Military Wiki
The Lord Walker of Aldringham
Walker at the 2005 Sovereign's Day Parade at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst
Born 7 July 1944(1944-07-07) (age 78)
Place of birth Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1966–2006
Rank General/Field marshal
Commands held Royal Anglian Regiment
20th Armoured Brigade
2nd Infantry Division
Eastern District
Allied Rapid Reaction Corps
Land Command
Chief of the General Staff
Chief of the Defence Staff
Battles/wars Gulf War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Commander of the Legion of Merit (United States)

General Michael John Dawson Walker, Baron Walker of Aldringham, GCB, CMG, CBE, DL (born 7 July 1944[1]) is a retired British Army officer. Commissioned in 1966, he served in Cyprus, Northern Ireland, and in a variety of staff posts in the United Kingdom until 1984. After being given command of a battalion, he was mentioned in despatches for his service during a second tour of duty in Northern Ireland, this time in Derry, and subsequently served a tour on Gibraltar. He was promoted to brigadier, unusually having never held the rank of colonel, and took command of 20th Armoured Brigade in Germany before becoming I Corps chief of staff.

As a major general, Walker was appointed General Officer Commanding, Eastern District, before becoming Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff at the Ministry of Defence. He took command of NATO's Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), which deployed to the Balkans in 1995, Walker becoming the first officer to command the land component of the NATO-led Implementation Force. For his service with the multi-national forces in the Balkans, he was awarded the American Legion of Merit. After relinquishing command of the ARRC, Walker spent three years as Commander in Chief, Land Command, before being appointed Chief of the General Staff—the professional head of the British Army—in 2000. In 2003, he was promoted to Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS)—the professional head of all the British Armed Forces. While CDS, Walker attracted controversy during the modernisation of the armed forces, over allegations of prisoner abuse during the Iraq War, and over comments that the media coverage of Iraq may have endangered British troops.

Walker retired in 2006 and was subsequently appointed Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, a post he held until 2011. He is married and has three children.

Early and personal life

Born in Salisbury in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia (modern-day Zimbabwe) to William Hampden Dawson Walker and Dorothy Helena Walker (née Shiach), Walker was educated both in Southern Rhodesia and in Yorkshire, first at Milton School, Bulawayo and then at Woodhouse Grove School, West Yorkshire.[2] He spent 18 months teaching in a Preparatory School before joining the British Army. Walker married Victoria ("Tor", née Holme), in 1973 and the couple have three children—two sons and one daughter. He lists his interests as sailing, shooting, tennis, skiing and golf.[1]

Early military career

After attending the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, Walker was commissioned into the Royal Anglian Regiment as a second lieutenant on 29 July 1966.[3] He served as a platoon commander with the 1st Battalion and was promoted to lieutenant on 29 January 1968.[1][4] In 1969 he was posted to Cyprus for a two-year tour, and served in Northern Ireland during The Troubles,[1] before attending the Staff College, Camberley.[2] He was promoted to captain on 29 July 1972.[5][6]

After serving in a staff position at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Walker was promoted to major at the end of 1976,[7] and rejoined 1st Battalion, to become a company commander, based in Tidworth, Wiltshire. In 1979, he took up another staff post at the MoD, after which he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1982. Until 1985, he served as Military Assistant (MA) to the Chief of the General Staff.[1] He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year Honours List in December 1984.[8]

In command of the 1st Battalion from 1985 to 1987,[2] Walker served another tour in Northern Ireland, this time in Derry, and later a tour on Gibraltar.[1] He was mentioned in despatches in 1987 "in recognition of gallant and distinguished service" in Northern Ireland.[9] Unusually, Walker was promoted directly to brigadier at the end of 1987, without having held the rank of colonel.[10] He took command of 20th Armoured Brigade, based in Germany, from 1987 to 1989, before holding the post of Chief of Staff, I Corps between 1989 and 1991.[2]

High command

Walker attained general officer status with promotion to acting major general in 1991[11] and took command of North East District and 2nd Infantry Division.[12] Having served in the Gulf War, he was promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) later in 1991.[13] He was granted the substantive rank of major general on 2 December 1991, with seniority from 14 February 1991,[14] going on to serve as General Officer Commanding of the Eastern District and then as Assistant Chief of the General Staff from 11 December 1992 to 3 October 1994.[15][16]

On 8 December 1994, Walker was appointed commander of NATO's Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), which had its headquarters in Rheindahlen, Germany, and promoted to acting lieutenant general.[17] He was granted the substantive rank of lieutenant general on 15 March 1995,[18] and knighted in the 1995 Queen's Birthday Honours when he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.[19] Under Walker's command, the ARRC deployed to the Balkans in December 1995. There, he became the first commander of the land component of the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR), until his return to the UK in November 1996.[1]

