Edwin Bramall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Lord Bramall
Bramall in 2005
Birth nameEdwin Noel Westby Bramall
Born(1923-12-18)18 December 1923
Tonbridge, Kent, England
Died12 November 2019(2019-11-12) (aged 95)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1942–1985
RankField Marshal
Service number277408
UnitKing's Royal Rifle Corps
Royal Green Jackets
Commands heldChief of the Defence Staff
Chief of the General Staff
Land Forces
British Forces in Hong Kong
1st Division
5th (Airportable) Infantry Brigade
2nd Battalion Royal Green Jackets
Battles/warsSecond World War
Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation
Falklands War
AwardsKnight of the Order of the Garter
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Military Cross
Knight of the Order of St John
Mentioned in despatches

Field Marshal Edwin Noel Westby Bramall, Baron Bramall, KG, GCB, OBE, MC, JP, DL (18 December 1923 – 12 November 2019) was a British Army officer. He served as Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, between 1979 and 1982, and as Chief of the Defence Staff, professional head of the British Armed Forces, from 1982 to 1985.

Early life and family[edit]

Bramall was born on 18 December 1923 in Tonbridge, Kent, England, the son of Major Edmund Haselden Bramall (1889−1964) (son of Ernest Edward Bramall (1864–1938), managing director of Desford Colliery, Leicester[1]) by his wife Katherine Bridget Westby.[2] He was educated at Eton College,[3] where, among other accomplishments, he captained an undefeated first XI cricket team.[4]

In 1949 he married Dorothy Avril Wentworth Vernon, by whom he had one son and one daughter.[2] His elder brother Ashley Bramall was a barrister, Labour politician and Leader of the Inner London Education Authority.[5]

Military career[edit]

Bramall was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the King's Royal Rifle Corps on 22 May 1943, during the Second World War.[6] He took part in the Normandy landings in June 1944[3] and served with the 2nd Battalion of his regiment in Northwest Europe during the later stages of the war, receiving the Military Cross on 1 March 1945, shortly before the end of World War II in Europe.[7]

Bramall was promoted to lieutenant on 18 June 1946[8] and served in the occupation of Japan from 1946, before becoming an instructor at the School of Infantry in 1949.[2] Promoted to captain on 18 December 1950,[9] he was stationed in the Middle East from 1953[10] and was then promoted to major on 18 December 1957.[11] Continuing his military career, he served two years as an instructor at the Staff College, Camberley, from 1958, and then was appointed to serve on Lord Mountbatten's staff in 1963.[10]

The Normandy landings, in which Bramall took part, during the Second World War

Appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1965 New Year Honours,[12] and promoted to lieutenant colonel on 25 January 1965,[13] he was appointed Commanding Officer of the 2nd Green Jackets, The King's Royal Rifle Corps: the Battalion was deployed to Borneo during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation in the first half of 1966 where his actions earned him a mention in despatches.[14] He was given command of the 5th (Airportable) Infantry Brigade in November 1967[15] with promotion to brigadier on 31 December 1967.[16]

Bramall was made General Officer Commanding the 1st Division on 6 January 1972,[17] with the substantive rank of major general from 6 April 1972,[18] Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong with the rank of lieutenant general on 1 December 1973[19] and appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1974 New Year Honours.[20] He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, UK Land Forces on 15 May 1976[21] and was promoted to full general on 25 June 1976.[22]

Bramall at Westminster Abbey in 2002

He was appointed Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff (Personnel and Logistics) on 20 March 1978,[23] advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the 1979 New Year Honours,[24] before being made ADC General to the Queen on 26 June 1979[25] and appointed Chief of the General Staff on 14 July 1979.[26] In this role he strongly supported the plan in May 1982 to land troops at San Carlos Water and then advance rapidly from those positions at the early stages of the Falklands War.[15]

Bramall was promoted to field marshal on 1 August 1982,[27] and appointed Chief of the Defence Staff on 1 October that year.[28] In this capacity he developed the concept of the "Fifth Pillar" pulling together the activities of defence attachés to form a structure for intervention in smaller countries.[3] He retired in November 1985.[15] He was also Colonel of the 3rd Battalion the Royal Green Jackets from December 1973, Colonel of the 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) from 14 September 1976[29] and Colonel Commandant of the Special Air Service from 19 May 1985.[30]

Later career[edit]

Lord Bramall in the robes of a Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter, June 2006.

Following his retirement from active military duty Bramall served as Lord Lieutenant of Greater London from 1986[31] to 1998.[2] He was invested as a Knight of the Garter in 1990.[32] He served as President of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 1988.[33][34] and was an Honorary Life Vice President of the MCC.[35] His other interests included painting and travel and he was a Vice-President of the welfare organisation SSAFA Forces Help.[2]

An April 2012 interview of Bramall.

