Sir Martin Farndale, Master Gunner St James's Park, November 1988


General Sir Martin Farndale KCB








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General Sir Martin Farndale KCB





His early life

 Martin Baker Farndale was born in Trochu, Alberta, Canada, on 6 January 1929, the oldest son of Alfred and Margaret Louise. There the family lived until 1935 in Huxley, in a wooden house built by his father, on the prairie. The slump came after the 1929 crash, and in 1935, the family returned to England, where they lived at Middleton-one-Row in Durham, England. Then in 1936 they moved to Sycamore Lodge, Thornton-le-Moor, Yorkshire. Martin went to Wensley House private School in Northallerton and then to Northallerton Grammar School. His family moved to 117 Crosby Road, Northallerton in 1940 and then to Gale Bank Farm, Wensley in Wensleydale in 1944. Martin then went to Yorebridge Grammar School, Askrigg (the school was founded in 1601) until 1946 until he joined the Indian Army at Caterham on 3rd September 1946. At Yorebridge, he won the Headmaster's Cadet Corps Prize.

A resume of his military service

Martin joined the Indian Army on 3 September 1946, and transferred to the British Army in 1947, after Indian independence. He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery. He served in Egypt, Germany, Malaya, South Arabia, Ireland. He commanded The Chestnut Troop, 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, 7th Armoured Brigade, 2nd Armoured Division, 1st British Corps and Northern Army Group. He became Commander-in-Chief British Army of the Rhine and Master Gunner St Jamesís Park. He was awarded the General Service Medal with clasps for Malaya, South Arabia and Northern Ireland. He was awarded Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977. He became Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1980 and Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1983. He was awarded the 125th Anniversary of Canada Medal for services to Canada. He was awarded an honorary degree of Literature at Greenwich University.

His military service in more detail

Martin joined the Indian Army on 3 September 1946, and transferred to the British Army in 1947, after Indian independence. He went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst where he was in his company's boxing and motor-cycle team. He won the Brian Philpotts Memorial Prize for Military History. He was Intake 1A, Dettingen Company and passed out on 20 October 1948. He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery. He attended the RA Young Officers' Course.

He started his military career in 80th Light Anti-aircraft Regiment in the Suez Canal Zone. In January 1949, he sailed by Troop Ship to Egypt. Soon he was selected for the elite Royal Horse Artillery and he joined First Regiment Royal Horse Artillery in 1950. He returned from Egypt in 1951. He served in E Battery and then in B Battery. He was then posted to the Royal Artillery Staff of 7th Armoured Division at Verden in Lower Saxony, from 1954 to 1957. He then served with 53rd (Louisberg) Battery and as Adjutant of 22nd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment (which he used to affectionately call "22 Light ack ack").

In 1959, he went to the Staff College at Camberley.

He then went to the Gunner Staff of 17th Gurkha Division in Malaya from 1960 to 1962, where he saw active service during the final phases of the Malayan Campaign.

In 1963, he served for two years in the Military Operations Directorate of the War Office (which then became the Ministry of Defence).

He returned to First Regiment RHA in 1964 to command the Chestnut Troop, first in Germany (Hildesheim) and then in Aden during the Radfan Campaign in the arid mountains of the Protectorate. In Aden, he saw action against tribesmen in the Radfan mountains, bordering the Empty Quarter. The Regiment was equipped with 105 mm pack howitzers.

After Battery Command, he went back to the Staff College for three years as an instructor from 1966.

From 1969 to 1971, he was given command of First Regiment. He was the first artillery commanding officer to take his regiment to Northern Ireland and to serve in an infantry role on the streets of Belfast. He was also the first Lieutenant Colonel to command a warship. Accommodation was sparse in those early days, so HMS Maidstone, which was destined for the breaker's yard, was instead sailed from Portsmouth to Belfast and acted as a maritime barracks for the Regiment. His command included a hundred sailors, the Maidstone's maintenance team. Also during his command, the Regiment was granted the freedom of the City of Nottingham and a parade took place through the city on 22 April 1970. There is a painting by Terence Cuneo of the parade (Martin got to know Terence Cuneo very well during his career and was involved in the commissioning of many of Cuneo's military paintings). After Northern Ireland, Lieutenant Colonel Farndale took the Regiment to Detmold in Germany, where the Regiment was equipped with the Abbot self propelled gun.

