, the BEF was able to take the offensive. The BEF’s advance from the Marne to the Aisne followed, together with the subsequent Battle of the Aisne (12-15 September, 1914). For his services in the early engagements of the war, Pigot-Moodie was among thirteen of all ranks of the Greys mentioned in dispatches by the commander of the BEF, Sir John French, on 8 October 1914.[7]

On 1 January 1915 a new decoration for bravery was established, reserved for junior officers and warrant officers: the Military Cross (MC). Pigot-Moodie was the first officer of the 2nd Dragoons to receive the new award and one of the first in the British Army. Pigot-Moodie’s name appeared in The London Gazette on 29 December 1914 among the officers and warrant officers who were to receive the new award.[8] Pigot-Moodie was the first officer from any of the antecedent regiments of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards to receive the Military Cross.

[Captain George Frederick Arthur Pigot-Moodie on the Western Front, 1915. G358.]
[Captain George Frederick Arthur Pigot-Moodie on the Western Front, 1915. G358.]

In 1915, Pigot-Moodie’s distinguished service, represented by his MC and his being mentioned in dispatches, was recognised by the Regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, with the award of the 2nd Class Order of St Anne, with swords. Pigot-Moodie was among a number of all ranks of the Greys to be awarded Russian decorations for gallantry and brave conduct on 24 September 1915.[9] During the First World War, and dating back to at least the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815), the practice existed of nations presenting decorations to the soldiers of their allies.

On 16 October 1915 Pigot-Moodie was promoted substantive captain on secondment from the Regiment. Almost a year later, on 3 September 1916, he was promoted temporary major and thanks to his experience in utilising the weapon, was placed in command of a Machine-Gun School within the newly formed Machine-Gun Corps. Within the month, on 11 November 1916, Pigot-Moodie was promoted temporary lieutenant-colonel in the Machine-Gun Corps (Infantry).[10]

Until late 1916 or early 1917, Pigot-Moodie seems to have served in either France or Flanders or back in Britain. He received his second Mention in Dispatches on 13 November 1916, in a dispatch from the BEF’s commander, Sir Douglas Haig, of that date.[11]

From 1917, Pigot-Moodie served with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF), as part of XX Corps and as a Corps Machine-Gun Officer. His 3rd Mention in Despatches was in March 1919 from the commander of the EEF, Sir Edmund Allenby.[12]

With the Armistice declared on 11 November 1918, Pigot-Moodie left the disbanding Machine-Gun Corps, relinquished his temporary rank of lieutenant-colonel and returned to the 2nd Dragoons, reverting to the rank of captain.[13]

Captain Pigot-Moodie was seconded from the Regiment between 11 October 1922 and 11 October 1925 to be adjutant to the Warwickshire Yeomanry; he was promoted major on 19 August 1923.[14]

On 1 October 1932, Pigot-Moodie was promoted lieutenant-colonel to command The Royal Scots Greys, a post which he held for four years. In mid-1934, in order to raise the profile of the Regiment in its native Scotland and as an aid to recruiting, Pigot-Moodie led 21 officers and 250 men, 200 grey horses and the Regiment’s supporting motor transport on a 470-mile march through the country.[15]

[Lieutenant-Colonel Pigot-Moodie pictured with his personal trumpeter during the 470-mile ride of the Royal Scots Greys through Scotland during July – August, 1934. G362]
[Lieutenant-Colonel Pigot-Moodie pictured with his personal trumpeter during the 470-mile ride of the Royal Scots Greys through Scotland during July – August, 1934. G362]

Lieutenant-Colonel Pigot-Moodie relinquished command of the Regiment on 1 October 1936 in Aldershot, on the same day being promoted to the rank of colonel. Colonel Pigot-Moodie joined the list of officers on the Half Pay List, pending further employment, before moving to the Retired List in August 1938.[16]

During the Second World War Pigot-Moodie appears to have been re-employed, possibly commanding a Pioneer Brigade in Eastern Command between 1944 and 1945 but details of this are vague and await further research. He was finally retired and promoted to the honorary rank of Brigadier on 29 December 1945. In about 1952, it is thought Brigadier Pigot-Moodie returned to South Africa or Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) to live; he died in South Africa on 14 June 1959.[17]

The Museum intends temporarily to display the orders, decorations and medals of Brigadier Pigot-Moodie in the near future. They will eventually be part of a permanent First World War display within a large-scale refurbishment of the Museum’s galleries that is currently at the planning stage.

With thanks to the National Fund for Acquisitions (National Museums Scotland) for its assistance in supporting the purchase of the orders, decorations and medals of Brigadier Pigot-Moodie.

[1] Various online genealogical sources regarding Brig. G.F.A. Pigot-Moodie’s family background and education.
[2] The London Gazette 28513, 14 July 1911, p.5268 and Hardy, S. J.. et al, p.11 & 13.
[3] The London Gazette 28178, 18 September 1908, p.6762.
[4] Hardy, S. J.. et al, p.11 and Douglas, pp. 85-86.
[5] Hardy et al, p.17.
[6] Hardy et al, p.19.
[7] The London Gazette 28942, 16 October, p.8348 (and also, revised, 28945, 20 October 1914, p.8380 and 29001, 8 December 1914, p.10537).
[8] The London Gazette 29024. 29 December 1914, p.8.
[9] The London Gazette 29307, 24 September 1915, p.9434.
[10] The London Gazette 29376, 19 November 1915, p. 11576, 29768, 26 September 1916, p.9466 & 29820, 10 November 1916, p.10944.
[11] The London Gazette 29890, 4 January 1917, p.206.
[12] The National Archives: Pigot-Moodie’s Medal Record Card. The London Gazette 31383, 3 June 1919, p.7187.
[13] The London Gazette 31458, 4 July 1919, p.8571 & 31460, 15 July 1919, p.9096.
[14] The London Gazette 32762, 31 October 1922, p.7671, 32767, 14 November 1922, p.8034, 32855, 21 August 1923, p.5701 & 33101, 10 November 1925, p. 7357.
[15] The London Gazette 33868, 30 September, p.6174. Wood, S.C., pp. 186-187.
[16] The London Gazette 34328, 2 October 1936 & 34542, 16 August 1938, p.5289.
[17] The London Gazette 37404, 25 December 1945, p.6276. Various online geological sources concerning the period 1945-49.

Reference sources:
–        Douglas, Captain H. Machine Gun Manual: A Complete Manual to Machine Gunnery containing details of Maxim Vickers Lewis Colt   Hotchkiss together with Drill (Elementary and Advanced) Fire Orders, Notes from the Front and a mass of other Useful Information. (New York: Military Publishing Co., 1916).
–        Hardy, S. J.. et al, History of The Royal Scots Greys (The Second Dragoons) August 1914-March 1919 (no publisher’s details, 1928).
–        Wood, S.C., Those Terrible Grey Horses: an illustrated history of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Oxford, 2015).
–        The London Gazette. Published by The Stationery Office under superintendence of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, part of the National Archives.