Air Commodore

Air Commodore

Born: May 16 1928; Died: November 19 2013.

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Air Commodore Adrian McGuire, who has died aged 85, was an expert on the volatile political situation in the Middle East and a most distinguished director of the RAF Regiment.

His command of Arabic - he had been an interpreter at the beginning of his career - proved invaluable when he carried out tense and complex ­negotiations with the Saudis on behalf of the first president of the United Arab Emirates. In a skirmish that ensued, three British officers were murdered and McGuire interpreted at the inquiry.

Adrian Brian McGuire was born in Glasgow and attended St Aloysius College. In 1946 he gained a cadetship to the RAF College, Cranwell, and also did his national service during these years.

In 1950, he was commissioned into the RAF's Secretarial Branch. He then studied Arabic and from 1952 acted as an interpreter before being posted to the Oman as an intelligence officer.

Postings followed with the RAF Regiment in the barren uplands of the West Aden Protectorate where Mr McGuire's language skills and comprehensive grasp of the fraught political situation proved exceptionally useful. His sure diplomatic skills were invaluable in calming down many bitter inter-tribal rivalries and his military nerve held steady when a tribal force attacked an Aden military group.

There were several deaths of officers but Air Commodore McGuire, who was there as an observer, took an influential part in rallying and assisting the Aden forces which eventually resulted in a satisfactory conclusion. The wounded were immediately cared for and the dead buried with due ceremony.

Air Commodore McGuire was posted to the Yemen in 1957 and led local tribesmen to the rescue of a British Army platoon which had been caught in an ambush. With much courage, he ordered his rescue party to hold the insurgents at bay and he went forward, under constant fire, to tend the wounded in the British platoon. His prompt and unselfish action undoubtedly saved many lives.

Flt/Lt Philip McElligots has written a vivid account of the affair. He was with the Aden Protectorate Levies, attached to the RAF, and recalls "scouting on camels along the Yemeni border to pinpoint likely aircraft ­landing sites with friend, Flight Lieutenant Adrian McGuire and the Tribal Executioner Habeili; dawn in Dhala with the sound of bagpipes wafting across the hills as the Piper of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders blew reveille".

The Air Commodore returned to Britain, was awarded an MBE, and was attached to the Foreign Office during the Anglo-Yemeni truce talks in 1962. His experience and linguistic abilities again proved invaluable.

Two years later, he assumed command of No 51 Squadron, RAF Regiment, part of the RAF's Strategic Rapid Reaction Force, and was immediately put under pressure when Prime Minister Ian Smith declared Rhodesia an independent state in 1965.

Mr McGuire and his forces were dispatched to Zambia to protect the local airfields which had to remain in operation to enable vital supplies and medical equipment to be transported to land-locked Zambia. The assignment required exceptional flying abilities and immense tact as the political situation was extremely sensitive and charged.

His last appointment came in 1979 when he became director of the RAF Regiment.

He retired in 1981 and took up a post with the Chase Manhattan Bank as vice-president in charge of the bank's global security - especially in Europe. Unfortunately, ill health forced his retirement from the bank in 1989.

The Air Commodore, a man of cool nerve and much respected by his ­military colleagues, remained proud of his Scottish heritage and finely epitomised the St Aloysius motto: ad majora natus sum - I am born for greater things.

He married Ann Wingrove, a WRAF officer, in 1960. Their marriage was dissolved in 1981.

Later, they reconciled and ­remarried. His wife and daughter survive him.