Next he had two years on the Defence Policy Staff in the Ministry of Defence.

In 1973, he was promoted to Brigadier. The focus of his military career was with the British Army of the Rhine in then West Germany. He commanded 7th Armoured Brigade (The Desert Rats) from December 1973 to December 1975. The Headquarters was in Soltau, Lower Saxony and he lived at the Jagd Haus Weiss (originally the hunting lodge of the Weiss family) at Marbostel, near Soltau. He planned the Brigade Exercise, Red Rat 74. He also reorganised the battlefield headquarters of the Brigade from a large conglomeration of vehicles, to a more tactical and manoeuvrable headquarters of 22 vehicles around a 'heart' of 6 armoured vehicles.

In New Year 1975/76 he moved back to the Ministry of Defence as Director of Military Operations (1976 to 1978) and then as Director of Military Operations in the rank of Major General (1978-1980). He was DMO during the final phases of the guerrilla campaign in Rhodesia after Ian Smith's unilateral declaration of independence. He was largely responsible for setting up the British Monitoring Force which helped to end the guerrilla war and bring about an independent Zimbabwe. He was also responsible for considering the increased military requirements for dealing with a spiralling illegal immigrant problem in Hong Kong.

In 1980 he became Colonel Commandant Army Air Corps. He learnt to fly a helicopter and built up a considerable log of flying time, particularly during his later commands in Germany. He continued in that post until 1988.

He commanded 2nd Armoured Division as Major General from June 1980 to March 1983. The Headquarters was in Lubbecke and he lived at Cross Keys House, a house of remarkable architecture with no corners and curved edges. He commanded the Division during Exercise Spearpoint in September 1980, during which the Division's 14,000 men and 150 tanks took the full weight of an enemy 'Orange' simulated Soviet break-in. He also planned Second Division's Exercise Keystone in November 1982.


He commanded 1st (British) Corps as Lieutenant General from March 1983 to 1985. This was the fighting component of the British Forces in Germany, still during the height of the Cold War. The Headquarters was at Bielefeld and he lived at Spearhead House. In those days, tests and demonstrations of ability to withstand an invasion from the east were critical to keeping the peace and winning the Cold War. In 1984, he devised and oversaw the vast Exercise Lionheart, a show of strength of the height of the Cold War, which involved 131,000 British troops, including tens of thousands or Territorials and Army Reservists and which extended over 3,700 square miles. During a second phase a further 6,300 German, 3,500 Dutch, 3,400 American and 165 Commonwealth (from Australia, New Zealand and Canada) took part. It was intended to test BAOR's reinforcement plans and was the biggest military exercise to be held since the Second World War. In September 1983, he showed the Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher, around his Corps during an exercise, during which now infamous photographs were taken of the now Lady Thatcher riding in a Chieftain tank.

Finally, he commanded the British Army of the Rhine, at the time 55,000 strong, and also commanded the Northern Army Group, an Army Group consisting of a British, Dutch, German, and American Corps, from its headquarters at Rheindalen. This was from 1985 to 1987. He lived at Flagstaff House. He worked to implement a revised concept of operations for the Northern Army Group. In the event of a Soviet invasion, the new plans would enable NATO forces to 'bide our time and then strike viciously, at the time of our choosing, at an exposed flank or sector.' These new plans were tested in 1987 during another major exercise, Exercise Certain Strike, which proved itself to be the largest and most complex field exercise of its type staged in Europe since the D-Day landings in 1944.

He was appointed Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in 1980 and Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1983.

His family

In 1955, he married Margaret Anne Buckingham, age 27 of Mill House, Findon, West Sussex at Findon Church. They had met in Egypt, where Martin was serving with the Royal Artillery and Anne was in the Foreign Office. After the wedding, they had their first Quarter at Seremban in Malaya. It was after that posting that they travelled together, in 1962, in a Ford Prefect from Malaya through Thailand, India, Pakistan, Persia, Turkey, Greece, Italy and France and back to England. There is a super 8 film, which has been converted to video of this journey. They had one son, Richard who was born at Epsom, Surrey on 17 April 1963 and who later followed him into the Royal Artillery.

