Personal info

  • Name: George Murray ROLLAND
  • D.O.B: 12th May, 1869
  • D.O.A: 22nd May, 1903
  • D.O.D: 8th Jul, 1910
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Captain, 1st Grenadier Regiment, Bombay Infantry, Indian Army, attached to Berbera and Bohotle Columns, Somaliland Field Force
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 1
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JANUARY 1901-MAY 1904

More details about:
AWARDS FROM 1902 TO 1914 

A British Protectorate was established in 1884 along the northern Somali coast around Berbera. In 1899, Haji Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, from a tribe that lived in the Ogaden, began to raid the southern areas of the Protectorate. Known to the British as ‘the Mad Mullah’, his attacks led in January 1901 to the formation of a local defence force under Lieutenant Colonel E J E Swayne. It consisted of a Camel Corps, Mounted Infantry and two Corps of Infantry. However, the Mullah continued his attacks, and in 1902 Swayne called for reinforcements and was sent 300 men of 2nd Battalion, King’s African Rifles and 60 Sikhs from Central Africa. After an action at Erigo, 6 October 1902, Swayne was invalided home and command passed to Brigadier General W H Manning of the King’s African Rifles. A more sustained campaign against the Mullah was clearly necessary and a Somaliland Field Force was assembled. Manning planned to trap the Mullah, who was at Galadi in the Ogaden, between two columns, one coming south from Berbera and Bohotle, the other, with the consent of the Italian Government, marching north-west from the port of Obbia in Italian Somaliland. By 31 March 1903 he had reached Galadi but the Mullah had retreated to Wardair, 80 miles to the west. While Manning waited for the Bohotle column he sent out Lieutenant Colonel Cobbe on 10 April to reconnoitre the road to Wardair. On 17 April 1903 a detachment of Cobbe’s force was attacked at Gumburru and effectively wiped out. Meanwhile Major Gough, who had been moving south from Bohotle to close the trap round the Mullah, fought an indecisive action at Daratoleh on 22 April. On receiving news of the disaster at Gumburru he had no option but to return to Bohotle. As had always been intended, the base at Obbia had closed on 17 April and Manning’s force therefore marched north from Galadi to Bohotle. In the meantime the Mullah and his whole force managed to move east of Bohotle back into the British Protectorate, reaching the Nogal Valley. On 16 July 1903 Major General Sir Charles Comyn Egerton took over command of the Somaliland Field Force, which now included reinforcements from India and numbered over 7,000 men. He determined to pursue his enemy into the Nogal and force him to fight. After a series of operations including the reconnaissance at Jidballi on 19 December 1903 the Mullah’s army, 7,000 strong, was defeated at Jidballi on 10 January 1904. Though the Somaliland Field Force had been stood down by June, the Mullah himself escaped to Italian Somaliland and continued to cause trouble for the British until his death in 1920.


 During the return of Major Gough’s column to Donop on the 22nd April last, after the action at Daratoleh, the rear-guard got considerably in rear of the column, owing to the thick bush, and to having to hold their ground while wounded men were being placed on camels. At this time Captain Bruce was shot through the body from a distance of about 20 yards, and fell on the path unable to move. Captains Walker and Rolland, two men of the 2nd Battalion King’s African Rifles, one Sikh and one Somali of the Camel Corps were with him when he fell. In the meantime the column being unaware of what had happened were getting further away. Captain Rolland then ran back some 500 yards and returned with assistance to bring off Captain Bruce, while Captain Walker and the men remained with that Officer, endeavouring to keep o f the enemy, who were all round in the thick bush. This they succeeded in doing, though not before Captain Bruce was hit a second time, and the Sikh wounded. But for the gallant conduct displayed by these Officers and men, Captain Bruce must have fallen into the hands of the enemy. 

(The London Gazette of 7 August 1903, Numb. 27584, p. 4981)

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