FM the Lord Bramall has passed away aged 95

Sky reporting he has passed away.

Even as a matelot, his "Leadership the Green Jacket way" has stayed with me through my career.

Swift and Bold Sir
 
As I’ve posted in the Dead Pool thread, a distinguished and outstanding career, somewhat tarnished in his twilight years due to a botched Met Police Investigation and the lies of a fantasist. Such a shame for him, his wife and family.
RIP Sir.
 
A fine man whose final years were tarnished by incompetent, bungling pipsqueaks. Hang your head in shame Tom Watson.

 

smeg-head

ADC
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Never met the man. RIP Sir.
 
Rest in Peace sir. You were an inspirational soldier to all of us who wore rifle green. My condolences to your family. Swift and Bold.
 

Slime

LE
As per above, it’s good that he lived long enough to have his name cleared.
 

old_fat_and_hairy

LE
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
He epitomised the Greenjacket way. A brilliant leader who was loved and respected by all who knew him or served with him. Scandalous that his name should have been traduced the way it was. It is too much to believe that Watson, the odious and lying creature would feel any shame or regret.
 

Brotherton Lad

LE
Kit Reviewer
RIP, Sir. Bumped into him once (well, actually, he was Guest of Honour at a dinner in 1979).
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
As I’ve mentioned before here, I had the honour of meeting him a decade ago, when introducing him to the widow of the lads in our platoon, at our medal parade. Despite being elderly and frail even then, he braved the howling Ballykinler weather to be with us and speak to the families of the battalion’s dead. A top bloke in every respect. The DS answer to what a Rifleman should be.
 
From the Times

Field Marshal Lord Bramall obituary
November 12 2019, 5:00pm,
D-Day veteran, chief of the defence staff, president of the MCC and fine public servant who in the evening of his life endured a shocking public experience at the hands of the ‘Met’


