Mike Fraser, who has died aged 89, had a varied and adventurous career in which his skill as a horseman played an important part.
He was also an extremely able all round sportsman, representing the Regiment in most fields of sport; polo, hockey and squash to name but a few.
He joined the 7th Queen’s Own Hussars in 1949 in Germany and served with the Regiment in Hong Kong, Tidworth, Catterick and again in BAOR. He is probably one of the very few officers in the Regiment to have served in every Squadron including commanding ‘D’ Squadron in Catterick.
When away from the Regiment he was lucky to go to Cyprus, HQ Middle East Land Forces in Tripoli, Hong Kong and even a spell in Fiji as a Military Intelligence Officer for 3 years.
In the early 1960s, at the height of the space race between America and the Soviet Union, the US Air Force had an ambitious programme for a military presence in orbit and a crewed satellite surveillance capability. Mike was the British representative in a secret operation to establish the viability of Henderson Island, in the Pitcairn Group, British Overseas Territory, as a base in the South Pacific for rescue aircraft. The project was superseded by the Apollo missions.
The government had, however, given Mike a secondary mission – to discover as much as possible about Henderson Island’s flora and fauna – and the information that he obtained proved of great value to the Natural History Museum and other organisations.
In 1960 Mike was one of the team selected to train for the Three Day Event in the Olympic Games in Rome. At Badminton, riding Gipsy Love, a present to the Regiment from Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, our Colonel-in Chief he had a shattering fall in the cross-country phase. Despite being concussed and with two broken bones in his arm, he remounted and finished the course riding with one hand. The following day in the show jumping phase, his left arm in plaster, he completed the competition. He was placed a creditable seventh but it was the end of his hopes for inclusion in the Olympic team.
In 1961, as one of the Army’s high handicap players, he led a polo mission to Iran. The host was Prince Gholuam Reza who deputised for his brother, the Shah. Three years later, Mike represented the Army on a tour to India.
He resigned from the Army in 1973 to farm in Aberdeenshire.
The attraction of full-time equitation, however, proved irresistible and in 1977 he was appointed director of the Royal Stables in Oman. The new Sultan wished to emulate some of the equine events that he ‘had seen on visits to Britain, and Mike set about buying troop horses from India, polo ponies from Argentina and racehorses from England. He soon created a most successful stable and the Sultan had the satisfaction of defeating his neighbours in the Gulf in equine competitions and camel racing.
On return to Scotland, he continued farming. He coached and umpired generations of youngsters at the Perth & Dundee Polo Club and acted as a steward at the Blair Atholl Horse Trials for several years. Our condolences go to his wife Vivienne and his family.