Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat

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Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat
Lord Lovat, Newhaven, 1942.JPG
Lord Lovat at Newhaven after returning from the Dieppe Raid, August 1942.
Nickname(s) Shimi
Born (1911-07-09)9 July 1911
Beaufort Castle, Inverness, Scotland
Died 16 March 1995(1995-03-16) (aged 83)
Beauly, Inverness-shire, Scotland
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Years of service 1930 - 1962
Rank Brigadier
Commands held No. 4 Commando
1st Special Service Brigade
Battles/wars

World War II

Awards Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Territorial Decoration

Brigadier Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat and 4th Baron Lovat, DSO, MC, TD (9 July 1911 in Beaufort Castle, Inverness, Scotland – 16 March 1995 in Beauly, Inverness-shire, Scotland [1]) was the 25th Chief of the Clan Fraser of Lovat and a prominent British Commando during the Second World War. His friends called him "Shimi" Lovat, an anglicised version of his name in the Scottish Gaelic language. His clan referred to him as MacShimidh, his Gaelic patronym, meaning Son of Simon. Simon is the favoured family name for the Chiefs of Clan Fraser. While the 15th Lord de jure, he was the 17th Lord Lovat de facto, but for the attainder of his Jacobite ancestor who was executed in 1747. He was also 4th Baron Lovat in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

Early life[edit]

Fraser was the son of the 14th Lord Lovat (commonly known as the 16th Lord), and Laura, daughter of Thomas Lister, 4th Baron Ribblesdale. After being educated at Ampleforth College (where he was a member of the Officer Training Corps) and Magdalen College, Oxford University, where he joined the University's Cavalry Squadron, Fraser was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Lovat Scouts (a Territorial Army unit) in 1930.[2] He transferred to the regular army (still as a second lieutenant) joining the Scots Guards in 1931.[3] The following year, Fraser succeeded his father to become the 15th Lord Lovat (referred to as the 17th Lord Lovat) and 25th Chief of the Clan Fraser. He was promoted lieutenant in August 1934.[4] Lovat resigned his regular commission as a lieutenant in 1937, transferring to the Supplementary Reserve of Officers.[5]

He married Rosamond Broughton (1917-2012), the daughter of Jock Delves Broughton, on 10 October 1938, with whom he had six children.[6] Lord and Lady Lovat lived at Beaufort Castle at Beauly, Inverness-shire.[7]

World War II[edit]

Prior to the Second World War, in June 1939, Lord Lovat also resigned his reserve commission.[8] In August, as war approached, Lord Lovat was mobilized as a captain in the Lovat Scouts. The following year he volunteered to join one of the new commando units being formed by the British Army, and was eventually attached to No. 4 Commando. On 3 March 1941, Nos 3 and 4 Commando launched a raid on the German-occupied Lofoten Islands. In the successful raid, the commandos destroyed a significant number of fish-oil factories, petrol dumps and 11 ships. They also seized encryption equipment and codebooks. In addition to the destruction of materials, the commandos captured 216 German troops, and 315 Norwegians chose to accompany the commandos back to Britain.

As a temporary major, Lord Lovat commanded 100 men of No. 4 Commando and a 50-man detachment from the Canadian Carleton and York Regiment in a raid on the French coastal village of Hardelot in April. For this action he was awarded the Military Cross on 7 July 1942.[9][10] Lord Lovat became an acting lieutenant-colonel in 1942 and was appointed the commanding officer of No. 4 Commando, leading them in a successful component of the abortive Dieppe Raid (Operation Jubilee) on 19 August.[11] His commando attacked and destroyed a battery of six 150 mm guns. Lovat was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).[12]

Dieppe Raid 1942, plaque at Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer

The raid as a whole was a disastrous failure with over 4,000 casualties sustained, predominantly Canadian. Yet No. 4 Commando executed its assault, with most men returning safely to Britain.

Sword Beach. Lord Lovat, on the right of the column, wades through the water. The figure in the foreground is Piper Bill Millin.

Lord Lovat eventually became a brigadier and became the commander of the newly formed 1st Special Service Brigade in 1944. Lord Lovat's brigade was landed at Sword Beach during the invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944. Lord Lovat reputedly waded ashore donning a white jumper under his battledress, with "Lovat" inscribed into the collar, while armed with a .45-70 Winchester underlever rifle. (The latter claim has not been verified and is disputed; however, in some earlier pictures y/1942 he is seen with a bolt-action .30-06 Winchester M70 sporting rifle).

Lord Lovat instructed his personal piper, Bill Millin, to pipe the commandos ashore, in defiance of specific orders not to allow such an action in battle.[13] When Private Millin demurred, citing the regulations, he recalled later, Lord Lovat replied: “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.”

