Peter Wall (British Army officer)

General Sir Peter Anthony Wall, GCB, CBE, DL, FREng[1] (born 10 July 1955)[2] is a retired British Army officer who served as the Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, until September 2014. Wall had previously been the Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces from August 2009 to September 2010. He succeeded General Sir David Richards as Chief of the General Staff in September 2010, the latter going on a month later to be Chief of the Defence Staff.[3]

Sir Peter Wall
General Sir Peter Wall c.2013
Born (1955-07-10) 10 July 1955
Ipswich, Suffolk, England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1974–2014
Service number497536
Commands heldChief of the General Staff (2010–14)
Land Forces (2009–10)
Chief Royal Engineer (2009)
1st Armoured Division (2003–05)
16 Air Assault Brigade (1999–00)
32 Engineer Regiment (1994–96)
Battles/warsYugoslav Wars
Iraq War
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service
Fiona Simpson (m. 1980)

Early life and education

Born in Ipswich, Suffolk, the son of Dorothy Margaret (née Waltho) and John Ramsay Wall, Wall was educated at Whitgift School[4][5] and Selwyn College, Cambridge.[6]

Military career

Wall graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in April 1974[7] with his commission being confirmed in December 1974, with effect from 9 March the same year.[8] After a short period of military duties, Wall studied engineering at University of Cambridge, before joining airborne forces and going on to serve with the Royal Engineers in Belize and Rhodesia. Wall was promoted to captain on 9 September 1980[9] and to major on 30 September 1987.[10]

He was appointed Chief of Staff of the 5th Airborne Brigade in 1988, before commanding 9 Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers from 1990.[6] Promoted to lieutenant colonel on 30 June 1992,[11] he was appointed Commanding Officer of 32 Engineer Regiment in Germany in 1994,[6] and appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1994 Birthday Honours.[12] He was deployed to the Former Republic of Yugoslavia in Spring 1996, promoted to colonel on 30 June[13] and awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service in November.[14] He was then promoted to brigadier on 31 December 1998 with seniority from 30 June 1998,[15] before assuming command of 24 Airmobile Brigade in 1999.[6] Wall was responsible for converting the formation into 16 Air Assault Brigade later that year.[6]

High command

In 2001, Wall became Chief of Joint Force Operations at Permanent Joint Headquarters Northwood,[6] and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2002 New Year Honours.[16] Wall went on to serve as Chief of Staff of the National Contingent HQ in Qatar, overseeing UK operations in Iraq, from January 2003.[17] In May 2003, Wall assumed the appointment of General Officer Commanding 1st Armoured Division with the substantive rank of major general,[18] in which capacity he was responsible for security in Basra in Iraq.[19] In 2005, he became Deputy Chief of Joint Operations at the Permanent Joint Headquarters Northwood and, on 1 August 2007, he was appointed Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Commitments) and promoted to lieutenant general.[20] Appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 2009 Birthday Honours,[21] Wall succeeded General Sir Kevin O'Donoghue as Chief Royal Engineer on 10 May 2009[22] before taking up the post of Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces and receiving promotion to the substantive rank of general on 17 July 2009.[23][24] He was also appointed the aide-de-camp general to Queen Elizabeth II on 30 October 2009.[25]

On 6 January 2010, Wall gave evidence to the Iraq Inquiry in which he claimed that troops were vulnerable in their base at Basra Palace[26] and in May 2010, Wall was listed amongst the top 172 government servants that earn more than the Prime Minister, with a salary of £160–165,000, excluding his non-contributory final salary pension.[27] Then on 29 July 2010, Wall was named as the next Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army.[28] On 15 September 2010 Wall took over the post from General Sir David Richards who became Chief of the Defence Staff in late October 2010.[29][30]

On 24 June 2011, it was reported that Wall, who had publicly questioned Prime Minister David Cameron's handling of the conflict in Afghanistan, would – in a major defence reorganisation that would also affect the other service chiefs – lose his position on the Defence Board, the highest non-ministerial Ministry of Defence committee, which makes decision on all aspects of military policy.[31] The changes took effect on 1 November 2011.[32]

