Gerald Templer

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Sir Gerald Templer
Sir gerald templer.gif
General Sir Gerald Templer in Malaya, pictured here in 1953.
Nickname(s) "Tiger of Malaya"
Born(1898-09-11)11 September 1898
Colchester, Essex, England
Died 25 October 1979(1979-10-25) (aged 81)
Chelsea, London, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1916–1958
Rank Field Marshal
Service number 15307
Unit Royal Irish Fusiliers
Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire)
Commands held Chief of the Imperial General Staff (1955–58)
Eastern Command (1950–52)
6th Armoured Division (1944)
56th (London) Infantry Division (1943–44)
1st Infantry Division (1943)
XI Corps (1943)
II Corps (1942–43)
47th (London) Infantry Division (1942)
210th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home) (1940–41)
9th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (1940)
Battles/wars First World War
Arab revolt in Palestine
Second World War
Malayan Emergency
Suez Crisis
Awards Knight of the Order of the Garter
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in Despatches (2)
Commander of the Legion of Merit (United States)
Commander of the Order of Leopold II (Belgium)
Croix de guerre (Belgium)
Grand Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau (Netherlands)
Grand Commander of the Order of the Defender of the Realm (Malaya)

Field Marshal Sir Gerald Walter Robert Templer, KG, GCB, GCMG, KBE, DSO , SMN (11 September 1898 – 25 October 1979) was a senior British Army officer who fought in both the world wars. He is best known for his defeat of the guerrilla rebels in Malaya between 1952 and 1954. As Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), the professional head of the British Army, from 1955–58, he was Prime Minister Anthony Eden's chief military adviser during the Suez Crisis.

Field Marshal has been the highest rank in the British Army since 1736. A five-star rank with NATO code OF-10, it is equivalent to an Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy or a Marshal of the Royal Air Force in the Royal Air Force (RAF). A Field Marshal's insignia consists of two crossed batons surrounded by yellow leaves below St Edward's Crown. Like Marshals of the RAF and Admirals of the Fleet, Field Marshals traditionally remain officers for life, though on half-pay when not in an appointment. The rank has been used sporadically throughout its history and was vacant during parts of the 18th and 19th centuries. After the Second World War, it became standard practice to appoint the Chief of the Imperial General Staff to the rank on his last day in the post. Army officers occupying the post of Chief of the Defence Staff, the professional head of all the British Armed Forces, were usually promoted to the rank upon their appointment.

Order of the Garter Order of chivalry in England

The Order of the Garter is an order of chivalry founded by Edward III in 1348 and regarded as the most prestigious British order of chivalry in England and later the United Kingdom. It is dedicated to the image and arms of Saint George, England's patron saint.

Order of the Bath series of awards of an order of chivalry of the United Kingdom

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath is a British order of chivalry founded by George I on 18 May 1725. The name derives from the elaborate medieval ceremony for appointing a knight, which involved bathing as one of its elements. The knights so created were known as "Knights of the Bath". George I "erected the Knights of the Bath into a regular Military Order". He did not revive the Order of the Bath, since it had never previously existed as an Order, in the sense of a body of knights who were governed by a set of statutes and whose numbers were replenished when vacancies occurred.


Early life and military career

Gerald Walter Robert Templer was born on 11 September 1898 at 15 Wellesley Road, in Colchester, Essex, the son (and only child) of Lieutenant Colonel Walter Francis Templer, of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, and Mabel Eileen Templer (née Johnston). Of Irish descent, Templer attended an infant school at Rosslyn, Scotland, before being sent to Edinburgh Academy in 1904, later attending a preparatory boarding school at Connaught House, Weymouth, from 1909 until 1911. [1] In January 1912 he was sent to Wellington College, Berkshire and stayed there until shortly after his 17th birthday in September 1915, a year into the First World War. [2] His time at Wellington was, due mainly to initially being severely bullied, not the happiest period of his life, as he later wrote "I loathed and detested my four years at Wellington", although he also admitted to making numerous friends there. [3]

Colchester town in Essex, United Kingdom

Colchester is a historic market town and the largest settlement within the borough of Colchester in the county of Essex. Colchester was the first Roman-founded city in Britain, and Colchester lays claim to be regarded as Britain's oldest recorded town. It was for a time the capital of Roman Britain, and is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network.

