I remember the School Careers Advisor briefing me on the results of my assessment in the small library just off the main entrance hall. He said that I should consider a career in either agriculture or the uniformed services. Bad news for some who had maybe hoped for Medicine or Law; excellent news for me as, from my earliest memory, I had always wanted to be a soldier.
Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School gave me a great start and in particular I must thank Mr Wallace and the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) for giving me my first taste of Army life. Armed with that, I went from school to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was commissioned into The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and an Infantry Battalion then stationed in Catterick. Since then, my military service has taken me to a variety of posts and stations across the world; Germany, Cyprus, Oman, Zimbabwe, Pakistan to name but a few. That world has rarely been without its trouble spots and I have been privileged to command soldiers on operations in Northern Ireland, Kuwait, The Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. There has certainly never been a dull moment.
I am now commanding the 7th Armoured Brigade – better known as ‘The Desert Rats’ from its time in North Africa. I have no doubt that there are yet more challenging and turbulent times ahead; a rapidly changing strategic landscape and, much closer to home, an uncertain future for the Armed Forces. As I look back, one thing is certain; that I am very grateful to my Careers Advisor all those years ago. I have had a fantastic adventure and can honestly say that I haven’t regretted a single second – although I’m sure farming would have been equally as rewarding!
Old Boy 1978 – 1983
Brigadier PAE Nanson MBE