Born: April 19, 1945;

Died: September 26, 2021.

MAJOR General Mark Strudwick CBE, who has died aged 76, had a distinguished military career, notably in Northern Ireland, and was the last General Officer commanding the Army in Scotland, his retirement coinciding with the reorganisation of the northern British regiments. He was the last governor of Edinburgh Castle and a prominent supporter of the Order of St John.

The Sandhurst-educated Royal Scots officer was twice mentioned in despatches from Northern Ireland, and in later life he made a success of running the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust.

In January 1985 he was brought in to oversee the investigation into the cold-blooded killing of two serving soldiers and a retired major by a Royal Scots corporal in a £19,000 payroll robbery that shocked Scotland.

Col Angus Loudon, who served in the Army and alongside Strudwick at the Order of St John, told The Herald: “Mark was an honest man of much dignity and charm. Everyone under his command or at the Order recognised his qualities of leadership and sense of duty. He was a passionate supporter of the military and proud to uphold its traditions. Mark was a scrupulously fair officer and a lovely man.”

Mark Jeremy Strudwick, the son of Ronald Strudwick, a publisher, in Kent, was educated at St Edmund’s School, Canterbury, and after passing out of Sandhurst in 1966 he was commissioned into the Royal Scots and subsequently served in the British Army on the Rhine, Cyprus, Canada, India and Northern Ireland.

He was first mentioned in despatches in 1984 when he resolved a dangerous riot during a tour of duty in west Belfast’s Springfield Road. The second mention came while he was Brigade Commander, 3 Infantry Brigade, in South Armagh. In 1990 he was awarded the CBE for his leadership after the creation of observation towers in Armagh.

He was appointed CO of 1st Battalion The Royal Scots in 1984 in Germany – always remembered as a most happy posting.

The payroll robbery in Penicuik in January 1985 was, however, a black day for the Army. Corporal Andrew Walker had checked a 9mm Sterling submachine-gun out of an armoury on the morning of January 17; three men were later found shot dead.

Tact and diplomacy were vital. Strudwick ordered that all weapons and ammunition were accounted for and examined. A bullet in one of the victims forensically matched the gun signed out by the killer. After a three-week trial, Walker was convicted and sentenced to 30 years, later reduced on appeal to 27 years.

In the 1990s, Strudwick, as director of infantry, was involved in the severe reduction in manpower throughout the Army. Worse followed in 2006 when he was handed the military “hot potato” of approving and publicly defending the politically explosive creation of a single Scottish regiment. It was a sensitive task; Strudwick’s sense of discretion proved crucial.

He then spent some years in senior postings, which included a return to Northern Ireland, an aide de camp to The Queen (1996-97) and the joint posting of General Officer Commanding the Army in Scotland and Governor of Edinburgh Castle.

On his retirement from the Army in 2000, Strudwick told The Herald: “I was absolutely determined not to sit at home and do the garden. Everybody said to me, you have got to take a couple of years off, but I wanted to get a second career.”

His most public appointment was as chief executive of the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust, which helps many young to get a foot on the ladder for a business career. It was an inspired appointment and Strudwick’s commitment and enthusiasm encouraged many young Scots to start a business with PSYBT’s constructive assistance.

Margaret Gibson, who worked with him in the Trust’s Glasgow offices, recalls: “Mark was always positive. He spoke to the young in a practical and friendly manner and made them feel important. Mark wanted them to fulfil their potential. He had the delightful habit of lightening the atmosphere at formal meetings with his cheerful sense of humour.”

Another project to which he devoted much energy was as the Prior of Scotland of the Order of St John since 2015. He reorganised some of its activities and expanded its excellent charitable work throughout Scotland. He also focused its work abroad, especially at the St John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem.

Professor Mark Compton, Lord Prior, has paid tribute. He said: “Mark and Sue [Strudwick’s second wife] were a wonderful team, not only leading and nurturing all St John people in the Priory of Scotland, but also extended their warmth, generosity and encouragement to many other parts of the Order.”

Strudwick was a trustee of Historic Scotland Foundation, a governor of Gordonstoun, chairman of the Royal Scots Club in Edinburgh and a member of the Royal Company of Archers. As chairman of the Scottish Veterans’ Residencies he often visited former soldiers in their homes in Edinburgh and Broughty Ferry.

Strudwick was a passionate lover of the Aarmy and its traditions. He was a devoted Scot – his adopted nation – and participated in many annual and national ceremonies. He was a keen countryman, angler and golfer. He is survived by his wife Sue, along with a son and daughter from his first marriage, to Janet Vivers, who died in 2013, and by three stepchildren.