Major General Jeremy Phipps who has died at the age of 78, lived life to the full, with a highly successful Army career in both The Queen’s Own Hussars and the SAS.
He rose to command The Regiment in both Germany and Catterick, before being appointed to command 11 Armoured Brigade. His “parallel” career in the SAS saw him rise to become the Director Special Forces before his final appointment as Senior British Loan Officer in Oman in the rank of Major General.
Regimentally, he twice commanded a squadron, each time including tours in Northern Ireland. As ‘B’ Squadron Leader in Armagh, the then Brigade Major (later Lt. Col. H. Jones VC) commented after a patrol that it was the best non-infantry patrol that he had witnessed. ‘JJJ’, as he was known by all ranks, was a first-class shot both on the ranges and when undertaking country sports.
Although he was highly competitive, his brother officers did occasionally get the better of him. One remembered instance was during a drive when he missed all the birds as his ammunition had been successfully “doctored” to fire “blanks”. He was not amused!
Jeremy’s obituaries in the national papers recalled a number of well-known incidents in both his military and subsequent civilian careers. He is particularly remembered for going to the assistance of a French yacht during the horrendous weather of the 1974 Fastnet race when he had to free the tow rope of the yacht whilst in 40-foot waves. He had to be held over the side to free the broken tow rope that had become entangled in the propeller.
Jeremy was always happiest being with soldiers and fellow officers, who unanimously recognised that he would go that extra mile to assist them when necessary. Whilst never being drawn to the administrative side of Army life, he demonstrated his ability for detail as part of the planning team for the retaking of the Iranian Embassy, whilst serving with the SAS.
As Brigade Commander he tried to reintroduce the concept of “dummy tanks”, something that Field Marshal Montgomery had previously championed.
He was lucky enough to be selected to sail one of the legs around the world on ‘British Soldier’, the first time an Army crew had been entered in the race. He also played a number of sports at Regimental level and is remembered for being part of the Regimental Rugby squad that went on to become the BAOR Runners up.
On leaving the Army, Jeremy held a range of senior security-related posts with well know organisations and companies.
He was greatly supported throughout his career by his wife, Sue, whom he married in 1974. She is a world-renowned painter, her considerable artistic skills have been passed on to their children Jake and Jemma.
All those that knew Jeremy would agree that he lived life to the full, and was a courageous officer who would always put his soldiers first. He will be remembered for his humour, friendship, thoughtfulness and generosity. The respect and affection he was held in were demonstrated at his Memorial Service at which there were over 500 friends and former colleagues in the congregation.
HRH The Duke of Kent, accompanied by HRH Prince Michael of Kent, was in attendance representing HM The Queen. A further 4 senior members of The Royal family were also represented including Captain Charles Davies representing The Princess Royal. Captain Philip Gay gave an excellent eulogy, succinctly summarising Jeremy’s life.
The Queen’s Own Hussar’s regimental motto “Nec Aspera Terrent” sums up his approach to life. We will not see the like of him again.