Field Marshal Sir Nigel Thomas Bagnall, (10 February 1927 – 8 April 2002) was Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army from 1985 to 1988. Early in his military career he saw action during the Palestine Emergency, the Malayan Emergency, the Cyprus Emergency and the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation, and later in his career he provided advice to the British Government on the future role of Britain's nuclear weapons.
Sir Nigel Bagnall
|Born||10 February 1927|
|Died||8 April 2002 75)(aged|
|Years of service||1946–1989|
|Commands held||Chief of the General Staff|
British Army of the Rhine
4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards
|Awards||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath|
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Military Cross & Bar
Born the son of Lieutenant Colonel Harry Stephen Bagnall and Marjory May Bagnall and educated at Wellington College, Bagnall undertook National Service for a year before being commissioned into the Green Howards on 5 January 1946. On 13 February 1946 he transferred to the Parachute Regiment and was deployed to Palestine where the British Mandate was about to end. Promoted to lieutenant on 24 September 1949, he served in Malaya, where as a platoon commander, he was awarded the Military Cross in 1950, and a bar to the Military Cross in 1952.
Promoted to captain on 10 February 1954, he returned to the Green Howards in summer 1954 and then took part in counter-insurgency operations against EOKA units in Cyprus in 1955. He transferred to 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards on 24 April 1956. He was promoted to major on 10 February 1961 and appointed Military Assistant to the Vice-Chief of Defence Staff in May 1964 and then became the Senior Staff Officer dealing with intelligence activities for operations in Borneo in March 1966.
Promoted to lieutenant colonel on 31 December 1966, he became the Commanding Officer of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards in 1967 and served in that capacity in Omagh in Northern Ireland and Sennelager in Germany. Promoted to colonel on 31 December 1969, he became Commander Royal Armoured Corps in 1st (British) Corps in December 1970, before receiving further promotion to brigadier on 31 December 1970. He went on to be Secretary of the Chiefs of Staff Committee at the Ministry of Defence in September 1973. He was appointed General Officer Commanding 4th Division on 21 September 1975 with the substantive rank of major general from 1 November 1975 and Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Policy) at the Ministry of Defence on 7 January 1978.
He became commander of 1st (British) Corps on 1 November 1980 with the rank of lieutenant general and, having been appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the New Year Honours 1981, went on to be Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine and Commander of NATO's Northern Army Group with the rank of general on 1 July 1983. As Commander of the Northern Army Group he grappled with 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.
After being advanced to a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the Queen's Birthday Honours 1985 and also becoming ADC to the Queen on 30 July 1985, he was appointed Chief of the General Staff in August 1985 in which capacity he was closely involved in the debate about the future role of Britain's nuclear weapons. He was promoted to field marshal on 9 September 1988 on his retirement from the British Army.
In retirement he became a military historian and fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He wrote a history of the Punic wars published in 1990 and, two years after his death, he had a history of the Peloponnesian War published.
- Bagnall, Nigel, The Punic Wars: Rome, Carthage and the Struggle for the Mediterranean, London: Hutchinson, 1990, ISBN 0-091-74421-0.
- Bagnall, Nigel, The Peloponnesian War: Athens, Sparta and the Struggle for Greece, London: Pimlico, 2004, ISBN 978-0-712-69881-8.
- Debrett's People of Today 1994
- Heathcote, Anthony pg 35
- "No. 37467". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 February 1946. p. 954.
- "No. 37517". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 March 1946. p. 1621.
- "No. 38720". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 September 1949. p. 4552.
- "No. 39048". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 October 1950. p. 5292.
- "No. 39839". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 April 1953. p. 2406.
- "No. 40094". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 February 1954. p. 848.
- "No. 40760". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 April 1956. p. 2393.
- Heathcote, Anthony pg 36
- "No. 44223". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 January 1967. p. 307.
- "No. 45013". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 January 1970. p. 215.
- "No. 45271". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1971. p. 117.
- "No. 46692". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 September 1975. p. 11931.
- "No. 46727". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 November 1975. p. 13883.
- "No. 47437". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 January 1978. p. 599.
- "No. 48386". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 December 1980. p. 16704.
- "No. 48467". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1980. p. 2.
- "No. 49412". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 July 1983. p. 9145.
- "Obituary: Field Marshal Sir Nigel Bagnall". The Guardian. 11 April 2002. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
- "No. 50154". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 1985. p. 2.
- "No. 50226". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 August 1985. p. 11147.
- Heathcote, Anthony, pg 37
- "No. 48614". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 May 1981. p. 6937.
- "No. 50233". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 August 1985. p. 11483.
- Bagnall, Nigel The Punic Wars Thomas Dunne Books, 1990, ISBN 978-0-312-34214-2
- Bagnall, Nigel The Peloponnesian War Thomas Dunne Books, 2004, ISBN 978-0-312-34215-9
- "Obituary: Field Marshal Sir Nigel Bagnall". The Guardian. 11 April 2002. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Heathcote, Tony (1999). The British Field Marshals 1736–1997. Barnsley (UK): Pen & Sword. ISBN 0-85052-696-5.
- Mackenzie, J. J. G. (1989). The British Army and the operational level of war. Tri-Service. ISBN 978-1854880093.
| General Officer Commanding 4th Division
Sir Peter Leng
| General Officer Commanding I Corps
Sir Martin Farndale
Sir Michael Gow
| Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine|
Sir John Stanier
| Chief of the General Staff
Sir John Chapple