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Major General John David Carew Graham, CB, CBE, CStJ (18 January 1923 – 14 December 2012) was a British Army officer who was instrumental in the installation of Qaboos bin Said as Sultan of Oman in the 1970 Omani coup d'état.[1]

John Graham
Born18 January 1923
Died14 December 2012
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Commands held1st Battalion Parachute Regiment
Battles/warsSecond World War
AwardsCompanion of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire


Early careerEdit

Born on 18 January 1923, the eldest of three sons of Colonel J A Graham and Constance Mary Carew-Hunt, John Graham was educated at Cheltenham College 1936–1940 and, during the Second World War, he served with the Isle of Wight Home Guard, before enlisting as a private into the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in August 1941. On 21 August 1942, he was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion of that regiment.[2] Graham served with the battalion, which formed part of the 227th Infantry Brigade of the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division, in North West Europe, where he was wounded during Operation Plunder and mentioned in despatches. Following the war, he served in Palestine during the Palestine Emergency with the 1st Battalion.[1]

In late 1948 he was sent to London to learn Czech prior to working in the British Embassy in Prague 1949–1950. There he clandestinely assessed the Czech Armed Forces activities, including the building of airfields, barracks and the adaptation of the Czech-gauge railway lines to take Russian rolling stock, all at a time of great tension, when a Soviet attack on war-exhausted western Europe was thought by many to be inevitable and imminent.[1][3]

Later he worked in the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in London. He transferred to The Parachute Regiment where was appointed Second-in-Command of the 2nd Battalion and later Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion (1964–1967).[1]


Promoted to Brigadier, he attended an army languages course to learn Arabic before he assumed command of the Sultan's Armed Forces (SAF), in Oman, in 1970.[1]

Sultan Said bin Taimur, the Omani absolute ruler, had outlawed almost all aspects of twentieth-century development and relied on British support to maintain the rudimentary functions of the state. In 1962 a dissatisfied tribal leader, Mussalim bin Nafl, formed the Dhofar Liberation Front (DLF) and obtained arms and vehicles from Saudi Arabia, and the country had been in a state of rebellion ever since. Other insurgents in the north of Oman formed another organisation, the National Democratic Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arabian Gulf and the Arabian Gulf (NDFLOAG). In June 1970 they attacked two SAF posts at Nizwa and Izki. They were repulsed but the incident convinced many (including the Sultan's British advisers and backers) that intervention was required.[4]

On 23 July 1970, Said bin Taimur was deposed. The coup d'état succeeded because the Omani army's chief intelligence officer in the Dhofar, Brigadier John Graham, and Colonel Hugh Oldman, military (later defence) secretary and supreme commander of the army in Muscat, insisted that Saeed surrender.[5] When Qaboos confronted his father, accompanied by Graham, shots were fired.[6] The Sultan was flown out of Oman by the RAF to Bahrain.[7]

On the morning after the Coup, it was Graham who took the minutes of the meeting of Sultan Qaboos' advisory cabinet.[8] For his service, Graham received the Order of Oman in 1972.[1]

Later careerEdit

He became Assistant Chief of Staff, Joint Exercises, Allied Forces Central Europe in 1974 and, following promotion to major-general, he was appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC) Wales in 1976 before retiring in 1978.[9]

In retirementEdit

After retiring from the army, he became Secretary to the Administrative Trustees of the Chevening Estate; Chairman of the St John Council for Kent of the St John's Ambulance; Honorary Colonel of the Kent Army Cadet Force and of the 203 (Welsh) General Hospital RAMC, as well as assisting the Staff of The Parachute Regiment at the Regimental HQ, Aldershot, before his retirement to Barbados in 1991.[1]

In 1991, he retired to Barbados, West Indies.[1] In 1992 he was made a freeman of the City of London.[1] He died in Barbados on 14 December 2012.[10]


He married Rosemary Elaine Adamson and had two children, Jacqueline ('Pinky'), b September 1957, and Christopher, b July 1959.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Graham, John. "John Graham Collection" (PDF). St Antony's College, Oxford. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  2. ^ "No. 35698". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 September 1942. p. 3957.
  3. ^ Salmon, Seabury. "Tale of the Cold War spy". Shrewsbury Chronicle. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  4. ^ "The Insurgency In Oman, 1962-1976". Global Security. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  5. ^ Kechichian, Joseph A. "Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed: A democrat visionary". Gulf News. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  6. ^ Mockaitis, Thomas R. British Counterinsurgency in the Post-Imperial Era. p. 75.
  7. ^ "British Military Aviation in 1970". RAF Museum. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  8. ^ McKeown, John. "Britain and Oman: the Dhofar War and its significance" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 December 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Army Commands" (PDF). Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  10. ^ "Obituary: Major General John David Carew Graham, soldier, linguist, author and diplomat". The Scotsman. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2012.[permanent dead link]

External linksEdit