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An unlikely Equerry to the Duke of Gloucester who fought in a series of conflicts including the Zanzibar Revolution and the Cyprus Campaign, John Acland was a veteran British soldier who died on 17 November, 2006. He was 77.He was perhaps best known for his role as Commander of the UK Monitoring Force in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia during the late 1970s and for being an outspoken officer, with a sharp sense of humour.In later life, he was invested as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and even a Knight Commander of the Order of Bath.Besides the Army, from which he retired in 1981, he also dedicated much of his considerable energy to problems of alcoholism among young people, first as a director of research with Allied Vinters and later as chairman of the South West Working Party on Alcohol.John Hugh Bevil Acland was born on 26 November, 1928. Educated at Eton College, Berkshire, he later attended Sandhurst and, in 1948, joined the Scots Guards.He went on to fight in a series of major conflicts including the Malayan Campaign, Cyprus campaign and even the Kenyan Mau Mau Uprising.He married the daughter of a brigadier, Myrtle Crawford in 1953. They had two children.In 1957 he became Equerry to the Duke of Gloucester but nevertheless proved an inspired choice, while the 1960s saw him serve as Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards in the Zanzibar Revolution, as well as the Northern Ireland riots.Between 1975 and 1978, he was promoted to Commander of the Land Forces in Cyprus. This was soon followed by a position as Commander of the Monitoring Force in Rhodesia in 1979 and, later still, General Officer in Command of the South West District.Meanwhile, he was invested as a Commander, Order of the British Empire in 1978 and even a Knight Commander, Order of the Bath, two years later.After retiring from the Army in 1981, further honours followed for Acland including Deputy Lieutenant of Devon, Honorary Colonel of the Exeter University Officer’s Training Corps, Honorary Colonel of the Royal Devon Yeomanry, Honorary Colonel of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry and, finally, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Devon.Besides this, he was also president of the Royal British Legion, Devon, and member of the Dartmoor National Park Authority. A trustee to the latter, he even ran his own Devon farm.He devoted most of his later life to problems of alcoholism in young people and eventually died in Devon on 17 November, 2006, at the age of 77.With a reputation for being outspoken and ridiculing anyone who spoke pompously, Acland was a devoted soldier who inspired respect and admiration in both his superiors and subordinates.One of his greatest achievements was perhaps his command of the British Monitoring Force in Rhodesia during the late 1970s, instrumental in instilling guerrillas’ confidence in the all-important ‘democratic process’.
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Published in: Online.
Published from: November 17, 2006.
Region: National
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