Thomas Haddon

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Brigadier Thomas ('Tommy') Haddon CBE (1913–1993) was a British career soldier who, following the Second World War, raised the Singapore Military Forces and served as Chief of Staff of Hong Kong Land Forces.


The son of Major J. T. Haddon of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), Thomas Haddon was born 19 February 1913. He was educated at Hamilton Academy, described by the Cambridge University Press as "one of the finest schools in Scotland",[1] from which he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, being commissioned into the Border Regiment in 1933. With the 2nd battalion of that Regiment, he served in India, seeing active service on the North-West Frontier in 1937.

Second World War service[edit]

In 1939 he transferred to the 1st battalion with which, as a Major commanding B Company, he served in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. Subsequently, as Adjutant with the 1st Border battalion, Haddon was involved in the rearguard action towards Dunkirk in May 1940, from where they were eventually evacuated. Later that year Haddon left the 1st Border battalion for Staff College, later being appointed Assistant Secretary to the Joint Intelligence Sub-Committee of the War Cabinet. Haddon was duty officer on the night of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. fleet on 7 December; it was he who passed the news on to Downing Street, leading Prime Minister Winston Churchill to immediately contact U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

On 27 January 1943, Haddon, now as Second-in-Command, returned to the now glider-borne 1st Border battalion. Seeing action in Sicily and North Africa, Haddon was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in command of the 1st battalion of the Border Regiment forming part of the British 1st Airborne Division that, in "Operation Market Garden" attempted to take and hold the Arnhem Bridge, the last bridge across the Rhine, the taking of which would have allowed the Allies to enter Germany before the winter of 1944 / 1945. However, Haddon was destined to play little part in the Battle of Arnhem. On Sunday 17 September 1944, the first day of "Operation Market Garden", Haddon's glider took off on the first lift from Broadwell airfield, but had to make a forced landing while still over Oxfordshire. On the second glider lift, the next day, 18 September, Haddon's glider had a wing shot off near Antwerp and was forced to make a crash landing, 75 miles from Arnhem and behind enemy lines, so while the 1st Border battalion was fighting for the bridgehead at Arnhem, its Commanding Officer was proceeding overland, having met up with a battalion of the Dorset Regiment.

British paratroopers at Oosterbeek

Haddon eventually managed to reach the Oosterbeek area alone late on the following Sunday, 24 September, but was taken prisoner by the Germans the next morning while attempting to find his unit. Haddon was to spend the remainder of the war as a prisoner at Oflag XIIB camp, near Hadamar.[2]

Repatriated, Haddon returned to a staff post with the Chief of Staff Committee, in July 1945 attending the Potsdam Conference and in 1948 returning, as Second-in-Command, to the 1st Border battalion then stationed in Palestine; later in East Africa. Transferred back to the War Office in 1951, in December 1955, and for the second time as its Commanding Officer, Haddon returned again to the 1st Border battalion, stationed at Göttingen and Berlin as part of the British Army of the Rhine.

Singapore and Hong Kong[edit]

Promoted to Brigadier in 1958, Haddon raised the Singapore Military Forces (which became in 1961, the Singapore Armed Forces) and was subsequently appointed Chief of Staff, Hong Kong Land Forces.[3]

Haddon was awarded an OBE in 1951, a CBE in 1961, and appointed an aide-de-camp to Queen Elizabeth II, holding that post from 1962 until his retirement in 1968. He maintained association with the Border Regiment as President of the Border Regiment Association in 1966, and Vice-President Border Affairs in the King's Own Royal Border Regimental Association in 1975.

Brigadier Haddon died aged 80 during Easter weekend, 1993.[4]


  1. ^ [1] County Biographies - Lanarkshire, page 162 - Hamilton Academy. Cambridge University Press 1910, retrieved 2010-10-17
  2. ^ [2] BBC - WW2 People's War – Operation Market Garden - 1st battalion, Border Regiment -retrieved 2010-10-17
  3. ^ [3] Government of Hong Kong, legislative council archives - retrieved 2010-10-17
  4. ^ [4] Pegasus archive – biography, Thomas Haddon – retrieved 2010-10-17