Essex County of England

Essex is a county in the south-east of England, north-east of London. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the River Thames to the south, and London to the south-west. The county town is Chelmsford, the only city in the county. For government statistical purposes Essex is placed in the East of England region.

Royal Irish Fusiliers Former regiment of the British Army

The Royal Irish Fusiliers was an Irish line infantry regiment of the British Army, formed by the amalgamation of the 87th Regiment of Foot and the 89th Regiment of Foot in 1881. The regiment's first title in 1881 was Princess Victoria's , changed in 1920 to the Royal Irish Fusiliers . Between the time of its formation and Irish independence, it was one of eight Irish regiments.

From Wellington he then entered the Royal Military College, Sandhurst in December 1915 and, after attending a shortened course for the war, was commissioned as a second lieutenant into his father's regiment, the Royal Irish Fusiliers, on 16 August 1916, just under a month before his 18th birthday. [4] [5] In contrast to his time at Wellington, Templer greatly enjoyed Sandhurst, and later wrote with amusement that he "was a completely undistinguished cadet from every point of view and passed out – nobody failed at that stage of the First World War because we were so badly needed as cannon fodder – in July 1916, a couple of months before my eighteenth birthday". [6] Due to his age, however, he was unable to serve overseas and was sent to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion in Buncrana in Inishowen, on the north coast of County Donegal, in Ulster, Ireland. [7]

Royal Military College, Sandhurst British Army military academy

The Royal Military College (RMC), founded in 1801 and established in 1802 at Great Marlow and High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, England, but moved in October 1812 to Sandhurst, Berkshire, was a British Army military academy for training infantry and cavalry officers of the British and Indian Armies.

Officer (armed forces) member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority

An officer is a member of an armed forces or uniformed service who holds a position of authority.

Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces, comparable to NATO OF-1a rank.

Templer remained with the battalion until mid-October 1917 when, now aged 19, he was sent to the 7th/8th (Service) Battalion on the Western Front. [8] The battalion was a Kitchener's Army unit serving as part of the 49th Brigade of the 16th (Irish) Division. However, he was posted to 'C' Company of the 1st Battalion in mid-November a Regular Army unit, then serving in the 107th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division. Soon after Templer's arrival, the battalion took part in the Battle of Cambrai in late November, although Templer himself took no part in the battle and the battalion, and his 'C' Company in particular, sustained heavy losses. [9] In early February 1918 Templer's battalion, the 1st Irish Fusiliers, was transferred to the 108th Brigade, due to a severe manpower shortage in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on the Western Front, which necessitated the reduction of all British brigades from four to three battalions. [10] He was promoted to lieutenant on 16 February 1918. [5] On 20 March Templer, seriously ill, passed out while in the trenches, suffering from acute diphtheria, and he was later evacuated to England. The German Army launched their Spring Offensive the day after and, while he was away his battalion sustained over 770 casualties out of a strength of some 800 men. [11] He returned to the battalion in, now composed of mainly teenagers, and fought with it in the Hundred Days Offensive, which saw the war turn in favour of the Allies and eventually resulted in the Armistice with Germany being signed and the war ending on 11 November 1918. Templer was considerably lucky during the war, having not been wounded, although, as with many others of his generation, it left its mark on him in other ways. [12] He wrote, many years later, "I still sometimes in my sleep at night hear the screams of the wounded horses, galloping on the ground, tripping over barbed wire, and treading on their own guts. It was a terrible thing to have to witness, worse in some ways than the human casualties". A week before his death Templer had this dream again, over sixty years after the war. [13]

Western Front (World War I) main theatre of war during the First World War

The Western Front was the main theatre of war during the First World War. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne. Following the Race to the Sea, both sides dug in along a meandering line of fortified trenches, stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France, which changed little except during early 1917 and in 1918.

Kitcheners Army initially, an all-volunteer army formed in the United Kingdom

The New Army, often referred to as Kitchener's Army or, disparagingly, as Kitchener's Mob, was an (initially) all-volunteer army of the British Army formed in the United Kingdom from 1914 onwards following the outbreak of hostilities in the First World War in late July 1914. It originated on the recommendation of Herbert Kitchener, then the Secretary of State for War to raise 500,000 volunteers. Kitchener's original intention was that it would be formed and ready to be put into action in mid-1916, but circumstances dictated its use before then. The first use in a major action came at the Battle of Loos.

49th Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom)

The 49th Infantry Brigade, also known as 49 (East) Brigade, was a brigade of the British Army.

