Brigadier Sir Gilbert Simon Heathcote Bt CBE
21 September 1913 - 15 April 2014
Sir Gilbert was a loyal friend of The Royal Star & Garter Homes for many years, becoming a Charity Governor in 1975 and subsequently a Vice President until 2003.
Sir Gilbert was educated at Eton and the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich. He joined the Royal Artillery in 1931 and served in India, Europe, Egypt, Palestine and Yemen.
Malcolm Chapple, Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors for The Royal Star & Garter Homes, recalls:
“I remember that he told me of his life as an officer in the Waziristan Campaign in 1937/38 on the North West Frontier. His squad would be deputed to run up and down the hills as the main column was passing below them through ambush territory. They carried white sheets which were laid on the ground pointing in a specific direction – i.e. where the enemy was – for the patrolling aircraft to read (before radios).”
Sir Gilbert’s military career included landing in Normandy on D-Day as part of the divisional artillery of 43 (Wessex) Division, and playing a key role in the battle of the Rhine crossing. In the 1960s, Sir Gilbert served as Chief of Staff to the Joint HQ Middle East in Aden. He retired as Commander Royal Artillery, Scottish Command in 1966.
A strong proponent of inter-Service cooperation, Sir Gilbert promoted this view in his years as an instructor, at the Middle East Staff College, Haifa, the Joint Services Staff College in 1954 and the NATO Defence College in Paris in 1958.
His military service was recognised with an appointment to MBE (Military) in 1945, advanced to CBE (Military) in 1964. As a liaison officer to the French Army, he was also awarded the Croix de Guerre.
Sir Gilbert remained an enthusiastic traveller for most of his life, and celebrated his 70th birthday by crossing the Atlantic with three friends in a 40-foot yacht. He was a keen polo player and was still schooling horses in his 80s.
His later years were also occupied with charitable service, including his time as a Governor of The Royal Star & Garter Homes and subsequently a Vice President, and is remembered by the Charity’s Governors as “a liberal caring man”.
We remain deeply grateful for Sir Gilbert’s many years of generous service and close association with The Royal Star & Garter Homes.