Field Marshal Lord Bramall, the former head of the British military who fought on D-Day, died this afternoon at the age of 95.
The highly-decorated veteran passed away at his home in Crondall, Surrey. He took part in almost every major UK military campaign from World War Two until his retirement in 1985.
The last years of his life were dominated by false allegations by Carl Beech, the fantasist known as “Nick” who claimed to have been abused by an establishment paedophile ring.
Shortly after dawn on March 4, 2015, 20 police officers raided the home of Field Marshal Lord Bramall, then aged 91, in the Surrey village of Crondall, near Farnham. They were part of Operation Midland, an investigation into claims made by a single anonymous accuser, “Nick”, that various VIPs were involved in a paedophile ring. The police spent ten hours searching the house, stopping for lunch in the local pub. “The media had a field day,” Lord Bramall noted later.
Seven weeks later he suffered further humiliation. He was interviewed under caution at a nearby police station and accused of abusing and torturing an under-age male some 40 years earlier. He called the allegations bizarre, grotesque and absurd, but the flames continued to be fanned by the Labour MP Tom Watson.
Nine months passed before the police finally dismissed the claims made by “Nick”, whose real name was Carl Beech. In July 2019 Beech was found guilty of perverting the course of justice and sent to prison for 18 years. Lord Bramall was paid substantial compensation by the Met but his wife for the past 66 years had died before he could clear his name.
The traducing of Lord Bramall was a shameful postscript to the career of one of Britain’s most distinguished soldiers — a D-Day veteran who rose to become chief of the defence staff, not to mention chairman of the trustees of the Imperial War Museum and president of the MCC.
The secret of his success was his great charm, underpinned by a vigorous intellectual energy, a steely resolution, a certain political guile and considerable prescience. In early 2003, for example, he used his seat in the House of Lords and a letter to The Times to warn that the looming invasion of Iraq would not crush Islamic terrorism but inflame it.
Though a soldier, Bramall abhorred conflict. “War settles nothing,” he once said. “It may have its moments, it may bring out the best in some people but, apart from the suffering it causes in human and economic terms, it usually creates more problems than it solves.” He preferred the gentler pursuits of painting and cricket.
Edwin Noel Westby Bramall, known to his friends as “Dwin”, was born in Rusthall, Kent, in 1923. His father served as an artillery officer in both world wars, but lived off the proceeds from his family’s Egyptian cotton business in between. His mother came from an impoverished aristocratic family.
Money grew increasingly scarce, but there was enough to send Bramall first to Elstree School in Hertfordshire and then to Eton. There he shone more on the rugby and cricket fields than in the classroom, captaining Eton’s unbeaten 1st XI in 1942. He also had two paintings hung in the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition.
Aged 18 he enlisted in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps — the 60th Rifles. He was commissioned in 1943, and joined the 2nd Battalion (2/60th) for the Normandy Landings the following year. He reached “Juno” beach on the second day of the offensive.
He commanded a platoon of a motor battalion equipped with lightly armoured half-track vehicles whose job was to provide close infantry support for the tank regiments as they drove the Germans back across North West Europe.
He saw many of his colleagues killed, some right beside him, and was wounded in the thigh near Caen. After that he was evacuated to England, but returned to the front line five weeks later. He was wounded again, this time in the shoulder, but was back in the fray after three days in a field hospital.
On October 20, 1944 Bramall led a reconnaissance patrol into a dense wood laced with mines. When the patrol ran into a German outpost, Bramall attacked with his Sten gun and grenades, wounding two Germans, taking one prisoner and putting seven others to flight before returning with detailed information about the German positions.
He was later awarded the Military Cross by Field Marshall Montgomery, but he was fortunate to be alive. A week after that patrol he led another and stepped on a mine in a ploughed field. It failed to explode.
When the European war ended Bramall qualified as a parachutist and was deployed to the Far East, but Japan surrendered before he could see active service there. He spent a year administering occupied Japan and visited the ruined city of Hiroshima.
He declined a place at Christ Church College, Oxford, and instead joined the Military Operations Directorate at the War Office. In London he met Avril Vernon, a brigadier-general’s daughter, and they married in Winchester Cathedral in 1949. They had two children — Sara, who later qualified as a nurse and worked at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital before marrying a distinguished neurologist, and Nicolas, who runs a garden design business.
In 1952, aged 29, Bramall passed into the Staff College at Camberley as the youngest man in his year. That was followed by postings to Egypt and Libya, where he led an expedition 650 miles across the Great Sand Sea to Kufra to practice navigational skills, before returning to Camberley as an instructor.
By 1963 Bramall was rising fast. He was hand-picked to help Lord Mountbatten, then chief of the defence staff, merge the army, navy and air force ministries into a single Ministry of Defence. The task required charm, tact and guile as the three service chiefs were loathe to cede power to Whitehall. He was awarded an OBE for his work.
From Whitehall he departed, as commander of 2nd Green Jackets, for active service in Borneo where Indonesia’s President Sukarno was ordering cross-border attacks on the former British protectorates of North Borneo and Sarawak. Bramall’s battalion served two successful four-month stints in the jungle, and he was mentioned in despatches. He also wrote a pamphlet, Leadership the Green Jacket Way, about trust between officers and men which remained in use for several decades.
During another stint at the Staff College as an instructor he produced a series of instruction manuals on land operations. In 1967 he was given command of 5th Airportable Brigade on Salisbury Plain, followed by a year at the Imperial Defence College in 1970. There he demonstrated his capacity for forward thinking with a paper called The Application of Force in which he predicted the emergence of terror as an instrument of political persuasion, and the restraining influence of public opinion on military action as western societies became more concerned with maintaining affluence than righting wrongs.


