Sir Fitzroy Maclean, 1st Baronet

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Major General
Sir Fitzroy Maclean, Bt
File:Fitzroy Maclean (ca. 1980).jpg
Member of Parliament
for Bute and Northern Ayrshire
In office
8 October 1959 – 28 February 1974
Preceded by Charles McAndrew
Succeeded by John Corrie
Member of Parliament
for Lancaster
In office
Preceded by Herwald Ramsbotham
Succeeded by Humphry Berkeley
Personal details
Born 11 March 1911 (1911-03-11)
Cairo, Egypt
Died 15 June 1996 (1996-06-16) (aged 85)
Hertford, England
Nationality Scottish
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Veronica Nell Fraser-Phipps
Children 2
Education Eton College
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge
Military service
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank Major-General
Battles/wars World War II

Sir Fitzroy Hew Royle Maclean, 1st Baronet, KT, CBE (11 March 1911 – 15 June 1996) was a Scottish soldier, writer and politician. He was a Unionist Member of Parliament from 1941 to 1974 and was one of only two men who during the Second World War enlisted in the British Army as a private and rose to the rank of brigadier, the other being future fellow Conservative MP Enoch Powell.

Maclean wrote several books, including Eastern Approaches, in which he recounted three extraordinary series of adventures: travelling, often incognito, in Soviet Central Asia; fighting in the Western Desert Campaign, where he specialised in commando raids behind enemy lines; and living rough with Tito and his Yugoslav Partisans. It has been widely speculated that Ian Fleming used Maclean as one of his inspirations for James Bond.[1]

Early life

Maclean was born in Cairo to Major Charles Wilberforce Maclean QOCH (born 1875 - d.?), a member of the Scottish landed gentry serving in Egypt with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders[2] , and Gladys Frances Elaine Royle (b.? - died 1954), the only daughter of a Royal Navy officer. By name he was part of Clan Maclean; its chiefs have as their historic seat Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull in the Hebrides. He was brought up in Italy and educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge, where he read Classics and History. He then studied in Germany before joining the Diplomatic Service in 1933.

In the Soviet Union

In 1934 Fitzroy Maclean was posted to the British embassy in Paris. Bored with the pleasant but undemanding routine, he requested a posting to Moscow in 1937. The two and a half years he spent in the Soviet Union formed the first third of his best known book, the autobiographical Eastern Approaches. Maclean was in Moscow until late 1939, and so was present during the great Stalinist purges, observing the fates of Bukharin and other Russian revolutionaries. Although he was stationed in the capital, Maclean traveled extensively, primarily by train, into remote regions of the USSR which were off limits to foreigners, and was shadowed by the NKVD as he did so.

World War II: North Africa and Yugoslavia

When war broke out in 1939 Maclean was prevented from joining the military because of his position as a diplomat. Therefore, he resigned from the Diplomatic Service "to go into politics". After tendering his resignation he immediately took a taxi to the nearest recruiting office and enlisted as a Private in the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. He was soon promoted to Lance Corporal and was commissioned in 1941. In that year he became the Conservative MP for Lancaster.

Yugoslav Leader Marsal Tito Talking with Fitzroy Maclean

In North Africa in 1942, he distinguished himself in the early actions of the newly formed Special Air Service (SAS), where, with Ralph A. Bagnold, he developed ways of driving vehicles over the Libyan sand "seas". Maclean was a brilliant practitioner in the T. E. Lawrence brand of fighting, and he reported directly to Winston Churchill in Cairo.

Later that year he transferred to the Middle East as part of the Persia and Iraq Command. Amongst his accomplishments was the arrest and kidnapping of General Fazlollah Zahedi, the commander of the Persian forces in the Isfahan area. Maclean then smuggled him out by plane to internment in Palestine. This incident soon led Hitler's government to withdraw support from its network in Persia.

Churchill chose him to lead a liaison mission to central Yugoslavia in 1943. As Maclean wryly put it, his mission was "simply to find out who was killing the most Germans and suggest means by which we could help them to kill more."[3] (See also Yugoslavia and the Allies). At the time of Maclean's deployment to Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito and his Partisans were emerging as a major irritant to the German control of the Balkans.

Little was known at the time about Tito: some suspected this was an acronym for a committee or that he might in fact be a young woman. Maclean got to know Tito well, and would later produce two biographies of him. Maclean's relationship with Tito's Partisans was not always easy, partly because they were Communist, while he came from an upper class Scottish background, and had witnessed Stalinism in action. His biography of Tito reveals the admiration he held for the Yugoslav leader and the Yugoslav Communist-led anti-fascist struggle. He developed a great affection for Yugoslavia and its people and was later given permission to buy a house on the island of Korčula, modern Croatia.[4]

Having been appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1944,[5] he received the Order of Kutuzov (Soviet Union) (which impressed the Soviet troops in Belgrade), and after the war the Croix de Guerre (France), and Order of the Partisan Star (Yugoslavia). He reached the rank of Brigadier during the war, and was promoted to Major-General in 1947.