Between the wars

He remained in the army during the interwar period and served with his battalion, still the 1st Irish Fusiliers, after briefly returning to England, in operations in Persia (now Iran) and Iraq in 1919–20 as part of a multi-national attempt to prevent the spread of bolshevism, which was followed by service in Egypt. [14] Returning to England with the battalion, where it was amalgamated with the 2nd Battalion in November 1922, [15] Templer was a reserve for the 1924 Summer Olympics as a 120-yard hurdler, although in the end he did not compete. [16] [2] In January 1925 the battalion again returned to Egypt, where it remained until October 1927 when it was sent to India, although Templer did not accompany them. Just before the battalion sailed for India he had returned to England to attend the Staff College, Camberley, which he did from 1928–29, and was the youngest student there, aged just 29. [17] Among his many fellow students were men such as John Harding, Richard McCreery, Gordon MacMillan, Alexander Galloway, Gerard Bucknall, Philip Gregson-Ellis, Alexander Cameron and Cameron Nicholson. [17] In the year senior to him were Eric Dorman-Smith, John Hawkesworth, John Whiteley, Evelyn Barker, Oliver Leese, Ronald Penney, Robert Bridgeman, Philip Christison and numerous others while, in Templer's second year, in the year below, were George Erskine, Harold Freeman-Attwood, Neil Ritchie, Herbert Lumsden, Reginald Denning and Maurice Chilton. [17] Templer's instructors there included Bernard Paget, Henry Pownall and Bernard Montgomery. [17] Due to the Royal Irish Fusiliers being reduced to a single battalion in 1922, and thus promotion in the regiment being slower than in the rest of the army, Templer was forced to transfer to the Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire), to gain a promotion to captain, which was backdated to 11 August 1928. [18] After graduation from the Staff College, Templer joined the 2nd Battalion of his new regiment, then stationed at Aldershot, in January 1930. [19]

Interwar period Period between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II

In the context of the history of the 20th century, the interwar period was the period between the end of the First World War in November 1918 and the beginning of the Second World War in September 1939.

Iran Country in Western Asia

Iran, also called Persia and officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. The country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center.

Iraq republic in Western Asia

Iraq, officially the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians and Kawliya. Around 95% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism and Mandeanism also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.

He later became a General Staff Officer Grade 3 (GSO3) with the 3rd Division on Salisbury Plain in 1931. While there his immediate superior, Colonel Edmund Osborne, the division's GSO1, who took a disliking to Templer, wrote a confidential report, severely criticizing Templer's performance and recommending he be retired from the army. [20] Surviving this, Templer then was GSO2 at HQ Northern Command in York in 1933 before returning to the 2nd Loyals to be a company commander at Tidworth in April 1935. [21] [18] While at Northern Command he first met Harold Alexander, then a colonel, who was his superior as GSO1, and the two remained great friends until Alexander's death in 1969. [22] In January 1936 Templer, along with a large draft of replacements from the 2nd Loyals, was deployed to Palestine to serve with the 1st Loyals, with Templer commanding 'A' Company, during the Arab revolt there, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) on 6 November 1936 and mentioned in dispatches. [23] [24] His experience in Palestine had a profound impact on him, as he said in 1970 in a BBC interview, "I've felt terribly strongly all my life, from my youth, on racial and religious clashes – ever since my boyhood in Ireland. That was a feeling that which was strengthened by my service in Palestine in 1935–6, the Jew-Arab problems: I felt them bitterly in my heart". [25] In July 1937 he left Palestine and returned to England where he became GSO2 of the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division, a Territorial Army (TA) formation, where he came to the attention of senior officers. [26] In April 1938 Templer transferred back as a captain in the Royal Irish Fusiliers, although he remained seconded for staff duties. He was promoted to major on 1 August 1938 and posted to the War Office as a GSO2 at the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI). [27] [28] [18] In this role he helped in the creation and training of the Intelligence Corps. [29]

A military staff is a group of officers, enlisted and civilian personnel that are responsible for the administrative, operational and logistical needs of its unit. It provides bi-directional flow of information between a commanding officer and subordinate military units. A staff also provides an executive function where it filters information needed by the commander or shunts unnecessary information.