In 1972 Bramall was appointed general officer commanding 1st Armoured Division in what was then West Germany with the rank of major-general. This was at the height of the Cold War, and his mission was to counter any thrust by Soviet tanks across the North German Plain. His battle plan drew heavily on tactics that he had seen the retreating German forces use to great effect at the end of the Second World War, including the skilful tactical use of woods and hamlets to break up and delay attacking enemy armoured formations.
It was a mark of the man that Bramall, unlike his predecessors, took the trouble to learn German and liaise closely with his West German counterparts. He was knighted in 1974.
Two years in Germany were followed by two more as commander of British Forces in Hong Kong, where his biggest challenge was to reduce the size of the garrison while simultaneously persuading the colony’s government to pay more of its costs.
His tenure was also marked by the arrival of the first Vietnamese boat people following the fall of Saigon in 1975. The first batch of 3,400 were brought ashore by a Dutch container ship just as Queen Elizabeth arrived on a royal visit, and a wall of cargo containers was hastily erected to keep them out of sight. “We shouldn’t make them feel too comfortable, you know. Otherwise we’ll be receiving a boatload every week,” Bramall remarked with his characteristic prescience.
In 1976 he returned to London to become a four-star general and commander-in-chief of UK Land Forces. It was a time of social strife, with Jim Callaghan’s faltering Labour government battling rampant inflation and rising trade union militancy.
The army, already stretched by deployments in Northern Ireland, was caught in the middle when 20,000 servicemen had to step in with their antiquated Green Goddess military fire engines during the firemen’s strike in the winter of 1977/8. Even more invidious, the striking firemen were earning more than the soldiers even without the pay rise they were seeking.
Bramall toured the country to maintain the morale and discipline of his men, but raising servicemen’s pay to staunch an exodus that was beginning seriously to undermine the military became one of his priorities after he was promoted to vice-chief of defence staff (personnel and logistics) in 1978.
In that capacity Bramall displayed his growing political guile by giving an off-the-record briefing on servicemen’s pay to a wire service journalist hours before Callaghan was to address the issue in the Commons. The Opposition seized on the figures. The Prime Minister was blind-sided, and ordered an inquiry into the “malicious” leak. Bramall was named as the culprit, but he secured the pay award he wanted and his career did not suffer. He was soon appointed chief of the general staff, or professional head of the British Army.
He was in that post when Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982. Bramall was a voice of caution. He did not oppose the dispatch of the Task Force, but fretted about Britain’s lack of air superiority. “Air superiority is, after all, one of the principles of war and we have not yet achieved it,” he warned Margaret Thatcher’s War Cabinet shortly before the first troops landed. His concern was borne out by loss of ships to air-launched Exocet missiles and the Argentine bombing of the landing ships Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram at Fitzroy.
On this occasion his fears proved largely unfounded. Victory secured, he flew to Ascension Island to greet the returning troops. “In the years ahead when you are old men, you will be able to say, as they said after Waterloo, after Alamein and Arnhem, ‘I marched and fought and won in the Falklands, and showed the world the incomparable quality of professionalism of the British Army’,” he told them. He then added, with his slightly crooked trademark smile: “No doubt you will bore successive generations of children and grandchildren into the bargain, but such is life.”
A few months later Bramall received his field marshal’s baton from the Queen and became chief of the defence staff, or professional head of the armed forces. He hoped for a period of consolidation after the Falklands, but that was not to be. Thatcher made Michael Heseltine defence secretary, setting the scene for one of the most difficult periods in Bramall’s military career.
Heseltine wanted to streamline the MoD by amalgamating various functions of the three Services. Instead of consulting Bramall, who had conducted a similar exercise for Mountbatten 20 years earlier, he developed his plans in secret. He then presented them to his chief of defence staff as a fait accompli lest Bramall and the Service chiefs sought to rally opposition. They did try to do that, but failed. “The trouble was, we’re all public servants and we have to do what we’re told,” he complained later to Michael Crick, Heseltine’s biographer.
Heseltine’s lack of punctuality, and failure to keep appointments, also infuriated Bramall. One day he snapped. “All my life I have been raised to think that you cannot lead anyone unless you respect those below you,” he told the abashed Cabinet minister. “You so often treat people with contempt.”
Bramall was equally unimpressed by Heseltine’s disdain for the complexities of military strategy. “I put strategy papers up to him ad infinitum, and he just wasn’t interested,” he recalled. That would have been particularly frustrating for a chief of defence staff who believed Britain’s preoccupation with Nato’s field of operations left it vulnerable to unforeseen threats from other parts of the world, as the Falklands War had demonstrated.
British defence policy at that time rested on “Four Pillars” — maintaining the nuclear deterrent and defence of the UK, of Nato’s central European region and of the eastern Atlantic. Bramall, with great foresight, anticipated new threats to national security emerging from southwest Asia and the Middle East.
He argued for a “Fifth Pillar” — a dynamic, pro-active, intelligence-led foreign policy to identify and avert those threats, backed up by appropriate military preparations. He failed to persuade ministers to pursue the idea, but was amply vindicated by the slew of regional conflicts that erupted following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent rise of Islamic terrorism.
Bramall retired from the army in 1985, but not from public life. He served as lord lieutenant for Greater London for 12 years — once accidentally burying his Garter Star in the soil at a ceremonial tree planting. He was chairman of trustees of the Imperial War Museum from 1989 to 1998, helping establish both its permanent Holocaust exhibition and the American Air Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire.
He sat on the MCC’s committee, serving as its president and chair of the International Cricket Conference in 1988/89. In that role he helped resolve a growing controversy over “rebel” cricket tours to apartheid South Africa. The ICC ruled that cricketers who continued to play in that country should be banned from Test cricket for five years, but that the ban should not be retrospective. After apartheid collapsed, he helped bring South Africa back into the cricketing fold.
Bramall, ennobled in 1987, was also an active cross-bench member of the House of Lords. For many years he spoke trenchantly on military matters, never more so than in the run up to the Iraq war. In a letter to The Times six months before the US-led invasion of 2003, he wrote that “the very display of massive, dynamic US activity . . . provides one of the mainsprings of motivation for terrorist action in the region, and indeed over a wider area.
“Far from calming things down, enhancing any peace process and advancing ‘the war against terrorism’, which could and should be conducted internationally by other means, it would make things infinitely worse. Petrol rather than water would have been poured on the flames and al-Qaeda would have gained more recruits.”
It was a prescient observation, one that the events of recent history seem to vindicate.
As to his own reputation, future historians will contemplate it in a sympathetic light, consigning the terrible defamation he suffered in the evening of his life to nothing more than an unpleasant footnote.
 
