• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Major Patrick Telfer Smollett

Patrick Tobias Telfer Smollett was born in Derbyshire, son of Major General Alexander Telfer Smollett, a highly decorated soldier.

Loading article content

The family descended from a brother of Tobias Smollett, the celebrated eighteenth-century novelist, and Patrick's maternal grandfather was Herbert Strutt, a member of the wealthy cotton family who had mills at Belper in Derbyshire. As a result, Patrick was born into substantial wealth, his family having homes and estates in England as well as at Kingairloch in Argyll and Cameron House on Loch Lomond. Each summer his parents and their guests would sail up the west coast to Oban in the family yacht, first the Sanda, before the war, then the Galma. It was an indulged and privileged childhood. Patrick's academic career was far from impressive, but he came of an age when academic achievement was not considered as important as personal development He attended several schools, including Advreck at Crieff, but ultimately failed to pass the entrance exams for Harrow, Eton, and Stowe. A compromise was eventually reached, and he was sent abroad to learn French, before returning home to the Cameron House estate where the inevitable military career was mapped out for him. In 1936 he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Highland Light Infantry and dispatched almost immediately to India. Among his fellow subalterns was the actor David Niven, with whom he forged a lasting friendship. In 1938 he was sent to Palestine and found himself in the midst of the Arab revolt. Shortly afterwards, following the outbreak of the Second World War, Telfer Smollett was serving in the 5th Indian Division with the HLI when he was sent to the Red Sea port of Massawa, in Eritrea. There he found himself in an absurd situation, where the British and Italian military commanders were in daily telephone communication with each other. In Telfer Smollett's opinion, the ensuing battle was entirely unnecessary and a waste of human life, but for ''dash and leadership in the face of enemy bombing'' he was awarded the Military Cross. In 1942 he was sent to Egypt as part of the British Military Mission. Being only five years older, he gained the confidence of the young King Farouk, who had taken a dislike to Sir Miles Lampson, the British Ambassador. The King persuaded Telfer Smollett to return to the UK with a giant 130lb box of chocolates for the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret from Princess Feriel, Farouk's daughter, accompanied by a letter from Farouk to King George demanding Lampson's withdrawal. The letter was duly noted by the Foreign Office, although Lampson stayed in place. Immediately after the war, Telfer Smollett made an initial foray into politics, when he stood as an independent conservative candidate in the 1945 election, but then withdrew. From 1948 until 1951 he was stationed with Allied Command in Berlin, and in 1951 he married Georgina, daughter of Sir Gifford Fox, MP for Henley. They had one son, David, and one daughter, Gabrielle. Serving with his regiment, Telfer Smollett was thereafter stationed in Cyprus from 1955 until 1956, then Egypt, before retiring in 1959. In 1964 he was adopted as the official conservative candidate for West Dunbartonshire, a safe Labour seat. He later stood in Glasgow Pollok, where he was also defeated. In common with other Scottish landowners at the time, he attempted to turn Cameron House into a visitor attraction. His great love of animals inspired him to create the Loch Lomond Bear Park. It was not a great success, and the property was sold in 1990 to become a luxury hotel. The Telfer Smolletts retreated to the adjacent Cameron Home Farm where he bred Highland cattle and started to write his memoirs. At the same time, he continued to play an active role in local affairs and served as president of the Balloch Loch Lomond Highland Games, Vice-Commander of the Loch Lomond Rowing Club, and president of the Loch Lomond Motorcycle Club. He was also appointed Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire, and was a member of the Royal Company of Archers (the Queen's Bodyguard in Scotland). A distinguished, elegant figure, Patrick Telfer Smollett had a keen sense of humour and an indi- vidual charm which won him many friends. He will be remembered as an enormously engaging character, an officer and a gentleman of a generation which is fast disappearing.

Commenting & Moderation

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

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.

PARCH1.405086