His IFOR command in Bosnia was indirectly criticised by Richard Holbrooke for his refusal to use his authority to also perform nonmilitary implementation tasks, including arresting indicted war criminals:

Based on Shalikashvili's statement at White House meetings, Christopher and I had assumed that the IFOR commander would use his authority to do substantially more than he was obligated to do. The meeting with [Admiral Leighton] Smith shattered that hope. Smith and his British deputy, General Michael Walker, made clear that they intended to take a minimalist approach to all aspects of implementation other than force protection. Smith signalled this in his first extensive public statement to the Bosnian people, during a live call-in program on Pale Television – an odd choice for his first local media appearance.[20]

He was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George at the end of 1996.[21]

Succeeded as COMARRC by Sir Mike Jackson,[22] Walker was promoted to acting general and appointed Commander in Chief, Land Command on 27 January 1997.[22] He was granted the substantive rank of general on 2 April 1997.[23] In recognition of his service with IFOR between 1995 and 1996, Walker was awarded the American Legion of Merit (Degree of Commander), and granted unrestricted permission to wear the decoration, in May 1997.[24] In September 1997, he was appointed Aide-de-Camp General to Queen Elizabeth II, succeeding General Sir Michael Rose,[25] until he in turn was succeeded by General Sir Richard Dannatt.[26] He was promoted to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the New Year Honours List at the end of 1999.[27]

The flag of the Chief of the General Staff.

Having served just over three years as Commander-in-Chief, Walker was appointed Chief of the General Staff (CGS)—the professional head of the British Army—on 17 April 2000, taking over from General Sir Roger Wheeler.[1][28] He remained CGS for three years, after which he was promoted to Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS)—the professional head of all the British Armed Forces—on 2 May 2003, succeeding Royal Navy Admiral Sir Michael Boyce (later Lord Boyce).[1][29] As CDS, Walker criticised some of the media coverage of British deployments in Iraq. In particular, he claimed that attacks on the Black Watch were "enhanced" due to news reports on their location. He went on to say that "[as a result of the media coverage], there could well have been a response by those who wished us ill to go and meet us with something like a bomb".[30] His comments were rejected by a spokesman for the National Union of Journalists, who retaliated "When generals turn around and start blaming reporters for their own mistakes, it is a sign they aren't doing their own jobs properly".[31] Also in 2004, Walker, along with General Sir Mike Jackson, then Chief of the General Staff, attracted controversy over reforms of the armed forces, which included the amalgamation of several army regiments to form larger regiments, leading to the loss of historic names.[32]

In an interview with the BBC in October 2005, Walker suggested that the army's recruitment had been adversely affected by the Iraq War. He also commented on the war in Afghanistan, on which he said "There's a lot of work to be done, of which the military is only a very small part. Ten years, 15 years, long-term. This is not going to be solved in a short term".[33] In the same month, he gave an interview for The Sunday Times, in which he said that soldiers' morale had been damaged by the unpopularity of the war among the British public.[34] Later in 2005, Walker was instrumental in drawing up new procedures for the treatment of British service personnel accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners, following claims that the army had abandoned those soldiers charged in connection with the prisoner abuses.[35] In February 2006, Walker headed up a military delegation to Bulgaria to discuss military cooperation between the British and Bulgarian governments.[36]

Walker gave evidence to the Iraq Inquiry on 1 February 2010, in which he spoke about funding for the invasion of Iraq and subsequent planning.[37]

Honorary roles

Walker has held a variety of honorary and ceremonial roles in different regiments. He was granted the honorary titles of Colonel Commandant and Deputy Colonel of Queen's Division (of which the Royal Anglian Regiment is part) in April 1992[38] and Honorary Colonel, 3rd Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding) (Yorkshire Volunteers), in October 1993,[39] which he relinquished on 30 June 1999.[40] In 1994, he succeeded General Sir John Learmont as Colonel Commandant of the Army Air Corps and held the title until April 2004, when he was relieved by then Lieutenant General Richard Dannatt (later General Lord Dannatt).[41][42] In 1997, he was appointed honorary Colonel, The Royal Anglian Regiment, in succession to Major General Patrick Stone, and was himself succeeded as Deputy Colonel by Brigadier John Sutherell.[43] Sutherell, then a major general, went on to succeed Walker as Honorary Colonel in February 2000.[44]


Walker relinquished his appointment as Chief of the Defence Staff in April 2006 and retired from the Army, succeeded as CDS by Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup, Royal Air Force.[12] In September 2006, Walker was appointed Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, holding the post until February 2011 when he resigned suddenly.[45] On 24 November 2006, it was announced that he would receive a life peerage, and, on 19 December, he was created Baron Walker of Aldringham, of Aldringham in the county of Suffolk.[12] He was given the ceremonial appointment of Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London in 2007.[2]

In June 2014 he was made an honorary Field marshal.


