Major General ITP Hughes KCVO CB CBE DSO MC DL

Major General ITP Hughes

Ivor Thomas Percival Hughes was born on 21st December, 1897. He was  the son of the Rev F. G. Hughes, Rector of Slinfold, Sussex. He was educated at Wellington College and at the R.M.C. Sandhurst, whence he was commissioned into The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment on 16th August, 1916. Before very long he was posted to the 1st Battalion in France, where he served for two years, being twice wounded. He was Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Military Cross.

In 1919, when the two Regular Battalions were being reorganized, Lt Hughes was posted to the 2nd Battalion, which left that year for India. Shortly afterwards he was appointed Assistant-Adjutant. During the usual tours of duty at that time the Battalion took part twice in operations on the North West Frontier. He received one of the few Mentions in Despatches, and was awarded the Indian General Service Medal, with two Clasps.

In these early days of his service Hughes impressed everyone by the way in which he identified himself with every aspect of the Battalion’s life, and although not a particularly great games player, there was never any doubt that he was there and taking part.

In 1925, Hughes was appointed Adjutant of the 2nd Battalion, which was then under the command of Lt.-Col. J. Rainsford-Hannay. His high principals and integrity , combined with his charming personality and kindness quickly earned him the respect and admiration of All Ranks who recognised that here was an exceptional Adjutant. The R.S.M. of the time has described him as a model officer, and a splendid example to the Battalion.

Shortly after reaching Dover, where the Battalion was to be stationed for several years, Capt. Hughes, who had been promoted in 1928, entered the Staff College, Camberley, from where he graduated “p.s.c.” in 1931.

Hughes rejoined the 2nd Battalion for about 12 months and was then appointed Staff Captain R.A. Scottish Command. After two years in Edinburgh he returned to Dover as Brigade Major of 12 Infantry Brigade, where he served first under Brigadier M. Kemp-Welch, himself a distinguished former officer of the Regiment, and secondly under Brigadier C. Howard. The latter was to exercise a decisive and far-reaching influence on Hughes’s future career as in 1935 Brigadier Howard was appointed Sergeant at Arms in the House of Commons, and Capt. Hughes his Assistant. To his friends in the Regiment this seemed to be a premature end to a promising military career; but events were to prove that it was a wise decision. In his new sphere those qualities which had already made their mark in the Army, were to have an increasing influence on all with whom he was associated at Westminster. Moreover, events were also to prove that higher military distinctions were in store for him.

Despite the arduous duties which now claimed him at the House of Commons, Hughes was determined not to lose touch either with his old Regiment or with the Army generally, and in 1937 he became 2IC of the 4th Battalion, succeeding to the command early in 1938. Almost at once he had to prepare for the Presentation of new Colours by Her Majesty Queen Mary. The ceremony was a model of efficiency and fore thought, and the Commanding Officer earned high praise from Her Majesty. All ranks in the Battalion recognised his wise guidance and determination to ensure that each officer and man, not only played his part, but understood fully what was expected of him individually and of the Battalion as a whole.

Later in 1938, the reorganisation of the Army" involved the transformation of 4th Queen's from an Infantry Battalion to an A.A. Searchlight Unit. Hughes applied himself to this important task 'with his accustomed enthusiasm and tact, and despite the unpopularity of the change, his example and leadership quickly carried officers and men with him, so that the strength of the Battalion increased daily, and the new role was successfully assumed. During the Munich crisis the 'Unit manned its Emergency Stations with a quiet efficiency which provided valuable experience for the future. From the outset Hughes had created a deep impression, and the influence which he exerted on everyone was not just the passing influence of a good Commanding Officer, but the lasting qualities of confidence and trust. Indeed all ranks, from his 2lC to the latest joined recruit felt that their C.O. was indeed their friend. Perhaps the greatest tribute which his old Battalion could have paid to him was that by midnight on 24th August, 1939, 4th Queen's (63 A.A. Regiment) had deployed with exemplary speed at their War Stations at a strength of 1,400 and without a single absentee.

Early in 1939, to his great regret, Hughes found that his duties at Westminster could no longer be combined with those of a T.A. Battalion Commander, and he felt obliged to give up the latter, to the great regret of all in his Battalion.

During the ensuing months Hughes gave much valuable time and advice to the 5th Battalion, including an intensive period of officers' training during the Battalion's annual camp. This course of training paid a handsome dividend a little later, when 1/5th and 2/5th Battalions were able to start their separate existences with a good quota of trained officers.

