Hugh Beach

General Sir William Gerald Hugh Beach, GBE, KCB, MC (born 20 May 1923) is a former British Army officer who, in retirement, researches and advises on defence policy, arms control and disarmament, with an active interest in promoting concerns about ethical issues of peace and war.

Sir Hugh Beach
Born20 May 1923 (age 96)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1941–1981
Commands heldStaff College, Camberley
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Military Cross

Early life

Beach was educated at Winchester College, Peterhouse, Cambridge (MA 1961) and the University of Edinburgh (MSc 1971).[1]

Military career

Beach joined the Corps of Royal Engineers in August 1941. He saw active service in France in 1944 and in Java in 1946. During the 1960s he commanded an engineer regiment and an infantry brigade, both at Osnabrück in Germany. He was director of army staff duties at the Ministry of Defence from 1971 to 1973, commandant of the Staff College, Camberley from 1974 to 1975 and Deputy Commander-in-Chief UK Land Forces from 1976 to 1977 before becoming Master-General of the Ordnance (Army Board member for Procurement) from 1977 to 1981.[1]

Beach also served as Colonel of the Royal Pioneer Corps from 1976 to 1981.[2]

Later life

Retiring from the army in 1981, he served as warden of St. George's House, Windsor Castle from 1981 to 1986, vice-Lord Lieutenant of Greater London from 1981 to 1987, Chief Royal Engineer from 1982 to 1987 and member of the Security Commission from 1982 to 1991. He chaired Ministry of Defence Study Groups on Censorship in War in 1983 and Education in the Army in 1984. He was director of the Council for Arms Control from 1986 to 1989. In the 1990s he was chairman of the governors of Gordon's and Bedales schools, and also chaired the boards of the Church Army and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Beach is currently a member of the board or executive committee of: the Council for Christian Approaches to Defence,[3] the Centre for Defence Studies (King's College London), the Verification Technology Information Centre (VERTIC),[4] the International Security Information Service (ISIS),[5] and of the British Pugwash Group.[6] He lectures and has contributed chapters to over two dozen books as well as publishing a number of monographs, articles and book reviews. In 1999 he co-authored, with Nadine Gurr, a book on British nuclear weapons policy[7] and, in 2001, a briefing paper on cluster bombs,[8]

In January 2009, The Times newspaper published a joint letter from Field Marshal Lord Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham and General Beach arguing that the UK government should fund more realistic military needs rather than perpetuate its Trident programme,[9] arguing that:

Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently, or are likely to, face — particularly international terrorism; and the more you analyse them the more unusable they appear.


Beach holds an honorary Doctorate of Civil Laws from the University of Kent in Canterbury (1990). He is an honorary fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge and of the Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute.[10]


  1. ^ a b Beach, Hugh (May 1986). "British Defence Policy and the South Atlantic". South Atlantic Council Occasional Papers. City University. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Royal Pioneer Corps". Archived from the original on 5 January 2017. Retrieved 18 December 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. ^ Council for Christian Approaches to Defence and Disarmament
  4. ^ VERTIC
  5. ^ ISIS
  6. ^ Pugwash Conferences on science and world affairs
  7. ^ Beach H and Gurr N Flattering the Passions, Or, The Bomb and Britain's Bid for a World Role
  8. ^ Beach H Cluster Bombs: the Case for New Controls, ISIS Europe, May 2001
  9. ^ UK does not need a nuclear deterrent The Times, 16 January 2009
  10. ^ Hugh Beach – A Memoir (ed) David Evans, (W. G. H. Beach, London, 2003)
Military offices
Preceded by
Patrick Howard-Dobson
Commandant of the Staff College, Camberley
Succeeded by
John Stanier
Preceded by
Sir Allan Taylor
Deputy C-in-C UK Land Forces
Succeeded by
Sir Peter Hudson
Preceded by
Sir John Gibbon
Master-General of the Ordnance
Succeeded by
Sir Peter Leng
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir David Willison
Chief Royal Engineer
Succeeded by
Sir George Cooper
12th Armoured Infantry Brigade (United Kingdom)

The 12th Armoured Infantry Brigade, formerly the 12th Mechanized Brigade, is a regular brigade of the British Army which has been in almost continuous existence since 1899 and now forms part of 3rd (United Kingdom) Division.

Allan Taylor (British Army officer)

Lieutenant General Sir Allan Macnab Taylor KBE MC (26 March 1919 – 13 June 2004) was a British Army officer who commanded 1st Division.

Chief Royal Engineer

The Chief Royal Engineer (CRE) is the official head of the Corps of Royal Engineers of the British Army.

Deputy Commander Field Army (United Kingdom)

The Deputy Commander Field Army is a senior British Army officer who serves as deputy to the Commander Field Army. It currently is held by a Army Reserve officer.

Geoffrey Prime

Geoffrey Arthur Prime (born 21 February 1938) is a British former spy, who disclosed information to the Soviet Union while working for the Royal Air Force and later for Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), a British intelligence agency, responsible for signals intelligence, during the 1960s and 1970s. Prime was convicted in the early 1980s of charges of espionage and child sexual abuse, and released from prison in the 2000s.

