Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Kemball, Arnold Burrowes

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1531113Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement, Volume 2 — Kemball, Arnold Burrowes1912C. B. Norman

KEMBALL, Sir ARNOLD BURROWES (1820–1908), general, colonel commandant royal artillery, born in Bombay on 18 Nov. 1820, was one of five sons of Surgeon-general Vero Shaw Kemball, of the Bombay medical staff, by his wife Marianne, daughter of Major-general Shaw, formerly of the Black Watch. Kemball's brothers did good service in the Bombay presidency: George and Alick in the Bombay cavalry, Vero Seymour in the Bombay artillery, Charles Gordon in the civil service, rising to be a judge of the supreme oourt, and John in the 20th Bombay infantry. Passing through the Military College at Addiscombe, Arnold received his commission as a second-lieutenant in the Bombay artillery on 11 Dec. 1837. He served in the first Afghan war with a troop of Bombay horse artillery, and was present at the storming and capture of Ghazni on 28 July 1839 and at the subsequent occupation of Kabul. On the march back to Bombay he took part in the capture of the fortress of Khelat. For this campaign he received the medal. After his return to the Bombay presidency he passed in the native languages, and was appointed assistant political agent in the Persian Gulf, in the neighbourhood of which he remained from 1842 until the close of his military career in 1878. Kemball, who was promoted captain in 1851, took part in the Persian war of 1856-7, and was specially mentioned in the despatches of Sir James Outram [q. v.], who had applied for his services. Lord Canning, the governor-general of India, in general orders of 18 June 1857 especially commended his share in the brilliant expedition against Ahwaz. For the Persian campaign Kemball received a brevet majority, the C.B., and the Indian general service medal, with clasp for Persia. At the close of the war Kemball resumed his political duties in the Persian Gulf, and two years later was appointed consul-general at Baghdad. In 1860 he became lieut.-colonel, and in 1863 attained the rank of colonel in the royal artillery. In 1866, on the extension of the order of the Star of India, he became one of the first knights commander, and in 1873 he was attached to the suite of the Shah of Persia during that monarch's visit to England.

In 1875 Kemball was nominated British delegate on the international commission for delimiting the Turco-Persian frontier, and on the outbreak of the war between Turkey and Servia he was appointed military commissioner with the Turkish army in the field. He was present at all the operations in the vicinity of Nisch and Alexinatz, and at the close of the campaign was nominated president of the international commission to delimit the frontiers between Turkey and Servia. His intimate knowledge of the Turkish language, added to his imperturbable calmness under fire, endeared him to the Turkish soldiery. In the spring of the following year, on the outbreak of the war with Russia, he was transferred in his former capacity to the Turkish army in Asia. The Turkish troops continued to show the fullest confidence in his judg- ment and gallantry, and fully appreciated his kindness to the wounded. Wherever the fight was hottest he was on observation (The Times, 20 July 1878). The Russians were well aware of the veneration in which Kemball was held by the Turks, and like the Servians in the preceding campaign were under the mistaken impression that he was in command of the Turkish forces. After the battle of Zewin Duz on 16 June 1877 a determined effort was made to capture him. Cossack pursuers were only thrown off after an exciting chase of more than twenty miles, and Kemball by a daring swim across the Araxes river found shelter in a Turkish camp. He firmly protested against Kurdish atrocities, and at his insistence the Ottoman commander-in-chief took steps to suppress them.

At the close of the Russo-Turkish war Kemball was made K.C.B. and was promoted lieut.-general. The Sultan also bestowed on him the medal for the campaign. Recalled to England, Kemball was designated to be military adviser to Lord Beaconsfield's special mission to the Berlin congress, but his uncompromising objection to the cession of Batum to Russia led to the withdrawal of this offer, and he was not afterwards employed. At the close of the Russo-Turkish war he was entertained by the officers of the royal artillery at Woolwich.

Kemball took a keen interest in the construction of the then projected railway from Constantinople to the Persian Gulf, and was more or less intimately bound up with the Euphrates Valley railway scheme (see Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, June 1878). After his retirement from active service he was prominently associated with Sir William Mackinnon [q. V. Suppl. I] and others in the development of East Africa, and was one of the founders in 1888 and first chairman of the Imperial East African Company. To his prescience is mainly due the construction of the Uganda railway and the sovereignty of Great Britain over the East African Protectorate (see The Times, 20 Sept. 1892).

Kemball, who attained the rank of full general in Feb. 1880, died at his London residence, 62 Lowndes Square, Knightsbridge, on 21 Sept. 1908, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery. He married in 1868 his cousin, Anna Frances, third daughter of Alexander Nesbitt Shaw of the Bombay civil service. His only daughter, Wynford Rose, married in 1902 Bentley Lyonel, third Baron Tollemache. A tablet to his memory has been erected in St. George's garrison church, Woolwich, by his widow. A cartoon by 'Ape' was reproduced in 'Vanity Fair' in 1878.

[The Times, 10 Jan. and 21 June 1878, 20 Sept. 1892, and 22 Sept. 1908; Illustrated London News, 21 July and 29 Sept. 1877; Journal Royal United Service Institution, June 1878; Sir F. Goldsmid, Life of Sir James Outram, 1880; G. W. Hunt's History of the Persian War; C. B. Norman's Armenia and the Campaign of 1877, 1878; C. Williams, The Armenian Campaign, 1878; Royal Artillery Institution Leaflets, Oct. 1908 and Feb. 1909; Amoris memoria, privately printed by Lady Kemball]

C. B. N.