Biography and Notes
At the age of 22 Simon, bearing the currently favoured name for Chiefs of the Clan Fraser, succeeded his father. Known as Shimi, he became the 15th Lord Lovat but for reasons incomprehensible to sassanachs he was commonly known as the 17th Lord Lovat! He was schooled at Ampleforth College and went on to Magdalen College, Oxford.
He was commissioned as a second lietenant in the Lovat Scouts in 1930 and transferred to the Scots Guards in 1931. He was promoted lieutenant in 1934 but transferred to the Reserve in 1937 and married in 1938 forming a union that was to give him 6 children over the next 14 years.
On the outbreak of war Lord Lovat was mobilized as a Captain in the Lovat Scouts but a year later joined No 4 Commando, in which unit he took part in the famously successful raid on the German-occupied Lofoten Islands. In addition to capturing encryption equipment and code books which proved of great value to Bletchley Park the raid destroyed fish-oil factories, fuel dumps, 11 enemy ships and captured 216 German troops.
As a temporary major he was awarded the Military Cross on 7th July 1942 for a daring raid on the French village of Hardelot. He subsequently took command of No 4 Commando and led the unsuccessful Dieppe Raid. It did however destroy a battery of six 150mm guns for which he won his DSO.
Later Lord Lovat, now a Brigadier, commanded 1st Special Service Brigade which landed at Sword Beach during the invasion of Normandy on 6th June 1944. He instructed his personal piper, Bill Millin to pipe the men ashore which he duly did, striding up and down the beach to the sound of 'Hieland Laddie', giving the troops a much needed morale boost. Pipers had been banned by the War Office after losses in the Great War. On querying the instruction Bill relished his commander's reply. "Ah, but that's the English War Office, you and I are both Scottish and that doesn't apply."
A stray shell wounded Lord Lovat on 12th June and although he subsequently made a complete recovery he saw no more active service. In 1945 he became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and later Minister of Economic Warfare until Winston Churchill's election defeat. He remained active in the House of Lords and in local politics but suffered terrible financial and family losses prior to his death in 1995.
Bill Millin played the lament at Lord Lovat's funeral and has donated his pipes to the National War Museum in Edinburgh. The mayor of Colleville-Montgomery, a town on Sword Beach, has offered a site for a life-size statue of Millin opposite the place where he landed on D-Day. Bill died on 17th August 2010 and his statue is to be unveiled in 2011.