Vernon Erskine-Crum

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Vernon Erskine-Crum
Born (1918-12-11)11 December 1918
Calcutta, British India
Died 17 March 1971(1971-03-17) (aged 52)
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1940–1971
Rank Lieutenant-General
Unit Scots Guards
Commands held 4th Guards Brigade Group (1963-1967)
4th Division (1967-1969)
GOC Northern Ireland (1969–1971)
Awards Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE)
Military Cross (MC)

Lieutenant-General Vernon Forbes Erskine-Crum, CIE, MC (11 December 1918 – 17 March 1971) was a British Army officer, who briefly served as General Officer Commanding in Northern Ireland during the early period of the Troubles.

Regimental career[edit]

He was born in Calcutta, the younger son of Sir William Erskine Crum, and educated at Eton and New College, Oxford. In 1940 he was commissioned into the Scots Guards, and served with the regiment for the remainder of the war. He won a Military Cross (MC) during the North-West European campaign in 1944.[1]

Indian service[edit]

After training at the Staff College in 1945, he was promoted to temporary Lieutenant-Colonel and posted to the staff in South-East Asia, arriving just after the Japanese surrender. He served as the Conference Secretary to Lord Mountbatten, a position he held for just over a year before returning to regimental duty in England, commanding a company of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards.

After six weeks, he was recalled by Mountbatten, who had been appointed Viceroy of India, and again served as his Conference Secretary until he left India in 1948.[1] For his services, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire on 30 December 1947.[2]

Senior Command[edit]

On returning from India, he was appointed as the regimental adjutant of the Scots Guards, and then a succession of other administrative posts; adjutant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Brigade Major of the Household Brigade, Commandant of the Guards Depot, and Assistant Adjutant General of the London District.[1]

On 9 February 1962, he was promoted Colonel,[3] and from 1962 to 1963 was Secretary of the Joint Planning Staff.[1] In 1963 he was appointed to command 4th Guards Brigade Group,[1] promoted to Brigadier on 9 February 1966,[4] and appointed to command 4th Division in 1967.[1]

He was appointed Co-ordinator of the Imperial Defence College on 15 October 1969,[5] and Chief Army Instructor there on 1 February 1970.[6] Following this position, he was appointed GOC and Director of Operations in Northern Ireland on 4 February 1971, to replace Lieutenant-General Ian Freeland,[7] but he suffered a heart attack on the 16th and was relieved by Lieutenant-General Harry Tuzo on 2 March.[8][9]


He died a month after his heart attack, in hospital, on 17 March 1971, aged 52.[9][10] His brief spell in Northern Ireland witnessed the escalation of tensions, as well as the first death of a British soldier, Gunner Robert Curtis, on 6 February.[10]


He married Rosemary Douglas, the daughter of Brigadier Sir Douglas Dawson and Lady Aimée Dawson (GBE) in 1948. They had one son, Brigadier Douglas Erskine Crum.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Obituary, p. 22. The Times, 19 March 1971.
  2. ^ "No. 38161". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1947. p. 8. 
  3. ^ "No. 42847". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 November 1962. p. 9457. 
  4. ^ "No. 43922". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 March 1966. p. 2841. 
  5. ^ "No. 44960". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 October 1969. p. 8. 
  6. ^ "No. 45031". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 January 1970. p. 1355. 
  7. ^ "No. 45299". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 February 1971. p. 1214. 
  8. ^ "No. 45322". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 March 1971. p. 2269. 
  9. ^ a b Bew, Paul; Gordon Gillespie (1993). Northern Ireland: A Chronology of the Troubles, 1968-1993. Gill & Macmillan. p. 32. ISBN 0-7171-2081-3. 
  10. ^ a b Chronology of the Conflict 1971, CAIN
Military offices
Preceded by
Michael Forrester
General Officer Commanding the 4th Division
Succeeded by
David Fraser
Preceded by
Ian Freeland
General Officer Commanding the British Army in Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Harry Tuzo