Brigadier Richard Dawnay was educated at Sherborne School in Dorset and commissioned into the Army as a 2nd Lt in July 1950, joining the Parachute Regiment in May 1958.
In the early sixites he was Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General of 44 Independent Para Bde and then Officer Commanding D Coy, 1 PARA. Promoted to Lt Colonel he commanded 2 PARA from 1968 to 1971.
As Commanding Officer of 2 PARA, Richard Dawnay became the Commander of a force inserted into Anguilla to quell civil unrest. He was subsequently awarded the OBE for his actions on this operation and the citation for the award records:
"Lt Colonel Richard William Dawnay landed in Anguilla on 19 March 1969 with the spearhead of Force Anguilla. This force which he commanded, consisted of part of the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, a half squadron of the Royal Engineers, elements of the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Royal Corps of Signals, and a detachment of the Metropolitan Police.
Contrary to expectations the landing was unopposed, but the reception given to Lt Colonel Dawnay’s troops by the majority of the Anguillan people was derisive and, in many instances, openly hostile. The soldiers and policemen ignored this provocation and emboldened by the disciplined behaviour and friendly attitude of the Force as a whole, the public endeavoured to take advantage of the situation by organising and participating in aggressive demonstrations against the established authority.
Had this situation been permitted to continue, a state of general disorder would have prevailed in the island, but the Force Commander maintained complete control of the situation throughout this difficult period. In fact Lt Colonel Dawnay commanded his Force with exceptional skill and restraint and, as a direct result of his leadership and grasp of the situation, the action taken by the security forces never exceeded routine Internal Security measures and, consequently, Anguilla was occupied and held without blood-shed.
This important achievement not only restored law and order in Anguilla but eventually, it won the respect and co-operation of the people, and this paved the way for the introduction of an effective civil administration. As the situation improved Lt Colonel Dawnay consolidated his early gains by concentrating the efforts of his troops on winning the hearts and minds of the Anguillan people. In this, he was also successful, with the result that the problem of establishing and maintaining a stable administration of the island was considerably reduced."
Following the operation 2 PARA was awarded the prestigious Wilkinson Sword of Peace.
After a tour as Liaison Officer at Fort Benning in the USA, Richard Dawnay became GSO1 for Airborne and Special Forces HQ in UK Land Forces.
He received a Mention in Despatches for services in Northern Ireland in 1975.
Promoted to Brigadier, Richard Dawnay became Director of Army Recruiting in 1979 and retired from the Army on 10 April 1983.
Compiled by Harvey GrenvilleRead More