I met him in Nov 77.
The occasion, he was inspecting 3RTR, and I had just joined the Regiment a couple of days' earlier.
To the amusement of my troop, he commented on the state of my black coveralls - obviously brand new out of stores.
'They look brand new. Have you done your Troop Leader's course yet?'
' Not yet General, I start in two weeks.'
'Excellent. When did you leave Sandhurst young man?'
'I didn't General, I went to Cranwell and transferred across.'
There was a 'Harrumph', followed by a 'Well done and good luck in the future, young man '.
RIP
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
To lighten the mood.

When I worked in Officer Manning at the RAPC Computer Centre at Worthy Down, the story went around about Lord Carver's elevation to the peerage.

Whenever the computer churned out anything about an officer or a soldier two or three copies were produced depending on the item. Three inch slips confirming Part 2/3 Orders etc went to unit and to APO Ashton. Pay statements, etc, officer/ soldier also got a copy.

So he becomes Baron Bramall of Bushfield. Computer mangles his surname from Bramall to Bushfield. Being RARO Rifle Brigade/LI/whatever his docs go down the road to Peninsula Barracks, Winchester. Who return it to Worthy Down, not known at this address. Who return it to Peninsula Barracks.

Repeat until somebody bothers to read it and point out it's Lord Bramall.

Well it made me laugh.
 

syrup

LE
He epitomised the Greenjacket way. A brilliant leader who was loved and respected by all who knew him or served with him. Scandalous that his name should have been traduced the way it was. It is too much to believe that Watson, the odious and lying creature would feel any shame or regret.

Watson is probably breathing a sigh of relief that he can be sent to the Lords without risk of getting his lights punched out by a 95 year old Soldier
 
From the Times

Field Marshal Lord Bramall obituary
November 12 2019, 5:00pm,
D-Day veteran, chief of the defence staff, president of the MCC and fine public servant who in the evening of his life endured a shocking public experience at the hands of the ‘Met’