3rd Division (United Kingdom) regular army division of the British Army

The 3rd Division is a regular army division of the British Army. It was created in 1809 by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, as part of the Anglo-Portuguese Army, for service in the Peninsular War, and was known as the Fighting 3rd under Sir Thomas Picton during the Napoleonic Wars. The division fought at the Battle of Waterloo, as well as during the Crimean War and the Second Boer War. As a result of bitter fighting in 1916, during the First World War, the division became referred to as the 3rd (Iron) Division, or the Iron Division or Ironsides. During the Second World War, the division fought in the Battle of France including a rearguard action during the Dunkirk Evacuation, and played a prominent role in the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944. The division was to have been part of a proposed Commonwealth Corps, formed for a planned invasion of Japan in 1945–46, and later served in the British Mandate of Palestine. During the Second World War, the insignia became the "pattern of three" — a black triangle trisected by an inverted red triangle, created by Bernard Montgomery to instil pride in his troops.

Salisbury Plain Chalk plateau in England

Salisbury Plain is a chalk plateau in the south western part of central southern England covering 300 square miles (780 km2). It is part of a system of chalk downlands throughout eastern and southern England formed by the rocks of the Chalk Group and largely lies within the county of Wiltshire, but also stretching into Berkshire and Hampshire. The plain is famous for its rich archaeology, including Stonehenge, one of England's best known landmarks. Largely as a result of the establishment of the Defence Training Estate Salisbury Plain, the plain is sparsely populated and is the largest remaining area of calcareous grassland in north-west Europe. Additionally the plain has arable land, and a few small areas of beech trees and coniferous woodland. Its highest point is Easton Hill.

Second World War

At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 Templer was an acting lieutenant colonel, and, on 4 September, the day after war was declared, he was chosen to be one of two GSO1s to the DMI of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), Major General Noel Mason-MacFarlane, replacing the original choice, Kenneth Strong. [30] [31] He soon found himself in France. [18] Templer's duties were mainly concerned with counter-intelligence and security. The German Army attacked in the West on 10 May 1940, although Templer himself was then on leave but was back in France and discovered Mason-MacFarlane was in Brussels, with the intelligence staff moving behind him but was a long distance from GHQ BEF, resulting in poor communications. [31] On 17 May General Lord Gort, the BEF's Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C), feared for the BEF's right flank along the River Scarpe and, due to a shortage of troops, ordered Mason-MacFarlane to form "Macforce" to hold the river with whatever troops could be found. [31] Templer subsequently became GSO1 of "Macforce". The only unit of any size then available was Brigadier John Smyth's 127th Brigade, detached from its parent 42nd Division, which was soon strengthened by armoured cars of Lieutenant Colonel George Hopkinson's "Hopkinson Mission", and some scattered artillery and engineer units. [32] The 127th Brigade was soon replaced by the 139th Brigade (also detached its parent 46th Division) and "Macforce" continued taking on scattered units and, after a few small skirmishes but no major engagements, was eventually disbanded. With the BEF retreating to Dunkirk, both Mason-MacFarlane and Templer were evacuated to England, arriving there on 27 May. [31] [33]

Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery inspecting men of the 7th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, at Sandbanks near Poole, 22 March 1941. Also pictured, to his right wearing a peaked cap, is Brigadier Gerald Templer. The British Army in the United Kingdom 1939-45 H8404.jpg
Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery inspecting men of the 7th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, at Sandbanks near Poole, 22 March 1941. Also pictured, to his right wearing a peaked cap, is Brigadier Gerald Templer.

Soon after returning to England Templer was, in mid-June, ordered to Chichester to raise the 9th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment, one of many then being raised in the aftermath of Dunkirk. [34] The battalion was to be based around a small cadre of Regular soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex who, like Templer, had recently returned from France, and the rest of the battalion was to consist of newly called up conscripts, most of whom were in their late twenties with no previous military experience. [31] The battalion moved to Ross-on-Wye soon after its official formation on 4 July 1940. The task was made more difficult by the lack of rifles and other necessary equipment but Templer tried his best to train his men instil in them a regimental pride. [35]