Bramall was created a life peer as Baron Bramall of Bushfield in the County of Hampshire in 1987.[36][37] Bramall spoke out in the House of Lords against the involvement of the United Kingdom in the Second Iraq War warning that "unlike naked aggression, terrorism cannot be defeated by massive military means" but by "competent protection and positive diplomacy".[38]

On 27 August 2006 it was reported that Bramall, then aged 82, hit Lord Janner, then 78, after Bramall made what witnesses claim were a series of "anti-Israel" comments during an argument over the Lebanon conflict. Janner sought the advice of fellow peers about how and whether to make a formal complaint against Bramall, before deciding to accept an apology after which Janner said the matter was resolved.[39]

On 25 April 2013 Bramall retired from service in the House of Lords.[40] He died at the age of 95 on 12 November 2019, at his home in Crondall, Hampshire[41][42][43]

Operation Midland[edit]

Bramall was one of several senior establishment figures targeted by convicted perjurer Carl Beech: following fabricated complaints made by Beech officers of the Metropolitan Police searched Bramall's home near Farnham on 4 March 2015 as part of the Operation Midland child sexual abuse investigation.[44] Bramall released a statement after the search, saying: "Categorically, never have I had a connection or anything to do with the matters being investigated."[45] On 30 April 2015, under the same investigation, Lord Bramall attended a police station in Surrey by appointment. While officers interviewed him for two hours, they did not charge or arrest him.[46]

On 15 January 2016, the police confirmed that there was insufficient evidence to bring any charges and he would face no further action.[47] Bramall's wife Lady Bramall died in July 2015, without knowing that he would not be charged.[48] In October 2016, after what The Guardian described as a "chorus of calls" for an official apology to Lord Bramall,[49] the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe apologised to Bramall.[50]

On 1 September 2017, it was reported that the Metropolitan Police had paid substantial compensation to Bramall for having raided his home "after accepting that the searches had been unjustified and should never have taken place."[51]

Beech was subsequently arrested and committed to stand trial on 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud in May 2019; he was convicted on all charges, and in July 2019 was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment.[52] The court was told that "immeasurable distress" had been caused to those falsely accused as well as "obvious reputational damage".[53] Bramall said of the ordeal: "I can honestly say however I was never as badly wounded in all my time in the military as I have been by the allegations made by [Beech] that formed the basis of Operation Midland."[54]


Coat of arms of Edwin Bramall
Baron Bramall since 1987
A coronet of a Baron
Statant lion barry Or and Azure supporting a UK Field Marshal’s Baton erect proper.
Mantling Or and Sable.
Per fess embattled Sable and Or between three Stafford knots a lion rampant all counterchanged.
Dexter: A Malayan Tiger holding in the dexter paw a Kukri, all proper.
Sinister: a Chinese Dragon proper, holding in the sinister claw a Maltese Cross Vert.
Latin: "Stand fast and step ahead"[55]
The Order of the Garter.
The collar as Grand Cross Knight of the Order of the Bath.
The badge as Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Heraldic banner of Baron Bramall, Knight of the Garter, as shown in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
The arms are based on those previously used by his family and by others of similar name. The Stafford knots refer to probable ancestors from Staffordshire. The embattled division of the shield refers to his military career. The supporters represent his service in Malaysia and Hong Kong. The green Maltese cross represents his position as Colonel Commandant 3rd Battalion Royal Green Jackets. The kukri represents his position as Colonel 2nd Gurkhas. The striped (barry) lion in the crest refers to the coat of arms of the Manners (Duke of Rutland) family, from whom his wife claims descent.[56]


