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General Sir David Fraser

Soldier and author;

Born: December 30, 1920; Died 15 July 2012.

General Sir David Fraser, who has died in Hampshire aged 91, had family connections with the Clan Fraser but he spent much of his life abroad or in the south serving with the Grenadier Guards. In retirement General Fraser became a best-selling author writing both military biographies and novels. He published his autobiography (Wars and Shadows) and completed the biography of Field Marshall Viscount Alanbrooke (started by Arthur Bryant).

David William Fraser was the son of Brigadier the Hon William Fraser DSO, MC who in turn was the younger son of the 18th Lord Saltoun, one of the chiefs of the clan Fraser. The scion of the family to which he belongs is the Frasers of Philorth, Lords Saltoun. The branch the senior line and holds the title of Chiefs of the name and arms of Fraser. General Fraser spent much of childhood in Invernesshire and remained devoted to the Highlands.

He attended Eton and joined the Grenadier Guards, doing his initial training at Caterham. Fraser. He excelled in army life from the outset and was part of an elite squad who were streamlined to go to Sandhurst. Years later he wrote: "I was part of an organisation with really high standards, really strict discipline and really good morale."

He was promoted to a troop commander in a tank battalion of the Guards Armoured Division alongside Lord Carrington and the two became fast friends. From 1944 – 45 he served in the Baltic and Normandy and then after the war in the Cameroons and North Borneo.

His first staff appointment came in 1966 when for four years he was Director of Defence Plans (Army) and had to oversee the considerable reduction in manpower ordered by the Labour Government. General Fraser then served with the British Army on the Rhine, returning to the Ministry of Defence to implement further swinging cuts.

His final years in the military were as the UK's Military Representative to Nato and as Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies. He retired in 1980 and published many books. His Knight's Cross: A Life of Erwin Rommel was written with the co-operation of Rommel's son and examined the Field Marshal's career in both world wars and tried to determine whether Rommel was involved in the plot to kill Hitler.

He also wrote fictional novels centred round a young subaltern serving in Crete and Egypt. But it was the military biographies that won him deserved praise. He took immense trouble to research his subjects and his 1996 biography of Frederick the Great was a best seller.

General Fraser's two-volume autobiography was deemed the work of "a civilised and highly literate man". He gave balanced but well-founded portraits of military colleagues. Field-Marshal Bernard Montgomery ("Monty") General Fraser considered "conceited, suspicious, jealous – but a tough-minded, professional with a sure human touch with his troops."

His recollections are highly readable and capture his youth in the Highlands with a particular poignancy. General Fraser also wrote a fine history of his regiment in the Men at Arms series. He was knighted in 1973 and advanced to GCB in 1980. From 1977 – 80 he was an ADC General to the Queen and served as a Deputy-Lieutenant of Hampshire from 1982 –96.

His first marriage in 1947 to Anne Balfour was dissolved. In 1957 he married Julia de la Hey, who along with their two sons and two daughters survive him, as does a daughter from his first marriage.

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