Bernard Fergusson, Baron Ballantrae

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Bernard Edward Fergusson, Baron Ballantrae

Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of General Sir Charles Fergusson, 7th Baronet GCB, GCMG, DSO, MVO and Alice Mary Boyle
Husband of Laura Margaret Fergusson
Father of <private> Fergusson
Brother of Sir James Ferguson, 8th Baronet of Kilkerran

Managed by: Private User
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About Bernard Fergusson, Baron Ballantrae

Brigadier Bernard Edward Fergusson, Baron Ballantrae was born on 6 May 1911. He was the son of General Sir Charles Fergusson of Kilkerran, 7th Bt. and Lady Alice Mary Boyle. He married Laura Margaret Grenfell, daughter of Lt.-Col. Arthur Morton Grenfell and Hilda Margaret Lyttelton, on 22 November 1950. He died on 28 November 1980 at age 69.1

    Brigadier Bernard Edward Fergusson, Baron Ballantrae was decorated with the award of Companion, Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.).1 He was invested as a Officer, Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.).1 He was created Baron Ballantrae, of Auchairne in the County of Ayrshire and The Bay of Islands in New Zealand [U.K. Life Peer] on 10 July 1972.1 He was invested as a Knight Grand Cross, Royal Victorian Order (G.C.V.O.).1 He was invested as a Knight, Order of the Thistle (K.T.).1 He was invested as a Knight Grand Cross, Order of St. Michael and St. George (G.C.M.G.).1

Child of Brigadier Bernard Edward Fergusson, Baron Ballantrae and Laura Margaret Grenfell

Hon. George Duncan Fergusson b. 30 Sep 1955


[S134] Heraldic Media Ltd., online, Patrick Cracoft-Brennan (Cracroft Peerage Database v5.2), downloaded 1 November 2006.

[S300] Michael Rhodes, "re: Ernest Fawbert Collection," e-mail message from <e-mail address> (Harrogate, North Yorkshire) to Darryl Roger Lundy, 8 February. Hereinafter cited as "re: Ernest Fawbert Collection".,_Baron_Ballantrae

Brigadier Bernard Edward Fergusson, Baron Ballantrae, KT, GCMG, GCVO, DSO, OBE (6 May 1911 – 28 November 1980) was a brigadier in the British Army, military historian and the last British-born Governor-General of New Zealand.

Military service

Fergusson was educated at Eton and Sandhurst. From Sandhurst, he was commissioned into the Black Watch. He served in Palestine and became ADC to General Wavell. On the outbreak of the Second World War, Fergusson was serving as Brigade Major for the 46th Infantry Brigade in 1940 before becoming a General Staff Officer in the Middle East. In October 1943 he was given command of the 16th Infantry Brigade which was converted into a Chindit formation for operations in the deep jungles of Burma miles behind Japanese lines. He commanded this brigade throughout the Chindit operations of 1944 before becoming Director of Combined Operations from 1945 to 1946. After the war he held various positions, including command of the famous 1st Battalion, Black Watch and retired in 1958.

Service in the British Mandate of Palestine

In 1946, having failed his attempt to be elected to parliament, he returned to Palestine in the rank of a Brigadier, and was appointed to several positions in British Mandate of Palestine police and para-military forces. At first he served as the commander of the "Police Mobile Force", a police unit of 2,000 British soldiers, that was used as a strike force against the Jewish insurrection. By the end of 1946 the unit was disbanded, by the order of the Palestine Police commandant, Col. William Nicol Gray. Fergusson was appointed as the commander of a police school that was supposed to be created in Jenin, but soon he was appointed by Gray to be "Special assistant to the commandant of police".

Fergusson suggested to Gray, who was himself a former Royal Marine, that a special unit to fight Jewish insurrectionists be formed. This unit would include former soldiers who had served in the British special forces during the war. Gray accepted the idea and ordered the creation of two teams, whose members were chosen from Palestine policemen and Ex-SAS soldiers. One team would operate in Haifa and the north, while the second team would operate in the Jerusalem area. War hero Roy Farran was appointed as the commander of the second team. On 6 May 1947, Farran's unit arrested 16 year old Alexander Rubowitz, who was putting up posters in Jerusalem for the Jewish underground organisation the Lehi. Rubowitz was taken by Farran's team, and tortured to force him to surrender his friend's names. The boy did not survive the torture. His body was dumped and never found. Suspicions of Farran's involvement were first raised after a grey trilby hat, bearing an indistinct name compatible with his, was found near the street corner where Rubowitz was seen being pushed into a car.

In 2004 British secret documents were revealed that included a statement by Fergusson, written at the time of the event, to the effect that Farran confessed to Fergusson of the murder. Fergusson then reported the incident to Gray.

Gray was reluctant to take action against Farran, believing he could use some information produced from Rubowitz by Farran to crack the Lehi in Jerusalem. Gray believed that arresting Farran would ruin these efforts. While Gray was on leave in England, the acting CID commandant, Arthur Giles, ordered an investigation into Farran's actions. Farran escaped to Syria to avoid arrest, but was convinced by Fergusson to return voluntarily. He then escaped from custody and went to Jordan before again returning of his own accord. He was brought to trial in a British military court in Jerusalem

At Farran's trial, Fergusson refused to testify on the grounds that he might incriminate himself. The Palestine government announced that no action would be taken against Fergusson. After the trial, which ended with Farran's acquittal, Fergusson was relieved of his duties in Palestine and returned to Britain.


Gerald Templer was impressed by Fergusson's performance in the Malayan Emergency and during the Suez crisis he was put in charge of the psychological warfare component of Britain's plan to retake the Suez canal and overthrow Nasser. Fergusson's extensive campaign of propaganda was designed to accompany a ruthless use of air power against Alexandria however this plan was considerably different from the one that was eventually mounted and consequently psychological warfare was to have had little effect on Egyptian public opinion or morale. British propaganda radio stations assertions that Nasser was a tool of Zionism and Egypt should attack Israel brought strong protests from Golda Meir.

Governor-General of New Zealand

In 1962 he was appointed Governor-General of New Zealand, serving until 1967. His father Sir Charles Fergusson had also been Governor-General, and both of his grandfathers, Sir James Fergusson, 6th Baronet and David Boyle, 7th Earl of Glasgow, had been Governors of New Zealand.

He was elevated to a life peerage in 1972 as Baron Ballantrae, of Auchairne in the County of Ayrshire and The Bay of Islands in New Zealand.

Lord Ballantrae served as Chancellor of the University of St Andrews from 1973 until his death in 1980.

His son George Fergusson was British High Commissioner to New Zealand from 2006 to 2010 and has served as Governor of Bermuda since 2011.

Memorial Scholarship

The Bernard Fergusson Memorial Scholarship was established in 1982 by the late Maori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu, from a fund raised on her behalf in memory of Fergusson, as he was a particular friend of the Tainui people.

The purpose of the award is to assist a member of the Tainui Tribal Confederation resident in the Tainui Maori Trust Board area to enrol as an undergraduate student in the University of Waikato, who but for the award, might otherwise not be able to attend the University.

Honours and Awards,_Baron_Ballantrae#Honours_and_Awards


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Bernard Fergusson, Baron Ballantrae's Timeline

May 6, 1911
November 28, 1980
Age 69