Admin & Arbiter
- Jan 21, 2002
Peter de la Billière
General Sir Peter Edgar de la Cour de la Billière, KCB, KBE, DSO, MC & Bar (born 29 April 1934) is a former British Army officer who was Director SAS during the Iranian Embassy Siege and Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in the 1990 Gulf War. He is often known by the acronym DLB.
He originally enlisted as a private in the King's Shropshire Light Infantry in 1952. He was later commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Durham Light Infantry. During his early career as an officer he served in Japan, Korea and Egypt.
Special Air Service
In 1956, he attended and passed Selection for the Special Air Service. During his first SAS tour, he served in Malaya during the Malayan Emergency and Oman, where he was mentioned in despatches and won the Military Cross in 1959. After his initial tour with 22 SAS, he returned to the Durham Light Infantry to run recruit training, before taking up the post of Adjutant of 21 SAS – the London based Territorial Army (Reserve) SAS regiment. In 1962, he was attached to the Federal Army in Aden. In 1964, he failed Staff College but was appointed Officer Commanding A Squadron 22 SAS. From 1964 to 1966, A Squadron was deployed to Borneo for the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation. For his actions during this period he was awarded a bar to the Military Cross.
After this tour, he re-attended Staff College, and, this time, passed. After Staff College he was posted as G2 (intelligence) Special Forces at Strategic Command. He then served a tour as second-in-command of 22 SAS, of which he was Commanding Officer from 1972 to 1974. For service in Oman, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1976.
He then served in a number of administrative posts before returning to the Regiment as Director SAS in 1979. It was during this period that the SAS shot to public fame as a consequence of their storming of the Iranian Embassy in 1980. He was also responsible during the Falklands War for planning Operation Mikado. In 1982, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
After the SAS he was appointed Military Commissioner and Commander of British Forces in the Falkland Islands from 1984 and General Officer Commanding Wales District from 1985. He was succeeded by Brigadier Morgan Llewellyn on 1 December 1987. He was General Officer Commanding South East District from 1988.
In 1987 he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. In 1991, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE).
Despite being due for retirement he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in the 1990 Gulf War – in effect the second in command of the multinational military coalition headed by US General Norman Schwarzkopf. His past experience of fighting in the area, knowledge of the people and possession of some fluency in Arabic overrode concerns about his age. In this role, he was largely responsible for persuading Schwarzkopf (who was initially sceptical) to allow the use of SAS and other special forces in significant roles in that conflict.
By the end of his career he had risen to the rank of lieutenant general. In order to allow him to receive the pension benefits of full general he was given the newly created sinecurist (honorarium) post of Middle East Advisor to the Secretary of State for Defence. He retired in 1992.
In August 1991, he received Canada's Meritorious Service Cross. In 1993, he received Saudi Arabia's Order of King Abdul Aziz, 2nd Class and was made a Commander of the United States' Legion of Merit.
He has written or co-authored 18 books, including an autobiography, a personal account of the Gulf War and a number of works about the SAS.
He is currently a patron of the UK based international development charity, FARM-Africa having served on the board since 1992 and as chairman from 1998 to 2001.
Article Courtesy of British and Commonwealth Military