Arms of M
Coronet of a Baron
Upon a Helm with a Wreath Or and Gules issuing from a Mural Crown Or a Cocker Spaniel's Head Azure in the mouth three Pheasant Feathers Or
Per pale Azure and Gules an Orle fracted and there conjoined to two Chevronels couped between four Acorns slipped Or
On either side a Helmeted Guinea Fowl Azure beaked casqued and semy of Roundels Or the neck and wattles Gules
The Arms are a variation on the chevronel and fracted orle theme. They are combined with the acorn, the grantee being Governor of the Royal Chelsea Hospital which was founded by Charles II and therefore associated with the acorn taken from Charles II's oak tree. The guinea fowl reflects the grantee's childhood and association with Zimbabwe, formerly Southern Rhodesia. His interest in shooting features in the Crest with a cocker spaniel's head and the pheasant feathers. The mural crown is appropriate for a General in the Army. The grantee's family have hitherto used an arm in armour grasping a rose. Two such arms have been conjoined in the Badge to suggest the initial "W" for Walker.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 "A lifetime of service". BBC News. 24 July 2002. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Walker of Aldringham", Who's Who 2011, A & C Black, 2011; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2010. Retrieved 5 May 2011. (subscription required)
  3. "No. 44126". 29 September 1966. 
  4. "No. 44513". 26 January 1968. 
  5. "No. 45738". 31 July 1972. 
  6. "No. 49055". 19 July 1982. 
  7. "No. 47117". 10 January 1977. 
  8. "No. 49969". 31 December 1984. 
  9. "No. 50891". 13 April 1987. 
  10. "No. 51194". 11 January 1988. 
  11. "No. 52697". 28 October 1991. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "Biography at". Retrieved 2006-11-24. 
  13. "No. 52588". 28 June 1991. 
  14. "No. 52798". 20 January 1992. 
  15. "No. 53135". 14 December 1992. 
  16. "No. 53807". 3 October 1994. 
  17. "No. 53874". 12 December 1994. 
  18. "No. 53986". 20 March 1995. 
  19. "No. 54066". 16 June 1995. 
  20. Richard Holbrooke, To End a War, p.327-329
  21. "No. 54625". 30 December 1996. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 "No. 54662". 27 January 1997. 
  23. "No. 54726". 7 April 1997. 
  24. "No. 54763". 13 May 1997. 
  25. "No. 54881". 1 September 1997. 
  26. "No. 58008". 13 June 2006. 
  27. "No. 55710". 31 December 1999. 
  28. "No. 55823". 18 April 2000. 
  29. "No. 56992". 8 July 2003. 
  30. "Media blamed for Iraq attacks". BBC News. 10 December 2004. Retrieved 9 September 2007. 
  31. "Journalists reject Iraq criticism". BBC News. 10 December 2004. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  32. "Forces chief backs defence cuts". BBC News. 22 July 2004. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  33. "General rules out Iraq exit date". BBC News. 20 October 2005. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  34. "Army chief says guilt factor is hitting morale". The Times. 2 October 2005. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  35. Townsend, Mark (6 November 2005). "Army: 'we let down Iraq troops'". The Observer. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  36. "UK Defense Chief Greeted in Bulgaria". 27 February 2006. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 
  37. "Ministers told of Iraq kit risk — armed forces chief". BBC News. 1 February 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2010. 
  38. "No. 52885". 6 April 1992. 
  39. "No. 53460". 18 October 1993. 
  40. "No. 55576". 10 August 1999. 
  41. "No. 53678". 23 May 1994. 
  42. "No. 57252". 6 April 2004. 
  43. "No. 54668". 3 February 1997. 
  44. "No. 55770". 22 February 2000. 
  45. Eden, Richard (20 February 2011). "General Lord Walker resigns after pensioners mutiny at the Royal Hospital Chelsea". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 March 2011. 


  • Holbrooke, Richard (1999). To End a War. Modern Library Inc. ISBN 978-0375753602. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Michael Rose
General Officer Commanding the 2nd Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Division Disbanded
(Post next held by Patrick Cordingley)
Preceded by
Roger Wheeler
Assistant Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Timothy Granville-Chapman
Preceded by
Sir Jeremy Mackenzie
Commander Allied Rapid Reaction Corps
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Jackson
Preceded by
Sir Roger Wheeler
Commander-in-Chief, Land Command
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Jackson
Preceded by
Sir Roger Wheeler
Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Jackson
Preceded by
Sir Michael Boyce
Chief of the Defence Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Jock Stirrup
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Jeremy Mackenzie
Governor, Royal Hospital Chelsea
Succeeded by
Sir Redmond Watt

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