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Colonel A J C Seymour
Late Scots Guards

by Major General Tony Boam CB CBE
formerly Scots Guards

I first met Adrian when he commanded Left Flank, 1st Battalion Scots Guards, in the Canal Zone from 1952 to 1954. He commanded our detachment which went home for the Coronation. He captained the Battalion cricket side which won the Army competition. At the time there were some 70,000 troops in the Canal Zone, about the same as in Rhine Army.

I next served with him when he commanded the 2nd Battalion at Chelsea Barracks. The Battalion carried out all the usual London District duties but they also found Nos 3 and 4 Guards on the Queen’s Birthday Parade, with the 1st Battalion finding the Escort and No 2 Guard. Adrian loved riding (as was shown by his love of hunting) and so was always keen to have horses on any parade, while his Adjutant, a terrible horseman, always tried to persuade him not to!

He then took the Battalion to Shorncliffe, an unusual posting for a Guards Battalion. Whilst there, the Battalion was warned to prepare for a tour to Cyprus. Adrian went on a long recce but in the event the Battalion never went, instead being posted to Tidworth as part of 1st Guards Brigade.

Adrian had a Dutch medal which I assume he was awarded when serving with the 3rd Battalion.

He was always a perfect gentleman and very kind, as was illustrated when he and Elizabeth looked after a crazy cocker spaniel while its owner was abroad.

by Colonel Iain Ferguson LVO OBE
formerly Scots Guards

I first met Colonel Adrian Seymour in 1968 when I arrived at Tidworth to be his Adjutant. He was commanding the 2nd Battalion. I was greeted with a kind smile and that ‘Umm’ and ‘Aah’ to which I would grow very accustomed over the next 18 months. He was so obviously a quiet and thoughtful man and any apprehension I might have had was forgotten.

His Second-in-Command sat next to him and was a very different character. Major, later Lieutenant General Sir David Scott-Barrett was a powerhouse of energy, very enthusiastic about everything he did, full of new ideas every day and very noisy. A complete, almost violent contrast to Colonel Adrian, but, strangely, there was a mutual admiration and it worked well.

After a day or two I asked the Regimental Sergeant Major why Commanding Officer’s Orders took so long. Sergeant Major Fred Adams explained to me that Colonel Adrian took a long time to ‘judge’ each disciplinary case that came before him and carefully considered every excuse and explanation before making his decision. There were lots of ‘Umms and ‘Aahs’ but Fred Adams said he was always right. Colonel Adrian corrected rather than punished and was held in high regard by the Guardsmen.

I shall always remember that after a large divisional exercise on Salisbury Plain all officers and Non-Commissioned Officers of the Division were summoned to a large hall for a debriefing by the Divisional Commander. All went well until he foolishly began to criticise Colonel Adrian personally. Almost immediately there were murmurs and mumblings from the Battalion seats and then shuffling of feet. Only the formidable presence of the Regimental Sergeant Major and his two Drill Sergeants standing close by restored and maintained a respectable silence. The General was ignorant of Nemo me impune lacessit and of the loyalty in Colonel Adrian’s Battalion.

Adrian was a fine horseman and both he and his wife, Elizabeth, supported the local hunts. This was fortunate when a peacemaker was required to restore good relations with the cavalry regiments around us after a group of young Scots Guards officers circulated an invitation to the whole of Tidworth Garrison to drinks and refreshments at the forthcoming meet of a fox shoot! Colonel Adrian ordered the perpetrators to be at the appointed venue with refreshments for those who turned up!

The obituary of a very modest man is hard to write and few will know that when serving with the 3rd Tank Battalion in February 1944 he was commanding a troop in the fierce fighting at the Dutch/German border near Cleve. He was awarded the Dutch Order of the Bronze Cross.

Of General Fairfax of the English Civil War was written: ‘He nothing knew of envy or of hate. His soul was full of worth and honesty and of a thing now sadly out of date called modesty’. So true of our man too.

by Ginny Rottenburg (daughter)

When Adrian left the army in the 1960s he and Elizabeth bought Wantsley, a small farm in Dorset. Here he traded Nemo Me Impune Lacessit for a new motto: Death to Ragwort. This poisonous weed had been allowed to spread across the steep fields by the previous owners, but gradually hard work and bribery, with daughters Ginny and Angie earning 1d (an old penny) per uprooted plant, paid off and the yellow pest was brought under control. 

Over the next few years Adrian and Elizabeth built up prize-winning herds of Dexter cattle and miniature ponies.  They also had bloodhounds, which they trained to ‘hunt the clean boot’ and competed successfully in working trials for fifteen or more years.  Eventually, to his delight, Adrian was promoted to being a trials judge, which meant he could enjoy riding behind the hounds rather than running on foot.

Fortunately, the hideous tractor accident that brought some of Adrian’s more energetic farming activities to an end in 1975, also gave him a new career, as Wessex Regional Secretary for the British Fields Sports Society (now the Countryside Alliance). Having loved hunting, fishing, and shooting since he was a child, he felt strongly that all country sports should remain available for future generations to enjoy. At the time ‘conservation’ was the new buzz word, a concept he was quick to embrace as it tied in with his own love and knowledge of the countryside.

As well as farming, reading, watching cricket, and seeing friends, Adrian also spent time researching his family, both past and present. Three of his four grandparents came from very large families, but he found keeping up with the descendants of at least sixty second cousins a pleasant challenge, made easier by his excellent memory.

After he sold the farm in 2004, he spent the next seven years living with his daughter Ginny and her family in Bryanston. There he became a familiar figure in the area, striding out in all weathers until well after his 90th birthday, still ramrod straight. Almost until he moved into a care home aged 93, he stuck to his Death to Ragwort motto, and on the rare occasions when he returned from a walk clutching yet another uprooted plant, it was obvious he felt a sense of achievement.

When asked the secret of his longevity, Adrian, always a modest man, replied that he had stuck to a few principles: never stay in wet clothes; always eat well but have no truck with foreign food; and take exercise regularly. Beyond that, he could not say.

Colonel Adrian Seymour was 102 when he died.

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