Lt-General Sir David Scott-Barrett

Lt-General Sir David Scott-Barrett, soldier

Born: 16 December, 1922, in Cologne

Died: 1 January, 2004, in Inverness, aged 81

DAVID Scott-Barrett, whose funeral service takes place in Edinburgh today, was a man devoted to the army and a proud upholder of its traditions, heritage and customs. He had a fine active career and a particularly distinguished war record, but many Scots will remember him best as a most impressive GOC Scotland and governor of Edinburgh Castle.

He was proud to take his official part in the various ceremonies within the castle (the Service of Acceptance of the Keys of the Castle and Remembrance Sunday, for example) and prepared for them with infinite care. Scott-Barrett always took a very personal interest, and indeed pride, in the Tattoo, and regularly took the salute from the royal box. He cut a fine figure in full military dress uniform: tall, imposing and invariably cheerful.

David William Scott-Barrett came from a military family: his father was a judge advocate general of the Rhine Army, who later took Holy Orders and became an army chaplain. After Westminster school, Scott- Barrett went to Staff College and in 1942 was commissioned into the Scots Guards. He first saw service at the Normandy landings and then advanced with his tank battalion through France and into Holland.

Near Nijmegen, his battalion was supporting the advance of the 10th Highland Light Infantry when his tank was blown up. Scott-Barrett led his men through minefields and captured a strategically important bridge over the Rhine. He was awarded the Military Cross and the citation spoke of his "aggressive spirit and complete disregard of personal danger".

After the war Scott-Barrett filled many military positions (including equerry to the late Duke of Gloucester) and then, most successfully, commandant of the Guards depot from 1963 and, a decade later, GOC Eastern Division. It was a time of much reorganisation in the military and he played an important role in bringing contemporary thinking to the army. He lobbied both in Whitehall and within the Scots Guards that modern technology be adopted to suit the armoured divisions.

In 1976 Scott-Barrett was appointed GOC Scotland and governor of Edinburgh Castle. He was the first Scots Guardsman to hold the post in more than a century and he went on to fill it with distinction and enthusiasm.

He immediately took to the duties involved and greatly loved the city and its people. His official residence at Gogar Bank House, near Ratho, was the scene of many legendary parties.

Scott-Barrett was a firm believer that the army existed to serve the people, and in 1975, he learned that the sprawling housing estate at Wester Hailes on the outskirts of Edinburgh needed a community centre. He had heard that the Dalwhinnie distillery in Inverness-shire had some surplus huts, so he organised a division to drive up to Dalwhinnie, dismantle the huts, transport them south and re-assemble them at Wester Hailes, where they have done excellent service. Such a generous gesture was typical of the man.

In 1995, he championed the cause of two Guardsmen who had been convicted of murdering a civilian in Belfast. Scott-Barrett fought their cause with a dogged determination and contributed to their ultimate release.

After retiring as GOC Scotland, Scott-Barrett became chairman of the Army Cadet Force Association and served as a director of Arbuthnot Securities. He was knighted in 1976 and returned to live out his retirement in Edinburgh’s New Town.

A devout Christian, he regularly attended both St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral and the Canongate Kirk. His funeral, with full military honours, will take place at the latter church at noon today.

A journalist once wrote of Scott-Barrett that he was "warm, voluble and headmasterly". For sure, he was a man of firm and resolute opinion who believed in doing things right. Whether at a formal dinner or supper with friends, he stood for the Loyal Toast. He was a stickler for punctuality and for politeness. He treated everyone the same and was proud to have been called "the soldiers’ general". Friends remember him as loyal and generous - "invariably courteous, jovial and excellent company", said one.

David Scott-Barrett married Elise Morris in 1948. She died in 1985. In 1992, he married Judith Waring. She and his three sons from his first marriage survive him.