Gerald Templer

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Sir Gerald Templer
Sir gerald templer.gif
General Sir Gerald Templer in Malaya, 1953
Nickname(s) "Tiger of Malaya"
Born (1898-09-11)11 September 1898
Colchester, Essex
Died 25 October 1979(1979-10-25) (aged 81)
Chelsea, London
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1916–1958
Rank Field Marshal
Unit Royal Irish Fusiliers
Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire)
Commands held Chief of the Imperial General Staff (1955–58)
Eastern Command (1950–52)
6th Armoured Division (1944)
56th (London) Infantry Division (1943–44)
1st Infantry Division (1943)
XI Corps (1943)
II Corps (1942–43)
47th (London) Infantry Division (1942)
210th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home) (1940–41)
9th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (1940)
Battles/wars First World War
Arab revolt
Second World War
Malayan Emergency
Awards Knight of the Order of the Garter
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in Despatches (2)
Commander of the Legion of Merit (United States)
Commander of the Order of Leopold II (Belgium)
Croix de guerre (Belgium)
Grand Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau (Netherlands)
Grand Commander of the Order of the Defender of the Realm (Malaya)

Field Marshal Sir Gerald Walter Robert Templer, KG, GCB, GCMG, KBE, DSO (11 September 1898 – 25 October 1979) was a senior British Army officer who fought in both the First World War and the Second World War, where he commanded the 56th (London) Infantry Division during the Italian Campaign. He is best known for his defeat of the guerrilla rebels in Malaya between 1952 and 1954. As Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) from 1955–58, he was Prime Minister Anthony Eden's chief military adviser during the Suez Crisis.

Early life and First World War[edit]

Born the son of Lieutenant Colonel Walter Francis Templer and Mabel Eileen Templer (née Johnston) and educated at Wellington College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst,[1] Templer joined the British Army during the First World War and was commissioned as a second lieutenant into his father's regiment, the Royal Irish Fusiliers, on 16 August 1916.[2][3] He was promoted to lieutenant on 16 February 1918.[3]

He remained in the army during the interwar period and was a reserve for the Olympic team as a 120-yard hurdler in 1924[1] He later transferred to the Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) upon promotion to captain on 11 August 1928.[4] He attended the Staff College, Camberley and later became a staff officer with the 3rd Infantry Division on Salisbury Plain in 1931 and a staff officer at Headquarters Northern Command in York in 1933 before returning to his regiment to be a company commander at Tidworth in April 1935.[4] In 1936 he was deployed to Palestine during the Arab revolt there for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) on 6 November 1936.[5] He was promoted to major on 1 August 1938 and posted to the War Office as a staff officer in military intelligence.[4]

Second World War[edit]

At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 Templer was an acting lieutenant colonel in military intelligence, serving on the staff of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France.[4] After evacuating from France in late May 1940 he oversaw the raising of the 9th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment and then commanded the 210th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home) in Dorset from November 1940.[4] He was assigned as a staff officer to V Corps in May 1941[4] and promoted to colonel on 6 October 1941.[6]

In April 1942 Templer took over command of the 47th (London) Infantry Division, based in Winchester, Hampshire as an acting major general, five months later taking command of II Corps[7] as the British Army's youngest acting lieutenant general.[1] Then in April 1943 he took command of XI Corps, then based in East Anglia.[7] He then requested a field command and was reduced to major general and posted as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1st Infantry Division in North Africa in July 1943 before becoming the GOC 56th (London) Infantry Division in October 1943, replacing the injured Major General Douglas Graham, then fighting on the Italian Front.[7] The 56th Division progressed as far as Monte Camino before suffering heavy losses and being withdrawn and later, in February 1944, the division, now under U.S. VI Corps, fought in the Battle of Anzio where Templer temporarily commanded the British 1st Infantry Division after the GOC, Major General Ronald Penney, was wounded by shellfire.[7] He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath on 24 August 1944 in recognition of his services in Italy.[8]

Templer briefly became GOC 6th Armoured Division before being severely injured by a land mine in August 1944.[7] Promoted to major general on 17 April 1945,[9] he spent the rest of the war on intelligence duties in 21st Army Group HQ as well as briefly heading the German Directorate of the Special Operations Executive (SOE).[7] He was mentioned in dispatches on 8 November 1945 in recognition of his services in North West Europe.[10]


On 17 October 1946, Templer was awarded the Legion of Merit in the Degree of Commander by the President of the United States for his conduct during the war.[11] He was also appointed a Commander of the Order of Leopold II of Belgium and Croix de guerre[12] and a Grand Officer of the Order of Orange Nassau of the Netherlands with Swords.[13]

