Angus Fraser, a staunch friend to so many who served in the Regiment, died in December 1994 after a long illness borne with quite outstanding courage.
Educated at Wellington, where he was a superb athlete and games player, he later found fun and adventure in Canada. Working in Montreal he served as a young Militia officer with our Allied Regiment, The Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal). This first taste of soldiering persuaded him to take it more seriously and he joined The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars in Aden in 1962.
He then saw further active service as a troop leader in Malaya, Sabah and Brunei. Older than the average cornet, his maturity, well-developed personality and all-around ability already marked him out of the crowd.
A year later he trained as a helicopter pilot, joining the Regiment’s air troop in Wolfenbüttel. By now he was clearly regarded by his contemporaries as primus inter pares; good fun to have around, a ferocious competitor in sport and pretty well everything else, efficient, robustly self-confident, wise beyond his years, blessed with immense charm and an absolute danger to shipping when it came to attractive young women.
In spite of bending bits of two helicopters, Angus was the obvious choice to be seconded to command the 17/21L Air Troop.
He led his pilots with flair, close attention to important detail and a quick grasp of the essentials which made him such an effective adjutant and business leader later. In 1967, at the age of 28, he took over as adjutant from Rodney Martin and served Col Ken Bidie and the Regiment with a devotion to duty which earned that distinguished commanding officer’s profound respect and life-long friendship.
During this time Angus honed those qualities which were to secure his success in later life. In his relentless pursuit of perfection and the maintenance of traditional values, he drove himself hard. In the process, he often frightened the guilty and the slothful, but without ever being vindictive. He never suffered fools gladly but there were many who discovered, often to their surprise, that he could be kind, sympathetic and generous underneath that imposing exterior.
No doubt he appeared arrogant at times, but everyone accepted that this was borne of justifiable confidence in his ability and a disdain for those who were not prepared to strive as best they could in the Regiment’s interest. While conscientiously serving as adjutant he never lost his sense of fun, on and off duty.
His irreverent humour and gregarious nature ensured that laughter was always at hand, even when the pressure was on, and he was splendid company at any party.
Angus Fraser was a good soldier, and he knew it. During his second year as adjutant, and approaching the critical age of 30, he agonised over whether to stay or seek his fortune outside. So many suffer the same quandary, but in 1969 he resigned, married Libby and joined Watney Mann as a trainee manager.
He ensured that the defence of the realm continued in safe hands, however, by visiting the Regiment over the next eight years for training as an officer in the RAC pool of the TAVR, dovetailing this with an increasingly successful business career. He then remained in the Regular Army Reserve of Officers for a further 11 years.
His rapid progress in Watney Mann (later Grand Metropolitan) established his credentials as an astute business manager and charismatic leader. He rose rapidly to become deputy managing director of Chef and Brewer, during which he attended the advanced management course at Harvard Business School in the USA.
After nine hectic years, he moved on. He had always been a keen and knowledgeable field sportsman, with a particular interest in shooting, and was offered the post of director of the British Field Sports Society. However, he accepted in its stead the appointment as managing director of Whitbread Inns, with a seat on the Whitbread Group executive board.
During six very demanding years, Angus energetically transformed this division; as a result, profitability and profit volume both grew dramatically. It was the high point of his commercial career.
On leaving Whitbread in 1991, and in spite of increasing ill health, he soon built up a portfolio of non-executive directorships and consultancies. This busy but rather less frantic stage allowed him to pay more attention to Hornton Hall and its lovely garden, which he and Libby had bought from another splendid regimental personality, Brig ‘Scotty’ Scott-Cockburn and his wife Patsie. During this period he served as chairman of the Warwickshire branch of the BFSS, revitalising its activities and infusing a new sense of purpose.
Angus’ immense sense of fun, robust personality and knack for handling people of every sort and at all levels made him an outstanding leader. His vision, thorough planning, organising ability and quick intelligence ensured his huge success in the mainstream activities of two major groups in a highly competitive industry.
Above all else his honesty and integrity were absolute; this and his fund of commonsense meant that however popular or uncomfortable, his opinions were always respected and valued.
As one of his many business friends wrote: ‘Angus was much loved and respected by so many – it was the key to his success. As an indication of this, over 600 people from all walks of life, including many from the Regiment, attended his memorial service last February.
It was a touching and fitting tribute to a busy and talented man who always kept in touch with people in or from the Regiment, amongst who he counted many of his closest friends. Above everything else, Angus Fraser held a deep affection for and sense of loyalty towards all his family. Our hearts go out to them, and in particular to his wife Libby and their daughters Sophie, Camilla and Emma.