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Anthony Farrar-Hockley

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Title: Anthony Farrar-Hockley  
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Subject: Parachute Regiment (United Kingdom), Cheltenham Bournside School and Sixth Form Centre, 16 Flight AAC, Peter Whiteley (Royal Marines officer), 1982 New Year Honours
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Anthony Farrar-Hockley

Anthony Farrar-Hockley
Born 1924
Died 2006 (aged 81)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1941–1982
Rank General
Commands held 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment
16th Parachute Brigade
4th Division
South East District
Allied Forces Northern Europe
Battles/wars World War II
Greek Civil War
Korean War
Cyprus Emergency
Indonesian Confrontation
Aden Emergency
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order & Bar
Military Cross
Relations Charles Dair Farrar-Hockley
Other work ADC General to the Queen, Military historian

General Sir Anthony Heritage Farrar-Hockley GBE, KCB, DSO & Bar, MC (8 April 1924 – 11 March 2006), affectionately known as 'Farrar the Para' , was a British soldier and a military historian who distinguished himself in a number of British conflicts. He held a number of senior British Army commands, ending his career as NATO's Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Northern Europe.

Throughout his four decades of army life, he spoke plainly, and both before and after his retirement in 1982 wrote effectively on the conflicts he had experienced and the First World War.[1]

Personal life

Anthony Farrar-Hockley was born in Coventry the son of a journalist.[2] He was educated at Exeter School, at the age of 15 he ran away at the start of World War II and enlisted in the Gloucestershire Regiment, the fact that he was underage was soon discovered and he was discharged and had to wait to be re-enlisted in 1941. He was promoted sergeant while still aged 17 and only 18 when he was commissioned into the 1st Airborne Division in November 1942 and fought in Italy and France. Later he won the MC in 1944 while fighting the communist rebellion in Athens.[1]

In 1945 he married Margaret B Wells with whom he had three sons (two of whom survive). His first wife died in 1981 and he married Linda Wood in 1983. Following in father's footsteps his elder son Charles Dair Farrar-Hockley also won an MC fighting with the Parachute Regiment in the Falklands War.

During his mid-career Farrar-Hockley was carrying out research and publishing. He established a reputation as an authority on World War I, publishing The Somme (1964) and Death of an Army (1968). By way of sabbatical during his military career he spent time (1968–1970) at Exeter College, Oxford as a Defence Fellow, working on a research project into the social effects of National Service in Britain and publishing two other books. He gained a BLitt at Oxford University.[2][3]

Military career

At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, at the age of 15, Tony Farrar-Hockley ran away from school and enlisted in the ranks with the Gloucestershire Regiment. After the discovery of his age he was discharged. In 1941 he enlisted again and was posted to a Young Soldiers' Battalion. In 1942 he was commissioned and posted to the new 1st Airborne Division seeing action with the Parachute Regiment in Italy, France and Greece. He was still only 20 in 1944 when he was given command of a company in the 6th Battalion Parachute Regiment and later won an MC in Greece whilst resisting the communist rebellion in Athens.[1][2]

After post-war service with DSO although he was a captain and the DSO was usually reserved for more senior ranks.[1] His citation stated:

Throughout this desperate engagement on which the ability of the Battalion to hold its position entirely depended, Captain Farrar-Hockley was an inspiration to the defenders. His outstanding gallantry, fighting spirit and great powers of leadership heartened his men and welded them into an indomitable team. His conduct could not have been surpassed.[2]

Farrar-Hockley spent two years as a prisoner of war. He was mentioned in Dispatches for his conduct. After active service in the Cyprus Emergency (1956), Egypt (1956) and Jordan (1958), he spent some time at RMA Sandhurst as chief instructor (1959–1961)

In 1962 he took command of 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment in the Persian Gulf. While there possibly the greatest feat of arms of his career took place in 1964 during the Aden Emergency when his battalion captured a stronghold held by nationalist and tribesmen in the Radfan mountains of north of Aden at Wadi Dhubsan. For this action Farrar-Hockley was awarded a bar to his DSO.[1][2]

1n 1965 Farrar-Hockley was posted as Chief of Staff to the Director of Operations in [3]

After commanding (1966–1968) the 16th Parachute Brigade and his fellowship at Exeter College, Oxford (1968–1970) he was promoted to major general and appointed as the first Commander Land Forces in Belfast where he was the first senior officer to acknowledge publicly that the IRA was behind the violence. After this he commanded the 4th Division in BAOR (1971–1973) before returning to the MoD where he was put in charge of Combat Development for the Army.[1][2]

After a period commanding the Army's GOC South East District (1977–1979) he was appointed commander in chief of Nato's Allied Forces Northern Europe. He held this appointment until his retirement from the army in 1982.[2]

Later life

Other positions held by Farrar-Hockley included: ADC General to the Queen (1981–1983), Colonel-Commandant of the Prince of Wales' Division (1974–1980) and of the Parachute Regiment (1977–1983). He was colonel of his Gloucestershire Regiment 1978–1984.