After retiring from the Army

Martin retired from the Army in January 1988. After Army Service they lived at East Preston in West Sussex.

He became a Director of Short Brothers plc, Defence Adviser to Westland Helicopters and to Deloitte & Touche in the City. He was also a very active chairman of the Royal United Services Institute from 1989-1993. He became a Freeman of the City of London and a member of the Wheelwrights Livery.

He became Master Gunner of St James' Park (an office dating back to the seventeenth century), the honorary head of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, on 5 November 1988. His principal duty as Master Gunner was to keep the Queen, the Royal Regiment's Captain General, informed of all matters pertaining to the Royal Artillery. He was also Colonel Commandant of the Royal Horse Artillery, Honorary Colonel of First Regiment Royal Hose Artillery and of Third Battalion, the Yorkshire Volunteers, his home county. He was Colonel Commandant of the Army Air Corps. He also had a close interest in the South Notts Hussars.

He was President of the Worthing Branch of the Royal Artillery Association from 1988 to 2000. He attended almost every branch meeting and in 1999, to his great pride, the branch won the Burton Cup for the best achievement in fundraising towards the museum. The branch unveiled a plaque to his memory at Gifford House chapel in Worthing in December 2001. The plaque reads "In Memory of General Sir Martin Farndale 1929-2000, Commander British Army of the Rhine and Northern Army Group 1985-87, Master Gunner St James's Park 1988-96, President Worthing Branch The Royal Artillery Association 1988-2000".

From 1989 until his death, he worked tirelessly to create a museum of artillery at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. This was known as the Royal Artillery Museum Project and became Royal Artillery Museums Limited, of which he was Chairman. The museum opened a year after his death in May 2001 and is known as Firepower. It houses the vast regimental collection of guns, medals, books and archives and is also an interactive museum of the history of artillery. The principal building of the museum is now known as the Farndale Building and a plaque at the entrance is dedicated to Martin and states "without his vision, dedication, leadership and commitment, this museum would not exist."

His principal hobby was writing definitive histories of the Royal Artillery, a task which he started early in his military career and continued until he died. He wrote the History of the Royal Artillery, France 1914-1918 (published 1987). He wrote the History of the Royal Artillery, The Forgotten Fronts and the Home Base, 1914-1918 (published 1988). He wrote the History of the Royal Artillery in the Second World War (The Years of Defeat 1939-41) (published 1996). He wrote the History of the Royal Artillery (The Far East Theatre 1941-1946) which was published posthumously. He also wrote many articles for the British Army Review and the Royal Artillery Journal.

He was also Chairman of the English Heritage Battlefields Trust from 1993. The trust endeavours to preserve battlefields from being destroyed by new roads of buildings. Martin succeeded in saving the site of the Battle of Tewkesbury (1471) from developers.

He took part as a guest lecturer during a number of battlefield tours covering both the First and Second World Wars.


He was a member of the East India and Sports Club from June 1962.

He was also passionately interested in the Farndale family history and the information contained on this website is almost entirely the result of his work.

Martin Baker Farndale died at the age of 71 at Cromwell Hospital, London on 10 May 2000. He was cremated at Worthing Crematorium and is buried at Wensley Church, Wensleydale, North Yorkshire beside his parents. A Memorial Service was held at St Martin-in-the-fields in London on 26 September 2000.



Commanding Officer, First Regiment Royal Horse Artillery in 1969



Lieutenant Colonel Martin Farndale RHA leads his Regiment at the Freedom of the City of Nottingham, 22 April 1970



Commander of 7 Armoured Brigade in 1975



Martin Farndale as Director of Public Relations Army judges the photographic competition in 1976



Flying lessons in 1980



Meeting a Russian General during Exercise Crusader in 1980


With Michael Heseltine in 1984



With a railway gun, for the Museum of Artillery


Sir Martin Farndale devoted the later years of his life to the planning of and fundraising for a museum of the Royal Regiment of Artillery at Woolwich



General Sir Martin Farndale

The Guardian, Wednesday 17 May 2000

John Learmont

Innovative army commander whose leadership qualities took him to Malaya, Northern Ireland and Nato


General Sir Martin Farndale, who has died aged 71, was unquestionably the most distinguished gunner officer of his generation. He had an outstanding career both in command and on the staff, but was never more at home than when among soldiers in the field. He was an example of what can be achieved with a combination of leadership, intellect, personality, charm and dedication.

