Detailed Pedia

Robert Ford (British Army officer)

Sir Robert Ford
Born29 December 1923
Yealmpton, Devon, England
Died24 November 2015 (aged 91)
Dorset, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1943–1981
Service number284433
Unit4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards
Commands held4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards
7 Armoured Brigade
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Battles/warsWorld War II
Palestine Emergency
The Troubles
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Mentioned in despatches (2)

General Sir Robert Cyril Ford GCB CBE (29 December 1923 – 24 November 2015) was a British army general who was Adjutant-General to the Forces. The Bloody Sunday shootings occurred during his tenure as Commander Land Forces, Northern Ireland.

Early career

Born in Devon to John and Gladys Ford, Robert Ford was educated at Musgrave's College and received an emergency commission in the Royal Armoured Corps in 1943.[1] He served in North West Europe during World War II and was mentioned in despatches.[2] He was appointed to a permanent commission with the substantive rank of lieutenant on 29 June 1946.[3] He was appointed a lieutenant in the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards on 1 February 1947 and was deployed to Palestine during the Palestine Emergency the same year, where as a temporary captain he was again mentioned in despatches in 1948.[2][3] He was promoted to captain on 29 December 1950 and to major on 29 December 1957.[4][5]

Ford was brevetted to lieutenant-colonel on 1 July 1962 and promoted to substantive lieutenant-colonel on 4 February 1966.[6][7] He became Commanding Officer of 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards the same year. Skipping one rank, he was promoted to brigadier on 31 December 1967 and appointed Commander of 7th Armoured Brigade in 1968.[2][8]

Northern Ireland and Bloody Sunday

On 29 July 1971, at the height of the Troubles, Brigadier Ford was appointed Commander Land Forces, Northern Ireland, with the acting rank of major-general, and was promoted to the substantive rank on 29 August.[9][10][11] He was criticised in the Saville Report into the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry for deploying soldiers to arrest rioters: "In our view his decision to use 1 Para as the arrest force is open to criticism but he did not know his decision would result in soldiers firing unjustifiably."[12]

In the secret memo to his superior, dated 7 January 1972, Ford said he was "coming to the conclusion that the minimum force necessary to achieve a restoration of law and order is to shoot selected ringleaders amongst the DYH (Derry Young Hooligans), after clear warnings have been issued".[12] In the event, seven of the innocent victims of Bloody Sunday were indeed Derry teenagers. At the Bloody Sunday inquiry he claimed not to remember having written the memo.[12] Ford relinquished his command on 9 April 1973.[13]

Later career

In 1973, Ford became Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and in 1976 he was appointed Military Secretary.[2] He was Adjutant General from 1978[14] to 1981 when he retired from the British Army.[2]

He was ADC General to the Queen from 1980[15] to 1981.[16]

He was awarded the CB in 1973,[17] the KCB in 1977[18] and the GCB in 1981.[19] He was also awarded the MBE in 1958[20] and the CBE in 1971.[21]


In retirement he was Chairman of the Army Benevolent Fund from 1981 to 1987.[2] He was also Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea from 1981[22] to 1987.[23] He served as Vice-Chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission from 1989 to 1993. He died on 24 November 2015.[24]


In 1949, Ford married Jean Claudia Pendlebury (died 2002) and they had a son.[2] He married Caroline Margaret Peerless (née Leather) in 2003.[24]


  1. ^ "No. 36112". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 July 1943. p. 3430.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Debrett's People of Today 1994
  3. ^ a b "No. 37809". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 December 1946. p. 5953.
  4. ^ "No. 39102". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1950. p. 6463.
  5. ^ "No. 41265". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 December 1957. p. 7585.
  6. ^ "No. 42728". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 July 1962. p. 5555.
  7. ^ "No. 43950". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 April 1966. p. 4389.
  8. ^ "No. 44493". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1967. p. 74.
  9. ^ "No. 45438". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 August 1971. p. 8335.
  10. ^ "No. 45459". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 August 1971. p. 9447.
  11. ^ Journalist recalls Bloody Sunday BBC News, 16 May 2001
  12. ^ a b c Bloody Sunday report published BBC News, 15 June 2010
  13. ^ "No. 45949". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 April 1973. p. 4605.
  14. ^ "No. 47632". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 September 1978. p. 10615.
  15. ^ "No. 48108". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 February 1980. p. 3029.
  16. ^ "No. 48589". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 April 1981. p. 5767.
  17. ^ "No. 45984". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 June 1973. p. 6474.
  18. ^ "No. 47102". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1976. p. 2.
  19. ^ "No. 48467". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1980. p. 2.
  20. ^ "No. 41404". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 1958. p. 3518.
  21. ^ "No. 45384". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 1971. p. 5961.
  22. ^ "No. 48710". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 August 1981. p. 10650.
  23. ^ "No. 51017". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 August 1987. p. 9877.
  24. ^ a b "General Sir Robert Ford obituary". The Telegraph. 26 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Jack Harman
Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Succeeded by
Philip Ward
Preceded by
Sir Patrick Howard-Dobson
Military Secretary
Succeeded by
Sir Robin Carnegie
Preceded by
Sir Jack Harman
Adjutant General
Succeeded by
Sir George Cooper
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Anthony Read
Governor, Royal Hospital Chelsea
Succeeded by
Sir Roland Guy
Preceded by
Sir Rollo Pain
Colonel of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards
Succeeded by
Robert Baddeley

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