  1. ^ Obituary, The Times, 1 September 1938. page 1 col A
  2. ^ a b c d e Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4081-1414-8
  3. ^ a b c Heathcote 1999, p. 53.
  4. ^ Allan Mallinson (16 December 2017). "Wise Old Warhorse". Spectator. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  5. ^ "Field Marshal The Lord Bramall of Bushfield". Royal Green Jackets Association. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  6. ^ "No. 36074". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 June 1943. p. 2980.
  7. ^ "No. 36961". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 February 1945. p. 1176.
  8. ^ "No. 37698". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 August 1946. p. 4238.
  9. ^ "No. 39093". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 December 1950. p. 6320.
  10. ^ a b Heathcote 1999, p. 54.
  11. ^ "No. 41254". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 December 1957. p. 7346.
  12. ^ "No. 43529". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1964. p. 6.
  13. ^ "No. 43682". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 1965. p. 5687.
  14. ^ "No. 44196". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 December 1966. p. 13461.
  15. ^ a b c Heathcote 1999, p. 55.
  16. ^ "No. 44493". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1967. p. 74.
  17. ^ "No. 45569". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 January 1972. p. 347.
  18. ^ "No. 45641". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 April 1972. p. 4283.
  19. ^ "No. 46143". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 December 1973. p. 14387.
  20. ^ "No. 46162". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 1973. p. 2.
  21. ^ "No. 46901". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 May 1976. p. 7063.
  22. ^ "No. 46947". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 June 1976. p. 8989.
  23. ^ "No. 47493". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 March 1978. p. 3563.
  24. ^ "No. 47723". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1978. p. 2.
  25. ^ "No. 47911". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 July 1979. p. 9345.
  26. ^ "No. 47916". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 July 1979. p. 9695.
  27. ^ "No. 49069". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 August 1982. p. 10134.
  28. ^ "No. 49142". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 October 1982. p. 13571.
  29. ^ "No. 47012". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 September 1976. p. 12491.
  30. ^ "No. 50128". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 May 1985. p. 7058.
  31. ^ "No. 50422". The London Gazette. 5 February 1986. p. 1671.
  32. ^ "No. 52120". The London Gazette. 24 April 1990. p. 8251.
  33. ^ "British media wants Pak team to be sent home". cricketnext. 31 August 2010. Archived from the original on 2 September 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  34. ^ "About the MCC". Marylebone Cricket Club. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  35. ^ "Official House of Lords Biography". House of Lords. Archived from the original on 27 December 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  36. ^ "No. 50834". The London Gazette. 16 February 1987. p. 2023.
  37. ^ "No. 22092". The Edinburgh Gazette. 13 February 1987. p. 195.
  38. ^ "House of Lords Debates". 26 May 2004. Retrieved 26 May 2007.
  39. ^ "War hero, 82, hits fellow peer in Lords". London Evening Standard. 27 August 2006. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  40. ^ "Retirement of a Member: Lord Bramall". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Lords. 25 April 2013. col. 1519.
  41. ^ "Field Marshal The Lord Bramall of Bushfield obituary". The Times. 12 November 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  42. ^ Vat, Dan van der (12 November 2019). "Field Marshal Lord Bramall obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  43. ^ "Lord Bramall: D-Day veteran and former military chief has died". Sky News.
  44. ^ Barrett, David (8 March 2015). "Police search home of Lord Bramall as part of paedophile sex abuse inquiry". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  45. ^ Symonds, Tom (9 March 2015). "Ex-army chief Lord Bramall 'mystified' by police search of house". BBC News. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  46. ^ Press Association (30 April 2015). "Lord Bramall interviewed by police over historical child abuse claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  47. ^ Rawlinson, Kevin (15 January 2016). "Lord Bramall 'will face no further action' in Operation Midland investigation". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  48. ^ Robert Mendick (5 March 2017). "Exclusive: 'Met Police allowed my wife to die without knowing I was innocent'—Lord Bramall finally gets apology over child sex abuse claims". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  49. ^ Robert Mendick (5 March 2017). "Met explains why it investigated Lord Bramall over child abuse allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  50. ^ "Lord Bramall 'receives Met Police apology' over abuse claims". BBC News. 5 March 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  51. ^ Martin Evans, "Met Police pays compensation to Lord Bramall and Lady Brittan over disastrous Operation Midland investigation", The Daily Telegraph, 1 September 2017, accessed 2 September 2017.
  52. ^ "Carl Beech trial: 'VIP abuse' accuser guilty of false claims". BBC News. 22 July 2019. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  53. ^ "Man 'invented paedophile ring claims'". BBC News. 14 May 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  54. ^ Driver, Tony; Johnson, Jaimie; Dixon, Hayley (26 July 2019). "Met police 'fanned the flames' of Carl Beech's false allegations of Westminster paedophile ring". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  55. ^ The Companion Magazine. College of St George. No. 15 (Summer–Autumn 2012), p. 5.
  56. ^ Chesshyre, Hubert (1996), The Friends of St. George's & Descendants of the Knights of the Garter Annual Review 1995/96, vol. VII, p. 289


  • Heathcote, Tony (1999). The British Field Marshals 1736–1997. Barnsley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 0-85052-696-5.
  • Tillotson, Michael (2006). The Fifth Pillar: the life and philosophy of the Lord Bramall K.G. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-4239-8.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by GOC 1st Division
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Preceded by C-in-C, UK Land Forces
Preceded by Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Sir Roland Gibbs
Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief of the Defence Staff
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Greater London
Succeeded by