Alastair Duncan (British Army officer)

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Alastair Duncan
Born22 October 1952
Toft Monks, Norfolk
Died24 July 2016(2016-07-24) (aged 63)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1972–2005
RankMajor-General
UnitThe Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire
Commands heldDirector-General of Training Support
19th Mechanised Brigade
The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire
Battles/warsThe Troubles
UNPROFOR
UNAMSIL
AwardsCommander of the Order of the British Empire
Companion of the Distinguished Service Order
Other workManaging Director of Services Sound and Vision Corporation

Major General Alastair David Arton Duncan CBE, DSO (22 October 1952 – 24 July 2016) was a British army officer.[1] He is best known for his service as Commanding Officer of The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire whilst in the Balkans, Chief of Staff of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, and Director-General of Training Support.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Duncan was born on 22 October 1952 in Toft Monks, Norfolk, England.[2][3] From 1961 to 1970, he was educated at Gresham's School, an independent boarding school in Holt, Norfolk.[4]

Military career[edit]

On 10 March 1973, having attended Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Duncan was commissioned into The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire (PWO), British Army, as a second lieutenant with seniority from 8 March 1973.[5] Duncan eventually rose to command the regiment in 1990 as a lieutenant-colonel, and would lead the PWO through two deployments. The first was to Northern Ireland in 1992 to fight in the Troubles, with Duncan appointed an Officer in the Order of the British Empire for his performance in command. The second was in 1993 to Bosnia as part of UNPFOR.[2] It was here that Major-General Duncan was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership in action, with the Telegraph calling him "instrumental in the rescue of 200 Croats...".[2] After the tour he was commissioned as a commander of the 19th Mechanised Brigade in Germany, and then took up a position in the Ministry of Defence as Director of Land Warfare.

In 2000 he was appointed Chief of Staff of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). UNAMSIL would eventually result in the disarming of more than 75,000 fighters. It rebuilt the country's police force and paved the way to democratic elections.[6] Though stepping down from this position in 2001 to take up his final role in the military as Director-General of Training Support, the United Nations mission was completed in 2005, and Duncan was invested as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his efforts.[2] In 2005, Major-General Duncan retired from the army after 43 years of service.

Later life[edit]

From 2005 to 2009, he was Managing Director of Services Sound and Vision Corporation, a British charity that runs entertainment services for the British Armed Forces including the British Forces Broadcasting Service and the Combined Services Entertainment.[2][7]

In 2013, Duncan was "sectioned under the Mental Health Act and confined in a secure mental facility".[8] He died on 24 July 2016, aged 63, having suffered a perforated ulcer.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Duncan was married three times and had three children.[2] His first wife was Anita Keily, and together they had two sons; Thomas and Edward.[8] They divorced in 1993.[8] In 1995, he married Avril Walker, and together they had a daughter, Arabella.[8] They divorced in 2008.[8] In September 2013, he married for a third time to Ellen Le Brun,[9] and she survives him.[2]

Health[edit]

In 1993, during his posting to Bosnia, Ducan suffered a brain injury when the Warrior tracked armoured vehicle he was travelling in was damaged by a roadside bomb.[8] He subsequently developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in relation to the incident.[2] In 1999, he took mefloquine, an anti-malarial drug, for six months in preparation for his deployment to Sierra Leone.[9] This drug was blamed for his later mental health problems and the worsening of his PTSD.[2][8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A Soldier's Tribute: Major General Alastair Duncan CBE DSO". Forces TV. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Major General Alastair Duncan – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 3 August 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  3. ^ Norfolk-born and educated Maj Gen Alastair Duncan dies - Obituaries - Eastern Daily Press Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  4. ^ "Old Greshamians - Military". Gresham’s School. 2016. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  5. ^ "No. 45956". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 April 1973. pp. 4932–4934.
  6. ^ "UNAMSIL: A Success Story in Peacekeeping" (PDF). UN Peacekeeping. United Nations. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Major-General Alastair Duncan Dies". forces.tv. 26 July 2016. Archived from the original on 30 July 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Major-General Alastair Duncan". The Times. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  9. ^ a b Hardy, Frances (23 November 2015). "Has this highly decorated hero been driven mentally ill by an anti-malaria drug tourists are still given?". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 7 August 2016.