At the outbreak of war, Hughes rejoined the Army and in November, 1939 was appointed to command 1/6th Queen's, part of 131 (Queen's) Brigade in 44 Home Counties Division, with which he proceeded to France. When the Germans attacked in May, 1940, 131 Brigade advanced to the line of the River Escaut which they were ordered to hold. The river was very low and a negligible obstacle to the Germans who attacked in force, using the many covered approaches available. 1/6th Queen's, in the words of the Divisional Record, fought a magnificent fight and held their front for nearly 36 hours when, the enemy having broken through on both flanks, Lt.-Col. Hughes decided he must extricate his Battalion which he successfully did. For his gallant and skilful leadership during this action he was awarded an immediate D.S.O. Throughout this period he was a tower of strength, not only to his own Battalion, but to other Units of the Brigade, as he was one of the very few who had been in action in World War I. Subsequently he led his Battalion back to Dunkirk and thence to the United Kingdom.

During the next two years of threatened invasion. Hughes was promoted first to command 219th Infantry Brigade, and later 131st (Queen's) Brigade, whose task was to help in defending the dangerous S.E. comer of the Homeland. One Second-Lieutenant in the Brigade speaks simply of how kind and human his Brigadier was, not only to him but to all with whom he came in contact. Early in 1942 Brigadier Hughes to the delight of all in his Brigade, was promoted to command his own Division, 44th Home Counties, and was, of course, promoted temporary Major General. Shortly afterwards the Division was ordered to the Middle East, where it joined the 8th Army, and fought with distinction in the tremendous Battle of Alamein.

Subsequent regrouping of the forces in the Middle East involved the break up of 44th Division, Hughes being appointed to command XXV Corps in Cyprus, with the temporary rank of Lieutenant-General. For his services in the Western Desert Campaign he was made a C.B. A year later he was sent to take over our Military Liaison Forces in the Balkans, where he travelled extensively, and was Mentioned in Despatches for his excellent work. In May 1944 he was awarded the Greek Military Cross (First Class).

At the end of the fighting in 1945, Hughes was released from the Army, was granted the honorary rank of Major-General, and returned to his duties at Westminster. He was determined, however, not to lose touch either with the Regiment or the Army, and for several years he held the appointment of Honorary Colonel of the 6th, his old Battalion. He served for two years as chairman of the Surrey T.A. & A.F.A., being also made a Deputy Lieutenant for the County. He was a member of Council of the R.U.S.I. and also held an Air Ministry "A" licence.

In 1940, during his absence, Hughes had been promoted deputy to Sir Charles Howard, and in the years following the war he made a great impression on all those with whom he came in contact during the course of his duties and, although it was unusual, it was no surprise to his friends when it was announced in 1957 that the Queen had approved the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Hughes as Sergeant at Arms in succession to the late Sir Charles Howard.

To his splendid work at the House of Commons eloquent tribute has been paid elsewhere and the following extract from The Times sums up his special contribution to the high office with which he was so closely associated for so many years:

β€œ. . . Parliamentarians will regard Hughes's death with deep sorrow rather than a formal regret. His career as Sergeant at Arms gained immensely in authority by the extent to which he immersed himself in the life of Parliament during his time as deputy to his predecessor, the late Sir Charles Howard. The result was that upon his appointment to office in 1957.

Hughes's friendly and direct personality was already familiar to members, who came to know him as an expert on the procedure of the House . . . it could be said that Hughes enlarged his office and brought it up to date. Those who had to deal with him usually felt that he had a particularly vivid sense of the practicalities of parliamentary life, as well as of the traditional dignities and ceremonial which surround his office." One of his contemporaries in the Regiment commented: β€œIt was interesting to read the obituary in The Times relating to his life in the House of Commons which seemed to show that the impact made on members of the House was strangely similar to that made by the young man in very different conditions and circumstances in India many years ago.”


Those who were fortunate enough to enjoy his close friendship and many others of all ranks, were inspired by the simple and quiet, yet resolute way in which he applied himself to every task. There was a kindliness, magnanimity and courtesy which touched those who met him, and the unassuming modesty which marked his approach' to everything accounted to a great degree for the affection in which he was held and for the admiration which his unselfish devotion to duty and singleness of purpose invariably aroused.

In 1951, as Deputy Sergeant at Arms, he was made a C.B.E. In 1962 the Regiment learned with much pleasure and satisfaction of the award by Her Majesty the Queen of a, K.C.V.O. in the Birthday Honours, and it was a grievous sorrow to the Regiment that he did not live to receive the accolade from Her Majesty.


« Previous qrsr Back to list qrsr Next »