He was born in Alberta, Canada, and educated at Yorebridge school, Yorkshire. He joined the Indian army in 1946 and, in 1947, transferred to the British army, went to Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in October 1948.

He served in several gunner regiments, but his heart lay with the 1st Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, with whom he served on and off for 21 years. He saw service in the UK, Aden and the British Army of the Rhine and, in 1964, took command of the Chestnut troop, the senior battery.

In 1969, to his immense pride, Farndale assumed command of the regiment and, during this period, took it to Northern Ireland, the first gunner regiment to serve there in an infantry role. Later, he became the first honorary colonel of the regiment. His infectious enthusiasm, his encouragement to those who needed a helping hand, his sense of humour and his oratory skills made him a legend within the regiment in his lifetime.

Farndale would, I feel sure, see himself first and foremost as a commander. He was at ease with soldiers and they, in turn, followed him without hesitation. Nevertheless, he was an equally brilliant staff officer. After passing out from the Camberley staff college in 1959, he served for two years in HQRA 17th Gurkha Division, where he saw active service during the final phases of the Malayan campaign, followed by a spell in military operations at the Ministry of Defence. He became an instructor at Camberley in 1966.

After two years on the defence policy staff, he returned to Germany to command 7th Armoured Brigade at Soltau. This was followed by two years as director, public relations, at the MoD, and a further two years as director of military operations. He then commanded the 2nd Armoured Division in Germany for three years.

Farndale's grasp of the complexities of the all-arms battle, allied to his inspirational leadership qualities, led to his being appointed to command the 1st (British) Corps. Life was always exciting for those serving with him during this period, as he was a constant source of innovative ideas that kept all concerned on their toes. His success led to promotion to commander, Northern Army Group, and commander-in-chief, British Army of the Rhine.

As a Nato general, Farndale earned the respect and loyalty of the national corps under his command from Germany, Holland and Belgium, as well as the 1st British Corps. This was fully tested on Exercise Certain Strike in 1987, the largest exercise of its type in Europe since the second world war. Here, Farndale took under his command a fifth corps, 3 (US) Corps, and established a rapport with its commanding general that lasted the rest of his life.

In 1980, he was appointed colonel commandant, Army Air Corps, continuing a line of distinguished senior officers who had filled the post. This was a new area, and, some might have felt, an added burden to his already full and demanding military life.

But it was typical of Farndale that, without hesitation, he committed himself completely to his new role. He took a personal interest in every aspect of this small but rapidly developing corps, unstinting with his time and applying his huge capacity for work in an entirely selfless fashion. There is no doubt that the Army Air Corps flourished under his hand.

He retired in January 1988 after 42 years' service, and became a director and senior defence adviser to Short Brothers plc, and defence adviser to Deloitte Touche. He kept his links with the army, and particularly the Royal Regiment of Artillery, when he assumed the appointment of master gunner, St James's Park, on November 5 1988. During this period, he was also colonel commandant, Royal Horse Artillery, colonel commandant, Royal Artillery, honorary regimental colonel, 1st Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, and honorary colonel, 3rd Battalion, the Yorkshire Volunteers.

Farndale was also a man of letters and a military historian of note. He wrote four books covering the history of the Royal Artillery, an undertaking he was still engaged in at the time of his death. He was chairman of the English Heritage Battlefields Panel and, from 1989-1993, chairman of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies.

In his last years, Farndale threw his energies into safeguarding the heritage of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, particularly as president, and subsequently chairman and chief executive, of its regimental museum project at Woolwich. He was an inveterate and persuasive fund- raiser, to such an extent that some were said to be suffering from donor fatigue. Thanks to his drive, vision and determination to overcome manifold obstacles, the museum will open to the public next year.

