General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley (who died on March 11 2006, aged 81) provided inspiring leadership at the battle of the River Imjin in Korea.

On June 25 1950 North Korean forces crossed the 38th Parallel into South Korea, and by October they had been joined by Chinese "volunteers". The United Nations Security Council resolved to go to South Korea's assistance. American ground forces were ordered in, followed by a force from Hong Kong and, two months later, the British 29th Infantry Brigade. Britain's main Commonwealth partners also pledged their forces, which formed the 1st Commonwealth Division.

Farrar-Hockley went to Korea in 1950 as adjutant of the 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment. In April the following year 29 Brigade was holding the line along the Imjin with the Glosters defending the main river crossing, an ancient invasion route to Seoul. The battle began on April 22 and, during its final phase, the 1st Battalion was concentrated on Hill 235 with A Company holding a long spur towards the west. Around midnight two days later, the Chinese attacked A Company in great strength, pressing home the offensive for more than 10 hours.

During the night the only two platoon commanders became casualties, and by dawn the forward platoons had been driven back. The company was then concentrated on a knoll about 50 yards from battalion headquarters; had it been captured the battalion's situation would have become untenable. It rapidly became clear that the one officer remaining with the company would require assistance to maintain the defence of this vital point. Farrar-Hockley volunteered for this dangerous task, and his impact on the desperate position of the company was immediate. Trenches in which the defenders had become casualties were re-manned, and fire superiority was regained.

The enemy working around the left flank were caught by grenades and small-arms fire and fell back with heavy losses. Establishing themselves about 40 yards away, they attacked again and again but each time they were beaten off. Farrar-Hockley was in one of the forward trenches, encouraging his men and taking a leading part in the fierce, close-quarter fighting. His order to the drum-major, at the height of the battle, to counter the nerve-wracking blare of the Chinese assault trumpets with snatches of British Army bugle calls passed into regimental legend.

When orders were received to abandon the position, Farrar-Hockley covered the withdrawal with fire and a smokescreen and he was one of the last to fall back; but, when the battalion's position was eventually overrun by the Chinese, he was taken prisoner.

The citation for his DSO stated: "Throughout this desperate engagement on which the ability of the Battalion to hold its position entirely depended, Captain Farrar-Hockley was an inspiration to the defenders. His outstanding gallantry, fighting spirit and great powers of leadership heartened his men and welded them into an indomitable team. His conduct could not have been surpassed. "

During the two years that Farrar-Hockley spent in prisoner-of-war camps, he frustrated efforts to brainwash him by vigorously debating with his gaolers. He made six attempts to escape. On one occasion he reached the Korean coast before he was recaptured; on another he crawled and swam for seven hours along a river bed, feigning death when spotted by enemy soldiers and surviving the intense cold by wrapping himself in a blanket taken from a dead mule. Following recapture, he was often tortured or brutally interrogated. Farrar-Hockley was released after the Armistice was signed in July 1953, and was mentioned in despatches for his conduct as a prisoner of war.

A journalist's son, Anthony Heritage Farrar¬-Hockley was born at Coventry on April 8 1924 and educated at Exeter School. Aged 15 on the outbreak of the Second World War, he ran away to enlist in the Gloucestershire Regiment, but was found out and discharged. He re-enlisted in 1941 and was posted to the 70th Young Soldiers' Battalion.

In 1942, after volunteering for parachute training, he was granted an emergency commission in the Parachute Regiment. While in command of a rifle company of the 6th Battalion, he won an MC during the Communist rebellion in Athens. He said afterwards that getting food through to the starving people of Thebes was one of the best things he ever did.

Following service in Palestine, Farrar-Hockley returned to the Glosters with whom he went to Korea. His release from POW camp saw him attending Staff College before rejoining the Airborne Forces to serve as Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster-General, then as Brigade Major of the 16th Parachute Brigade. He saw active service during this period in the EOKA campaign in Cyprus, the landings at Port Said in 1956 and the British intervention in Jordan in 1958.

The next year he became chief instructor at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before taking command of 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment, in the Persian Gulf in 1962. The greatest feat of arms of his career was, perhaps, the capture, in 1964, of the Arab Nationalist stronghold at Wadi Dhubsan deep in the Radfan mountains north of Aden.

