MAJOR General, the 6th Earl of Cathcart, DSO, MC, who died on June 15 at the age of 79, was a descendent of a distinguished military family which dated back to the twelfth century. A knight named Sir Alan Cathcart served with Robert Bruce, and a namesake was granted the title of Baron in the Scottish peerage in 1442. His successor was killed at Flodden in 1513, and the 3rd Baron was killed at Pinkie in 1547. The 8th Baron served with Marlborough, and the 9th fought at Fontenoy and Culloden. The 10th Baron was created Baron Greenock and Viscount Cathcart (the family seat was Cathcart Castle in Renfrewshire) and other members fought at Waterloo and in the Crimean War of 1854-56. The family lands were sold to the Glasgow Corporation in the 1920s by the 5th Earl.

Alan Cathcart, the only son of the 5th Earl whom he succeeded in 1927, was born on August 22, 1919, and was educated at Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he won a ''blue'' for athletics and won the quarter-mile in the match against Oxford in 1938. He was commissioned into the Scots Guards in 1939 and was awarded an MC in Normandy in July 1944 when, as commander of the right flank of the Right Forward Squadron of the Scots Guards, he led his squadron for more than three miles through minefields in poor light and under enemy fire. In August 1944, when his squadron was tasked to support the 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, which was aiming to establish itself on a high ridge, it did so in the face of heavy anti-tank, mortar, machine gun, and rifle fire until the Argylls had attained their objective.

The following March, Cathcart was awarded a DSO when, in company of the 2nd Lincolns, Cathcart squadron was ordered to capture Winnekendonk in the Rhineland. The task required an advance of more than 100 yards over flat ground with no cover and soon ran into fierce opposition from German artillery, including three 88mm, four 75mm guns, as well as a number of smaller anti-tank weapons. In the assault, which was pressed home with the utmost determination, his squadron disabled two 88mm and two self-propelled guns and engaged in close-quarter fighting which went on well into the night before the town was finally captured. Cathcart's leadership, personal bravery and skilful handling of his squadron under the most difficult conditions, and against a variety of fierce opposition right up to the final stages of the battle, eventually led to the capture of this important enemy strongpoint.

After the war, Cathcart became the first Adjutant at the newly formed Sandhurst, a combination of the former Royal Military College at Sandhurst and the Royal Military Academy Woolwich.

After two staff appointments, Cathcart was appointed the command the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, subsequently became Colonel of the Staff of Scottish Command in 1962, and then became Commander of 152 Highland Brigade. In 1967, he was appointed to the planning staff of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe and then from 1970-1973 was British Commandant in Berlin. After retirement from the Army, Cathcart became an active member of the House of Lords, being Deputy Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords.

He was a member of the Royal Company of Archers (the Queen's Bodyguard for Scotland). He was very active as president of various charitable organisations. An enthusiastic and experienced sailor, he was Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron from 1974-1980.

He was appointed CB in 1973 and, in addition to his DSO and MC, he was mentioned in Despatches in the Second World War.

In 1946, he married Rosemary Smyth-Osbourne, who died in 1980. They had a son, Charles, born in 1952, who succeeds to the title, and two daughters. In 1984, he married Marie Isobel, Lady Weldon.