Widow of D-Day hero;
Born: May 20, 1917; Died: March 3, 2012.
LADY Lovat, who has died aged 94, was the daughter of an English baronet and wife of the late Second World War D-Day commando hero and chief of the Clan Fraser, Lord Lovat. He was the man who led his Highland-trained commandos on to Sword Beach under heavy fire on June 6, 1944, carrying his trademark walking stick and firing his old Winchester rifle, while his personal piper, the Glaswegian Bill Millin, belted out Hielin' Laddie to the astonishment of the German defenders.
Married in 1938, the self-effacing Rosamund Broughton spent most of her life with Lord Lovat in the family's historic Beaufort Castle at Beauly in Inverness-shire until his heirs incurred inheritance tax and other debts of millions and the castle was sold to businesswoman Ann Gloag.
Lady Lovat and her family nevertheless retained some land and property – now handled by Beauly-based Lovat Estates – in old Clan Fraser territory, where she was much loved by locals for the rest of her life.
Ironically, after her husband bequeathed the castle to his heirs, Rosie, as she was known, found herself living in Balblair House, Beauly, where she and her husband had housed Canadian lumberjacks assisting the war effort by logging in 1942-43. Those homesick lumberjacks, from the Canadian Forestry Corps, later recalled a gracious Lord and Lady Lovat inviting them to the castle as guests, including for mass and Christmas dinner in 1941.
For most of the war, she had been fortunate in that her husband, at the time known as Brigadier Simon Fraser, was based not far away, training British, Free French and other Allied commandos in tough conditions, including hand-to-hand combat, at Achnacarry near Fort William. And after he was gravely wounded six days after D-Day, much to his frustration as a commando leader, he was soon back home with her.
He and his men had helped take Pegasus Bridge near Sword Beach, an action immortalised in the 1962 Hollywood blockbuster The Longest Day, in which Peter Lawford played Lord Lovat. He famously had his piper play his men across the bridge to the strains of Blue Bonnets over the Border.
Rosamond Delves Broughton was born in London on 20 May, 1917, to Major Sir Henry John "Jock" Delves Broughton of the Irish Guards and his wife Vera Edyth Griffith-Boscawen. She had one sibling, an elder brother (the future Major and Sir) Evelyn Delves Broughton. As Hitler became an increasing threat to Europe, she married Simon Joseph Fraser, known to his friends as Shimi from the historic gaelic title The MacShimidh (son of Simon) for the chief of the Clan Fraser.
The newlyweds took over Beaufort Castle from his mother, although it had been almost destroyed in a fire in June 1937. Its picture gallery and library had been gutted but the new Lady Lovat set about painstakingly restoring it.
With the outbreak of war, Shimi Lovat joined the Lovat Scouts, the regiment his father had founded, but soon found himself training commandos – including the Free French, Dutch, Belgian, Polish, Norwegian and Czechoslovakian volunteers – at Achnacarry.
Although her husband survived the near-fatal wound after D-Day and lived for more than 50 further years, Lady Lovat's life was dotted with family tragedy. The couple had six children – four sons and two daughters – but only one son and the two daughters survive her. Her annus horribilis was 1994, when two of her sons died, a year ahead of their father. Their youngest son Andrew was killed by a charging buffalo while on safari in Tanzania at the age of 42.
Only a few days later, their eldest son, Simon, who had incurred heavy business losses which eventually led to the sale of Beaufort Castle, died of a heart attack at the age of 54 during a hunt in the grounds of the castle. The war hero himself, Lord Lovat, died in 1995.
A third son, the Right Honourable Hugh "Hugo" Fraser died in February last year at the age of 63. He was a much-loved Highland farmer, a devout Roman Catholic passionate about preserving native woodland trees who had served as a leader of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society. His close friend, the Archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conti, officiated at his funeral.
The current Lord Lovat and chief of the Clan Fraser is investment manager Simon Fraser, grandson of the war hero. One of his sisters is Honor Fraser, formerly a top British fashion model.
Lady Lovat had moved to London in recent years to be closer to most of her family and died at her home on Montpelier Street, Knightsbridge. She is survived by her son Kim and daughters Fiona and Tessa. She will be buried alongside her husband in the family plot at the historic St Mary's Roman Catholic Church on the banks of the river Beauly in Eskadale.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.