Brigadier Sir Rainald Lewthwaite

Brigadier Sir Rainald Gilfrid Lewthwaite, soldier

Born: 21 July, 1913

Died: 15 April, 2003, aged 89

SIR Rainald Lewthwaite was an English baronet who served in one battalion of the Scots Guards, and commanded another. Many years later, he was coaxed out of deserved retirement to use his knowledge of protocol in a demanding position in Hong Kong.

Lewthwaite came from an old Cumbrian family, and was the descendant of a 17th-century yeoman who established a family seat at Broadgate.

Educated at Rugby and Trinity College, Cambridge, Lewthwaite was commissioned directly from university in 1934 into the 2nd Bn Scots Guards, seeing immediate service during the Arab Revolt in British Mandated Palestine between 1936 and 1938.

His qualities of leadership marked him out and in the Second World War he joined the operations staff of Headquarters Eighth Army in North Africa until shortly before the battle of El Alamein. He had been mentioned in dispatches while serving on divisional staff in 1941 and was mentioned again before leaving the Eighth Army to rejoin 2nd Bn Scots Guards in August 1942.

In March the following year, he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry and tactical skill during an engagement on the border of Libya and Tunisia. Commanding a company, Lewthwaite deployed his men along a 2,000-yard front with anti-tank guns concealed forward of Rommel’s armour. While directing fire, Lewthwaite was seriously wounded, but his men held their positions and more than 50 enemy tanks were destroyed.

He later served on the staff of Headquarters 21st Army Group prior to the Normandy invasion until December 1944, receiving the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. He returned to the Mediterranean to command 1st Bn Scots Guards in Italy in March 1945 and, after the end of hostilities, led the 10th Bn the Parachute Regiment.

He completed army service as a defence and military attach with the British Embassy in Paris until his retirement in 1968.

But the following year, he was appointed director of protocol in Hong Kong. From his office in the Government Secretariat, he ensured that all visits to the Crown Colony by Royalty and distinguished guests took place without visible hitches.

Somewhat gleefully referring to this demanding post as "my retirement job", he proved outstanding, taking palpable enjoyment in organising contacts with the consular corps and arranging receptions and ceremonials for international dignitaries.

His appointment lasted seven years and latterly he worked under Governor Sir Murray (later Lord) Maclehose.

Lewthwaite was made an OBE in 1974, and a CVO in 1975 following the successful visit of the Queen to Hong Kong.

The second son of the 2nd baronet, Sir William, Lewthwaite succeeded his elder brother, William, the 3rd baronet, in 1993.

He was predeceased in 1990 by his wife, Margaret Edmonds (who was made an MBE in 1941), and he is survived by his sons, David (who becomes the 5th baronet) and Valentine, his daughters, Margaret and Mary, and his grandchildren.

GORDON CASELY