Clifford Thomason Beckett
|Clifford Thomason Beckett|
|Years of service||1911-1946|
|Commands held||Commanding Officer - 12th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery (1938 - 1939)
Commanding Officer - 1st Survey Regiment, Royal Artillery (1939 - 1940)
Commander - Royal Artillery, 15th Infantry Division, France (1940 - 1941)
Commander - Royal Artillery, Malta (1941–1942)
Acting General Officer Commanding, Malta (1942)
Major-General - Royal Artillery, Malta (1942)
General Officer Commanding 4th & 5th Anti-Aircraft Groups (1943 - 1946)
|Battles/wars||World War I
World War II
|Awards||Companion in The Most Honourable Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Clifford Beckett was the older son of Brigadier-General William Thomas Clifford Beckett CBE, DSO, VD (1862–1956) and Bessie Drummond Thomason, daughter of Major-General Charles Simeon Thomason (1833–1911) of the Bengal Royal Engineers. His younger brother became Captain Walter Napier Thomason Beckett, MVO, DSC, RN (1893 – 1941), a noted Royal Navy officer in both World War I and World War II.
Prior to his military career Beckett’s father William had been a senior Civil Engineer, working on behalf of the Indian government. Clifford Beckett spent a significant part of his childhood living in India, where his father was in charge of constructing the first railway bridges over the Orissa rivers on the East Coast Extension of the Bengal – Nagpur Railway, completing the connection between the cities of Calcutta and Madras. In 1901, he was awarded the Gold Medal from the Institution of Civil Engineers for a paper he presented on his completed project. The family returned to Great Britain for the boys education, and lived near Grantown-on-Spey in Scotland.
Clifford Beckett was educated at the Tonbridge School as his father had been before him. Beckett then attended the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant to the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1911.
During World War I Beckett served in various campaigns including Gallipoli, France, Salonika and finally he was wounded at Palestine where he received the Military Cross for his actions. He finished the war with the rank of Captain.
On 4 December 1915, Clifford Beckett married Winifred Mary Ackerley Chichester, daughter of the late C.A.W. Chichester and bore one son and two daughters. During the period between the wars Beckett was engaged in various military duties including travel in Afghanistan and Australia. In 1929, he was Staff Captain at the War Office overseeing the Special Award War Office Committee on Awards to Inventors. Beckett was later employed on strategic reconnaissances in Western Europe and also served in Lahore where he was involved in the suppression of riots and the organization of the Military Jubilee Tattoo.
At King George VI's coronation on 12 May 1937, Beckett had the honour of serving as a Gold Staff Officer.
By the commencement of World War II, Beckett had achieved the rank of Commanding Officer of the 1st Survey Regiment, Royal Artillery. In this role he saw active service during the Flanders campaign of 1939-1940, where he was Mentioned in Despatches for operations in the field.
Beckett then went on to command the 15th Scottish Division of the Royal Artillery until May 1941 when he was appointed Commander of the Royal Artillery at Malta. Clifford Beckett remained at the Fortress of Malta for several years and rose to the rank of Major-General of the Royal Artillery & Commander Anti-Aircraft Defences Malta. During July and August 1942, Beckett acted as General Officer Commanding Troops for Malta following the departure of Major-General Daniel Marcus William Beak, VC, DSO, MC & Bar (27 July 1891 – 3 May 1967). In recognition of his actions at Malta Beckett was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire on 18 February 1943.
By 1943 Beckett was in command of the 4th and 5th Anti-Aircraft Groups of the Royal Artillery. In April 1945 Clifford Beckett was made a Companion in The Most Honourable Order of the Bath in recognition of meritorious services during his military career and he retired from military service on 24 May 1946 at the rank of Major General.
Beckett held many positions in civilian life following his retirement from the Military. He was Honorary Fellow and President Emeritus of the Huguenot Society of London (President 1949-1952 and subsequently a Vice-President). He held the position of Deputy Lieutenant for Somerset (1952–1967). He served as Director of the French Hospital of La Providence and was President of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) of Somerset, (1949–1958). Beckett also judged at the Rhône and Delhi Horse Shows.
Beckett had a keen interest in history and published The Yeomanry of Devon (with Commander W. Benson Freeman) and was a regular contributor to military journals and the Journal of Huguenot Society of London. Beckett’s wife Winifred died in 1960 and Clifford Beckett died in 1972, aged 80.