Michael Wilkes

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Sir Michael Wilkes
Born (1940-06-11)11 June 1940
Died 27 October 2013(2013-10-27) (aged 73)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1961 - 1995
Rank General
Commands held 22 SAS
22 Armoured Brigade
3rd Armoured Division
Commander UK Field Army
Honourable Artillery Company
Battles/wars Gulf War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire

General Sir Michael Wilkes, KCB CBE (11 June 1940 – 27 October 2013) was a British army officer who became Adjutant-General to the Forces in the United Kingdom.

Early life[edit]

The son of an Artillery officer, Michael John Wilkes was born at Steep, Hampshire, on 11 June 1940 and educated at King's School, Rochester where he played rugby for the 1st XV.[1][2]

Military career[edit]

Wilkes was commissioned in to the Royal Artillery in 1961.[3] In 1977 he took command of 22 SAS Regiment at the age of 36. The regiment had been given a new role in counter-terrorism. The training instituted involved hostage situations, negotiations with those making demands, and assaults when it was judged that talks had broken down. Under Wilkes’s leadership, the regiment became adept at responding rapidly to the different tactics employed by terrorists. He also set up a robust liaison system linking the SAS commander to the police, the security services and the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (Cobra). In an increasingly turbulent world, other countries began to request help from Britain in developing their own specialised units to counter terrorism and to provide VIP protection. Then, in October 1977, a Lufthansa Boeing 737 on its way from Majorca to Frankfurt with some 90 passengers and crew was hijacked by terrorists armed with guns and explosives. The Germans asked the SAS for help and Wilkes dispatched a small team to offer advice to GSG 9, their anti-terrorist squad. The aircraft was stormed successfully at Mogadishu, Somalia, and the hostages freed. The operation gave added impetus to the expansion of training and organisation for anti-terrorist tasks by the regiment. Wilkes moved on in 1979, but the decisive intervention by the SAS in the Iranian Embassy siege in May the following year by Michael Rose (British Army officer) was convincing evidence of the value of his legacy.[4] He served as Commanding Officer of 22 SAS[5]

Wilkes was appointed Commander of 22 Armoured Brigade in 1984[2] and Director SAS in 1986.[6] He was appointed General Officer Commanding 3rd Armoured Division in 1988[2] and Commander UK Field Army and Inspector General of the Territorial Army in 1990,[2] remaining in that post until 1993.[7] During Operation Granby he was the Land Deputy to the Joint Commander Gulf Forces who was based at HQ Strike Command.[2] In 1993 he became Adjutant General:[8] he retired from the British Army in 1995.[9]

Later life[edit]

In 1995 he became Lieutenant Governor of Jersey,[10] a post he held until 2001. In 2008 he became a Director of Heritage Oil[11] and of Stanley Gibbons.[12] He died on 27 October 2013, leaving a wife (Anne) and two sons.[2][13][14]


Wilkes was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1980 New Year Honours,[15] and was promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1988 Queen's Birthday Honours.[16] He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 1991 New Year Honours.[17] In 1995 he was named a Knight of the Venerable Order of Saint John (KStJ).[18]


  1. ^ The Telegraph - Obituary 3 Nov 2013 - General Sir Michael Wilkes
  2. ^ a b c d e f Debrett's People of Today 1994
  3. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 42291. p. 1615. 3 March 1961. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  4. ^ The Telegraph -Obituary - General Sir Michael Wilkes
  5. ^ Pegasus Bridge Fund
  6. ^ "Army Commands" (PDF). 26 July 2016. 
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 53299. p. 8194. 11 May 1993. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 53312. p. 9062. 17 May 1993. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 54153. p. 12372. 12 September 1995. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 54161. p. 12691. 19 September 1995. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  11. ^ Heritage Oil Reuters, 28 March 2008
  12. ^ Stanley Gibbons Group, Reuters.com, 16 January 2008; accessed 18 August 2014.
  13. ^ Obituary, thisisjersey.com; accessed 18 August 2014.
  14. ^ Notice of Wilkes' death, announcements.telegraph.co.uk; accessed 18 August 2014.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 48041. p. 4. 31 December 1979. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 51365. p. 5. 11 June 1988. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 52382. p. 2. 31 December 1990. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 54218. p. 15693. 20 November 1995. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir John Foley
Director SAS
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Rose
Preceded by
Sir Edward Jones
General Officer Commanding the 3rd Armoured Division
Succeeded by
Sir Christopher Wallace
Preceded by
Sir David Ramsbotham
Commander UK Field Army
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Rose
Preceded by
Sir David Ramsbotham
Adjutant General
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Rose
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir John Sutton
Lieutenant Governor of Jersey
1995 – 2001
Succeeded by
Sir John Cheshire