Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington, KG, GCMG, CH, MC


Peter Alexander Rupert Carington was born on 6 June 1919. He was educated at Sandroyd in Cobham from the age of 9 to 13, and then Eton. After Sandhurst he entered the Grenadier Guards on 26 Jan 1939. He served with them throughout the Second World War and was present at Nijmegen, winning the MC. He retired from the army in 1949. He succeeded his father to become 6th Baron Carrington in June 1940. After the war he went into politics and served in every Conservative government from Winston Churchill to Margaret Thatcher. He was High Commissioner to Australia from 1956 to 1959. He famously resigned from Mrs Thatcher's government during the Falklands War over failures in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He went on to be Secretary General of NATO from 1984 to 1988.

Captain Peter Carington was in No.1 Squadron of the 2nd Armoured Battalion and went over to Normandy 2 weeks after D-Day. He was in charge of the Reserve. He found the fighting in the Bocage country was an unpleasant experience because of all the hedges and snipers. He at one point was given 48 hours leave to go to the beach at Arromanches but his friend David Fraser suggested that they get a couple of Jeeps and go and liberate Paris with the Americans. There was still some fighting going on when they got there but that did not stop them booking into the Ritz Hotel. Apparently the German officers were leaving by the back door as they came in the front. On another occasion, in Germany, his squadron had commandeered a house but the son of the occupants tried to blow up their vehicles with gelignite. Carington ordered the family out and told them he was going to burn their house down. But even though his sergeant-major had soaked the place in petrol they couldn't get it to ignite, the match just went out. He said that on the whole the Germans were treated fairly by the British at this time. There was some looting and Carington admitted that he helped himself to a fine-looking Mercedes. When the Divisional Commander saw him with this Mercedes he said, "Where did you get that?" So he said he'd liberated it, and the DC said "That's the most disgraceful thing I've ever heard. Send it immediately to Divisional Headquarters." The next thing he saw was the Commander riding about in it.

Reflect on Things Past: The Memoirs of Lord Carrington by Lord Carrington (Collins 1988)


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by Stephen Luscombe