Cutler, Robert Henry

Cutler, Robert Henry (Tabby)

Major (demobilised)

King’s African Rifles

Died as a result of an aircraft accident on Thursday 12 July 1945 (aged 41)


City Park Cemetery, Nairobi, Kenya (Section 3 Lot 75)


Groomsport and District War Memorial

Groomsport Parish Church of Ireland Church

Rockport School, Craigavad


Robert Henry Cutler was born on 21 June 1904 at 7 Shandon Park, Belfast and he was the only son of Henry Albert Cutler and Julia Frances Mabel Cutler (nee Atkinson) who were married on 22 June 1903 in St Mary’s Church of Ireland Church, Marmullane, Co Cork.  Henry Albert Cutler (born 1861 in England), Cork City Engineer was a son of James Henry Cutler, a wine merchant.  Julia Frances Mabel Cutler Atkinson (born 1876 in England) was a daughter of Robert Atkinson, a retired surgeon.

Henry Albert Cutler and Julia Frances Mabel Cutler (nee Atkinson) had two children:

Robert Henry (born 21 June 1904 at 7 Shandon Park, Belfast)

Nora Mabel (born 28 November 1905 at 7 Shandon Park, Belfast)

Their father was City Surveyor in Belfast.

The Cutler family lived in Groomsport during the summer months and in 1913 Robert Henry Cutler attended Rockport School, Craigavad as a day boy.  He was a keen yachtsman.  Later he obtained an MA degree from Cambridge University and lived in London until 1928 when he moved to Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in East Africa to take up the post of Superintendent of Education.  In 1930 he and Ruth Wyckham Hewlet-Cooper were married in Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika and they had two children.

At the outbreak of the Second World War Robert Henry Cutler joined the Army and served with the King’s African Rifles in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) before assuming special training duties with the askari (local soldiers).  Major Robert Henry Cutler was demobilised in January 1944 and he received a letter from General Sir Bernard Paget who was General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, East Africa Command.  The letter included the paragraph, ‘It having been found necessary in the general interest of the War Effort that you should return to civil life and duty, I wish to tell you how much I regret the severance of your connection with the troops of the East Africa Command and, at the same time, thank you very sincerely for your valuable services with the Army’.  It may be of interest to note that Sir Bernard Paget’s younger son, Lieutenant Tony Paget, died on 5 March 1945 as a result of wounds received while serving with the 1st Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (the 43rd) during the Battle of Reichswald.

After he was demobilised in January 1944 Major Robert Henry Cutler was appointed Director of Training in Tanganyika’s demobilisation scheme and he died in Nairobi, Kenya on 12 July 1945.  In the 13 July 1945 edition of the Tanganyika Standard it was reported that there were no survivors when an aeroplane crashed in attempting to take off from Eastleigh Aerodrome, Nairobi the previous day.  ‘Amongst the eleven people who died was Mr R.H. Cutler, Director of Training in Tanganyika’s demobilisation scheme and formerly Education Officer’.

In January 1946 Major Cutler’s colleagues presented eight Provincial Challenge Shields as a tribute to his memory:

‘We, the colleagues of R.H. ‘Tabby’ Cutler including past and present members of the Headquarters Staff, European, Asian and African, and the staffs of the Dar es Salaam, Mpwapwa, Mwanza, Tanga, Tabora, Malangali, Moshi, Kashasha and Southern Province schools, present, as a tribute to his memory eight Provincial Challenge Shields for Handicrafts, to be known as the Cutler Memorial Shields.  We wish these shields to be open for competition each year by the African schools of each Province in Tanganyika Territory, and we hope that the resulting Annual Handicrafts Competitions and Exhibitions, either by themselves or through the development of similar competitions open to the schools of each District, will do much to foster the practical side of Education in which Mr Cutler took so great an interest’.

Major Robert Henry Cutler is commemorated on Groomsport and District War Memorial; in Groomsport Parish Church of Ireland Church and in Rockport School, Craigavad.