He served as Deputy Chief of Staff for the British Element (CCG/BE) of the Allied Control Commission for Germany after the Second World War, for which he was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in the King's Birthday Honours 1946.[14] He first came to public notice after firing the mayor of Cologne, the later German chancellor Konrad Adenauer, for "laziness and inefficiency".[7]

Templer became Director of Military Intelligence at the War Office in March 1946 and Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff in February 1948 and, having been promoted to lieutenant general on 5 April 1948[15] and appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year Honours 1949,[16] moved on to be General Officer Commanding Eastern Command on 18 February 1950.[17] He was promoted to general on 4 June 1950,[18] advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the King's Birthday Honours 1951[19] and appointed Aide-de-Camp General to the King on 30 August 1951.[20] He also became a Knight of the Venerable Order of Saint John.[21]

High Commissioner of Malaya[edit]

On 22 January 1952, Winston Churchill appointed Templer British High Commissioner in Malaya to deal with the Malayan Emergency.[22] Working closely with Robert Thompson, the Permanent Secretary of Defence for Malaya, Templer's tactics against the communists were held up as a model for counter-insurgency.[23] In military terms Templer concentrated his efforts on intelligence.[24] Templer famously remarked that, "The answer [to the uprising] lies not in pouring more troops into the jungle, but in the hearts and minds of the people."[25] He demanded that newly built villages, where ethnic Chinese were resettled away from the jungles and beyond the reach (and influence) of the guerrillas, should be made to look more inviting. To further gain the "hearts and minds" of the non-Malays, who were the main source of communist support, Templer fought to grant Malayan citizenship to over 2.6 million Malayan residents, 1.1 million of whom were Chinese. Templer sought "political and social equality of all" Malayans.[26]

Templer awarding an MBE in Malaya

He instituted incentive schemes for rewarding surrendering rebels and those who encouraged them to surrender[27] and used strict curfews and tight control of food supplies to force compliance from rebellious areas to flush out guerillas. Crops grown by the communists in response to these measures were sprayed with herbicide and defoliants]. These restrictions were lifted on so-called White Areas which had been found to be free of communist incursion.[28]

When Templer left Malaya in 1954 the situation had dramatically improved, though the rebels remained a force to be reckoned with.[27] In response to an article in Time Magazine that "the jungle had been stabilised",[29] he declared "I'll shoot the bastard who says that this emergency is over".[24] The Malayan government eventually declared the Emergency over in 1960.[27] He was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George for his work as High Commissioner in the Coronation Honours List in June 1953.[30]

The Malaysian Government arranged for the Main Hall at the Royal Military College, Kuala Lumpur in Sungai Besi, which had been established in 1952, to be named the "Tun Templer Hall" in his honour.[31] They also named after him Templer's Park, a nature reserve established in 1955 in Rawang.[32]

Later military career[edit]

Advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the Queen's Birthday Honours 1955,[33] Templer was appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff on 29 September 1955.[34] In this capacity he advised the British Government on the response to the Suez Crisis.[35] He was promoted to field marshal on 27 November 1956[36] and retired on 29 September 1958.[37]

Templer was also appointed Colonel of the Royal Irish Fusiliers from 1946, Colonel of the Malay Federation Regiment from 1954,[35] Colonel of the 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles from 25 May 1956,[38] Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards from 1963 and Colonel of the Blues and Royals from 1969.[35]

In retirement Templer focused on his main passion which was establishing the National Army Museum in London.[39] The Malaysian Government conferred on him the award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Defender of the Realm, which carries with it the title Tun, on 13 October 1960.[40] He also appointed a Knight of the Order of the Garter on 16 September 1963[41] and Constable of the Tower on 1 August 1965.[42] He chaired a committee of the rationalisation of air power in 1965[43] and was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Greater London on 28 December 1966.[44] He died of cancer of the lung at his home in Chelsea on 25 October 1979.[35] He was buried in the churchyard of St Michael in the Wiltshire village of Wilsford cum Lake.[1]

In 1982 the University of Birmingham Centre for First World War Studies established the Templer Medal to commemorate his life and achievements and to mark his Presidency of the Society for Army Historical Research between 1965 and 1979.[45]