Amidst ministerial,[33] media and political pressure from both sides of the House,[33][34] Wall told an army magazine in April 2014 that lifting the ban on women serving in combat units was “something we need to be considering seriously”. It came to light that, under European law, the policy of preventing female soldiers from applying for certain jobs in the army was to be reviewed by 2018, and that the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Norway and Israel all allowed women to serve in combat units. The Times had reported that his main motivation for changing this rule was showing potential female recruits that the army was an equal opportunities employer:[35]

Wall was appointed Colonel Commandant of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 2002,[6] and Colonel Commandant of the Corps of Royal Engineers in November 2003.[36] He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the 2013 Birthday Honours.[37] From April 2012 until August 2016 Wall served as the Colonel Commandant of the Brigade of Gurkhas.[38][39]

Since leaving the army, Wall co-founded and is Chief Executive of a leadership and change consultancy, Amicus Limited.[40]

Personal life

In 1980 Wall married Fiona Anne Simpson; they have two sons.[6] He lists his interests as sports.[6]

Awards and decorations

Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB)(2013)[37]
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB)(2009)[21]
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)(2001)[16]
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)(1994)[12]


  1. "List of Fellows". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  2. A & C Black (November 2011). "WALL, Gen. Sir Peter (Anthony)". Who's Who 2012, online edn. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  3. "No. 59550". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 September 2010. p. 18235.
  4. "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  5. Old Whitgiftian Newsletter, Issue 269, May / June 2000, p. 2 Retrieved on 1 November 2010
  6. Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4081-1414-8
  7. "No. 46270". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 April 1974. p. 5057.
  8. "No. 46427". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 December 1974. pp. 12551–12552.
  9. "No. 48337". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 October 1980. p. 14262.
  10. "No. 51080". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 October 1987. p. 12384.
  11. "No. 53001". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 July 1992. p. 12671.
  12. "No. 53696". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 1994. p. 6.
  13. "No. 54453". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 July 1996. p. 8911.
  14. "No. 54574". The London Gazette. 8 November 1996. p. 14851.
  15. "No. 55365". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 January 1999. p. 53.
  16. "No. 56430". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2001. p. 5.
  17. "Uprising reported in Basra". BBC News. 25 March 2003. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  18. "No. 57006". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 July 2003. p. 9102.
  19. "Peter Wall: Being seen as another regime is the last thing we want". The Independent. 14 April 2003. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  20. "No. 58438". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 September 2007. p. 12795.
  21. "No. 59090". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 2009. p. 2.
  22. "No. 59058". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 May 2009. p. 8060.
  23. "No. 59133". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 July 2009. p. 12504.
  24. "General Sir David Richards appointed next Chief of the General Staff". Defence News. 17 October 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2008.
  25. "No. 59256". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 December 2009. p. 20794.
  26. "Iraq inquiry — day by day timeline of evidence given". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  27. "Full list of top-paid civil servants". BBC News. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  28. "No. 59550". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 September 2010. p. 18235.
  29. "Peter Wall takes up CGS post". Defence Management. 15 September 2010. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  30. "Profile: Gen Sir Peter Wall". BBC. 29 July 2010. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  31. "Top military chiefs "sidelined" after Afghanistan row". Daily Telegraph. 24 June 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  32. "Army Command reorganization". Defence Marketing Intelligence. 10 November 2011. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  33. "Emma Barnett and BBC Radio 4 – Women at War", 8 Oct 2013
  34. "Former Shadow Defence Secretary: British women should be allowed to fight on front line", 8 Oct 2013
  35. "Female troops may get right to fight on front line", 6 Apr 2014
  36. "No. 57153". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2003. p. 15953.
  37. "No. 60534". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 2013. p. 2.
  38. "No. 60107". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 April 2012. p. 6596.
  39. "No. 61709". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 September 2016. p. 19945.
  40. "About us". Amicus. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
Military offices
Preceded by
Robin Brims
General Officer Commanding the 1st (UK) Armoured Division
Succeeded by
John Cooper
Preceded by
Charles Style
Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Commitments)
Succeeded by
Simon Mayall
Preceded by
Sir David Richards
Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces
Succeeded by
Sir Nick Parker
Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Nick Carter
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Kevin O'Donoghue
Chief Royal Engineer
2009 –2013
Succeeded by
Sir Mark Mans
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