William Jackson (British Army officer)

General Sir William Godfrey Fothergill Jackson, GBE, KCB, MC & Bar (28 August 1917 – 12 March 1999)[1] was a British Army officer, military historian, author and Governor of Gibraltar.

Sir William Godfrey Fothergill Jackson
Sir William Jackson (left) with Sir Joshua Hassan, Chief Minister of Gibraltar (right), awaiting the arrival in Gibraltar of Charles, Prince of Wales in 1977.
Born(1917-08-28)28 August 1917
Blackpool, Lancashire
Died12 March 1999(1999-03-12) (aged 81)
Swindon, Wiltshire
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1937–77
Commands heldNorthern Command
Gurkha Engineers
Battles/warsSecond World War
Suez Crisis
Malayan Emergency
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Military Cross & Bar
Mentioned in Despatches

Military career

Educated at Shrewsbury School, the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and King's College, Cambridge, William Jackson was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1937.[2] He served with the British Army in Norway during the Second World War, where he was one of the first British officers to engage the enemy. His work in blowing up bridges as the British retreated from Lillehammer earned Jackson his first Military Cross (MC).[3] He also served in North Africa, Sicily and Italy during the war. He was twice injured by a land mine. The one at Bou Arada in Tunisia placed him in bed for four months before he joined Dwight Eisenhower's headquarters, where the invasion of Sicily was being planned.[3] He won a Bar to his MC in 1944 at the Battle of Monte Cassino in recognition of "gallant and distinguished services",[3][4] and by the end of the war Jackson was in post as an acting major but was only formally promoted captain in August 1945,[5] having been promoted to lieutenant in 1940.[6] He was also mentioned in despatches in 1945 for his services in Italy.[7]

After the war he became a General Staff Officer at Headquarters Allied Land Forces, South East Asia in 1945 before moving on to be an Instructor at the Staff College, Camberley in 1948. Promoted major in 1950,[8] he was an Instructor at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst from 1951.[2] He was promoted brevet lieutenant colonel in 1955[9] and was appointed Assistant Adjutant & Quartermaster General (Plans) at the War Office during the Suez crisis in 1956.[2] Jackson was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1957 Birthday Honours.[10] In 1958 he was promoted lieutenant colonel[11] and became Commander, Gurkha Engineers in Malaya.[3] In 1960 he was promoted full colonel[12] and in 1961 returned to the Staff College, Camberley as Colonel General Staff at the Minley Division.[2]

He was Deputy Director of Staff Duties at the War Office from 1962 and joined the Imperial Defence College in 1965[2] being promoted brigadier in March.[13] He went on to be Director of the Chief of Defence Staff's Unison Planning Staff in 1966 in the temporary rank of major general[14] (his rank of major general was confirmed as permanent in July 1966)[15] and Assistant Chief of the General Staff (Operational Requirements) at the Ministry of Defence in 1968.[2]

In 1970 Jackson was promoted to lieutenant general and appointed General Officer Commanding-in-Chief for Northern Command.[16] He was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1971,[17] and In 1973 he became Quartermaster-General to the Forces[2] in the local rank of full general[18] with formal promotion to general coming four months later.[19] Advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in the 1975 Birthday Honours,[20] Jackson retired from active army service in February 1977,[21] taking a post of Military Historian at the Cabinet Office from 1977 to 1978 and then becoming Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar,[22] overseeing the colony's transition to a British dependent territory and where he was a stalwart advocate for self-determination in the territory.

Jackson retired from his post in Gibraltar in 1982 (having had his tenure extended by a year) and returned to being historian at the Cabinet Office until 1987.[3] He had held five honorary military appointments: as ADC General to the Queen (1974–1979),[3] Colonel Commandant the Royal Engineers (1971–1981), Colonel the Gurkha Engineers (1971–1976), Colonel Commandant Royal Army Ordnance Corps (1973–1976)[2][23] and Colonel of the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve Engineer and Railway Staff Corps.[24]


  • History of the Second World War, The Mediterranean and Middle East, vol. 6 (1984–1988; editor)
  • Attack in the West: Napoleon's First Campaign Re-read Today (1953);
  • From Fortress to Democracy: Political Biography of Sir Joshua Hassan (1995)
  • Seven Roads to Moscow (1957);
  • The Battle for Italy (1967);
  • The Battle for Rome (1969)
  • Alexander of Tunis (1972)
  • Overlord: Normandy 1944 (1978);
  • Withdrawal From Empire: A Military View (1986)
  • The Rock of the Gibraltarians: A History of Gibraltar ISBN 0838632378; (1987)
  • The Alternative Third World War, 1985–2035 (1987)
  • Britain's Defence Dilemma: An Inside View: Rethinking British Defence Policy in the Post-Imperial Era (1990)
  • The Chiefs: the Story of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff (1992)
  • The Pomp of Yesterday: the Defence of India and the Suez Canal (1995)
  • Britain's Triumph and Decline in the Middle East (1996)


  • His name is given to a large residential estate in Gibraltar (Sir William Jackson Grove).


  1. New General Catalog of Old Books and Authors
  2. Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  3. Arthur, Max (15 March 1999). "Obituary: General Sir William Jackson". The Independent. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  4. "No. 36828". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 December 1944. p. 5609.
  5. "No. 37239". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 August 1945. p. 4320.
  6. "No. 34931". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 August 1940. p. 5204.
  7. "No. 36886". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 January 1945. p. 320.
  8. "No. 39003". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 August 1950. p. 4367.
  9. "No. 40657". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 December 1955. p. 7135.
  10. "No. 41089". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 June 1957. p. 3373.
  11. "No. 41508". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 September 1958. p. 5955.
  12. "No. 42186". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 November 1960. p. 7544.
  13. "No. 43738". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 August 1965. p. 7779.
  14. "No. 44038". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 June 1966. p. 7462.
  15. "No. 44076". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 August 1966. p. 8825.
  16. "No. 45228". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 November 1970. p. 12327.
  17. "No. 45262". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1970. p. 2.
  18. "No. 45886". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 January 1973. p. 1022.
  19. "No. 45965". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 May 1973. p. 5460.
  20. "No. 46593". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 June 1975. p. 7373.
  21. "No. 47160". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 March 1977. p. 2826.
  22. "No. 47567". The London Gazette. 13 June 1978. p. 7153.
  23. "No. 47117". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 January 1977. p. 366.
  24. "No. 47284". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 July 1977. p. 9672.
Military offices
New title Assistant Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Ian Gill
Preceded by
Sir Cecil Blacker
GOC-in-C Northern Command
Command disbanded
Preceded by
Sir Anthony Read
Quartermaster-General to the Forces
Succeeded by
Sir Patrick Howard-Dobson
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir John Grandy
Governor of Gibraltar
Succeeded by
Sir David Williams
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