David Dawnay

Major-General Sir David Dawnay KCVO CB DSO (10 July 1903 – 9 October 1971) was a British Army officer who became Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was also a British polo player who competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics.

Sir David Dawnay
Born(1903-07-10)10 July 1903
Died9 October 1971(1971-10-09) (aged 68)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service1924–1954
Commands held2nd Reconnaissance Regiment
North Irish Horse
21st Army Tank Brigade
26th Armoured Brigade
86th Area
2nd Armoured Brigade
8th Armoured Brigade
RMA Sandhurst
56th (London) Armoured Division
Battles/warsSecond World War
AwardsKnight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order & Bar
Olympic medal record
Men's polo
Silver medal – second place 1936 Berlin Team competition

Military careerEdit

Born the son of Major the Hon. Hugh Dawnay, son of the 8th Viscount Downe and Lady Susan de la Poer Beresford, daughter of the 5th Marquess of Waterford and educated at Eton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst,[1] Dawnay was commissioned into the Rifle Brigade in 1924 and then transferred to the 10th Royal Hussars later that year.[2] He was part of the British polo team which won the silver medal in the 1936 Summer Olympics: he played both matches in the tournament, the first against Mexico and the final against Argentina.[3]

Dawnay served in the Second World War as Commanding Officer of the 2nd Reconnaissance Regiment and then as Commanding Officer of the North Irish Horse in 1941.[2] After serving as Second in Command of 23rd Armoured Brigade and then of 26th Armoured Brigade in 1943, he became Commander of 21st Army Tank Brigade in 1944 and then Commander of 26th Armoured Brigade in 1945.[2]

After the War he became Commander of 86th Area based at Venice in Italy and then Commander of 2nd Armoured Brigade.[2] He was made Deputy Commander of North Midland District in 1948, Commander of 8th Armoured Brigade in November 1948 and Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in January 1951.[2] His last appointment was as 56th (London) Armoured Division in March 1954 before retiring in April 1957.[4]

In retirement he was Secretary to the Ascot Authority and Clerk of the Course at Ascot.[5]


In 1926 Dawnay married his cousin Lady Katharine Nora de la Poer Beresford, daughter of Henry de la Poer Beresford, 6th Marquess of Waterford and Lady Beatrix Frances Petty-FitzMaurice; they had two daughters and two sons.[1] His son Major Hugh Dawnay was a well known polo player and respected coach whose son, Sebastian Dawnay, is also a professional polo player. Hugh's twin, Peter, married Caroline, daughter of Group Captain Nicolas Tindal-Carill-Worsley.[1][6]


  1. ^ a b c Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Dawnay, David". Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives. Archived from the original on 2 October 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  3. ^ David Dawnay: polo profile Archived 8 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Army Commands" (PDF). Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  5. ^ Holmes a Court Archived 16 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ 'Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage', 2015 Edition: Viscount Downe
Military offices
Preceded by
Hugh Stockwell
Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Succeeded by
Reginald Hobbs
Preceded by
Richard Goodbody
GOC 56th (London) Armoured Division
Succeeded by
Robert Bray