Major General Rowland Spencer Noel Mans CBE

1978-1983 (Queen's)

Major General Rowland Spencer Noel MansRowland Spencer Noel Mans was born on 16th January 1921 and was educated at Surbiton Grammar School and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. In December 1939 he was gazetted to the Queen's Royal (West Surrey) Regiment, and after a short spell at the Regimental Depot and 13th Holding Battalion, was posted to the 1/6th Bn The East Surrey Regiment.

From October 1940 to June 1945 he served with the King's African Rifles. He first saw active service in East Africa in 1941. The Italian Viceroy of Ethiopia had sent two divisions into British Somaliland and occupied the French port of Djibouti in the summer of 1940. Three Commonwealth divisions were assembled in Kenya to drive them out of that country and Ethiopia, colonized by Italy after the Italy-Ethiopian War of 1935-36.

He served with 1/6th King's African Rifles during 12th African Division's advance to the port of Kismayu in Italian Somaliland, then up the coast to Mogadishu. Later in the campaign he led a column of 1/6th KAR in the second phase of the British takeover of Madagascar in 1942. The island was held by the Vichy French. The campaign lasted only six weeks and included some elements of farce between the two former allies, but some stiff fighting occurred before the whole island was relinquished to British control. He led his column on a forced march of 80 miles in 21 hours to reach his objective. This established an operational forced march record which was only surpassed by the Royal Marines, on training, a quarter of a century later.

He married Veo Sutton in 1945, they had three sons.

On return from Africa in 1945 he joined 1/6th Bn The Queen's Royal Regiment in Palestine, then in the grip of the Irgun and Stern Gang insurrection against Britain as the Mandatory power. He later served with 1st Bn The Queen's Royal Regiment in Germany and Malaya, before joining the staff of 17th Gurkha Division in Malaya. In 1957 he was appointed to command his Regimental Depot at Guildford and, during this tenure of command, served on the Amalgamation Committee of the Queen's and Surreys.

He was an instructor at the Staff College, Camberley, and then the Canadian Staff College 1959-63, but returned to Africa to take command of 1st Battalion the Tanganyika Rifles later in 1963. In 1947 he had formed a dinner club of officers who had served with East African soldiers during the war and, aside from their annual dinner, this group continued to watch the interests of their former Askaris. He represented former Tanganyika soldiers on the British and Commonwealth Ex-Servicemen's League 1963-64 and launched the Askari Appeal in 1998. This raised a quarter of a million pounds to provide small gratuities for former Askaris.

On promotion to Brigadier in 1969, he first became the Deputy Commander of South East District, with its Headquarters at Aldershot, and then Deputy Director of Personnel Services in the Ministry of Defence. This appointment, concerned with soldiers' conditions of service and pay, reflected his close interest in these matters and experience on the staff.

When Deputy Commander at Aldershot he initiated and saw through the resurrection of the Rushmoor Arena, the site of pre-1939 Tattoos. In the 1970s it once again played a most important part in the then much needed promotion of the Army as the scene for shows, recruiting events and distinguished military parades.

He was promoted Major General in 1973 to become the Director of The Military Assistance Office in London.

On retirement from full-time service, he became the Deputy Colonel of the Queen's Regiment, 1973-77, and Colonel of the Regiment, 1978-83. He was chairman of the Surrey Committee of the Army Benevolent Fund for several years and served on the board of a variety of other Service charities. He published Kenyatta's Middle Road in a Changing Africa in 1977 and Canada's Constitutional Crisis, dealing with the problems of Quebec's possible secession, in 1978. He was a member of Hampshire County Council 1984-89 and president of the East Africa Forces Association 1997-2002.

Whilst President of the Regimental Association it was his imaginative initiative which in conjunction with the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Lord Hamilton of Dalziel, which led the National Trust to accept the Regimental Museum at Clandon Park in 1977. That the Museum remains located at Clandon will remain a tribute to him. Appointed MBE in 1956 he was advanced to OBE in 1966, and CBE in 1971.

He died on 16th October 2002, aged 81.


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