Lovat's forces swiftly pressed on, Lovat himself advancing with parts of his brigade from Sword Beach to Pegasus Bridge, which had been defiantly defended by men of the 2nd Bn the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry (6th Airborne Division) who had landed in the early hours by glider. Lord Lovat's commandos arrived at a little past one p.m. at Pegasus Bridge though the rendezvous time as per the plan was noon. It is a common misconception that they reached almost exactly on time, late by only two and a half minutes. Upon reaching the rendezvous, Lord Lovat apologised to Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Pine-Coffin, of 7th Parachute Battalion. He went on to establish defensive positions around Ranville, east of the River Orne. The bridges were relieved later in the day by elements of the British 3rd Infantry Division.

During the Battle of Breville on 12 June, Lord Lovat was seriously wounded whilst observing an artillery bombardment by the 51st Highland Division. A stray shell fell short of its target and landed amongst the officers, killing Lieutenant-Colonel A. P. Johnston, commanding officer of the 12th Parachute Battalion, also seriously wounding Brigadier Hugh Kindersley of the 6th Airlanding Brigade.

Later life[edit]

Lord Lovat made a full recovery from the severe wounds he had received in France but was unable to return to the army (he transferred to the reserve in 1949).[14] Winston Churchill requested that he become Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms in the House of Lords; however, Lord Lovat declined the offer and in 1945 joined the Government as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, "becoming responsible for the functions of the Ministry of Economic Warfare when these were taken over by the Foreign Office",[15] resigning upon Winston Churchill's election defeat. In 1946 he was made a Commander of the Venerable Order of Saint John.[16] His formal retirement from the army came on 16 June 1962, he retained the honorary rank of brigadier.[17]

Lord Lovat's involvement in politics continued throughout his life, in the House of Lords and the Inverness County Council. He devoted much of his time to the family estates. He was chieftain of Lovat Shinty Club, the local shinty team which bears his family name. Lord Lovat experienced a great deal of turmoil in his final years; he suffered financial ruin and two of his sons predeceased him in accidents within months of each other. A year before his death, in 1994, the family's traditional residence, Beaufort Castle, was sold.

Piper Bill Millin, Lord Lovat's personal piper who had piped the Commandos ashore on D-Day, played at Lord Lovat's funeral.

Media[edit]

The Longest Day, a 1962 film based on the book of the same name, features "Lord Lovat", played by Peter Lawford.

There is some suggestion that the charlatan commando character "Trimmer" in Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy of novels is based on Lovat.[18] Lovat was closely associated with Evelyn Waugh's forced resignation from the Commandos, which is the subject of an exchange of correspondence between them which Waugh pasted into his war diaries.[19] In an article in Standpoint magazine, Paul Johnson wrote: "...by vindictive cunning of a high order, [Waugh] manages to foist the ultra-plebeian Trimmer on the exquisite person of Brigadier Lord Lovat, head of the clan Fraser, who had his own family regiment and was known from his looks as "the upper-class Erroll Flynn". "Shimi" Lovat committed the unforgivable sin of ejecting Waugh from the Commandos since, he told me, "he had made himself so hated by his men they would have shot him in the back as soon as they went into action." So Waugh made Lovat into Trimmer. Once, when I happened to say a word in praise of Waugh, "Shimi" let forth a scream of rage and pain: "Do you realise, thanks to that monster, I am Trimmer?""[20]

Family[edit]

Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser, Master of Lovat and 15th Lord Lovat (b. 9 Jul 1911 - d. 16 March 1995), was the son and eldest child of Simon Joseph Fraser, 14th Baron Lovat (b. 25 Nov 1871-d. 18 Feb 1933), and the Hon. Laura Lister (b. 12 Jan 1892-d. 24 Mar 1965).

His siblings were:

  • 2 Hon. Magdalen Mary Charlotte Fraser (b. 1 August 1913 - d. 27 September 1969) Died at the age of 56.
  • 3 Sir Hugh Charles Patrick Joseph Fraser (b. 23 Jan 1918 - d. 6 March 1984) Died at the age of 66 from lung cancer.
  • 4 Hon. Veronica Nell Fraser (b. 1920 - d. 27 January 2005) Died at the age of 85.
  • 5 Mary Diana Rose "Rose" Fraser (b. 15 Apr 1926 - d. 31 Aug 1940) Died at the age of 14.

He married Rosamond Delves Broughton on 10 October 1938. They had six children.