Martin Farndale was an exceptional man, who lived an exceptional life. He was generous of spirit, an inspiring leader, a true comrade in arms and a firm friend. The world is poorer for his passing but his achievements will be remembered for many a year to come.

He was appointed CB in 1980 and KCB in 1983. He married Anne Buckingham in 1955; she survives him, with their son Richard. It was a source of great pride to Farndale that Richard too served in 1st Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, his old regiment, to which he remained intensely loyal.

Martin Baker Farndale, soldier, born January 6 1929; died May 10 2000.


MARTIN FARNDALE was one of the most outstanding generals of the post-war British army. Confident and dynamic, he was regarded by Nato as one of its finest field commanders.

As Commander 1st (British) Corps, British Army of the Rhine, in 1984, Farndale successfully oversaw Operation Lionheart. It was a vast exercise which involved 131,000 British troops including thousands of Army Reservists and Territorials. His success led him to being appointed a year later, Commander-in-Chief BAOR. He earned the respect of the National Corps under his command and worked tenaciously to bring about a defence policy to counter any Russian invasion. This policy was fully tested on Exercise Certain Strike, the largest postwar exercise carried out in Europe.

Martin Farndale was born in 1929 in Alberta, Canada, of British parents and brought up in Yorkshire. He joined the Indian Army in 1946, transferring to the British army a year later. After Sandhurst he was comissioned into the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1948. He saw service in the volatile Suez Canal zone where his command qualities were soon recognised. He was selected for the Royal Horse Artillery (RHA) and attended Staff College, Camberley, in 1959 before enjoying a staff post with HQ, 17 Gurkha Division towards the end of the conflict in Malaya.

From 1964 to 1966 he commanded Chestnut Troop in 1st RHA in Germany and Aden during a particularly difficult period. In 1969, after three years as a Staff instructor at Camberley, he was given command of 1st RHA in Northern Ireland, where his gunners were used as infantry during the mounting civil unrest in Belfast.

After two quieter years at the Ministry of Defence, where he worked on defence policy, he was given command of 7th Armoured Brigade in Germany in 1976. His natural enthusiasm and charm helped him become a highly successful Director of Public Relations for the Army before becoming Director of Military Operations at the MoD in 1978. This post called for all his diplomatic skills as he was involved in the arrangements for Rhodesia's independence as Zimbabwe.

In 1980 he commanded 2nd Armoured Division in Germany where he was to serve for the remainder of his time in the Army. In 1983 he became Commander 1st (British) Corps and from 1985 until his retirement in 1987 he was Commander-in-Chief, BAOR, and Commander, Northern Army Group. He brought to this post a vast experience. An astute man, he was much admired by those who served under him for his single mindedness of purpose coupled with humility and humour.

On retirement after 42 years of service he became a director and senior defence adviser to Short Brothers and defence adviser to Deloitte Touche. He maintained his links with the Army and in particular his old regiment and was very proud to be appointed Master Gunner, St James's Park in 1988. He was also Colonel Commandant, RHA as well as the Royal Artillery and Army Air Corps and Honorary Colonel 3rd BattalionYorkshire Volunteers (TA).

In 1989 Farndale began to champion the idea of a Royal Artillery museum at the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich to house the regiment's in large collection. It was mainly due to his inspired leadership and fund raising skills both as president and chairman that the money was raised for the building. He lived long enough to see it take shape. It will be opened in May 2001.

This exceptional man was also fine writer, producing his History of the Royal Artillery, published in five volumes from 1986. The sixth volume, The Far East Theatre 1941- 1946, is to be published posthumously. He was also a contributor to the British Army Review.

Farndale's only son, Richard, followed his father and joined the Royal Artillery


Martin Baker Farndale, soldier:
born 6 January 1929; CB 1980, KCB 1983; Commander-in-Chief, British Army of the Rhine, Northern Army Group 1985-87; married 1955 Anne Buckingham (one son); died London 10 May 2000.