During his retirement Farrar-Hockley carried out historical research and published campaign histories and biographies, he acted as a consultant and was a frequent pundit in the newspapers and on television and radio.

Farrar-Hockley was a target for the IRA having been found on an IRA hitlist in the 1980s. In 1990, his 5 year old grandson found a bomb attached to a hose in his garden. The bomb failed to explode.[1]

He declared to Giulio Andreotti's October 1990 revelations concerning Gladio, a NATO stay-behind network, he revealed that the armed anti-communist secret resistance network across western European had involved Britain.[1][4]

His honours included: Mentioned in dispatches 1943, MC 1944, DSO 1953, Mentioned in dispatches 1954, MBE 1957, DSO bar 1964, KCB 1977, GBE 1982.[5]

In the year 2000, General Sir Anthony was the guest speaker and guest of honour at the Cheltenham Bournside School and Sixth Form Centre prize ceremony.


From British Library catalogue (October 2006).

By himself

  • 1954. The Edge of the Sword. London: Frederick Muller. (later edition ISBN 0-352-30977-6).
  • 1959. True Book about the Second World War. London: Frederick Muller: London.
  • 1966. The Somme. London: Pan. (later edition ISBN 0-330-28035-X).
  • 1967. Death of an army. London : Barker. (later edition ISBN 1-85326-698-1).
  • 1969. The war in the desert. London: Faber & Faber. ISBN 0-571-08949-6.
  • 1970. Airborne carpet: Operation Market Garden. London: Macdonald & Co. ISBN 0-356-03037-7.
  • 1972. Arnhem : parachutisten vallen uit de hemel. Antwerpen : Standaard.
  • 1975. Goughie. The life of General Sir Hubert Gough. London: Hart-Davis, MacGibbon. ISBN 0-246-64059-6.
  • 1976. Infantry tactics. London: Almark Publishing. ISBN 0-85524-255-8
  • 1988. Opening rounds: lessons of military history 1918–1988. London: Deutsch. ISBN 0-233-98009-1.
  • 1988. Opening round: lessons of military history 1918–1988. London: Deutsch. ISBN 0-233-98009-1.
  • 1990. The British part in the Korean War: Vol.1, A distant obligation. London: HMSO. ISBN 0-11-630953-9.
  • 1994. The army in the air: the history of the Army Air Corps. Far Thrupp, Stroud: A. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-0617-0.
  • 1995. The British part in the Korean War: Vol 2, An honourable discharge. London: HMSO. ISBN 0-11-630958-X.
  • to be published 2007. MacArthur (Great Commanders S.). London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-84684-1

With others

  • Brown, Neville and Farrar-Hockley, Anthony. (1985). Nuclear first use. Buchan & Enright. ISBN 0-907675-26-3
  • Farrar-Hockley, Anthony chapter in: Daniell, David S. (2005). Cap of honour: the 300 years of the Gloucestershire Regiment. Stroud: Sutton. ISBN 0-7509-4172-3.
  • Hamilton, Ian S. M. (ed. Farrar-Hockley, Anthony). (1957). The Commander. London: Hollis & Carter.

See also

The Korean translation of the Edge of the Sword by Kim, Young-Il under the title of "Blue Arirang Unknown by Korean' was published in 2003 and it is still sold in Korea as one of the most highly recommended books even in 2013. As the publisher discontinued the Korean translation, Korean readers are trading actively through Korean internet market the second hand book of the Korean translation of the Edge of the Sword even today. It was also selected as Jinjoong Mungo Vol. 16, recommended book selected by ROK Ministry of Defense.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h . 15 March 2006Obituary: General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley The GuardianDan van der Vat.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g . 14 March 2006.Obituary:Gen Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley The Telegraph
  3. ^ a b Obituary: General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley. The Times
  4. ^ "Secret Italian Unit 'trained in Britain'" in The Guardian, 17 November 1990
  5. ^ Who's Who 2006.
Military offices
Preceded by
David Fraser
General Officer Commanding the 4th Division
Succeeded by
Michael Gow
Preceded by
Sir James Wilson
GOC South East District
Succeeded by
Sir George Cooper
Preceded by
Sir Peter Whiteley
Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces Northern Europe
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Lawson
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