Bernard Fergusson, Baron Ballantrae

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Brigadier The Right Honourable
The Lord Ballantrae
KT, GCMG, GCVO, DSO, OBE
Bernard Fergusson and PK Robinson.jpg
10th Governor-General of New Zealand
In office
9 November 1962 – 20 October 1967
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by The Viscount Cobham
Succeeded by Sir Arthur Porritt
Personal details
Born (1911-05-06)6 May 1911
Died 28 November 1980(1980-11-28) (aged 69)
Nationality British
Relations David Boyle (grandfather)
Sir James Fergusson (grandfather)
Sir Charles Fergusson (father)
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch United Kingdom British Army
Years of service 1931–1958
Rank Brigadier
Unit Black Watch
Commands 1st Battalion, Black Watch
Director of Combined Operations
16th Infantry Brigade
Battles/wars Second World War
Awards Distinguished Service Order
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Mention in Despatches

Brigadier Bernard Edward Fergusson, Baron Ballantrae, KT, GCMG, GCVO, DSO, OBE (6 May 1911 – 28 November 1980[1]) was a brigadier in the British Army, military historian and the last British-born Governor-General of New Zealand.

Military service[edit]

Fergusson was educated at Eton and Sandhurst. From Sandhurst, he was commissioned into the Black Watch. He served in Palestine and became ADC to General Wavell. On the outbreak of the Second World War, Fergusson was serving as Brigade Major for the 46th Infantry Brigade in 1940 before becoming a General Staff Officer in the Middle East. In October 1943 he was given command of the 16th Infantry Brigade which was converted into a Chindit formation for operations in the deep jungles of Burma miles behind Japanese lines. He commanded this brigade throughout the Chindit operations of 1944 before becoming Director of Combined Operations from 1945 to 1946. After the war he held various positions, including command of the famous 1st Battalion, Black Watch. He was brevetted lieutenant-colonel on 1 July 1951,[2] promoted to lieutenant-colonel on 5 March 1952[3] and promoted to colonel on 6 May 1952.[4] He retired on 13 December 1958 with the honorary rank of brigadier.[5]

Service in the British Mandate of Palestine[edit]

In 1946, having failed his attempt to be elected to parliament, he returned to Palestine in the rank of a Brigadier, and was appointed to several positions in British Mandate of Palestine police and para-military forces. At first he served as the commander of the "Police Mobile Force", a police unit of 2,000 British soldiers, that was used as a strike force against the Jewish insurrection. By the end of 1946 the unit was disbanded, by the order of the Palestine Police commandant, Col. William Nicol Gray. Fergusson was appointed as the commander of a police school that was supposed to be created in Jenin, but soon he was appointed by Gray to be "Special assistant to the commandant of police".

Fergusson suggested to Gray, who was himself a former Royal Marine, that a special unit to fight Jewish insurrectionists be formed. This unit would include former soldiers who had served in the British special forces during the war. Gray accepted the idea and ordered the creation of two teams, whose members were chosen from Palestine policemen and Ex-SAS soldiers. One team would operate in Haifa and the north, while the second team would operate in the Jerusalem area. War hero Roy Farran was appointed as the commander of the second team. On 6 May 1947, Farran's unit arrested 16 year old Alexander Rubowitz, who was putting up posters in Jerusalem for the Jewish underground organisation the Lehi. Rubowitz was taken by Farran's team, and tortured to force him to surrender his friend's names. The boy did not survive the torture. His body was dumped and never found. Suspicions of Farran's involvement were first raised after a grey trilby hat, bearing an indistinct name compatible with his, was found near the street corner where Rubowitz was seen being pushed into a car.

In 2004 British secret documents were revealed that included a statement by Fergusson, written at the time of the event, to the effect that Farran confessed to Fergusson of the murder. Fergusson then reported the incident to Gray.[6]

Gray was reluctant to take action against Farran, believing he could use some information produced from Rubowitz by Farran to crack the Lehi in Jerusalem. Gray believed that arresting Farran would ruin these efforts. While Gray was on leave in England, the acting CID commandant, Arthur Giles, ordered an investigation into Farran's actions. Farran escaped to Syria to avoid arrest, but was convinced by Fergusson to return voluntarily. He then escaped from custody and went to Jordan before again returning of his own accord. He was brought to trial in a British military court in Jerusalem

At Farran's trial, Fergusson refused to testify on the grounds that he might incriminate himself. The Palestine government announced that no action would be taken against Fergusson. After the trial, which ended with Farran's acquittal, Fergusson was relieved of his duties in Palestine and returned to Britain.[7][8]

Suez[edit]

Gerald Templer was impressed by Fergusson's performance in the Malayan Emergency and during the Suez crisis he was put in charge of the psychological warfare component of Britain's plan to retake the Suez canal and overthrow Nasser. Fergusson's extensive campaign of propaganda was designed to accompany a ruthless use of air power against Alexandria however this plan was considerably different from the one that was eventually mounted and consequently psychological warfare was to have had little effect on Egyptian public opinion or morale. British propaganda radio stations assertions that Nasser was a tool of Zionism and Egypt should attack Israel brought strong protests from Golda Meir.[9]

Governor-General of New Zealand[edit]

In 1962 he was appointed Governor-General of New Zealand, serving until 1967. His father Sir Charles Fergusson had also been Governor-General, and both of his grandfathers, Sir James Fergusson, 6th Baronet and David Boyle, 7th Earl of Glasgow, had been Governors of New Zealand.

He was elevated to a life peerage in 1972 as Baron Ballantrae, of Auchairne in the County of Ayrshire and The Bay of Islands in New Zealand.

Lord Ballantrae served as Chancellor of the University of St Andrews from 1973 until his death in 1980.