  1. Simon Augustine Fraser, Master of Lovat [b. 28 August 1939 - d. 26 March 1994] Married Virginia Grose in 1972. They had four children: the Hon. Violet Fraser (b. 1972), the Hon. Honor Fraser (b. 1973), Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser, 16th Lord Lovat (b. 1977), and the Hon. Jack Fraser (b. 1984). Died at the age of 54 of a heart-attack while hunting on the family estate at Beaufort Castle.
  2. Hon. Fiona Mary Fraser [b. 6 July 1941] Married Robin Richard Allen in 1982 and have no issue.
  3. Hon. Annabel Thérèse ("Tessa") Fraser [b. 15 October 1942] She married her first husband Hugh William Mackay, 14th Baron Reay 14 September 1964 and divorced in 1978. They had 3 children: Æneas Simon Mackay, Master of Reay (b. 20 Mar 1965), the Hon. Laura Mackay (b. 1966), and the Hon. Edward Andrew Mackay (b. 1976). She married her second husband Henry Neville Lindley Keswick in 1985 and have no issue.
  4. Hon. Kim Maurice Fraser [b. 4 January 1946] Married Joanna ("Janna") North on 18 Oct 1975 and has 3 sons: Thomas Oswald Mungo Fraser (b. 25 August 1976), Joseph Oscar Edward Fraser (b. 1978), and Maximilian Alexander Kim Fraser (b. 1982). Kim is now married to Sarah, ex-wife of his second cousin Kit Fraser, a descendant of the 12th Lord Lovat.
  5. Hon. Hugh Alastair Joseph Fraser [b. 14 November 1947 - d. 20 February 2011] Married Drusilla Jane Montgomerie on 1 May 1976 and had four children: Cosmo Alexander Raoul Fraser (b. 1977), Poppy Augusta Fraser (b. 1979), Raoul Alastair Joseph Fraser (b. 1980), and Eloise Hermione Fraser (b. 1986). Patron of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society. Died of cancer at the age of 63.[21]
  6. Hon. Andrew Roy Matthew Fraser [b. 24 Feb 1952 - d. 15 Mar 1994] Married Lady Charlotte Anne Greville (b. 6 Jun 1958) in 1979 and had 2 daughters: Daisy Rosamund Fraser (b. 1985) and Laura Alfreda Fraser (b. 1987). Died at the age of 42 after being fatally gored by buffalo while on safari in Tanzania.[7]

The 15th Lord Lovat's first son and heir Simon Augustine Fraser, Master of Lovat, and fourth son Andrew Fraser predeceased him in 1994 within days of each other. He then died a year later in 1995. The title then passed to his grandson Simon Christopher Fraser, who became the 16th Lord Lovat.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Obituary for Lord Lovat, 20 March 1995" The Independent 21 August 2010
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33576. p. 727. 4 February 1930. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33860. p. 5621. 2 September 1932. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34082. p. 5460. 28 August 1934. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34459. p. 7517. 30 November 1937. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  6. ^ "Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser, 15th Baron Lovat" The Peerage 21 August 2010
  7. ^ a b "Obituaries: Lady Lovat". Herald Scotland. 
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34632. p. 3780. 6 June 1939. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35620. p. 2971. 3 July 1942. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35622. p. 2984. 3 July 1942. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38045. pp. 3824–3825. 12 August 1947. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35729. pp. 4328–3825. 2 October 1942. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  13. ^ "Bill Millin". The Economist: 76. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39392. p. 6175. 27 November 1951. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  15. ^ Moncrieffe, Sir Iain (1979), "Introduction", in Lovat, Simon Fraser, 15th Lord, March past: a memoir, Holmes & Meier, p. 2 
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 37417. p. 203. 1 January 1946. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 42703. p. 4764. 12 June 1962. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  18. ^ Massie, Allan (12 May 2002). "I wish you could think of grown-up sins". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  19. ^ Davie, Michael (2010). Diaries of Evelyn Waugh. Phoenix. 
  20. ^ Johnson, Paul (Jan–Feb 2012). "Novelists at Arms". Standpoint Magazine. Retrieved 6 May 2014. Two key figures, symbolising the proletarian takeover of the world which Waugh feared, are the trilogy's war heroes. Corporal-Major Ludovic, saturnine and Faustian, achieves heroic status by murder and emerges post-war as author of a romantic bestseller dangerously like Brideshead. He is based on no one as far as I can discover, and I think is an alter-ego of Waugh himself. Trimmer, aka McTavish, the former hairdresser on the Queen Mary, becomes a hero by cowardice, and conceives the son who is to be the heir to Crouchback, the hero-narrator. Waugh never shadow-boxes, as Uncle Tony sometimes does. He always plays for keeps. And by vindictive cunning of a high order, he manages to foist the ultra-plebeian Trimmer on the exquisite person of Brigadier Lord Lovat, head of the clan Fraser, who had his own family regiment and was known from his looks as "the upper-class Erroll Flynn". "Shimi" Lovat committed the unforgivable sin of ejecting Waugh from the Commandos since, he told me, "he had made himself so hated by his men they would have shot him in the back as soon as they went into action." So Waugh made Lovat into Trimmer. Once, when I happened to say a word in praise of Waugh, "Shimi" let forth a scream of rage and pain: "Do you realise, thanks to that monster, I am Trimmer?" 
  21. ^ "Obituary: The Rt. Hon. Hugh Fraser, farmer (1947-2011)" The Scotsman
Political offices
Preceded by
George Hall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
1945
With: Lord Dunglass
Succeeded by
Hector McNeil
Preceded by
Lord Selborne
Minister of Economic Warfare
1945
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Simon Joseph Fraser
MacShimidh
1933–1995
Succeeded by
Simon Fraser
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
Simon Joseph Fraser
Lord Lovat
1933–1995
Succeeded by
Simon Fraser
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Simon Joseph Fraser
Baron Lovat
1933–1995
Succeeded by
Simon Fraser