In early November he was given the command of the 210th Independent Infantry Brigade (Home), composed of five battalions, all less than six months old, in Dorset, with responsibility for the defence of the coast in the event of a German invasion between Lyme Regis to Poole. [36] [31] [18] The brigade was then serving under V Corps, commanded by Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery, one of Templer's instructors at the Staff College, who thought highly of him and the two, who shared similar outlooks on training and waging war, established a close working relationship. Captain Michael Joseph, a company commander in the 9th Battalion, Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, part of the 210th Brigade, claimed Templer "understood the difficulties and the problems of the platoon commander, which is more than can be said of some others". [37] Work on the beach defences combined with training and continued throughout the winter and into the spring, and in late April 1941 the brigade, now with a slightly different composition, came under the command of the Dorset County Division, one of the newly created British County Divisions formed specifically for static defence. [31] However, on 7 April Montgomery was promoted to the command of XII Corps in Kent and Sussex and recommended to the War Office that Templer be the Brigadier General Staff (BGS) of V Corps, which now came under the command of Lieutenant General Edmond Schreiber. [38] [18] Like Montgomery, Schreiber formed a high opinion of Templer and they got along well together. The summer was spent mainly on numerous exercises. In early March 1942 Schreiber was promoted to command of "Force 110", later redesignated as the First Army, and V Corps passed to Lieutenant General Charles Allfrey. Soon afterwards, however, Templer received note that he was to take over the command of a division. [39] Templer was promoted to substantive colonel on 6 October 1941, with seniority from 1 July. [40]

Templer became General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 47th (London) Infantry Division, based in Winchester, Hampshire as an acting major general on 10 April 1942, serving under V Corps. [41] The division – comprising the 25th, 140th and 141st Infantry Brigades and supporting units – was a second-line TA formation, formerly the 2nd London Division, redesignated the 47th Division in November 1940. Placed on the Lower Establishment in December 1941, the division was understrength in manpower and equipment and men were constantly posted as drafts overseas, but the men were well-trained, due to their previous GOC, Major General John Utterson-Kelso, one of the best trainers in the British Army. [41] According to a battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Darling, commanding the 11th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, Templer "inspired the Division with enthusiasm, keenness and efficiency", and "made them believe they were going to meet the Germans – and beat them. He inculcated a tremendous fighting spirit". Another junior staff officer, Edward Jones, believed Templer to be very nervy but keen, claiming he never slept during an exercise, no matter the length and believed he would burn himself out. [42]

He did not remain there for much longer, however, as, in September 1942, he was promoted to become GOC II Corps [43] as the British Army's youngest acting lieutenant general. [41] [2] However, the corps was actually II Corps District, a static formation, with responsibility for the defence of northern East Anglia against invasion. [41] By this time, the threat of invasion had much receded and, by early 1943, much of Templer's command had been posted away, the 1st Division moving to North Africa and the 76th Division being reduced to a reserve division, leaving Templer with little more than 30 Home Guard battalions. [44] Then, in April 1943, he took command of XI Corps, with the 54th and 61st Divisions and numerous smaller units under command. [43] In May XI Corps absorbed II Corps and assumed responsibility for the defence of all of East Anglia. [41] Despite this, Templer was growing impatient at training troops and wished for a field command. To this end, in July, he approached General Sir Bernard Paget, the Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces (and formerly one of Templer's instructors at the Staff College), and offered to give up his rank of acting lieutenant general so that he could command a division on active service. [41] His offer was accepted and, together with Gerard Bucknall (a fellow student at the Staff College who, like Templer, had risen rapidly but was presumably sharing his mindset), Templer, reverting to major general on 30 July, flew out to Algiers, arriving there the day after. [45]

Templer became GOC of the 1st Infantry Division, which had come under his command while he was GOC II Corps, on 31 July 1943. [41] The division, with the 2nd, 3rd Infantry Brigades and the 24th Guards Brigade and supporting units, was based south of Tunis and had recently fought, with great distinction, in the final phases of the Tunisian Campaign, where it had gained three Victoria Crosses (VC) in the space of a week. [41] The division was then training for future participation in the Italian Campaign. [46] [41] In late August General Sir Harold Alexander, commanding the Allied 15th Army Group, along with numerous and senior US and British generals, arrived to present the VC to Lance Corporal John Kenneally of the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards. [47] Shortly afterwards, the division was involved in a divisional parade, with General Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in the theatre, reviewing the entire division. [47] Templer himself wrote about the moment, saying "I think it was the proudest moment of my life. In his address Ike said, 'When it gives me, your Supreme Commander and an American general, as proud to see you, the 1st Division of the British Army, on parade today as if you were the 1st Division of the American Army, then we are really getting somewhere!' It was a magnificent parade, and as far as I know, unique". [47] Despite managing to concentrate the division and get it training in mountain warfare, Templer was not destined to lead the 1st Division into battle, although he was later to meet it again in Italy. [41]

