Peter de la Billière
|Sir Peter de la Billière|
|Born||29 April 1934|
|Years of service||1952–1992|
|Commands held||Commander British Forces Middle East
General Officer Commanding South East District
General Officer Commanding Wales
22 SAS Regiment
|Awards||Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross & Bar
Mentioned in Despatches
Legion of Merit (United States)
General Sir Peter Edgar de la Cour de la Billière, KCB, KBE, DSO, MC & Bar (born 29 April 1934) is a former British Army officer who was Director SAS during the Iranian Embassy siege and Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in the Gulf War. He is often known by the acronym DLB.
de la Billiere was born the son of Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Denis de la Billiere and his wife Kitty Lawley. On 22 May 1941, his father was killed when his ship, HMS Fiji, was sunk by German bombers in an attack southwest of Crete.
de la Billiere was educated at Wellesley House School, in the coastal town of Broadstairs in Kent, and Harrow School at Harrow-on-the-Hill in North West London. A “Peter de la Billière” is mentioned as pupil evacuee of St. Peter’s, Broadstairs, Kent sent to Crediton, Devon in Our Land at War by Duff Hart-Davis. William Collins 2015 ISBN 978-0-00-751653-7 The book (p48) states “during the night of 23 January 1945 the building caught fire, and pupils and staff alike, trapped on balconies, were forced to abseil down makeshift ropes …"
He originally enlisted as a private in the King's Shropshire Light Infantry in 1952. He was later commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Durham Light Infantry. During his early career as an officer he served in Japan, Korea and Egypt.
Special Air Service
In 1956, he attended and passed Selection for the Special Air Service. During his first SAS tour, he served in Malaya during the Malayan Emergency and Oman, where he was mentioned in despatches and won the Military Cross in 1959. After his initial tour with 22 SAS, he returned to the Durham Light Infantry to run recruit training, before taking up the post of Adjutant of 21 SAS – the London based Territorial Army (reserve) SAS regiment. In 1962, he was attached to the Federal Army in Aden. In 1964, he failed Staff College but was appointed Officer Commanding A Squadron 22 SAS. From 1964 to 1966, A Squadron was deployed to Borneo for the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation. For his actions during this period he was awarded a bar to the Military Cross.
After this tour, he re-attended Staff College, and, this time, passed. After Staff College he was posted as G2 (intelligence) Special Forces at Strategic Command. He then served a tour as second-in-command of 22 SAS, of which he was Commanding Officer from 1972 to 1974. For service in Oman, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1976.
He then served in a number of administrative posts before returning to the regiment as Director SAS in 1979. It was during this period that the SAS shot to public fame as a consequence of their storming of the Iranian Embassy in 1980. He was also responsible during the Falklands War for planning Operation Mikado. In 1982, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
After the SAS he was appointed Military Commissioner and Commander of British Forces in the Falkland Islands from 1984 and General Officer Commanding Wales District from 1985. He was succeeded by Brigadier Morgan Llewellyn on 1 December 1987. He was General Officer Commanding South East District from 1988.
In 1987 he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB). In 1991, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE).
Despite being due for retirement he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in the 1990 Gulf War – in effect the Second-in-command of the multinational military coalition headed by US General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. His past experience of fighting in the area, knowledge of the people and possession of some fluency in Arabic overrode concerns about his age. In this role, he was largely responsible for persuading Schwarzkopf (who was initially sceptical) to allow the use of SAS and other special forces in significant roles in that conflict.
By the end of his career he had risen to the rank of lieutenant general. In order to allow him to receive the pension benefits of full general he was given the newly created sinecurist (honorarium) post of Middle East Advisor to the Secretary of State for Defence. He retired in 1992.
In August 1991, he received Canada's Meritorious Service Cross. In 1993, he received Saudi Arabia's Order of King Abdul Aziz, 2nd Class and was made a Commander of the United States' Legion of Merit.
He has written or co-authored 18 books, including an autobiography, a personal account of the Gulf War and a number of works about the SAS.
He is currently a patron of the UK based international development charity, FARM-Africa having served on the board since 1992 and as chairman from 1998 to 2001.
Honours and awards
|Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB)||1987|
|Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE)||1991|
|Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)||1982|
|Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO)||1976|
|Military Cross and Bar (MC & Bar)||1959
|Meritorious Service Cross (MSC)||(Canada)|
|Grand Officer of the Order of Abdulaziz al Saud||(Saudi Arabia)|
|Commander of the Legion of Merit||(United States)|
- Although the name is often seen without the accent, it is spelt with the accent in Who's Who and in de la Billière's own books.
- "General Sir Peter de la Billière". Retrieved 4 May 2007.
- Wellesley House: Alumni
- The London Gazette: . 28 April 1959. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 21 August 1959. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 24 May 1966. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 26 January 1976. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
- Army Commands
- "SAS 'suicide mission' to wipe out Exocets". The Telegraph. 8 March 2002. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 1982. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 30 November 1987. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
- The London Gazette: . 30 December 1987. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 28 June 1991. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
- Governor General's Office, Canada
- The London Gazette: . 7 June 1993. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
- "Amazon.co.uk: Peter De La Billière: Books". Retrieved 4 May 2007.
Sir Michael Gray
|GOC South East District
Sir Richard Swinburn
|Commander British Forces Middle East
In-theatre commander for Operation Granby
October 1990 – March 1991