Peter Terry

Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter David George Terry, GCB, AFC (18 October 1926 – 19 December 2017)[1] was a senior Royal Air Force commander who held a number of high-level British and NATO posts. Terry was Governor of Gibraltar from 1985 to 1989.

Sir Peter Terry
Born(1926-10-18)18 October 1926
Ramsgate, Kent, England
Died19 December 2017(2017-12-19) (aged 91)
Aylesbury, United Kingdom
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Air Force
Years of service1946–1984
RankAir Chief Marshal
Commands heldDeputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (1981–84)
RAF Germany (1979–81)
Vice-Chief of the Air Staff (1977–79)
RAF El Adem (1969–70)
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Air Force Cross
Other workGovernor of Gibraltar (1985–89)

Royal Air Force career

Terry joined the Royal Air Force in the ranks as an RAF Regiment aircraftman 2nd class on 17 July 1946.[2] His potential for officer service was quickly recognised and Terry was commissioned as a pilot officer in the RAF Regiment on 29 May 1947.[3] Spending the next nine years as a junior officer in the RAF Regiment, serving on LIght Anti-Aircraft sqns in RAF Germany and as Personal Staff Officer to the Commandant-General of the RAF Regiment. He transferred to the General Duties Branch in April 1956.[4] During the later 1950s and 1960s, he worked his way up the officer ranks. As a group captain, Terry was station commander of RAF El Adem, Libya, from 1969–1970. He was there in September 1969 when Colonel Gaddafi overthrew King Idris of Libya in a coup. Terry oversaw withdrawal of British troops from El Adem and Tobruk in March 1970.

Terry was appointed the Assistant Chief of Staff in the Plans and Policy Division of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in 1975.[5] On returning to the United Kingdom, he took up the post of Vice-Chief of the Air Staff on 25 March 1977.[6] On 30 April 1979, Terry was appointed Commander-in-Chief of RAF Germany. Following promotion to air chief marshal,[7] he was appointed Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe at SHAPE on 9 April 1981. Terry remained as Deputy SACEUR until 16 July 1984 and he retired from the RAF several months later.[8]

Governor of Gibraltar

Terry was Governor of Gibraltar from 19 November 1985 to December 1989.[9] During his tenure as governor, Terry authorised the Special Air Service (SAS) to pursue Provisional IRA members as part of Operation Flavius.

IRA shooting

On 18 September 1990 the Provisional Irish Republican Army attempted to kill Terry at his home in Main Road, Milford, Staffordshire. The attack took place at 9 pm, while Terry was sitting reading. The shooter(s) opened fire through a window, hitting him at least nine times. His wife, Betty, Lady Terry, was also shot and injured, near her eye.[10] The couple's daughter, Liz, was found suffering from shock. Terry's face had to be rebuilt as the shots shattered his face and two high-velocity bullets lodged a fraction of an inch from his brain.[11] The then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, said that she "was utterly appalled and deeply grieved" by the shooting.[12]


In 1983 Terry was made as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.[13] However, there was a long period before one of the 34 stalls set aside for the most senior knights fell vacant.[14] Finally, in 2006, Terry was installed as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.[15]

Later life and death

In later life, Terry and his wife moved to Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire.[16] He was a strong supporter of his local church and also a keen golfer until his old leg wound began to give him trouble and restrict his mobility.[14] Terry died on 19 December 2017, aged 91. He is survived by his wife Betty, daughter Liz, and son Stephen.[16]


  2. "No. 37758". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 October 1946. p. 5086.
  3. "No. 38035". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 August 1947. p. 3670.
  4. "No. 40998". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 February 1957. p. 971.
  5. "No. 46526". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 March 1975. p. 3973.
  6. Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation – Air Council Appointments Archived 10 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. "No. 48547". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 March 1981. p. 3444.
  8. "No. 49939". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 November 1984. p. 16026.
  9. Michael Brufal. "Governors of Gibraltar (1945 onwards)". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 9 May 2007.
  10. Rule, Sheila (20 September 1990). "I.R.A. Raid Wounds an Ex-British Aide". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  11. "IRA gun attack on ex Governor". Retrieved 9 May 2007.
  12. "Remarks condemning IRA attack on Sir Peter Terry ("deeply grieved")". Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  13. Who's Who 1985,page 1900
  14. Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Terry - obituary
  15. "Queen attends Order of the Bath". 17 May 2006. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  16. Obituary – Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Terry
Military offices
Preceded by
Michael Beetham
Assistant Chief of Staff (Plans and Policy Division)
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe

Succeeded by
Keith Williamson
Preceded by
Sir David Evans
Vice-Chief of the Air Staff
Succeeded by
Sir John Nicholls
Preceded by
Sir John Stacey
Commander-in-Chief RAF Germany
Also Commander of the Second Tactical Air Force

Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Kennedy
Preceded by
Sir John Stacey
Deputy Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Central Europe
Succeeded by
Sir John Gingell
Preceded by
Sir Jack Harman
Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe
With Günter Luther (to 1982), Günter Kießling (1982–84) and Hans-Joachim Mack (1984)

Succeeded by
Sir Edward Burgess
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir David Williams
Governor of Gibraltar
Succeeded by
Sir Derek Reffell
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