His son George Fergusson was British High Commissioner to New Zealand from 2006 to 2010 and has served as Governor of Bermuda since 2012.

Memorial Scholarship[edit]

The Bernard Fergusson Memorial Scholarship was established in 1982 by the late Maori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu, from a fund raised on her behalf in memory of Fergusson, as he was a particular friend of the Tainui people.

The purpose of the award is to assist a member of the Tainui Tribal Confederation resident in the Tainui Maori Trust Board area to enrol as an undergraduate student in the University of Waikato, who but for the award, might otherwise not be able to attend the University.[10]

Honours and Awards[edit]

Order of the Thistle UK ribbon.png Knight of the Order of the Thistle (KT)
Ord.St.Michele-Giorgio.png Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG)
Royal Victorian Order UK ribbon.png Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO)
Dso-ribbon.png Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) 5 August 1943 (Burma)[11]
Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) King's Birthday Honours, 8 June 1950[12]
General Service Medal 1918 BAR.svg General Service Medal with 3 clasps
39-45 Star BAR.svg 1939-1945 Star
Africa Star BAR.svg Africa Star
Burma Star BAR.svg Burma Star
Defence Medal BAR.svg Defence Medal
War Medal 39-45 BAR MID.png War Medal 1939–1945 with MiD
ElizabethIICoronationRibbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1952

Arms[edit]

Arms of Bernard Fergusson, Baron Ballantrae
Bernard Fergusson Arms.svg
Notes
The arms of Bernard Fergusson consist of:
Crest
Issuing out of a mullet Argent a bee on a thistle Proper.
Escutcheon
Quarterly: 1st grandquarter Azure, a buckle Argent between three boars’ heads couped Or armed and langued gules (Fergusson of Kilkerran) 2nd grandquarter, counterquartered; 1st and 4th Argent, an eagle displayed Sable beaked and membered Gules (Ramsay); 2nd and 3rd Gules, a chevron between three fleurs de lis Or (Broun of Colston): 3rd grandquarter, counterquartered; 1st and 4th Or, a lion rampant couped at all joints Gules within a double tressure flory counter flory Azure (Maitland); 2nd and 3rd Argent, a shakefork Sable (Cunningham of Glencairn): 4th grandquarter Or, on a saltire Azure nine lozenges of the first, on a bordure of the second eight mullets and as many boars’ heads erased alternately Argent (Dalrymple of New Hailes): the whole within a bordure Argent for difference.
Supporters
Dexter, a soldier of the 42nd Highlanders, the Black Watch (The Royal Highland Regiment), attired in the full dress uniform of that regiment, including sporran and the feature bonnet as worn in the early 20th century; sinister, a Maori chieftain attired about the waist in a korowai (or mat) Argent, embellished with strings Sable, and over his left shoulder another korowai Or, also embellished with strings Sable, and embroidered Sable and Gules, two huia feathers in his hair, his face tattooed, a kuru (greenstone pendant) suspended from his dexter ear, his sinister hand grasping the shaft, and his dexter hand the tuft, of a taiaha (spear) held in bend sinister, point downwards Proper.
Motto
Dulcius ex asperis

Bibliography[edit]

  • Eton Portrait (1937) London: John Miles Ltd.
  • Beyond the Chindwin (1945) London: Collins ISBN 0-00-613870-5 also Barnsley: Pen & Sword Military (2009) ISBN 1-84884-037-3
  • Lowland Soldier (1945) London: Collins (verse)
  • The Wild Green Earth (1946) London: Collins
  • The Black Watch and the King's Enemies (1950) London: Collins also Derby: Pilgrim Press (1974) ISBN 0-900594-27-6
  • Rupert of the Rhine (1952) London: Collins
  • The Rare Adventure (1954) London: Collins
  • The Business of War: The War Narrative of Major-General Sir John Kennedy (1957) (editor) London: Hutchinson
  • The Watery Maze: The Story of Combined Operations (1961) London: Collins
  • Wavell: Portrait of a Soldier (1961) London: Collins
  • Return to Burma (1962) London: Collins
  • The Trumpet in the Hall 1930-1958 (1970) London: Collins ISBN 978-0-00-211825-5
  • Captain John Niven (1972) London: Collins ISBN 0-00-192148-7
  • Hubble-Bubble (1978) London: Collins ISBN 0-00-211378-3 (light verse)
  • Travel Warrant (1979) London: Collins ISBN 0-00-216792-1

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ronald Lewin, ‘Fergusson, Bernard Edward, Baron Ballantrae (1911–1980)’, rev., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 3 April 2009
  2. ^ The London Gazette, 30 November 1951
  3. ^ The London Gazette, 20 May 1952
  4. ^ The London Gazette, 30 January 1953
  5. ^ The London Gazette, 16 December 1958
  6. ^ Nick Kardahji (2007). "A Measure of Restraint: The Palestine Police and the End of the British Mandate". MPhil Thesis, Modern Middle East Studies. Retrieved 5 June 2010. 
  7. ^ Farran, Fergusson may be in UK, Palestine Post, 1947/10/08
  8. ^ No action against Col. Fergusson, Palestine Post, 1947/10/16
  9. ^ Kyle, K. (2003). Suez: Britain's end of empire in the Middle East. London: Tauris. pp. 235–239. ISBN 1-86064-811-8. 
  10. ^ http://www.taranakicareers.co.nz/scholarship/detail.php?id=178&category=23
  11. ^ The London Gazette, 5 August 1943
  12. ^ The London Gazette, 8 June 1950

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
The Viscount Cobham
Governor-General of New Zealand
1962–1967
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Porritt
Academic offices
Preceded by
The 14th Duke of Hamilton
Chancellor of the University of St Andrews
1973–1980
Succeeded by
Kenneth Dover