On 10 October 1943 Major General Douglas Graham, the GOC of the 56th (London) Infantry Division, then fighting in Italy, was seriously injured when his jeep tumbled into a shell crater and Templer was ordered to Italy to replace him. [43] [41] He arrived in Italy on 15 October, when the division was in the middle of crossing the Volturno. [48] The division, a first-line TA formation, with the 167th, 168th and 169th Infantry Brigades and supporting troops, along with the 201st Guards Brigade under Brigadier Julian Gascoigne temporarily attached, had taken part in the Allied invasion of Italy at Salerno the month before as part of British X Corps, under Lieutenant General Richard McCreery (a fellow student of Templer's at the Staff College in the late 1920s), and had suffered heavy casualties, and the division was still understrength. [41]

In February 1944, the division, now under U.S. VI Corps, fought in the Battle of Anzio where Templer temporarily commanded the British 1st Infantry Division after the GOC, Major General Ronald Penney, was wounded by shellfire. [43] He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath on 24 August 1944 in recognition of his services in Italy. [49]

Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery poses for a group photograph with his staff, corps and divisional commanders at Walbeck, Germany, 22 March 1945. Pictured sitting on the ground, fourth on the right, is Major General G. W. R. Templer. The Life and work Edward G Malindine, Photojournalist and Official Army Photographer 1906 - 1970 HU102819.jpg
Field Marshal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery poses for a group photograph with his staff, corps and divisional commanders at Walbeck, Germany, 22 March 1945. Pictured sitting on the ground, fourth on the right, is Major General G. W. R. Templer.

In late July 1944 Templer briefly became GOC 6th Armoured Division before being severely injured by a land mine in August, after being GOC for twelve days. [43] Promoted to major general on 17 April 1945, [50] he spent the rest of the war on intelligence duties in 21st Army Group HQ as well as briefly heading the German Directorate of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). [43] He was mentioned in dispatches on 8 November 1945 in recognition of his services in North West Europe. [51]


On 17 October 1946, Templer was awarded the Legion of Merit in the Degree of Commander by the President of the United States for his conduct during the war. [52] He was also appointed a Commander of the Order of Leopold II of Belgium and Croix de guerre [53] and a Grand Officer of the Order of Orange Nassau of the Netherlands with Swords. [54]

He served as Deputy Chief of Staff for the British Element (CCG/BE) of the Allied Control Commission for Germany after the Second World War, for which he was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in the King's Birthday Honours 1946. [55] He first came to public notice after firing the mayor of Cologne, the later German chancellor Konrad Adenauer, for "laziness and inefficiency". [43]

Templer became Director of Military Intelligence at the War Office in March 1946 and Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff in February 1948 and, having been promoted to lieutenant general on 5 April 1948 [56] and appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year Honours 1949, [57] moved on to be General Officer Commanding Eastern Command on 18 February 1950. [58] He was promoted to general on 4 June 1950, [59] advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the King's Birthday Honours 1951 [60] and appointed Aide-de-Camp General to the King on 30 August 1951. [61] He also became a Knight of the Venerable Order of Saint John. [62]

High Commissioner of Malaya

On 22 January 1952, Winston Churchill appointed Templer British High Commissioner in Malaya to deal with the Malayan Emergency. [63] Working closely with Robert Thompson, the Permanent Secretary of Defence for Malaya, Templer's tactics against the communists were held up as a model for counter-insurgency. [64] In military terms Templer concentrated his efforts on intelligence. [65] Templer famously remarked that, "The answer [to the uprising] lies not in pouring more troops into the jungle, but in the hearts and minds of the people." [66] He demanded that newly built villages, where ethnic Chinese were resettled away from the jungles and beyond the reach (and influence) of the guerrillas, should be made to look more inviting. To further gain the "hearts and minds" of the non-Malays, who were the main source of communist support, Templer fought to grant Malayan citizenship to over 2.6 million Malayan residents, 1.1 million of whom were Chinese. Templer sought "political and social equality of all" Malayans. [67]

Templer awarding an MBE in Malaya W.E.Perera MBE.jpg
Templer awarding an MBE in Malaya

He instituted incentive schemes for rewarding surrendering rebels and those who encouraged them to surrender [68] and used strict curfews and tight control of food supplies to force compliance from rebellious areas to flush out guerillas. Crops grown by the communists in response to these measures were sprayed with herbicide and defoliants. These restrictions were lifted on so-called White Areas which had been found to be free of communist incursion. [69]

