Colonel Sir Andrew Muter John Ogilvie KBE CB

Surrey in the Great War Jenny Mukerji

Colonel Sir Andrew Muter John OGILVIE KBE CB (1858-1924)

Civil Servant & Director of Army Signals (Home Defence)

Sir Andrew died at his home in St John’s Woking and is buried in Brookwood Cemetery. He was born in St Pancras, London, the son of Robert Annesley Ogilvie CB and his second wife, Robina (nee Muter). His father was Surveyor General of Her Majesty’s Customs.

Sir Andrew studied Law at the University College London and entered into the Civil Service becoming Private Secretary to a succession of Postmasters General (1891-9). In 1903 he was promoted to Assistant Secretary to the Post Office which enabled him to be a delegate at the International Telegraph Conference held in Lisbon in 1908. In 1911 he became Third Secretary and three years later he became Joint Second Secretary, a post he held until 1919.

In addition to this post, he was made Director of Army Signals (Home Defence) in 1913 and given the rank of Colonel, Royal Engineers. He held this post throughout the Great War and received his knighthood in 1918. It was his organisational skills that were of great value during the war. He was largely responsible for the telegraphic and telephonic communications for the forces in Great Britain, including anti-aircraft defence lines. His work included the recruitment of technical personnel; 600 officers and 20,000 men were found for the Royal Engineers Signal Service in various theatres of war. His role also included the Post Office supplying telegraph and telephone stores for the Army Signal Service for all the forces overseas. He also set up a network system of air raid warnings to telephones at strategic points such as munition factories and public institutions.

The Belgian king awarded him with the Belgian Order of Leopold in 1919. Between 1913 and 1916 and again between 1921 and his death, he was a member of the Council of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. He never married.

Sir Andrew died on 26 December 1924 at Golf Cottage, St John’s, Woking and his funeral took place at Brookwood Cemetery on Tuesday 30 December at 12:45. Rev D W Money, vicar of St John’s officiated. His grave is in Plot 79 of the Anglican Section in the cemetery.

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