George Cooper (British Army officer)

General Sir George Leslie Conroy Cooper, (born 10 August 1925) is a retired senior British Army officer who served as Adjutant-General to the Forces from 1981 to 1984.

Inglis Barracks

Inglis Barracks was a military installation in Mill Hill, London, NW7. Also was referred to as Mill Hill Barracks.

John Gibbon (British Army officer)

General Sir John Houghton Gibbon (21 September 1917 – 1997) was a British soldier who served as Master-General of the Ordnance from 1974 until his retirement in 1977.

John Wilfred Stanier

Field Marshal Sir John Wilfred Stanier, (6 October 1925 – 10 November 2007) was a senior British Army officer who was Chief of the General Staff from 1982 to 1985. He was the first person after the Second World War to become the professional head of the British Army without having seen active service in that war or any subsequent campaign.

List of Honorary Fellows of Peterhouse, Cambridge

This is a list of Honorary Fellows of Peterhouse, Cambridge. A list of current honorary fellows is published on the college's website at Fellows by Seniority.

Sir Hugh Beach

Alfred Brendel

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, Baroness Butler-Sloss

Sir Ian Corder

Adrian Dixon

Sir Richard Eyre

Sir Nicholas Fenn

Chan Gunn

Ian Hacking

Angela Hewitt

Michael Howard, Baron Howard of Lympne

Sir John Kendrew

Sir Aaron Klug

Michael Levitt

Anthony Lloyd, Baron Lloyd of Berwick

Denis Mack Smith

Sir Noel Malcolm

Simon McBurney

Sam Mendes

Sir Christopher Meyer

Sir Declan Morgan

Klaus Roth

Nicholas Stern, Baron Stern of Brentford

James Stirling

Sir John Meurig Thomas

Martin Thomas, Baron Thomas of Gresford

David Wilson, Baron Wilson of Tillyorn

Sir David Wright

Sir Tony Wrigley

Master-General of the Ordnance

The Master-General of the Ordnance (MGO) was a very senior British military position from 1415 to 2013 (except 1855-1895 and 1939-1958) with some changes to the name, usually held by a serving general. The Master-General of the Ordnance was responsible for all British artillery, engineers, fortifications, military supplies, transport, field hospitals and much else, and was not subordinate to the commander-in chief of the British military. In March 2013 the holder was titled as "Director Land Capability and Transformation", but still sat on the Army Board as Master-General of the Ordnance; in September 2013 the post was eliminated.

Order of the British Empire

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations,

and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Recommendations for appointments to the Order of the British Empire were originally made on the nomination of the United Kingdom, the self-governing Dominions of the Empire (later Commonwealth) and the Viceroy of India. Nominations continue today from Commonwealth countries that participate in recommending British (Imperial) honours. Most Commonwealth countries ceased recommendations for appointments to the Order of the British Empire when they created their own honours.

Patrick Howard-Dobson

General Sir Patrick John Howard-Dobson (12 August 1921 – 8 November 2009) was a senior British Army officer and Quartermaster-General to the Forces.

Peter Hudson (British Army officer)

Lieutenant-General Sir Peter Hudson (14 September 1923 – 8 August 2000) was a British Army officer who served as Deputy Commander of UK Land Forces.

Peter Leng

General Sir Peter John Hall Leng, (9 May 1925 – 11 February 2009) was a British Army General and Master-General of the Ordnance (1981–1983) & Counter Terrorism Expert in Northern Ireland.

Royal Pioneer Corps

The Royal Pioneer Corps was a British Army combatant corps that became a front line infantry trained unit in 1985 when they trained at the queens depot in Bassingbourne alongside the Royal Anglian Regiment The Royal Regiment of Fusilleers and the Queens Regiment also used for light engineering tasks. It was formed in 1939 and amalgamated into the Royal Logistic Corps in 1993. Pioneer units performed a wide variety of tasks in all theatres of war, including combat, laying prefabricated track on beaches, and effecting various logistical operations. with Royal Engineers they constructed airfields and roads and erected bridges; they constructed the Mulberry Harbour and laid the Pipe Line Under the Ocean (PLUTO).

Security Commission

The Security Commission, sometimes known as the Standing Security Commission, was a UK non-departmental public body or quango established in 1964 to investigate breaches of security in the public sector. It was abolished in 2010, on the basis that government would investigate breaches of security as and when they occurred.

Staff College, Camberley

Staff College, Camberley, Surrey, was a staff college for the British Army and the presidency armies of British India (later merged to form the Indian Army). It had its origins in the Royal Military College, High Wycombe founded in 1799, which in 1802 became the Senior Department of the new Royal Military College. In 1858 the name of the Senior Department was changed to "Staff College", and in 1870 this was separated from the Royal Military College. Apart from periods of closure during major wars, the Staff College continued to operate until 1997, when it was merged into the new Joint Services Command and Staff College. The equivalent in the Royal Navy was the Royal Naval Staff College, Greenwich and the equivalent in the Royal Air Force was the RAF Staff College, Bracknell.

William Henry Beach

William Henry Beach (1871 – 22 July 1952) was a senior British Army officer who played an important role in the campaign in Mesopotamia 1915 to 1918.

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