When Templer left Malaya in 1954 the situation had dramatically improved, though the rebels remained a force to be reckoned with. [68] In response to an article in Time Magazine that "the jungle had been stabilised", [70] he declared "I'll shoot the bastard who says that this emergency is over". [65] The Malayan government eventually declared the Emergency over in 1960. [68] He was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George for his work as High Commissioner in the Coronation Honours List in June 1953. [71]

The Malaysian Government arranged for the Main Hall at the Royal Military College, Kuala Lumpur in Sungai Besi, which had been established in 1952, to be named the "Tun Templer Hall" in his honour. [72] They also named after him Templer's Park, a nature reserve established in 1955 in Rawang. [73]

Later military career

Coat of Arms of Sir Gerald Templer, KG, as displayed on his Order of the Garter stall plate in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Coat of Arms of Sir Gerald Templer, KG, GCB, GCMG, KBE, DSO, SMN.png
Coat of Arms of Sir Gerald Templer, KG, as displayed on his Order of the Garter stall plate in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the Queen's Birthday Honours 1955, [74] Templer was appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff on 29 September 1955. [75] In this capacity he advised the British Government on the response to the Suez Crisis. [76] He was promoted to field marshal on 27 November 1956 [77] and retired on 29 September 1958. [78]

Templer was also appointed Colonel of the Royal Irish Fusiliers from 1946, Colonel of the Malay Federation Regiment from 1954, [76] Colonel of the 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles from 25 May 1956, [79] Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards from 1963 and Colonel of the Blues and Royals from 1969. [76]

In retirement Templer focused on his main passion which was establishing the National Army Museum in London. [80] The Malaysian Government conferred on him the award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Defender of the Realm, which carries with it the title Tun, on 13 October 1960. [81] He also appointed a Knight of the Order of the Garter on 16 September 1963 [82] and Constable of the Tower on 1 August 1965. [83] He chaired a committee of the rationalisation of air power in 1965 [84] and was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Greater London on 28 December 1966. [85] He died of cancer of the lung at his home in Chelsea on 25 October 1979. [76] He was buried in the churchyard of St Michael in the Wiltshire village of Wilsford cum Lake. [2]

In 1982 the University of Birmingham Centre for First World War Studies established the Templer Medal to commemorate his life and achievements and to mark his Presidency of the Society for Army Historical Research between 1965 and 1979. [86]


On 8 September 1926 he married Edith Margery (Peggie) Davie in the church of Plympton St Mary, Devon. Gerald had first met her in 1921, and again in 1924, and they were engaged after 10 days. [87] Lady Templer was one of the co-founders of the Commonwealth Society for the Deaf, now Sound Seekers. [88] They had a daughter, Jane Frances, born in 1934, [89] and a son, John Miles, born in 1945. [90] [2]

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Military offices
Preceded by
John Utterson-Kelso
GOC 47th (London) Infantry Division
April–September 1942
Succeeded by
Alfred Robinson
Preceded by
James Steele
GOC II Corps
Succeeded by
Herbert Lumsden
Preceded by
Gerard Bucknall
GOC XI Corps
April – July 1943
Post disbanded
Preceded by
Walter Clutterbuck
GOC 1st Infantry Division
July – October 1943
Succeeded by
Ronald Penney
Preceded by
Douglas Graham
GOC 56th (London) Infantry Division
Succeeded by
John Whitfield
Preceded by
Vyvyan Evelegh
GOC 6th Armoured Division
July – August 1944
Succeeded by
Horatius Murray
Preceded by
Freddie de Guingand
Director of Military Intelligence
Succeeded by
Douglas Packard
Preceded by
Sir Frank Simpson
Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Nevil Brownjohn
Preceded by
Sir Evelyn Barker
GOC-in-C Eastern Command
Succeeded by
Sir George Erskine
Preceded by
Sir John Harding
Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Festing
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Richard Howard-Vyse
Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards
Consolidated to form Blues and Royals
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Henry Gurney
British High Commissioner in Malaya
Succeeded by
Sir Donald MacGillivray
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl Alexander of Tunis
Constable of the Tower of London
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Hull
Preceded by
The Earl Alexander of Tunis
Lord Lieutenant of Greater London
Succeeded by
The Lord Elworthy