Richard Lawson (British Army officer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Richard Lawson
Born (1927-11-24) 24 November 1927 (age 91)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service1948–1986
UnitRoyal Tank Regiment
Commands held20th Armoured Brigade
1st Armoured Division
GOC Northern Ireland
C-in-C Allied Forces Northern Europe
Aden Emergency
Northern Ireland
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Knight Commander of the Order of St. Sylvester
Officer of the Order of the Crown of Belgium

General Sir Richard George Lawson KCB, DSO, OBE, KCSS (born 24 November 1927) is a former British Army officer, who served as General Officer Commanding in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, and later as Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces Northern Europe.

Early career[edit]

He was commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment as a second lieutenant on 15 July 1948, after leaving the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst,[1] and promoted lieutenant on 15 July 1950.[2]

Congo and Yemen[edit]

Lawson was promoted to major on 16 July 1961.[3] In December 1961, he volunteered for service with the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Republic of the Congo. At the time he was attached to the Nigerian Army, on secondment from the 1st Royal Tank Regiment. He served in South Kasai and then Katanga, where he became briefly famous for his part in the rescue of several groups of missionaries, and was nicknamed "Dick the Lionheart" by the Daily Express.[4]

In 1963 he published a book recounting his time in the Congo, entitled Strange Soldiering: Major Lawson's own dramatic story of his experiences with the third Nigerian brigade.[5][6] For his actions he was appointed a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) on 30 March 1962, and the Nigerian officer, Major Conrad Nwawo, 1st Battalion, The Queen's Own Nigeria Regiment, who accompanied Lawson was awarded the Military Cross,[7] Lawson was also appointed an Officer of the Order of the Crown of Belgium,[8] and a Knight Commander of the Papal Order of St. Sylvester.[9][10]

From March to November 1967 Lawson undertook another secondment in a British colony on the verge of independence, the Federation of South Arabia (now part of Yemen), acting as GSO1 to the British forces stationed there, training local officers in staff duties, and overseeing the transition to local forces controlling security in Aden; for this he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) on 8 June 1968, in the Queen's Birthday Honours.[11][12] During this period he was promoted lieutenant-colonel on 30 June 1967.[13] He was promoted colonel on 6 July 1971[14] and brigadier on 31 December 1971.[15]

Promotion to general officer[edit]

From 1972 to 1973 he commanded 20th Armoured Brigade.[16] On 7 November 1977 he took command of 1st Armoured Division with the acting rank of major-general,[17] and received substantive promotion on 30 June 1978 (with seniority from 1 April 1976).[18] On 3 November 1979, he ceased to command 1st Division.[19]

He succeeded Timothy Creasey as GOC Northern Ireland on 1 December 1979, and was promoted to lieutenant-general after his appointment.[20][21] He was himself succeeded by Robert Richardson on 1 June 1982.[22][23] In the 1980 New Year Honours he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB),[24] and on 1 January 1980 he was appointed Colonel Commandant of the Royal Tank Regiment, a post he held until 1 June 1982.[25][26]

He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces Northern Europe, a NATO post, on 15 November 1982,[27] replacing Anthony Farrar-Hockley, and was promoted to general on his appointment.[28] He was succeeded by Geoffrey Howlett on 10 February 1986.[27][29] He retired from the army on 28 May 1986.[30]


  1. ^ "No. 38383". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 August 1948. p. 4622.
  2. ^ "No. 38967". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 July 1950. p. 3611.
  3. ^ "No. 42410". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 July 1961. p. 5165.
  4. ^ "Dick the Lionheart", Time Magazine, 16 February 1962; retrieved 8 September 2008.
  5. ^ Review on Retrieved 8 September 2008.
  6. ^ Strange Soldiering: Major Lawson's own dramatic story of his experiences with the third Nigerian brigade. London: Hodder & Stoughton. 1963. OCLC 185879600.
  7. ^ "No. 42635". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 March 1962. p. 2593.
  8. ^ "No. 42821". The London Gazette. 30 October 1962. p. 8463.
  9. ^ "No. 43320". The London Gazette. 12 May 1964. p. 4113.
  10. ^ Association of Papal Orders in Great Britain Archived 6 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "No. 44600". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 May 1968. p. 6304.
  12. ^ Recommendations for Honours and Awards (Army)—Image details—Documents Online, The National Archives (fee may be required to view full pdf of original recommendation). Retrieved 7 September 2008.
  13. ^ "No. 44357". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 June 1967. p. 7383.
  14. ^ "No. 45417". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 July 1971. p. 7203.
  15. ^ "No. 45564". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 January 1972. p. 87.
  16. ^ 20th Armoured Brigade - Brigade Commander
  17. ^ "No. 47390". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 November 1977. p. 14929.
  18. ^ "No. 47588". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 July 1978. p. 8324.
  19. ^ "No. 48015". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 November 1979. p. 14929.
  20. ^ Bew, Paul; Gordon Gillespie (1993). Northern Ireland: A Chronology of the Troubles, 1968-1993. Gill & Macmillan. p. 136. ISBN 0-7171-2081-3.
  21. ^ A Chronology of the Conflict - 1979, CAIN website. Note that the London Gazette announced the handover effective 8 January 1980: "No. 48100". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 February 1980. p. 2625.
  22. ^ Chronology of the Conflict 1982, CAIN
  23. ^ "No. 49002". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 June 1982. p. 7562.
  24. ^ "No. 48041". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 1979. p. 2.
  25. ^ "No. 48080". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 January 1980. p. 1441.
  26. ^ "No. 49028". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 June 1982. p. 8222.
  27. ^ a b North Atlantic Treaty Organization. "Senior officials in the NATO military structure, from 1949 to 2001" (PDF).
  28. ^ "No. 49180". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 November 1982. p. 15621.
  29. ^ "No. 50440". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 February 1986. p. 2711.
  30. ^ "No. 50535". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 June 1986. p. 7419.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
David Alexander-Sinclair
General Officer Commanding the 1st Armoured Division
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Howlett
Preceded by
Timothy Creasey
General Officer Commanding the British Army in Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Robert Richardson
Preceded by
Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley
Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces Northern Europe
Succeeded by
Sir Geoffrey Howlett