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Field Marshal Sir John Chapple GCB CBE DL

Field Marshal Sir John Chapple, who was the Chief of the General Staff from September 1988 to February 1992, died on 25 March 2022 after a short illness, aged 90 years.

Field Marshal Sir John Chapple, who was the Chief of the General Staff from September 1988 to February 1992, died on 25th March 2022 after a short illness, aged 90 years.

John Lyon Chapple was born in 1931 in Maida Vale, to a doctor and a Royal Engineers Officer who had served in France and Iraq during World War I. He was educated at Haileybury and did his National Service in the Royal Artillery before studying at Trinity College Cambridge. During his time at Cambridge he met Annabel Hill and they were married in 1959, going on to have four children; David, Rachel, Kate, and Sasha.

After graduating in 1954, Sir John commissioned into the 2nd King Edward’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) and then joined the 1st/2nd regiments during the communist insurgency known as the ‘Malayan Emergency’ which saw British, Commonwealth and Gurkha soldiers engaged against the Malayan National Liberation Army until 1960. He served for three years in the jungles of South Johore, before returning to the UK and attending the Staff College, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and then took up a post as Chief Personnel and Logistics Officer of a Brigade in the British Army of the Rhine. 

He commanded the 1st Battalion, 2nd Gurkha Rifles in the early 1970s and went on to fulfil a number of important command and staff appointments including Commander British Forces Hong Kong which was double-hatted with the role of Major General Brigade of Gurkhas, as well as Director of Military Operations at the Ministry of Defence and Commander-in-Chief United Kingdom Land Forces.

Sir John’s military career culminated in his appointment in 1988 as Chief of the General Staff. Following his retirement from the Army in 1992, Sir John was promoted Field Marshal and served as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar from 1993 to 1995. He was the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Greater London between 1997 and 2005. Among a wide range of other appointments, he was a Commissioner of the Royal Hospital Chelsea and President of the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation and the Combined Services Polo Association.

Sir John’s admiration and support for the Gurkhas never waned and he helped to establish the Gurkha Welfare Trust and the Gurkha Museum, and served as Colonel of the 2nd KEO Gurkha Rifles from 1986 to 1994. His conservation work in Nepal was recognised in 2002 by the King of Nepal who bestowed on him ‘The Most Puissant Order of Gorkha Dakshina Bahu’, one of the highest honours given traditionally by the King. He also served on the Council of the National Army Museum and was a Vice Patron of the Gurkha Museum at Winchester.

Sir John was a lifelong conservationist and took an active role in almost 100 associated organisations including Presidency of the Zoological Society, Trustee of WWF, and Chairman of the UK Trust for Nature Conservation in Nepal. He was also an avid collector of military memorabilia and a very keen birdwatcher. His keen scholarship and varied interests and leadership in a remarkable range of broader endeavours were widely recognised and deeply appreciated.

He is survived by Annabel and his children.