Noel Mason-MacFarlane

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Sir Noel Mason-Macfarlane
Lieutenant General Sir Noel Mason-Macfarlane
Born (1889-10-23)23 October 1889
Cookham, Berkshire
Died 12 August 1953(1953-08-12) (aged 63)
Twyford, Berkshire
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1909–1945
Rank Lieutenant General
Unit Royal Artillery
Commands held 44th Division
Governor of Gibraltar
Allied Control Commission for Italy
Battles/wars First World War
Third Anglo-Afghan War
Second World War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath[1]
Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross & Two Bars
Mentioned in Despatches

Lieutenant General Sir Frank Noel Mason-MacFarlane KCBDSOMC & Two Bars (23 October 1889 – 12 August 1953) was a British Army officer, administrator and politician who served as Governor of Gibraltar during the Second World War.

Military career[edit]

Mason-MacFarlane joined the Royal Artillery in 1909 and served in the First World War on the Western Front and in Mesopotamia. He was awarded the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order.[2] He served as Britain's military attaché to Berlin prior to the Second World War (and proposed the assassination of Hitler, an offer turned down by his superiors)[3] as well as to Hungary, Austria, Switzerland and Denmark. He was Director of Military Intelligence with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in 1939–1940 and during the retreat to Dunkirk was operational commander of "Mac Force," an improvised formation covering the British right flank.[4] From July 1940 to March 1941 Mason-Macfarlane was Second in Command of Gibraltar City and Garrison. This position allowed him to head the Joint Intelligence Centre. He was the head of a joint group of Army, Navy and RAF personnel whose role it would be to support General Franco if Spain were to be invaded by Germany. They were to assist the Spanish defence and, if the Spanish did not resist, then they were to create maximum damage.[5]

He was next Head of the British Military Mission in Moscow, from 1941 until 1942.[6] He then became General Officer Commanding 44th Division.[6]

He was Governor of Gibraltar from 31 May 1942 to 14 February 1944, and witnessed the air crash there on 4 July 1943 which took the life of his friend the Polish Prime Minister Władysław Sikorski. He later served as Chief Commissioner of the Allied Control Commission for Italy in 1944, effectively head of the interim post-war government.[6]

At the 1945 general election, Mason-Macfarlane was elected as a Labour Member of Parliament for Paddington North, defeating Churchill's close ally Brendan Bracken. He left parliament for ill-health reasons on 22 October 1946 by accepting the Chancellor of the Exchequer's appointment as Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.[7] This is a procedural device to effect resignation from the House of Commons, since members of the British House of Commons are not permitted to simply resign their seat, but are disbarred by holding an office of profit under the Crown.

It was reported in Time magazine on 24 August 1953 that "one of Britain's ablest soldier-administrators" had died of arthritis and complications from a broken leg.[4]

Mason-Macfarlane's papers and correspondence are archived in the Imperial War Museum's Department of Documents.

Second Bar to Military Cross[edit]

While attached to Headquarters, 41st Divisional Artillery, he was awarded a second bar to his Military Cross. The citation reads as follows:[8]

While he was engaged on a reconnaissance another officer who was with him was severely wounded by a sniper. He removed him to a place of safety and also brought in a stretcher-bearer who was wounded by the same sniper. He then completed his reconnaissance and returned with valuable and accurate information.


  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36121. p. 3529. 3 August 1943. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
  2. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29438. p. 579. 14 January 1916. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
  3. ^ Moorhouse, Roger (2007). Killing Hitler: The Plots, the Assassins, and the Dictator Who Cheated Death. Random House. pp. 190–92. ISBN 978-0-553-38255-6. 
  4. ^ a b TIME 24 Aug. 1953
  5. ^ Crone, Jim. "Joint Intelligence Centre (use index)". Discover Gibraltar. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 37768. p. 5262. 25 October 1946. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31043. p. 14215. 2 December 1918. Retrieved 2011-02-24.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
The Viscount Gort
Governor of Gibraltar
Succeeded by
Sir Ralph Eastwood
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Brendan Bracken
Member of Parliament for Paddington North
Succeeded by
William Field