Military Wiki
The Lord Bramall
Lord Bramall in the robes of a Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter, June 2006
Born 18 December 1923(1923-12-18) (age 99)
Place of birth Tonbridge, Kent, England
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1942–1985
Rank Field Marshal
Commands held Chief of the Defence Staff
Chief of the General Staff
Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces
Commander British Forces in Hong Kong
1st Division
5th (Airportable) Infantry Brigade
2nd Battalion Royal Green Jackets
Battles/wars World War II
Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation
Falklands War
Awards Knight of the Order of the Garter
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches

Field Marshal Edwin Noel Westby Bramall, Baron Bramall, KG GCB OBE MC JP DL (born 18 December 1923) is a retired senior British Army officer. He served as Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, between 1979 and 1982, and as Chief of the Defence Staff, professional head of the British Armed Forces, from 1982 to 1985. He developed the concept of the "Fifth Pillar" pulling together the activities of defence attachés to form a structure for intervention in smaller countries.

Early life and family

Bramall was born on 18 December 1923 in Tonbridge, Kent, England. He was born the son of Edmund Haselden Bramall and Katherine Bridget Bramall (née Westby)[1] and was educated at Eton College.[2] In 1949 he married Dorothy Avril Wentworth Vernon; they had one son and one daughter.[1] His older brother Ashley Bramall was a barrister, Labour politician and Leader of the Inner London Education Authority.[3]

Military career

Bramall was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the King's Royal Rifle Corps on 22 May 1943 during the Second World War.[4] He took part in the Normandy landings in June 1944[2] and served with the 2nd Battalion of his regiment in Northwest Europe during the later stages of the war, receiving the Military Cross on 1 March 1945.[5] Bramall was promoted to lieutenant on 18 June 1946[6] and served in the occupation of Japan from 1946, before becoming an instructor at the School of Infantry in 1949.[1] Promoted to captain on 18 December 1950,[7] he was stationed in the Middle East from 1953[8] and was then promoted to major on 18 December 1957.[9] Continuing his military career, he served two years as an instructor at the Staff College, Camberley from 1958, and then was appointed to serve on Lord Mountbatten's staff in 1963.[8]

The Normandy landings, in which Bramall took part, during the Second World War.

Appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year Honours 1965,[10] and promoted to lieutenant colonel on 25 January 1965,[11] he was appointed Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps: the Battalion was deployed to Borneo during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation in the first half of 1966 where his actions earned him a mention in despatches.[12] He was given command of the 5th (Airportable) Infantry Brigade in November 1967[8] with promotion to brigadier on 31 December 1967.[13]

He was made General Officer Commanding the 1st Division on 6 January 1972,[14] with the substantive rank of major-general from 6 April 1972,[15] Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong with the rank of lieutenant-general on 1 December 1973[16] and appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the New Year Honours 1974.[17] He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, UK Land Forces on 15 May 1976[18] and was promoted to full general on 25 June 1976.[19] He was appointed Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff (Personnel and Logistics) on 20 March 1978,[20] advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the New Year Honours 1979,[21] before being made ADC General to the Queen on 26 June 1979[22] and appointed Chief of the General Staff on 14 July 1979.[23] In this role he strongly supported the plan in May 1982 to land troops at San Carlos Water and then advance rapidly from those positions at the early stages of the Falklands War.[24]

He was promoted to field marshal on 1 August 1982,[25] and appointed Chief of the Defence Staff on 1 October that year.[26] In this capacity he developed the concept of the "Fifth Pillar" pulling together the activities of defence attachés to form a structure for intervention in smaller countries.[24] He retired in November 1985.[24] He was also Colonel of the 3rd Battalion the Royal Green Jackets from December 1973, Colonel of the 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) from 14 September 1976[27] and Colonel Commandant of the Special Air Service Regiment from 19 May 1985.[28]

Later career

After his retirement Bramall served as Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London from 1986 to 1998.[1] He was invested as a Knight of the Garter in 1990.[29] He was a former President of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC)[30] and is now an Honorary Life Vice President of the MCC.[31] His other interests include painting and travel and he is a Vice-President of the welfare organisation SSAFA Forces Help.[1]

