Peter Young (historian)

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This article is about the British soldier and historian. For the British soldier who defined the Green line in Cyprus, see Peter Young (British Army officer). For other people called Peter Young, see Peter Young (disambiguation).
Peter Young
Born (1915-07-28)28 July 1915
Kensington, London
Died 13 September 1988(1988-09-13) (aged 73)
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1937—1959
Rank Brigadier
Service number 77254
Unit Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment
3 Commando
Arab Legion
Commands held 3 Commando
3rd Commando Brigade
9th Regiment, Arab Legion
Awards DSO
MC & 2 bars
Mentioned in Despatches
Order of Al Istiqlal (Jordan)
Other work Historian

Brigadier Peter Young, DSO, MC & 2 bars (28 July 1915 – 13 September 1988) was a British Second World War soldier who served in the commandos, eventually commanding a brigade.

Subsequently he went on to command a regiment of the Arab Legion before leaving the Army to become a lecturer at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

In later life he founded The Sealed Knot, and became a well-known military historian and author.

Early life[edit]

Born in London to Dallas Hales Wilkie Young and his wife, Irene Barbara Lushington Mellor,[1] Young attended Monmouth School and subsequently read for a degree in Modern History at Trinity College, Oxford.[2]

Having joined the Territorial Army while at Oxford, Young was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1938[3] but this was converted (and backdated to 1937) to a permanent commission in the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment in January 1939.[4]

Second World War[edit]

Assigned to the 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, Young went to France with the battalion in 1939 as part of the British Expeditionary Force. Following the Battle of France, the battalion was evacuated from Dunkirk during which Young was wounded. After he recovered from his wounds Young volunteered to join the Commandos and on being accepted joined 3 Commando in time to take part in the second commando operation of the war - Operation Ambassador - in July 1940.[2] Promoted to Lieutenant in August 1940,[5] Young was to serve in the commandos for the rest of the war. Following Operation Ambassador and the subsequent operations, Operation Claymore and Operation Archery, Young was awarded the Military Cross (MC).[6]

Promoted to Captain Young spent some time on the staff of Combined Operations Headquarters before returning to 3 Commando as second in command with the temporary rank of Major.[2] In this role he took part in Operation Jubilee, the Dieppe Raid, in August 1942 for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).[7] Still with 3 Commando, Young participated in Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily where 3 Commando were one of the first units to land. For his part in this operation Young was awarded his first bar to the MC.[8] After Sicily, Young became Officer Commanding 3 Commando and led them during the invasion of Italy.[9] Young and 3 Commando were withdrawn to England in October 1943 but the intervening period was enough for Young to be awarded a second bar to his MC.[10] In June 1944 Young took part in the Normandy landings, still with 3 Commando but following the Normandy campaign he was promoted to temporary Lieutenant Colonel and posted to the Far East as second in command of 3 Commando Brigade, a post he held until the end of the war although he did for a while become the Officer Commanding the Brigade.

Post war[edit]

Under the complicated British army system of substantive, acting, temporary, brevet and war substantive ranks, Young ended the Second World War as a substantive Lieutenant but also with the war substantive rank of Lieutenant Colonel and the acting rank of Brigadier. It was not until August 1945 that he was promoted to the substantive rank of Captain.[11] After attending the Staff College at Camberley[12] and a subsequent staff appointment at GHQ Middle East Land Forces, in 1953 Young returned to the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment as a company commander with the substantive rank of Major.[13][14] However peacetime duties were not to his liking so he was seconded to the Arab Legion as Officer Commanding its 9th Regiment, a post he held until 1956 and subsequently recognised by the award of the Jordanian Order of Al Istiqlal.[13] Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1956[15] he returned to England in staff appointments before retiring from the army in 1959 with the honorary rank of Brigadier.[16]

Later life[edit]

Upon leaving the army, Young became Head of Military History at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst between 1959 and 1969 before he retired to concentrate on a writing career. His first two books, both autobiographies, Bedouin Command and Storm from the Sea had been published while he was still in the army but his lifelong interest in history and with the position at Sandhurst he began to write history books particularly on the English Civil Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. In 1968 he founded the Sealed Knot, a re-enactment society dedicated to the English Civil Wars.[17] His writing career continued until his death and he also worked as a historical and military consultant on a number of TV series.[17] He was elected as a Fellow of Society of Antiquaries of London, the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Geographical Society.


Young was married in 1950 to Joan Duckworth (the daughter of Ellis Heys Sanderson Duckworth; she was born in 1916). The marriage was childless.[18]


  1. ^ Birth registered in Kensington Registration District in the third quarter of 1915. Parents' marriage registered in Kensington Registration District in the third quarter of 1914.
  2. ^ a b c Twiston Davies 2003, p. 49.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34557. p. 6143. 30 September 1938. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34953. p. 607. 27 January 1939. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34931. p. 5205. 23 August 1940. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35510. pp. 1505–1506. 31 March 1942. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35729. p. 4328. 2 October 1942. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36217. p. 4661. 19 October 1943. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  9. ^ Durnford-Slater 2002, p. 150.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36327. p. 255. 13 January 1944. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37239. p. 4320. 24 August 1945. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  12. ^ Twiston Davies 2003, pp. 49–50.
  13. ^ a b Twiston Davies 2003, p. 50.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39003. p. 4368. 29 August 1950. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40965. p. 88. 28 December 1956. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41766. p. 4551. 14 July 1959. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  17. ^ a b Twiston Davies 2003, p. 51.
  18. ^ Marriage registered in Kensington Registration District in the second quarter of 1950. The Times (London) (Tuesday, 9 May 1950), p. 6. Who's Who 1980, p. 2828.


  • Durnford-Slater, John (2002) [1953]. Commando: Memoirs of a Fighting Commando in World War Two. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 978-1-85367-479-2. 
  • Twiston Davies, David, ed. (2003). The Daily Telegraph Book of Military Obituaries. Bounty Books. ISBN 978-0-7537-1529-1.