Field Marshal Lord Bramall, the former head of the British military who fought on D-Day, died this afternoon at the age of 95.
The highly-decorated veteran passed away at his home in Crondall, Surrey. He took part in almost every major UK military campaign from World War Two until his retirement in 1985.
The last years of his life were dominated by false allegations by Carl Beech, the fantasist known as “Nick” who claimed to have been abused by an establishment paedophile ring.
Shortly after dawn on March 4, 2015, 20 police officers raided the home of Field Marshal Lord Bramall, then aged 91, in the Surrey village of Crondall, near Farnham. They were part of Operation Midland, an investigation into claims made by a single anonymous accuser, “Nick”, that various VIPs were involved in a paedophile ring. The police spent ten hours searching the house, stopping for lunch in the local pub. “The media had a field day,” Lord Bramall noted later.
Seven weeks later he suffered further humiliation. He was interviewed under caution at a nearby police station and accused of abusing and torturing an under-age male some 40 years earlier. He called the allegations bizarre, grotesque and absurd, but the flames continued to be fanned by the Labour MP Tom Watson.
Nine months passed before the police finally dismissed the claims made by “Nick”, whose real name was Carl Beech. In July 2019 Beech was found guilty of perverting the course of justice and sent to prison for 18 years. Lord Bramall was paid substantial compensation by the Met but his wife for the past 66 years had died before he could clear his name.
The traducing of Lord Bramall was a shameful postscript to the career of one of Britain’s most distinguished soldiers — a D-Day veteran who rose to become chief of the defence staff, not to mention chairman of the trustees of the Imperial War Museum and president of the MCC.
The secret of his success was his great charm, underpinned by a vigorous intellectual energy, a steely resolution, a certain political guile and considerable prescience. In early 2003, for example, he used his seat in the House of Lords and a letter to The Times to warn that the looming invasion of Iraq would not crush Islamic terrorism but inflame it.
Though a soldier, Bramall abhorred conflict. “War settles nothing,” he once said. “It may have its moments, it may bring out the best in some people but, apart from the suffering it causes in human and economic terms, it usually creates more problems than it solves.” He preferred the gentler pursuits of painting and cricket.
Edwin Noel Westby Bramall, known to his friends as “Dwin”, was born in Rusthall, Kent, in 1923. His father served as an artillery officer in both world wars, but lived off the proceeds from his family’s Egyptian cotton business in between. His mother came from an impoverished aristocratic family.
Money grew increasingly scarce, but there was enough to send Bramall first to Elstree School in Hertfordshire and then to Eton. There he shone more on the rugby and cricket fields than in the classroom, captaining Eton’s unbeaten 1st XI in 1942. He also had two paintings hung in the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition.
Aged 18 he enlisted in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps — the 60th Rifles. He was commissioned in 1943, and joined the 2nd Battalion (2/60th) for the Normandy Landings the following year. He reached “Juno” beach on the second day of the offensive.
He commanded a platoon of a motor battalion equipped with lightly armoured half-track vehicles whose job was to provide close infantry support for the tank regiments as they drove the Germans back across North West Europe.
He saw many of his colleagues killed, some right beside him, and was wounded in the thigh near Caen. After that he was evacuated to England, but returned to the front line five weeks later. He was wounded again, this time in the shoulder, but was back in the fray after three days in a field hospital.
On October 20, 1944 Bramall led a reconnaissance patrol into a dense wood laced with mines. When the patrol ran into a German outpost, Bramall attacked with his Sten gun and grenades, wounding two Germans, taking one prisoner and putting seven others to flight before returning with detailed information about the German positions.
He was later awarded the Military Cross by Field Marshall Montgomery, but he was fortunate to be alive. A week after that patrol he led another and stepped on a mine in a ploughed field. It failed to explode.
When the European war ended Bramall qualified as a parachutist and was deployed to the Far East, but Japan surrendered before he could see active service there. He spent a year administering occupied Japan and visited the ruined city of Hiroshima.
He declined a place at Christ Church College, Oxford, and instead joined the Military Operations Directorate at the War Office. In London he met Avril Vernon, a brigadier-general’s daughter, and they married in Winchester Cathedral in 1949. They had two children — Sara, who later qualified as a nurse and worked at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital before marrying a distinguished neurologist, and Nicolas, who runs a garden design business.
In 1952, aged 29, Bramall passed into the Staff College at Camberley as the youngest man in his year. That was followed by postings to Egypt and Libya, where he led an expedition 650 miles across the Great Sand Sea to Kufra to practice navigational skills, before returning to Camberley as an instructor.
By 1963 Bramall was rising fast. He was hand-picked to help Lord Mountbatten, then chief of the defence staff, merge the army, navy and air force ministries into a single Ministry of Defence. The task required charm, tact and guile as the three service chiefs were loathe to cede power to Whitehall. He was awarded an OBE for his work.
From Whitehall he departed, as commander of 2nd Green Jackets, for active service in Borneo where Indonesia’s President Sukarno was ordering cross-border attacks on the former British protectorates of North Borneo and Sarawak. Bramall’s battalion served two successful four-month stints in the jungle, and he was mentioned in despatches. He also wrote a pamphlet, Leadership the Green Jacket Way, about trust between officers and men which remained in use for several decades.
During another stint at the Staff College as an instructor he produced a series of instruction manuals on land operations. In 1967 he was given command of 5th Airportable Brigade on Salisbury Plain, followed by a year at the Imperial Defence College in 1970. There he demonstrated his capacity for forward thinking with a paper called The Application of Force in which he predicted the emergence of terror as an instrument of political persuasion, and the restraining influence of public opinion on military action as western societies became more concerned with maintaining affluence than righting wrongs.