In 1926 he married Edith Margery Davie; they had a daughter and a son.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Gerald Templer". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "no. 29708". The London Gazette. 15 August 1916. p. 8028. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Heathcote, Anthony pg 273
  4. ^ a b c d e f Heathcote, Anthony pg 274
  5. ^ "no. 34338". The London Gazette. 6 November 1936. p. 7123. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "(Supplement) no. 35360". The London Gazette. 25 November 1941. p. 6826. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Heathcote, Anthony pg 275
  8. ^ "(Supplement) no. 36668". The London Gazette. 22 August 1944. p. 3917. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "(Supplement) no. 37056". The London Gazette. 27 April 1945. p. 2282. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "(Supplement) no. 37340". The London Gazette. 6 November 1945. p. 5434. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "(Supplement) no. 37761". The London Gazette. 15 October 1946. p. 5137. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  12. ^ "(Supplement) no. 37761". The London Gazette. 15 October 1946. p. 5140. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  13. ^ "(Supplement) no. 37761". The London Gazette. 15 October 1946. p. 5143. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  14. ^ "(Supplement) no. 37598". The London Gazette. 4 June 1946. p. 2760. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "(Supplement) no. 38253". The London Gazette. 2 April 1948. p. 2197. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "(Supplement) no. 38493". The London Gazette. 31 December 1948. p. 6. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  17. ^ "(Supplement) no. 38860". The London Gazette. 14 March 1950. p. 1267. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  18. ^ "(Supplement) no. 38980". The London Gazette. 1 August 1950. p. 3939. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  19. ^ "(Supplement) no. 39243". The London Gazette. 1 June 1951. p. 3063. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  20. ^ "(Supplement) no. 39332". The London Gazette. 11 September 1951. p. 4811. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  21. ^ "no. 39584". The London Gazette. 27 June 1952. p. 3520. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  22. ^ "no. 39448". The London Gazette. 25 January 1952. p. 513. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  23. ^ Heathcote, Anthony pg 276
  24. ^ a b "Personality Profile: Gerald Templer". Pointer: Journal of the Singapore Armed Forces. 2003. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  25. ^ Lapping, Brian pg 224
  26. ^ Friedman, Herbert A. (2006). "Psychological Warfare of the Malayan Emergency 1948–1960". Retrieved 27 December 2006. 
  27. ^ a b c "Empire's Children: Hearts and Minds Campaign". Channel 4. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  28. ^ Ramakrishna, Kumar pg 120
  29. ^ "Covers". Time Magazine. 15 December 1952. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  30. ^ "(Supplement) no. 39863". The London Gazette. 26 May 1953. p. 2945. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  31. ^ "Royal Military College: facilities". Geocities. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  32. ^ "Templer's Park". Malai Adventure. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  33. ^ "(Supplement) no. 40497". The London Gazette. 3 June 1955. p. 3259. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  34. ^ "(Supplement) no. 40598". The London Gazette. 30 September 1955. p. 5555. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  35. ^ a b c d Heathcote, Anthony pg 277
  36. ^ "(Supplement) no. 40935". The London Gazette. 23 November 1956. p. 6715. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  37. ^ "(Supplement) no. 41508". The London Gazette. 26 September 1958. p. 5954. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  38. ^ "(Supplement) no. 40785". The London Gazette. 22 May 1956. p. 3032. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  39. ^ "Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer". National Army Museum. Archived from the original on 29 October 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  40. ^ "Correspondence re Royal Awards" (PDF). ISEAS Library. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 April 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  41. ^ "no. 43108". The London Gazette. 17 September 1963. p. 7677. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  42. ^ "no. 43731". The London Gazette. 6 August 1965. p. 7448. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  43. ^ "Templer Committee: report on rationalisation of air power". National Archives. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  44. ^ "no. 44219". The London Gazette. 3 January 1967. p. 88. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  45. ^ "Templer Medal". Society for Army Historical Research. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
John Utterson-Kelso
GOC 47th (London) Infantry Division
April – September 1942
Succeeded by
Alfred Robinson
Preceded by
James Steele
GOC II Corps
Succeeded by
Herbert Lumsden
Preceded by
Gerard Bucknall
GOC XI Corps
April – July 1943
Post disbanded
Preceded by
Walter Clutterbuck
GOC 1st Infantry Division
July – October 1943
Succeeded by
Ronald Penney
Preceded by
Douglas Graham
GOC 56th (London) Infantry Division
Succeeded by
John Whitfield
Preceded by
Vyvyan Evelegh
GOC 6th Armoured Division
July – August 1944
Succeeded by
Horatius Murray
Preceded by
Freddie de Guingand
Director of Military Intelligence
Succeeded by
Douglas Packard
Preceded by
Sir Frank Simpson
Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Nevil Brownjohn
Preceded by
Sir Evelyn Barker
GOC-in-C Eastern Command
Succeeded by
Sir George Erskine
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Henry Gurney
British High Commissioner in Malaya
Succeeded by
Sir Donald MacGillivray
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir John Harding
Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Festing
Preceded by
Sir Richard Howard-Vyse
Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards
Consolidated to form Blues and Royals
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl Alexander of Tunis
Constable of the Tower of London
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Hull
Preceded by
The Earl Alexander of Tunis
Lord Lieutenant of Greater London
Succeeded by
The Lord Elworthy