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Bob Stewart (British Army officer)

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Title: Bob Stewart (British Army officer)  
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Subject: Ahmići massacre, Defence Select Committee, 1949 in the United Kingdom, List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 2010, Nigel Adams
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Bob Stewart (British Army officer)

Bob Stewart
Member of Parliament
for Beckenham
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Jacqui Lait
Majority 17,784 (37.3%)
Personal details
Born (1949-07-07) 7 July 1949


Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
United Nations Protection Force
Years of service 1969–1996
Rank Colonel
Commands 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Battles/wars The Troubles (Operation Banner)
Bosnian War (Operation Grapple)
Awards Distinguished Service Order

Colonel Robert Alexander "Bob" Stewart, DSO (born 7 July 1949) is a former British Army officer, former United Nations commander in Bosnia,[2] commentator, author, public speaker[3] and Conservative Party politician. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Beckenham constituency in South-East London since the 2010 general election.


Stewart was educated at Chigwell School, followed by the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst near Camberley in Surrey. He spent part of his childhood in Cyprus.[4]

Early life

Born to a father serving in the military, Stewart was selected for officer training at the age of seventeen, and after two years of training at RMA Sandhurst was commissioned into the Cheshire Regiment as a second lieutenant on 25 July 1969.[5] He was promoted to lieutenant on 25 January 1971.[6] In 1974 he undertook an in-service Bachelor's degree in International Politics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, graduating with first class honours.[7][8] He was promoted captain on 25 July 1975.[9] He guarded Rudolf Hess in Spandau Prison, Berlin.[4]

Career in Northern Ireland

From 1977 served in Northern Ireland both as intelligence officer and, after attending Staff College, Camberley and promotion to major on 30 September 1981, company commander of A Company 1 CHESHIRE, with an intermediate period spent at RMA Sandhurst as an instructor.[7][10] During his career in Ulster he was the Incident Commander at the Droppin Well bombing in Ballykelly which killed seventeen people.[11] Stewart heard the explosion and arrived at the scene two or three minutes later. Six of the dead soldiers were from his company, including his clerk and storeman.[12] He received a personal commendation from the General commanding in Northern Ireland for his actions on the day.[7]


He went on to a series of appointments over the coming years. He served in the Ministry of Defence, and was second in command of an infantry battalion. He was promoted lieutenant-colonel on 31 December 1987,[13] and served as a military attaché to the NATO military committee in Brussels.[14] In March 1991 he assumed command of 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment,[15] and as commanding officer returned to Northern Ireland for a further two operational tours and then became the first British Commander of United Nations forces in Bosnia from September 1992 to May 1993. It was as commanding officer in Bosnia, as part of Operation Grapple, that he earned the nickname "Bosnia Bob" and became something of a media personality.[16] During his time in Bosnia he discovered the Ahmići massacre in which 103 people were killed.[17] He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 12 June 1993 on his return to the United Kingdom.[18] He was promoted colonel on 31 December 1993,[19] and went on to take up the position of Chief of Policy at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe,[7] before officially retiring from the army on 1 February 1996.[20]

Career after the army

In 1997 Stewart took three weeks' leave from the public relations company Hill & Knowlton to help his friend Martin Bell who was standing for Parliament in Tatton as an Independent candidate. Stewart was alongside Bell when they were confronted by the sitting Conservative Member of Parliament for the constituency, Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine on Knutsford Heath.[21] Bell, who was opposing Hamilton as a result of accusations that Hamilton had accepted money for promoting causes in Parliament, gave Stewart the credit for defining his criticism of Hamilton as having already admitted to "conduct unbecoming".[22]

Since leaving the army Stewart has become a well-known commentator upon military and political affairs, frequently commenting upon the defence policy of the British Government and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.[23] In 2009 he condemned the system compensating injured soldiers, accusing the MOD of acting with "the speed of a striking sloth".[2][24][25] He also accused the government of repeatedly refusing the requests of army commanders for more troops and more helicopters in Afghanistan.[26]

Political career

On 28 July 2009, it was revealed that he had been approved to put himself forward for selection to constituency associations as a PPC for the Conservative Party. As the former commander of the Cheshire Regiment he was linked to the safe Conservative East Cheshire seats of Macclesfield[27] and Congleton,[28] however the final shortlists for Macclesfield and for Congleton from Conservative Central Office did not contain his name. In summer 2009 he was shortlisted for Beckenham, one of the safest Conservative seats in the country,[29] and on 6 December it was announced that he had been selected as Conservative candidate there, winning an overall majority on the second ballot.[30]

At the 2010 general election on 6 May, Stewart was elected as the MP for Beckenham.[31]

In May 2014 he was one of seven unsuccessful caddidates for the chairmanship of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee.[32]

See also


  1. ^ "Bob Stewart MP". BBC Democracy Live (BBC). Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Waller, Martin (20 July 2009). "Can Colonel Bob conquer books on business?".  
  3. ^ "Bob Stewart". Now You're Talking. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Bob Stewart MP answers ConHome's Twenty Questions for the Class of 2010".  
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44923. pp. 8768–8769. 22 August 1969. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 45287. p. 914. 26 January 1971. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
  7. ^ a b c d "Bob Stewart". CMM. Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  8. ^ "Aberystwyth at Westminster". Aberystwyth University. Retrieved 29 October 2010. 
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46644. p. 9643. 28 July 1975. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 48770. pp. 13261–13263. 19 October 1981. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
  11. ^ "Decorated Colonel speaks at RGU". Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  12. ^ "HC Deb c216".  
  13. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 51194. pp. 303–304. 11 January 1988. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
  14. ^ "Desert Rats ready after rehearsal in bandit country".  
  15. ^ Badsey & Latawski 2004, p. 35.
  16. ^ Finlan 2004, p. 56.
  17. ^ "'"Ahmici sentences 'are just a start.  
  18. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 53333. p. 30. 11 June 1993. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 53537. p. 20680. 31 December 1993. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
  20. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 54308. p. 1801. 5 February 1996. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
  21. ^ Jenkins, Russell; Midgley, Carol (9 April 1997). "Bell's first dispatch from the front line".  
  22. ^ "Martin Bell's campaign diary".  
  23. ^ Brady, Brian; Owen, Jonathan (26 July 2009). "Revealed: £12bn hidden costs of Afghan war". The Independent (London). Retrieved 8 August 2009. 
  24. ^ Kirkup, James; Simpson, Aislinn; Britten, Nick (29 July 2009). "2,500 wounded British soldiers waiting for compensation, figures show".  
  25. ^ Howie, Michael (31 July 2009). "Disclose full horror of our boys' injuries".  
  26. ^ "'"Helicopters 'do not end war risk.  
  27. ^ "Winterton's possible successor – six hopefuls revealed". Macclesfield Express. Retrieved 30 September 2009. 
  28. ^ Morgan, David (21 November 2009). "Middlewich candidates aim to start a new era for Tories". Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  29. ^ "Col Bob Stewart accepted as Conservative candidate".  
  30. ^ "Bob Stewart selected for Beckenham".  
  31. ^ "Beckenham Conservative: Bob Stewart". The Guardian (London). 7 May 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2010. 
  32. ^ "Defence Committee Chair election: Rory Stewart MP elected". 14 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jacqui Lait
Member of Parliament for Beckenham
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