Montague Woodhouse, 5th Baron Terrington

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Christopher Montague Woodhouse, 5th Baron Terrington, DSO, OBE (11 May 1917 – 13 February 2001) was a Conservative politician and Member of Parliament for Oxford from 1959 to 1966 and again from 1970 to 1974. He was also a visiting Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford from 1956 to 1964. Terrington was an expert on Greek affairs after he first got involved with the resistance forces in Greece against the Germans during World War II, and then having served in the British Embassy.


Early life and military service[edit]

Montague Woodhouse was the son of Horace, 3rd Lord Terrington and Valerie Phillips, and was educated at Winchester College[1] and then at New College, Oxford, where he took a double first in Classics. After completing his education, he enlisted in the Royal Artillery in 1939 and served for the duration of World War II, being commissioned as an officer in 1940 and rising to the rank of colonel by 1943. He was awarded a DSO and appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1944. He served most of his time in the War in Greece where his love for this country grew strong, as shown in his writings. In 1941 he was one of the SOE officers sent to Crete to organize the resistance forces behind enemy lines.

In September 1942 he was parachuted to mainland Greece as the Second-in-Command of the Harling Force, headed by Eddie Myers, whose task was to blow up the Gorgopotamos bridge. Following the success of this operation Myers and Woodhouse were ordered by SOE Cairo to stay on in mainland Greece and form the British Military Mission. Initially their presence had only been intended for Operation Harling. Woodhouse, being one of only a few British officers on the mission who could speak Greek, was often sent off alone to make contact with political elements in Athens. Due to his imposing appearance of being tall with burning ginger beard this was no mean feat, but he succeeded in numerous trips into the Athenian suburbs, often still wearing British Army uniform. After Myers' dismissal in July 1943, at the request of the Foreign Office, Woodhouse became the head of the British Military Mission.

Government service[edit]

After the conclusion of World War II, Woodhouse served as Second Secretary at the British Embassy in Athens, Greece until 1946, whereupon he returned to Britain, and served in a variety of industrial and academic appointments. In 1951, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

From 1951 to 1952, he worked at the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran, and in 1952 and 1953 was involved in organising British aspects of the US/UK organised 1953 Iranian coup d'état.[2][3] From July 1955 to October 1959 was the Director General at the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

Operation Boot[edit]

In 1941, the Soviets and the British jointly invaded Iran to secure the oilfields and supply lines and deny support for the Germans. By the 1950s, Britain was concerned by possible chaos in Iran and an invasion by the USSR. From 1951 Woodhouse was a MI6 agent in Tehran, operating under cover of a Foreign Office appointment. In 1952, he was ordered to arm tribesmen in northern Iran to resist any Soviet attack.[4] He brought weapons into Iran, flying them from RAF Habbaniya in Iraq, for a "resistance" movement that did not exist as yet.

Later in 1953 a covert mission to remove Mohammed Mossadegh from power was instigated by Britain's Churchill administration and the Eisenhower's U.S. administration. Mossadegh had become Iran's democratically elected leader and he had nationalised Britain's oil possessions after Britain had refused to negotiate its single most valuable foreign asset.[5] Robin Zaehner had developed contacts in Iran and when the British were expelled, Woodhouse took his contacts to the CIA station chief. Thus a conspiracy to overthrow Mossadegh was staged in a joint mission between the CIA and MI6. The CIA named the operation Operation TPAjax, erroneously referred to as Operation Ajax, TP standing for the Soviet-backed communist Tudeh Party of Iran. British activities were codenamed Operation Boot.

Woodhouse proposed Operation Boot to the Eisenhower administration. It would use "disenchanted" Iranian elements of the army, the clergy and the political parties to oust Mossadegh. Together with the CIA he instigated and orchestrated the "bazaaris" of Tehran to demonstrate against Mossadegh, demonstrations which led to the deaths of hundreds or possibly thousands of Iranian people.[6] Woodhouse, through the Shah's sister, encouraged the ruler not to abandon the throne.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Woodhouse entered Parliament in 1959 and later served in the Conservative governments of Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home as Parliamentary Secretary for Aviation from 1961 to 1962 and then Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department from 1962 to 1964.

He was defeated by Evan Luard in the 1966 Labour landslide and then worked at the Confederation of British Industry until 1970, when he was once again returned to Parliament for Oxford. He retained his seat in the February 1974 general election, but lost it (again to Evan Luard) in October.

Personal life[edit]

In 1945, Montague Woodhouse married Lady Davidema Katharine Cynthia Mary Millicent Bulwer-Lytton, the widow of John Crichton, 5th Earl Erne. She died in 1995. They had three children: Christopher Richard James, now the 6th Lord Terrington, Nicholas Michael John, and Emma Davinia Mary.[7]


Terrington was the author of several books, including:

  • Apple of Discord, A survey of recent Greek politics in their international setting - 1948
  • Modern Greece: A Short History - 1968
  • The Philhellenes - 1971
  • Capodistria: The Founder of Greek Independence by C. M. Woodhouse London O.U.P. 1973
  • The Struggle for Greece - 1976
  • Karamanlis: The Restorer of Greek Democracy (biography) - 1982
  • Something Ventured (autobiography) - 1982
  • The Rise and Fall of the Greek Colonels - 1985
  • George Gemistos Plethon - The Last of the Hellenes - 1986
  • "Rhigas Velestinlis :The proto-Martyr of the Greek Revoloution" by C. M. Woodhouse 1995, ISBN 960-7120-09-4

Shortly before his death, Woodhouse, who succeeded to the family title in 1998, completed the translation into English of the 10-volume "History Of The European Spirit", by his friend, the former Prime Minister of Greece, Panayiotis Kanellopoulos.[8]


  1. ^ Clogg, Richard (20 February 2001). "Monty Woodhouse (obituary)". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  2. ^ Robert Fisk (8 February 2009). "Iran: A nation still haunted by its bloody past". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  3. ^ Stephen Kinzer (2008). All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-18549-0. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  4. ^ "With Sten guns and sovereigns Britain and US saved Iran's throne for the Shah"
  5. ^ Mary Ann Heiss in Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran, p.178–200
  6. ^ Robert Fisk (30 November 2011). "Sanctions are only a small part of the history that makes Iranians hate the UK". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Clogg, Richard (20 February 2001). "Obituary: Monty Woodhouse". The Guardian. London.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lawrence Turner
Member of Parliament for Oxford
Succeeded by
Evan Luard
Preceded by
Evan Luard
Member of Parliament for Oxford
Succeeded by
Evan Luard
Political offices
Preceded by
Geoffrey Rippon
Parliamentary Secretary for Aviation
Succeeded by
Basil de Ferranti
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
David Woodhouse
Baron Terrington
Succeeded by
Christopher Woodhouse