Lord Bramall death: Former head of British army dies aged 95

Chiara Giordano
Former head of the British Army Field Marshal Lord Bramall, pictured in September 2000, died at the age of 95 on 12 November, 2019: Tony Harris/PA

The former head of the British army, Lord Bramall, who took part in the Normandy landings, has died at the age of 95.

Field Marshal Edwin Noel Westby Bramall joined the army as a second lieutenant in the King’s royal rifle corps in 1943 and fought on D-Day.

He rose through the ranks during his military career to become commander-in-chief of British forces in Hong Kong, commander-in-chief of UK land forces, and chief of defence staff.

During his career he was awarded an OBE, Military Cross, and also made a Knight of the Order of the Garter.

He went on to have a 26-year career in the House of Lords before he retired in 2013.

Lord Bramall’s later years were blighted by false allegations of child sexual abuse made in 2014 by fantasist Carl Beech.

The veteran’s home was raided by up to 20 officers as part of the Metropolitan Police’s controversial Operation Midland and he was questioned by police in connection with the allegations.

Lord Bramall’s wife of 66 years, with whom he had two children, died in 2015 before detectives announced they were not charging him.

When it emerged he would face no action in 2016, then London mayor Boris Johnson said: “It is pretty clear that Lord Bramall is owed a full and heartfelt apology.”

Beech was given an 18-year prison sentence earlier this year for falsely claiming that he had been sadistically abused by figures from the worlds of politics, the armed forces and security services.

Lord Bramall, seen with the Queen in 2006; his later years were blighted by false allegations of child sexual abuse (Fiona Hanson/PA Archive)

Following reports of his death on Tuesday, former defence minister Tobias Ellwood paid tribute to Lord Bramall on Twitter.

He wrote: “An inspirational leader, fellow Green Jacket and mentor who landed on the Normandy beaches, received a Military Cross in Holland a year later, served in our special forces, commanded the British army and then the entire armed forces.”

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, said she was “very sad” to learn of Lord Bramall’s death, adding that she recently apologised to him for the damaged caused by Operation Midland.

She said: “I met him recently to apologise personally for the great damage the Metropolitan Police investigation into Carl Beech’s false allegations has had on him and his family.

“I was struck by his selflessness and generosity in the issues he wanted to discuss, focusing on a desire to ensure the lessons from Operation Midland had been learnt by the Met. It was very humbling to be in his company and hear first hand his experience.

“He was a great man, a brilliant soldier and leader, and much loved family man. He was a true gentleman and will be hugely missed.”

Lord Bramall lived with his wife Lady Bramall at Bulford Manor in Wiltshire during his time as head of the army.