In 1972 Bramall was appointed general officer commanding 1st Armoured Division in what was then West Germany with the rank of major-general. This was at the height of the Cold War, and his mission was to counter any thrust by Soviet tanks across the North German Plain. His battle plan drew heavily on tactics that he had seen the retreating German forces use to great effect at the end of the Second World War, including the skilful tactical use of woods and hamlets to break up and delay attacking enemy armoured formations.
It was a mark of the man that Bramall, unlike his predecessors, took the trouble to learn German and liaise closely with his West German counterparts. He was knighted in 1974.
Two years in Germany were followed by two more as commander of British Forces in Hong Kong, where his biggest challenge was to reduce the size of the garrison while simultaneously persuading the colony’s government to pay more of its costs.
His tenure was also marked by the arrival of the first Vietnamese boat people following the fall of Saigon in 1975. The first batch of 3,400 were brought ashore by a Dutch container ship just as Queen Elizabeth arrived on a royal visit, and a wall of cargo containers was hastily erected to keep them out of sight. “We shouldn’t make them feel too comfortable, you know. Otherwise we’ll be receiving a boatload every week,” Bramall remarked with his characteristic prescience.
In 1976 he returned to London to become a four-star general and commander-in-chief of UK Land Forces. It was a time of social strife, with Jim Callaghan’s faltering Labour government battling rampant inflation and rising trade union militancy.
The army, already stretched by deployments in Northern Ireland, was caught in the middle when 20,000 servicemen had to step in with their antiquated Green Goddess military fire engines during the firemen’s strike in the winter of 1977/8. Even more invidious, the striking firemen were earning more than the soldiers even without the pay rise they were seeking.
Bramall toured the country to maintain the morale and discipline of his men, but raising servicemen’s pay to staunch an exodus that was beginning seriously to undermine the military became one of his priorities after he was promoted to vice-chief of defence staff (personnel and logistics) in 1978.
In that capacity Bramall displayed his growing political guile by giving an off-the-record briefing on servicemen’s pay to a wire service journalist hours before Callaghan was to address the issue in the Commons. The Opposition seized on the figures. The Prime Minister was blind-sided, and ordered an inquiry into the “malicious” leak. Bramall was named as the culprit, but he secured the pay award he wanted and his career did not suffer. He was soon appointed chief of the general staff, or professional head of the British Army.
He was in that post when Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982. Bramall was a voice of caution. He did not oppose the dispatch of the Task Force, but fretted about Britain’s lack of air superiority. “Air superiority is, after all, one of the principles of war and we have not yet achieved it,” he warned Margaret Thatcher’s War Cabinet shortly before the first troops landed. His concern was borne out by loss of ships to air-launched Exocet missiles and the Argentine bombing of the landing ships Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram at Fitzroy.
On this occasion his fears proved largely unfounded. Victory secured, he flew to Ascension Island to greet the returning troops. “In the years ahead when you are old men, you will be able to say, as they said after Waterloo, after Alamein and Arnhem, ‘I marched and fought and won in the Falklands, and showed the world the incomparable quality of professionalism of the British Army’,” he told them. He then added, with his slightly crooked trademark smile: “No doubt you will bore successive generations of children and grandchildren into the bargain, but such is life.”
A few months later Bramall received his field marshal’s baton from the Queen and became chief of the defence staff, or professional head of the armed forces. He hoped for a period of consolidation after the Falklands, but that was not to be. Thatcher made Michael Heseltine defence secretary, setting the scene for one of the most difficult periods in Bramall’s military career.
Heseltine wanted to streamline the MoD by amalgamating various functions of the three Services. Instead of consulting Bramall, who had conducted a similar exercise for Mountbatten 20 years earlier, he developed his plans in secret. He then presented them to his chief of defence staff as a fait accompli lest Bramall and the Service chiefs sought to rally opposition. They did try to do that, but failed. “The trouble was, we’re all public servants and we have to do what we’re told,” he complained later to Michael Crick, Heseltine’s biographer.
