About Us





More Features

People, Places & Events



Book Reviews




Major A J R Harrison DL
Late Scots Guards
by Major General D M Naylor CB MBE DL
formerly Scots Guards

Tony Harrison died on 4th March 2019 at the age of ninety. His funeral on 26th March at St Mary’s Church, Wreay, a few miles south of Carlisle, was packed with family, a wide circle of Cumbrian friends and several members of the local branch of the Scots Guards Association, all of whom had come to say farewell to a man widely respected and enjoyed in his native county. Although small for a funeral which understandably attracted many people, St Mary’s, a peerless building designed and built nearly two hundred years ago by the formidable Sarah Losh, a local woman, in memory of her parents and sister, was the place where Tony wished to be buried which was unsurprising given that he had cherished the church ever since he settled at Wreay. As a churchwarden for over twenty-five years he devoted love and care upon it as if it was his own, in the process leading others to appreciate it as he did. If ever in the area and interested, readers of this obituary might find a visit to the Church, begun in 1835, rewarding. Simon Jenkins numbered it as amongst England’s Thousand Best Churches in his book of that title, describing it as ‘Lombardic’ reflecting its Italian Romanesque and early Christian architecture. 

Tony or ‘Harris’ as he was known by those closest to him in the Regiment was born in London on 24th July 1928. His father was at the time MP for Bodmin but, not long after Tony’s birth, the family moved to Wreay in Cumbria, the place where Tony lived thereafter when not serving with the Regiment. He went to school at Fettes in Edinburgh and later joined up to undertake National Service in 1946. Although his basic training was at the Guards Depot at Caterham, he later decided to go to Sandhurst from where he was commissioned into the East Lancashire Regiment. In 1949 he transferred back into the Scots Guards and went to Malaya with the 2nd Battalion commanding a platoon on active service.

Tony was slight of stature; always tidy and smart.  ‘Adjutantal’ appointments came naturally, his first such assignment was as Assistant Adjutant at RMAS Sandhurst in the mid 1950s, following which he later served as Adjutant of the Guards Depot. Being neat in appearance and precise in manner, he combined a bright mind and a firm belief in strict but sensible discipline to become a very successful staff officer. This was one of his hallmarks although his understanding of and empathy for those who served with or under him, was always very apparent. He was widely popular and respected by his fellow Guardsmen. His service with the Regiment was only ever in the 2nd Battalion with which at one time or another he soldiered in places as far afield as London District, Kenya and Germany. Interspersed with periods of regimental duty, he attended the Staff College in 1961, served as a staff officer at Horse Guards and later as Regimental Adjutant, before joining the staff of 5th (TA) Division in Wrexham before retiring from the Army in July 1971. He was Chairman and later President of the Carlisle, Dumfries and Galloway Branch of the Scots Guards Association over many years. 

Tony married Patricia Butler in 1969 and on his retirement from the Army they made their life together in Cumbria. There Tony farmed the family’s land at Wreay Hall before entering into an arrangement with a tenant. As might be expected Patricia and he threw themselves into the life of their county, he serving as High Sherriff in 1985 and later becoming a Deputy Lieutenant.  Apart from the Church he supported a number of causes such as the CLA, the Cumbrian Association of Boys’ Clubs and Cumbria Cerebral Palsy. They travelled widely, Tony’s love of anything to do with railways providing a natural stimulus. Wreay Hall stood within sight of the West Coast main line, something which gave him and those who shared that interest, much pleasure. Tony and Patricia had no children of their own but the love and attention which would have been reserved for a family was bestowed on nephews and nieces and godchildren in equal measure. Anyone, and there were undoubtedly many, who turned off the M6 at Junction 42 on their way to Scotland could always be assured of a warm welcome at Wreay. By nature, reticent and sometimes slow to comment, Tony was a kind and generous man, possessed of a lovely dry sense of humour, a person well liked but not perhaps always fully understood, who commanded respect and interest from those fortunate to be his friend. We shall miss him.

© Crown Copyright