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David Fraser (British Army officer)

General Sir David William Fraser, GCB, OBE (30 December 1920 – 15 July 2012) was a senior British Army officer who served as Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies from 1978 until his retirement from military service in 1980. He was also a prolific author, publishing over 20 books mostly focused on the history of the Second World War.

Sir David William Fraser
Born(1920-12-30)30 December 1920
Died15 July 2012(2012-07-15) (aged 91)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1940–1980
Commands heldRoyal College of Defence Studies (1978–80)
4th Division (1969–71)
Battles/warsSecond World War
Malayan Emergency
Suez Crisis
Cyprus Emergency
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Anne Balfour-Fraser
(m. 1947; div. 1952)
RelationsBrigadier William Fraser (father)

Early lifeEdit

Fraser was born on 30 December 1920. He was the son of Brigadier William Fraser, the younger son of the 19th Lord Saltoun, and Pamela Maude, widow of Billy Congreve a Victoria Cross recipient and daughter of actors Cyril Maude and Winifred Emery.[1] He was educated at Eton College.[2] He left school to join the British Army but was refused. Instead, in January 1940, he matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford.[1]

Military careerEdit

While studying at the University of Oxford, Fraser joined the Home Defence Force.[1] In October 1940, he was training at the Guards' Depot in Caterham, Surrey.[3] He was streamlined during training[4] before taking an intensive four-month course at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.[1] He was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards as a second lieutenant on 4 April 1941. He was given the service number 184424.[5] His first posting was as a troop commander in the 2nd Battalion, 5th Guards Armoured Brigade, part of the Guards Armoured Division.[1] In the last two years of the Second World War, he was involved in the North West Europe Campaign.[4] He finished the war as a war substantive lieutenant.[6]

On 27 February 1946, Fraser's promotion to lieutenant was confirmed with seniority from 30 June 1943.[6] On 30 December 1947, he was promoted to captain.[7] He served as a company commander in the 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards in the Malayan Emergency of 1948.[1] Having attended Staff College, he was promoted to major on 30 December 1954.[8] He was involved in the Suez Crisis in 1956 and the Cyprus Emergency in 1958.[2] He was made a brevet lieutenant colonel on 1 July 1959.[9] On 6 June 1960, he was promoted to that rank.[10]

Appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1962,[11] Fraser was posted to the Ministry of Defence as Director of Defence Policy (Army) from December 1966 until 1969.[12] He was appointed General Officer Commanding 4th Division in 1969, and Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Policy) in 1971.[2] He was Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff from April 1973, and was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath later that year.[12][13] He went on to be UK Military Representative to NATO in 1975, and Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1978 before retiring in 1980.[2] He had been advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath just prior to his retirement.[14]

Later lifeEdit

Fraser was president of the Society for Army Historical Research from 1980 to 1993.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1947 he married Anne Balfour-Fraser but they divorced in 1952; they had one daughter (Antonia Isabella Fraser).[2] In 1957 he married Julia Frances Oldridge de la Hey;[2] they had two sons (Alexander James Fraser and Simon William Fraser) and two daughters (Lucy Caroline Fraser and Arabella Katherine Fraser).[15]


He was the author of 22 books:[16]

  • Knight's Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
  • Frederick the Great: King of Prussia
  • And We Shall Shock Them: British Army in the Second World War[17]
  • Alanbrooke
  • Blitz
  • The Grenadier Guards (Men at Arms Series, 73) 8 copies
  • Fairest Isle: BBC Radio 3 Book of British Music
  • The Fortunes of War
  • The Jews of the Channel Islands and the Rule of Law, 1940–1945: “Quite Contrary to the Principles of British Justice”, Sussex Academic Press, Eastbourne, 2002
  • The Fragility of Law: Constitutional Patriotism and the Jews of Belgium, 1940–1945, Routledge-Cavendish, 2008
  • The Christian Watt Papers
  • Wales in History: The Defenders, 1066–1485 Bk. 2
  • Codename Mercury (Hardrow Chronicles)
  • Around the House
  • Law After Auschwitz: Towards A Jurisprudence Of The Holocaust
  • Wars and Shadows : Memoirs of General Sir David Fraser
  • A Candle for Judas (Treason in Arms)
  • Dragon's Teeth (Treason in Arms)
  • The Pain of Winning (Hardrow Chronicles)
  • Imperatives for Defence (Policy challenge), 1990
  • Adam Hardrow (Hardrow Chronicles)
  • Adam in the Breach (Hardrow Chronicles)
  • The Killing Times (Treason in Arms)
  • The Seizure (Treason in Arms)
  • Wellington and the Waterloo Campaign (Wellington Lectures), March 1996
  • August 1988
  • To War with Whitaker: Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939–45, (Reed Audio) with Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly, and Imogen Stubbs (Audio Cassette, 1995)
  • Kiss for the Enemy (Thorndike Large Print Popular Series)
  • with Brian Hanington: Operation Medusa: The Furious Battle That Saved Afghanistan from the Taliban. McClelland & Stewart, 2018


  1. ^ a b c d e f "General Sir David Fraser". The Telegraph. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Debrett's People of Today 1994
  3. ^ "Training for the Grenadier Guards". World War II Today. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  4. ^ a b "General Sir David Fraser". The Herald. 28 July 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  5. ^ "No. 35163". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 May 1941. p. 2787.
  6. ^ a b "No. 37481". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 February 1946. p. 1125.
  7. ^ "No. 38158". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 December 1947. p. 6152.
  8. ^ "No. 40364". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 1954. p. 7375.
  9. ^ "No. 41858". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 October 1959. p. 6927.
  10. ^ "No. 42140". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 September 1960. p. 6227.
  11. ^ "No. 42552". The London Gazette. 29 December 1961. p. 6.
  12. ^ a b Mackie, Colin (July 2012). "Senior Army Appointments" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  13. ^ "No. 45984". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 June 1973. p. 6474.
  14. ^ "No. 45984". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 June 1973. p. 6474.
  15. ^ The
  16. ^ Library Thing
  17. ^ From Shakespeare's King John.

    This England never did, nor never shall, Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror, But when it first did help to wound itself. Now these her princes are come home again, Come the three corners of the world in arms, And we shall shock them: nought shall make us rue, If England to itself do rest but true. (5.7.112)

Military offices
Preceded by
Vernon Erskine-Crum
GOC 4th Division
Succeeded by
Anthony Farrar-Hockley
Preceded by
Sir Cecil Blacker
Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir William Scotter
Preceded by
Sir Rae McKaig
UK Military Representative to NATO
Succeeded by
Sir Alasdair Steedman
Preceded by
Sir Ian Easton
Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Freer