Military Wiki
Field Marshal The Lord Bramall
Lord Bramall in the robes of a Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter
Born (1923-12-18)18 December 1923
Died 12 November 2019(2019-11-12) (aged 95)
Place of birth Tonbridge, Kent
Allegiance United KingdomUnited Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1942–1985
Rank Field Marshal
Commands held 2nd Royal Green Jackets
5th (Airportable) Infantry Brigade
1st Division
Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong
UK Land Forces
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

Field Marshal Edwin Noel Westby Bramall, Baron Bramall KG GCB OBE MC JP DL (18 December 1923-November 2019) was a British Army officer who 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.

Military career

Born the son of Edmund Haselden Bramall and Katherine Bridget Bramall (née Westby),[1] and educated at Eton College,[2] Bramall was commissioned into the King's Royal Rifle Corps on 22 May 1943.[3] He took part in the Normandy landings in 1944[2] and served with his regiment in Northwest Europe during the later stages of World War II, receiving the Military Cross on 1 March 1945.[4] He was promoted to lieutenant on 18 June 1946[5] 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,[6] he was stationed in the Middle East from 1953[7] and was then promoted to major on 18 December 1957.[8] 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.[7]

Appointed OBE in the New Year Honours 1965,[9] and promoted to lieutenant colonel on 25 January 1965,[10] he was appointed Commanding Officer of 2nd Royal Green Jackets which was deployed to Borneo in Spring 1966 during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation where his actions earned him a mention in despatches.[11] He was given command of 5th (Airportable) Infantry Brigade in November 1967[7] with promotion to brigadier on 31 December 1967.[12]

He was made General Officer Commanding the 1st Division on 6 January 1972,[13] with the substantive rank of major-general from 6 April 1972,[14] Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong with the rank of lieutenant-general on 1 December 1973[15] and appointed KCB in the New Year Honours 1974.[16] He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, UK Land Forces on 15 May 1976[17] and was promoted to full general on 25 June 1976.[18] He was appointed Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff (Personnel and Logistics) on 20 March 1978,[19] advanced to GCB in the New Year Honours 1979,[20] before being made ADC General to the Queen on 26 June 1979[21] and appointed Chief of the General Staff on 14 July 1979.[22] 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.[23]

He was promoted to field marshal on 1 August 1982[24] and appointed Chief of the Defence Staff on 1 October 1982.[25] 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.[23] He retired in November 1985.[23]

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[26] and Colonel Commandant of the Special Air Service Regiment from 19 May 1985.[27]

Later career

After his retirement Bramall served as Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London from 1986 to 1998.[1] He was created Baron Bramall, of Bushfield in the County of Hampshire, in 1987,[1] then further invested as a Knight of the Garter in 1990.[28] He was a former President of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC)[29] and is now an Honorary Life Vice President of the MCC.[30] His other interests include painting and travel and he is a Vice-President of the welfare organisation SSAFA Forces Help.[1]

Life peer

As a life peer, he 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'.[31]

On 27 August 2006, the Mail on Sunday reported that Bramall hit Lord Janner, 78, a veteran campaigner for Holocaust victims and a senior member of Britain's Jewish community, after making what witnesses claim were a series of 'anti-Israel' comments during an argument over the Lebanon conflict. The newspaper reported that the incident took place in one of the rooms close to the debating chamber and the peers who witnessed the incident were extremely shocked by Bramall's behavior. The newspaper reported that Bramall later apologised by phone to Lord Janner who accepted his apology. No action was taken by the Lords authorities and Lord Janner has made no complaint.[32]

Following the leak of a purported list of members of the far-right British National Party in October 2009 there was a short-lived claim that Lord Bramall was a member of the party, due to the appearance of a "Lord Bramhall" on the list. There is no such peer in the House of Lords and Lord Bramall swiftly denied being a member, while his naming as such was rapidly acknowledged to be a case of mistaken identity.[33]

On 25 April 2013 he retired from service in the House of Lords, although he retains his title.[34]


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.[35]


Arms of E
Edwin Bramall Arms.svg
The arms of Edwin Bramall, Baron Bramall consist of:[36]
Per fess embattled Sable and Or between three Stafford knotts a lion rampant all counterchanged.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4081-1414-8
  2. 2.0 2.1 Heathcote, Anthony pg 53
  3. "No. 36074". 29 June 1943. 
  4. "No. 36961". 27 February 1945. 
  5. "No. 37698". 20 August 1946. 
  6. "No. 39093". 19 December 1950. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Heathcote, Anthony pg 54
  8. "No. 41254". 13 December 1957. 
  9. "No. 43529". 29 December 1964. 
  10. "No. 43682". 11 June 1965. 
  11. "No. 44196". 9 December 1966. 
  12. "No. 44493". 29 December 1967. 
  13. "No. 45569". 10 January 1972. 
  14. "No. 45641". 10 April 1972. 
  15. "No. 46143". 3 December 1973. 
  16. "No. 46162". 28 December 1973. 
  17. "No. 46901". 17 May 1976. 
  18. "No. 46947". 28 June 1976. 
  19. "No. 47493". 20 March 1978. 
  20. "No. 47723". 29 December 1978. 
  21. "No. 47911". 23 July 1979. 
  22. "No. 47916". 30 July 1979. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Heathcote, Anthony pg 55
  24. "No. 49069". 2 August 1982. 
  25. "No. 49142". 18 October 1982. 
  26. "No. 47012". 13 September 1976. 
  27. "No. 50128". 20 May 1985. 
  28. "No. 52120". 24 April 1990. 
  29. "British media wants Pak team to be sent home". cricketnext. 31 August 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  30. "Official House of Lords Biography". House of Lords. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  31. "House of Lords Debates". 2004-05-26. Retrieved 2007-05-26. 
  32. "War hero, 82, hits fellow peer in Lords". Mail on Sunday. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  33. Weaver, Matthew (20 October 2009). "BNP controversy – live". The Guardian. "I'm completely apolitical and I've had no involvement with the BNP. ... I'm the last person who would have anything to do with them. I fought fascism in the second world war. People do have views of every sort in a democracy, but many of the BNP's views are very unattractive." 
    "Guardian confuse former Chief of Defence Staff with BNP amateur genealogist". Political Scrapbook. 20 October 2009. 
  34. "25 April 2013" United Kingdom: House of Lords col. 1519 
  35. "Field Marshal The Lord Bramall of Bushfield". Royal Green Jackets Association. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  36. Chesshyre, Hubert (1996). "The Friends of St. George's & Descendants of the Knights of the Garter Annual Review 1995/96". pp. 289. 

Further reading

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