Military Wiki
Sir Roland Gibbs
File:Roland Gibbs.jpg
Field Marshal Sir Roland Gibbs
Born (1921-06-22)22 June 1921
Died 31 October 2004(2004-10-31) (aged 83)
Place of birth Flax Bourton, Somerset
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1940–1979
Rank Field Marshal
Commands held 3rd Bn Parachute Regiment
16 Parachute Brigade
1st (British) Corps
UK Land Forces
Battles/wars World War II
Aden Emergency
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Knight of the Venerable Order of Saint John

Field Marshal Sir Roland Christopher Gibbs GCB, CBE, DSO, MC, KStJ, DL (22 June 1921 – 31 October 2004) was Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, from 1976 to 1979, and Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire from 1989 to 1996. He served in World War II and acted as chief of staff to the commander of the operation to evacuate all British troops and civilians from Aden during the Aden Emergency.

Army career

Born the son of Major Guy Melvil Gibbs and Margaret Gibbs (née St John)[1] and educated at Eton College and the Royal Military College Sandhurst,[2] Gibbs was commissioned into the Kings Royal Rifle Corps on 31 December 1939 during the early stages of World War II.[3] Deployed to North Africa in 1941,[4] he was promoted to lieutenant on 1 July 1941[5] and awarded the MC on 15 October 1942.[6] He took command of 'C Company' in March 1943 and remained in that role for the rest of the War taking part in the Allied invasion of Italy, the Normandy landings and fighting in North West Europe[4] before being awarded the DSO on 2 August 1945.[7]

He was promoted to captain on 1 July 1946[8] and deployed to Palestine before becoming an instructor at Sandhurst in December 1948.[2] Promoted to major on 31 December 1952,[9] he was posted as Brigade Major of 5th Infantry Brigade at Iserlohn in Germany[2] and in 1957 he became a staff officer in Whitehall dealing with inter-service planning.[4] In 1960 he was appointed Commanding Officer of 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment[10] and in 1963, as a temporary brigadier, went on to command 16 Parachute Brigade[10] which deployed that year to Cyprus in a peace keeping role.[4] Promoted to colonel on 4 July 1964,[11] he was posted to Aden in 1966 as chief of staff to Admiral Sir Michael Le Fanu who was commander of the operation to evacuate all British troops and civilians during the Aden Emergency.[4] He was promoted to the substantive rank of brigadier on 6 December 1966[12] and appointed CBE in the New Year Honours 1968.[13]

He was appointed Commander of British Land Forces in the Persian Gulf on 30 April 1969[14] in which role he re-organised the Trucial Oman Scouts and laid the foundations for what is now the Sultan of Oman's Land Forces.[4] Appointed KCB in the New Year Honours 1972,[15] he became Commander of 1st (British) Corps with the rank of lieutenant general on 14 January 1972[16] and Commander-in-Chief, UK Land Forces with the rank of full general on 1 April 1974.[17] Advanced to GCB in the Queen's Birthday Honours 1976[18] and having become ADC General to the Queen on 25 June 1976,[19] he became Chief of the General Staff on 15 July 1976.[20] In this capacity he had to deal with the challenges of recruitment and retention in the Army at a time of high inflation.[10] He was promoted to field marshal on 13 July 1979 on his retirement from the British Army.[10]

He was also colonel commandant of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Green Jackets from 1971[21] and Colonel commandant of the Parachute Regiment from 1972.[4]

Gibbs retired to a former rectory in Wiltshire, where his pastimes were shooting, hunting with the Beaufort, and painting.[4] He was the Constable of the Tower of London from 1985 to 1990 and served as Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire from 1989 to 1996.[4]

His interests included shooting and hunting: he used to follow the Beaufort Hunt until a medical operation on his knee halted further participation.[4] He was also a keen amateur artist.[4] He died on 31 October 2004.[4]


In 1955, Gibbs married Davina Merry, the artist; they had two sons, and a daughter.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Debrett's People of Today 1994
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Heathcote, Anthony pg 144
  3. "No. 34766". 2 January 1940. 
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 "Obituary: Field Marshal Sir Roland Gibbs". The Telegraph. 2 November 2004. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  5. "No. 35207". 1 July 1941. 
  6. "No. 35745". 13 October 1942. 
  7. "No. 37204". 31 July 1945. 
  8. "No. 37635". 28 June 1946. 
  9. "No. 39744". 2 January 1953. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Heathcote, Anthony pg 145
  11. "No. 43509". 4 December 1964. 
  12. "No. 44238". 27 January 1967. 
  13. "No. 44484". 29 December 1967. 
  14. "No. 44845". 9 May 1969. 
  15. "No. 45554". 31 December 1971. 
  16. "No. 45575". 18 January 1972. 
  17. "No. 46252". 1 April 1974. 
  18. "No. 46919". 4 June 1976. 
  19. "No. 46947". 28 June 1976. 
  20. "No. 46965". 19 July 1976. 
  21. "No. 45271". 1 January 1971. 

Further reading

  • Heathcote, Tony (1999). The British Field Marshals 1736–1997. Barnsley (UK): Pen & Sword. ISBN 0-85052-696-5. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir John Sharp
GOC 1st (British) Corps
Succeeded by
Sir Jack Harman
Preceded by
Sir Basil Eugster
Commander in Chief, UK Land Forces
Succeeded by
Sir Edwin Bramall
Preceded by
Sir Peter Hunt
Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Edwin Bramall
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Hugh Brassey
Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire
Succeeded by
Sir Maurice Johnston
Preceded by
Sir Peter Hunt
Constable of the Tower of London
Succeeded by
Sir John Stanier

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