Heseltine’s lack of punctuality, and failure to keep appointments, also infuriated Bramall. One day he snapped. “All my life I have been raised to think that you cannot lead anyone unless you respect those below you,” he told the abashed Cabinet minister. “You so often treat people with contempt.”
Bramall was equally unimpressed by Heseltine’s disdain for the complexities of military strategy. “I put strategy papers up to him ad infinitum, and he just wasn’t interested,” he recalled. That would have been particularly frustrating for a chief of defence staff who believed Britain’s preoccupation with Nato’s field of operations left it vulnerable to unforeseen threats from other parts of the world, as the Falklands War had demonstrated.
British defence policy at that time rested on “Four Pillars” — maintaining the nuclear deterrent and defence of the UK, of Nato’s central European region and of the eastern Atlantic. Bramall, with great foresight, anticipated new threats to national security emerging from southwest Asia and the Middle East.
He argued for a “Fifth Pillar” — a dynamic, pro-active, intelligence-led foreign policy to identify and avert those threats, backed up by appropriate military preparations. He failed to persuade ministers to pursue the idea, but was amply vindicated by the slew of regional conflicts that erupted following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent rise of Islamic terrorism.
Bramall retired from the army in 1985, but not from public life. He served as lord lieutenant for Greater London for 12 years — once accidentally burying his Garter Star in the soil at a ceremonial tree planting. He was chairman of trustees of the Imperial War Museum from 1989 to 1998, helping establish both its permanent Holocaust exhibition and the American Air Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire.
He sat on the MCC’s committee, serving as its president and chair of the International Cricket Conference in 1988/89. In that role he helped resolve a growing controversy over “rebel” cricket tours to apartheid South Africa. The ICC ruled that cricketers who continued to play in that country should be banned from Test cricket for five years, but that the ban should not be retrospective. After apartheid collapsed, he helped bring South Africa back into the cricketing fold.
Bramall, ennobled in 1987, was also an active cross-bench member of the House of Lords. For many years he spoke trenchantly on military matters, never more so than in the run up to the Iraq war. In a letter to The Times six months before the US-led invasion of 2003, he wrote that “the very display of massive, dynamic US activity . . . provides one of the mainsprings of motivation for terrorist action in the region, and indeed over a wider area.
“Far from calming things down, enhancing any peace process and advancing ‘the war against terrorism’, which could and should be conducted internationally by other means, it would make things infinitely worse. Petrol rather than water would have been poured on the flames and al-Qaeda would have gained more recruits.”
It was a prescient observation, one that the events of recent history seem to vindicate.
As to his own reputation, future historians will contemplate it in a sympathetic light, consigning the terrible defamation he suffered in the evening of his life to nothing more than an unpleasant footnote.
Thanks for posting that - very informative. The distinguished Field Marshall and I had a number of things in common.
He was my GOC when I arrived in 1 ADSR in Verden, on my first posting out of training, although, clearly our paths never really crossed!
Secondly, we both thought Michael Heseltine was (and still is) a twat!
RIP Sir.
 
Last edited:

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
Hopefully some Met Police creature will have it's feet publicly held to the fire for their organisation providing a working definition of scum, given their treatment of LB.

P.S. Not aimed at the boys and girls on the ground who are just as much the victims of the same pondlife.
 

BlackDyke

War Hero
Hopefully some Met Police creature will have it's feet publicly held to the fire for their organisation providing a working definition of scum, given their treatment of LB.

P.S. Not aimed at the boys and girls on the ground who are just as much the victims of the same pondlife.
Didn't Dame Cressida (fairly) recently come out in support of the idiot Superintendent dolt that told us all that the allegations had legs?
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
Didn't Dame Cressida (fairly) recently come out in support of the idiot Superintendent dolt that told us all that the allegations had legs?
I thought she said he'd made a mistake - though apparently she felt no need to publicly correct it at the time. Mind you, if you've got an innocent Brazilian electrician on your tick, what price a D-Day veteran?
 

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