Later, there was the outstanding case of Trooper William Robertson, who rose from the ranks, commanded the Staff College, was Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and finally gave a living illustration of the saying that every soldier’s knapsack holds a field-marshal’s baton.
The first recorded instance of a commission from the ranks in the history of the British Army is that of Sergeant Littler of the Befordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment. In August, 1708, Littler swam across the river a Lille, let down the drawbridge for the attackers, and so assisted to capture the citadel of the fortress. For this brave deed, he was given a commission in the Buffs, was transferred to the 1stFoot Guards in 1726, and became Lieutenant-General of that regiment in 1738.
Picture – Siege of Lille