The battalion was called upon to undertake a difficult 10-mile advance into mountainous enemy territory and then attack a highly inaccessible and strongly-defended rebel base. Helicopters were not available in sufficient numbers to permit an assault from the air, so his men roped themselves down the sheer sides of the flanking ridges and achieved complete surprise over the rebels in the gorge below. During a hard-fought battle, Farrar-Hockley's Scout helicopter was shot down beyond his own lines. With some difficulty, he rejoined his battalion and, finding it pinned down, launched a well-executed attack which drove the enemy from their position. This action led to the submission of the dissident Radfan tribes and to the award of a Bar to Farrar-Hockley's DSO.

After relinquishing command of his battalion in 1965, Farrar-Hockley went to the Far East to be Chief of Staff to the Director of Operations in Borneo, where he helped to organise secret operations inside Indonesian territory which brought about the end of President Sukarno's "confrontation" with Malaysia.

Farrar-Hockley took command of the 16th Parachute Brigade in 1966 and, in 1968, went to Exeter College, Oxford, on a defence fellowship. He carried out research into the effects of National Service on British society; after conducting a poll of 2,000, Farrar-Hockley reported that 84 per cent said that they would welcome a return to conscription. He admitted, however, that there was a strong political bias against a compulsory call-up and that the Services did not want conscription.

After a four-month tour as Director of Army Public Relations, Farrar-Hockley was promoted to Major-General and posted to Belfast as Commander, Land Forces. Urban rioting and terrorism were rising, and Farrar-Hockley was the first senior officer to acknowledge publicly that the IRA was behind the violence.

Although he left Ulster well before "Bloody Sunday", his unremitting campaign against the IRA and his close association with the Parachute Regiment made him a prime target. In 1971 he took command of the 4th Armoured Division in BAOR before moving to the Ministry of Defence in 1974; his innovative thinking and operational experience were given full scope as Director of Combat Development (Army).

He was promoted to Lieutenant-General in 1977 on his appointment as GOC, South East District, and was knighted in the Birthday Honours of that year. In 1979 he moved to Oslo to take up his final military appointment as NATO's C-in-C, Allied Forces, Northern Europe. After retiring from the Army in 1982 Farrar-Hockley acted as a defence consultant and spent much of his time writing.

His publications included The Edge of the Sword (1954), an account of his experiences in the Korean War; The Somme (1964); and Goughie (1975), a well-reviewed biography of General Sir Hubert Gough, commander of the ill-fated Fifth Army in 1918. He joined the Cabinet Office's historical section to write the official history of the Korean War in two volumes, A Distant Obligation (1990) and An Honourable Discharge (1995). He wrote many articles in periodicals and journals as well as crisp letters to The Daily Telegraph.

Even in his retirement to a village in Oxfordshire, the IRA remained a threat. In 1990 a bomb was attached to the reel of his garden hose, but was spotted by his gardener and defused. "I keep my eyes open," said Farrar-Hockley, "and I don't much care for people who place explosive devices in my garden."

Farrar-Hockley was a man of boundless energy with an infectious enthusiasm for soldiering. A lucid and forceful speaker, his pugnacious face appeared regularly on television commenting on military events or terrorist incidents affecting the army, though some in the Ministry of Defence muttered that "Para Farrar's" views did not take into account its present problems.

In response to new evidence that emerged in successive inquiries into "Bloody Sunday", when 13 Catholics were shot dead during a civil rights march in Londonderry in 1972, Farrar-Hockley robustly defended the role of the Parachute Regiment: "It is all part of a long-running public relations exercise," he told the BBC, "to persuade people that soldiers were all murderers and nothing wrong was done by the people on the other side." He voiced strong concerns following the ruling by the judges sitting on the Saville Tribunal that former Paras could not rely on being granted anonymity.

He was also an outspoken opponent of the European Court of Human Rights' ruling that the British Armed Forces were obliged to permit avowed homosexuals to enlist. He maintained that the military was a unique institution which should be allowed to run its own affairs, and that the concession would damage morale and discipline.

Farrar-Hockley was ADC General to the Queen from 1981 to 1983, Colonel Commandant of the Prince of Wales Division (1974-1980) and of the Parachute Regiment (1977-1983), and Colonel of the Gloucestershire Regiment from 1978 to 1984. He was appointed GBE in 1981.

Tony Farrar-Hockley married, in 1945, Margaret Bernadette Wells. After her death he married, in 1983, Linda Wood, who survived him with two sons (one son predeceased him) of his first marriage; the eldest, Major-General Dair Farrar-Hockley, followed his father into the Parachute Regiment, and was awarded the MC in the Falklands War.

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