Maj-Gen Sir Jeremy Moore

Commander of the British land forces in the Falklands War
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The Independent Online

John Jeremy Moore, soldier: born 5 July 1928; MC 1952 and bar 1962; OBE 1973; Major General, Commando Forces, Royal Marines 1979-82; Commander, Land Forces, Falkland Islands May-July 1982; KCB 1982; Director-General, Food Manufacturers' Federation, and Food and Drink Federation 1984-85; married 1966 Veryan Acworth (one son, two daughters); died 15 September 2007.

Although well known within the military world as a fine and brave commander, Jeremy Moore did not come to the attention of the public until the Falklands campaign, where he made an impression as Commander of the Land Forces. It was the culmination of a fine and distinguished career which included an award of the MC and bar. Moore's father, Lt-Col Charles Moore, also won an MC.

Jeremy Moore was educated at Brambletye School in East Grinstead and at Cheltenham College. He left school in 1946 hoping to join the Royal Navy, but his careers master told Moore's father there would be no place for "an ordinary decent plodder like Jeremy". It was suggested he try the Royal Marines, where he was commissioned and underwent training as a pilot until the Admiralty decided they did not want any more Marine pilots. Moore always felt that, as a pilot, he would never have survived the landings on aircraft carriers. "In any case, I was given the opportunity to discover the Marines are vastly more exciting, more interesting and more rewarding to serve with than a piece of machinery," he later noted.

His first tour of duty was on the cruiser HMS Sirius, which he enjoyed as his boss was about to leave the services to read law, and, taken up with his studies, left Moore to run the RM detachment. After completing his training at sea he joined 40 Commando in Malaya where he saw intense fighting against the highly skilled Communist insurgents. For his courage during one particularly dangerous ambush he was awarded the MC.

After three years in the jungle a more sedate tour followed at the Royal Marines School of Music and then an enjoyable period at the NCO's school. In 1957 he became adjutant of 45 Commando in the Near East and was heavily involved in operations in Cyprus against the tenacious EOKA guerrillas. On his return to the UK he became an instructor at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for three years before being sent out again to the Far East as an adjutant.

The creation of an independent Malaysian federation caused considerable unrest in Brunei and Sarawak. Hostages, including British nationals, were taken at a police station in Limbang. Moore, concerned for their safety, led a company of commandos on cargo lighters before embarking and heading straight for the police station. The rebels' firepower almost overwhelmed Moore's men; five were killed and a number wounded before the hostages were safely recovered. They had been told they were due to be hanged that day. Moore received a bar to his MC for his leadership.

A posting with the Australian Staff College came next followed by a tour with 17th Ghurkha Division, which was countering Indonesian incursions in north Borneo. It was a period in which Moore felt the British soldier could fight as well any man in the jungle.

A quieter tour followed at the MoD in the Chief of Staff's Secretariat before several months aboard the carrier Bulwark as the amphibious operations officer. Moore's experience of commanding men under stress in combat meant he was appropriately given the post of selection and training of all RM officers. In 1971, now a lieutenant-colonel, he was given command of 42 Commando and completed two tough tours of Northern Ireland, including Operation Motorman, which sought to eliminate the no-go areas created by the IRA.

He returned again to the RM School of Music in 1973 and then became a student at the Royal College of Defence Studies. In 1977 he took over command of 3 Commando Brigade. Two years later Moore was promoted major general in charge of all commando forces and on completion of this appointment was made a CB on his expected retirement in 1982.

However, the Commandant General Royal Marines, Lt-Gen Sir Steuart Pringle, was severely injured by an IRA bomb. Moore was asked to stay on until Pringle could resume his duties. Then, in April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Moore, with his vast experience, was the ideal man to be at the side of the Commander-in-Chief Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse at the Joint Forces Headquarters at Northwood. Here Moore provided vital operational advice about the amphibious operation to be carried out 8,000 miles away. All Moore's calm and wisdom were needed, as this landing without airborne support was a perilous one. Somehow, during the immensely nerve-racking days which saw the losses of Sheffield, Ardent and Atlantic Conveyor, among others, the British forces made a successful landing. The first of these landings was led by Brigadier Julian Thompson, a fellow Royal Marine.

Moore flew first to Ascension Island and arrived on 30 May to take command straight away of the land forcess. After discussion with Thompson, Moore approved his overall plan of attack. After many helicopters were lost at sea, the anxious population in the UK became familiar with terms such as "yomping" as the land forces crossed inhospitable ground. The defeat of the Argentineans was, as Thompson put it, "no picnic", and, during the combat, Moore's awareness of the importance of morale ensured that messages to Northwood were upbeat. But, like all involved in the campaign, he was greatly relieved when the Argentineans decided to surrender.

Jeremy Moore had spent, as anyone who knew him would expect, most of his time controlling operations well forward in the front line. Shrewd as always, when General Menéndez bristled at signing an unconditional surrender, Moore discreetly struck out the word unconditional. After the campaign he generously suggested that Julian Thompson had been "man of the match". Moore was knighted for his successful leadership.

He retired a year later and took on the post of Director-Deneral of the Food and Drink Federation but after 18 months decided the post was not for him. He then involved himself with a number of charities. A gifted speaker, he inspired many audiences with his modest yet forthright approach. He was for many years churchwarden of the church in the Wiltshire village where he lived and also treasurer of the Edington Church Music Festival as well as being a guide at Wells Cathedral. A week before his death he attended the Royal Marines Association parade at Lympstone, Devon.

Max Arthur