Nigel Bagnall

Nigel Bagnall
Sir Nigel Bagnall
Field Marshal Sir Nigel Bagnall
Born 10 February 1927(1927-02-10)
Died 8 April 2002(2002-04-08) (aged 75)
Allegiance United KingdomUnited Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1946 - 1989
Rank Field Marshal
Commands held 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards
4th Division
1st British Corps
British Army of the Rhine
Battles/wars Palestine Emergency
Malayan Emergency
Cyprus Emergency
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Military Cross

Field Marshal Sir Nigel Thomas Bagnall GCB, CVO, MC (10 February 1927 – 8 April 2002) was Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army.


Army career

Born in India and educated at Wellington College, he was commissioned into the Green Howards in 1946.[1] He served in Palestine, Malaya (where as a platoon commander he was awarded the Military Cross), Singapore, Cyprus and Germany. Having changed regiments, in 1967 he became the Commanding Officer of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards.[2]

From 1970 to 1972 he was Commander Royal Armoured Corps in 1st British Corps.[2]

In 1975 he was appointed General Officer Commanding 4th Division.[2] In 1980 became commander of 1st British Corps (1 (BR) Corps) and then in 1982 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR)[2] and Commander of NATO's Northern Army Group (COMNORTHAG).

During his time as Commander 1 (BR) Corps he was responsible reorganising all formation headquarters ('hardening and reducing'), introducing uniform unit and formation Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and for reorienting the corps defence plan to non-positional defence and offensive action. As COMNORTHAG he carried this into NATO's strategy of forward defence, when he persuaded the Germans that some ground would have to be surrendered to withstand a massive Soviet attack.[3]

He was Chief of the General Staff from 1985 to 1989.

Later career

He was also a military historian and fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He wrote a history of the Punic wars published by Pimlico in 1990.[4] Two months before his death, he had a book on the Peloponnesian War published.[5]


  1. ^ Heathcote, Anthony pg 35
  2. ^ a b c d Heathcote, Anthony pg 36
  3. ^ Obituary, accessed February 2009
  4. ^ Bagnall, Nigel The Punic Wars
  5. ^ Bagnall, Nigel The Peloponnesian War

Further reading

  • Heathcote, T.A. (1999). The British Field Marshals 1736-1997. Pen & Sword Books Ltd. ISBN 0-85052-696-5
Military offices
Preceded by
Michael Gow
General Officer Commanding the 4th Division
Succeeded by
Richard Vickers
Preceded by
Sir Peter Leng
GOC 1st (British) Corps
1980 – 1983
Succeeded by
Sir Martin Farndale
Preceded by
Sir Michael Gow
Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine
Succeeded by
Sir Martin Farndale
Preceded by
Sir John Stanier
Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir John Chapple

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