Bramall was created a life peer as Baron Bramall of Bushfield in the County of Hampshire in 1987.[1] Bramall spoke out in the House of Lords against the involvement of the United Kingdom in the Second Iraq War warning that "unlike naked aggression, terrorism cannot be defeated by massive military means" but by "competent protection and positive diplomacy".[32]

On 25 April 2013 Bramall retired from service in the House of Lords. He retains his title.[33]

Awards and decorations


Arms of E
Coat of Arms of Edwin, Baron Bramall.svg
Baron Bramall since 1987
A coronet of a Baron
Statant lion barry Or and Azure supporting an UK Field Marshal’s Baton erect proper.
Mantling Or and Sable.
Per fess embattled Sable and Or between three Stafford knotts a lion rampant all counterchanged.
Dexter: A Malayan Tiger holding in the dexter paw a Kukri, all proper.

Sinister: a Chinese Dragon proper, holding in the sinister claw a Maltese Cross Sable.

The Order of the Garter circlet.
The collar as Grand Cross Knight of the Order of the Bath.
The badge as Officer of the Order of the British Empire.[37]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4081-1414-8
  2. 2.0 2.1 Heathcote, Anthony pg 53
  3. "Field Marshal The Lord Bramall of Bushfield". Royal Green Jackets Association. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  4. "No. 36074". 29 June 1943. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "No. 36961". 27 February 1945. 
  6. "No. 37698". 20 August 1946. 
  7. "No. 39093". 19 December 1950. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Heathcote, Anthony pg 54
  9. "No. 41254". 13 December 1957. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "No. 43529". 29 December 1964. 
  11. "No. 43682". 11 June 1965. 
  12. "No. 44196". 9 December 1966. 
  13. "No. 44493". 29 December 1967. 
  14. "No. 45569". 10 January 1972. 
  15. "No. 45641". 10 April 1972. 
  16. "No. 46143". 3 December 1973. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "No. 46162". 28 December 1973. 
  18. "No. 46901". 17 May 1976. 
  19. "No. 46947". 28 June 1976. 
  20. "No. 47493". 20 March 1978. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 "No. 47723". 29 December 1978. 
  22. "No. 47911". 23 July 1979. 
  23. "No. 47916". 30 July 1979. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Heathcote, Anthony pg 55
  25. "No. 49069". 2 August 1982. 
  26. "No. 49142". 18 October 1982. 
  27. "No. 47012". 13 September 1976. 
  28. "No. 50128". 20 May 1985. 
  29. 29.0 29.1 "No. 52120". 24 April 1990. 
  30. "British media wants Pak team to be sent home". cricketnext. 31 August 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  31. "Official House of Lords Biography". House of Lords. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  32. "House of Lords Debates". 26 May 2004. Retrieved 26 May 2007. 
  33. "Retirement of a Member: Lord Bramall" United Kingdom: House of Lords col. 1519 
  34. "Field Marshal Edwin Noel Westby Bramall, Baron Bramall". Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  35. Raji, Mohd Arshad. "Pingat Jasa Malaysia medal presentation". Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  36. The Companion Magazine. College of St George. No. 15 (Summer-Autumn 2012), p. 5.
  37. Chesshyre, Hubert (1996). "The Friends of St. George's & Descendants of the Knights of the Garter Annual Review 1995/96". p. 289. 

Further reading

  • Heathcote, Tony (1999). The British Field Marshals 1736–1997. Barnsley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 0-85052-696-5. 
  • Tillotson, Michael (2006). The Fifth Pillar: the life and philosophy of the Lord Bramall K.G.. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-4239-8. 

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Jack Harman
General Officer Commanding the 1st Division
Succeeded by
David Alexander-Sinclair
Preceded by
Sir Richard Ward
Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Sir John Archer
Preceded by
Sir Roland Gibbs
Commander-in-Chief, UK Land Forces
Succeeded by
Sir John Archer
Preceded by
Sir Anthony Morton
Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Patrick Howard-Dobson
Preceded by
Sir Roland Gibbs
Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir John Stanier
Preceded by
Sir Terence Lewin
Chief of the Defence Staff
Succeeded by
Sir John Fieldhouse
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Baroness Phillips
Lord Lieutenant of Greater London
Succeeded by
Peter Imbert

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