From The Daily Telegraph


You couldn't make it up

By Nigel Farndale (Nephew of Sir Martin Farndale)

12:01AM BST 31 Jul 2005

The surprise is that anyone is surprised Tony Blair spends £300 a year on make-up, as revealed by a new Downing Street audit. For the past five years, the man has been growing ever more orange and eerie looking. My theory is that it all began with his speech to the Labour party conference in 2000.

On that occasion he was wearing a blue shirt and, I suspect, little or no make-up. The blue shirt showed the sweat patches and, since then, he has nearly always worn white. As for the beads of perspiration, well, nothing clogs the pores quite as efficiently as a thick layer of foundation.

It is not even as if the idea of a politician wearing make up comes as a surprise. John F Kennedy wore it for his famous televised debate with Richard Nixon in the run-up to the 1960 US presidential election. Nixon went without, as it were, and under the intense heat of the studio lights he began sweating profusely.

The consensus was that this made him look shifty. He also had a five o'clock shadow, which didn't help. The clean-shaven Kennedy, meanwhile, looked cool and serene - and that television debate is thought to have played a large part in his victory, and Nixon's defeat.

No, what surprised me about the Blair make-up "revelation" was the headline in The Daily Telegraph: "Blair does it, generals do it, even accountants and preachers do it". Generals? Really? During the first Gulf war my late uncle, General Sir Martin Farndale, was invited to discuss military strategy with David Dimbleby.

He accepted, even though he thought the BBC was being frivolous in its coverage of the war - indulging in endless, pointless speculation and treating the whole thing as a game and, worse, an excuse to try out its new computer graphics. I imagine he wanted to convey the seriousness of the situation, to impress upon viewers the fact that the lives of British soldiers, including that of his own son, were at risk.

He was shown to a chair, had a microphone attached to his lapel and was accosted by a make-up artist with a brush covered in orange powder. This didn't go down well. My uncle ripped off his microphone and stormed out the studio, muttering darkly to himself. In one gesture, it seemed, that poor make-up artist had epitomised all that my uncle felt was rotten and decadent about the BBC in particular and modern society in general.

Perhaps things have changed since my uncle's day, although when I look at General Sir Mike Jackson, he of the face and voice of thunder, I find this hard to believe. While it is true that Jackson had surgery to reduce the bags under his eyes, this was done for medical reasons - they were affecting his eyesight - and woe betide the journalist who suggests otherwise.

Unlike prime ministers, generals cannot afford to appear effete. They are and must be bastions of masculinity, not least because they have to command the respect of their men. And not only do they have to make tough decisions but they also have to witness the consequences of them, unsentimentally.

I suspect that a dusting of orange powder would have been to my uncle what the cutting off of hair was to Sampson, a sapping of his strength, albeit it mental rather than physical.

So who was the general referred to in the article? It mentions only "a Brigadier General". The British Army did away with that rank some time ago, so he must have been an American. That, perhaps, explains all.

There is an email doing the rounds which looks like, and may well be, a genuine photograph of an Underground information board. It reads: "Notice to all passengers. Please do not run on the platforms or concourses, especially if you are carrying a rucksack, wearing a big coat, or look a bit foreign."

My wife's cousin looks a bit foreign and, the other day, he was carrying a rucksack on the Tube. It was packed with his gym kit because he has a heart condition and was on his way to hospital for tests, which included cardiovas-cular exercises.

A bulky heart monitor was strapped to his chest, and wires leading from it were taped to the back of his neck - and these were visible above his collar. He was told to come back in 48 hours. Although he had a return ticket for the Tube, he thought better of using it, opting instead for a taxi home. Thus was played out another vignette of everyday life in the capital.

The fishing village of Padstow in North Cornwall is rapidly becoming a Rick Stein theme park. It started with his celebrated Seafood Restaurant and now includes a Rick Stein deli, bistro, cafe, and "seafood school".

The quality of the produce is excellent, as you would expect, but the prices reflect this. Indeed, standing outside Stein's Fish & Chips the other day I overheard one half of an argument: "I don't care who bloody cooked them. Jesus Christ could have cooked them. I'm not paying £7.25 for a packet of fish and chips."