Later life

Maclean had been elected as Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Lancaster in a 1941 by-election. He served briefly as a junior minister at the War Office from 1954-57.[citation needed] In his Diaries, Harold Macmillan regretted losing him, 'but he is really so hopeless in the House that he is a passenger in office ... a great pity, since he is so able' (Diaries, 1950-57,p. 615). In the 1959 general election he switched constituencies to Bute and North Ayrshire where he was re-elected until he retired at the Feb 1974 general election. In his last two years, he was appointed as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Western European Union.[citation needed]

He married Veronica Nell Fraser-Phipps (1920–2005), a Roman Catholic, in 1946. She was the daughter of the 16th Lord Lovat and widow of naval hero Lt. Alan Phipps, who was killed ashore at Leros in 1943. Sir Fitzroy and Lady Maclean had two sons: Charles Edward (born 1946) and Alexander James Simon Aeneas (born 1949), who were brought up in their mother's faith. Maclean was also stepfather to his wife's children from her first marriage, Susan Rose "Sukie" Phipps (born 1941) and Jeremy Julian Phipps (born 1942), who were not brought up Catholic. Sukie married the writer Derek Marlowe, and is stepmother to autistic savant Derek Paravicini. Jeremy became a Major-General in the army, having served in the SAS. Jamie founded the Erotic Review.

Sir Fitzroy was honoured with the baronetcy of Maclean of Strachur and Glensluain in 1957,[6] was made the 15th Hereditary Keeper and Captain of Dunconnel Castle in 1981 and was made a knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle in 1994.[7]

In retirement Maclean wrote extensively. His wide range of subjects included: Scottish history, biographies (including Tito and Burgess), a Russian trilogy and assorted works of fiction. He also contributed to other books, for example writing the foreword to a 1984 biography of Joseph Wolff, the so-called "Eccentric Missionary" in whose footsteps he had travelled to Bukhara almost half a century before.[8]

Maclean and his wife managed a hotel at Strachur.[9] In 1964 he commissioned his wartime friend, fellow commando and yacht designer Alfred Mylne II, to build the motor yacht Judi of Bute for use around the West Coast of Scotland. Maclean was a patron of Strachur and District Shinty Club. He collected an extensive library, including a full set of early editions of James Bond novels, which sold in September 2008 for £26,000.[10]

In late 1960s, Maclean bought the Palazzo Boschi villa on the Adriatic island of Korčula (present-day Croatia),[11] where he spent a good part of each year.[12] Yugoslav legislation at the time barred foreigners from buying real-estate property, but Tito intervened to allow Maclean to do so. The town of Korčula was declared a free city, and the Macleans were declared its citizens. As soon as the purchase was registered with city authorities, the free city status was revoked.[13]

In 1991, during the Croatian War of Independence, Maclean and his wife delivered medical supplies to the island of Korčula, with a substantial contribution from population of Rothesay and Bute.[11][14]

He died on 15 June 1996, fittingly for such a traveller, while outside Scotland. The family home was Strachur House.[15]


Maclean was posthumously awarded the Order of Prince Branimir for the humanitarian aid to Croatia, as well as contributing to international affirmation of Croatia. The decoration was presented by the Croatian President Stjepan Mesić in December 2001.[16]

Styles and honours

  • Fitzroy Maclean, Esq (1911–41)
  • Fitzroy Maclean, Esq, CBE, MP (1944–57)
  • Sir Fitzroy Maclean of Strachur and Glensluian, Bt, CBE, MP (1957–74)
  • Sir Fitzroy Maclean of Strachur and Glensluian, Bt, CBE (1974–81)
  • Sir Fitzroy Maclean of Dunconnel, Bt, CBE (1981–94)
  • Sir Fitzroy Maclean of Dunconnel, Bt, KT, CBE (1994–96)

Posts held


  • Eastern Approaches 1949
  • Disputed Barricade: the life and times of Josip Broz-Tito, Marshal of Yugoslavia 1957
  • The Heretic: the life and times of Josip Broz-Tito 1957
  • A Person from England 1958
  • Back to Bokhara 1959
  • Yugoslavia 1969
  • Concise History of Scotland 1970
  • The Battle of Neretva 1970
  • The Back of Beyond: an illustrated companion to Central Asia and Mongolia 1974
  • To Causasus 1976
  • Holy Russia 1978
  • Take Nine Spies 1978
  • Tito 1980
  • Josip Broz Tito: A Pictorial Biography 1980 ISBN 0-07-044660-1
  • The Isles of the Sea 1985
  • Portrait of the Soviet Union 1988
  • Bonnie Prince Charlie 1988
  • All the Russias 1992
  • Highlanders: A History of the Scottish Clans 1995


  • Maclean, Veronica (2002) Past Forgetting: a memoir of heroes, adventure, love and life with Fitzroy Maclean. London: Review ISBN 0-7553-1025-X
  • McLynn, Frank (1992) Fitzroy Maclean. London: John Murray ISBN 0-7195-4971-X

See also


  1. "Sir Fitzroy '007' Maclean's James Bond books sell for £26,000 - Lyon & Turnbull". 3 September 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. McLynn, Frank (18 June 1996). "Sir Fitzroy Maclean Bt: Obituary". The Independent. Retrieved 22 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Maclean, F: Eastern Approaches, page 287. Time Life Books (1980).
  4. Obituary of Veronica Lady Maclean,, 19 January 2005. Accessed 10 July 2011
  5. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36679. p. 4043. 31 August 1944.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 41149. p. 4781. 13 August 1957.
  7. The London Gazette: no. 53499. p. 19088. 30 November 1993.
  8. Hopkins, Hugh Evan, Sublime vagabond: the life of Joseph Wolff - missionary extraordinary, foreword by Sir Fitzroy Maclean Bart, Worthing: Churchman, 1984, ISBN 1-85093-002-3
  9. Hotel-keeping in the Highlands, The Countryman, Autumn 1977, pp 22-27
  10. Lyon & Turnbull website, Edinburgh/London. retrieved 13 August 2013; One press report put the takings at £31,000. [ James Bond book collection sells for £31,000,; accessed 4 December 2015.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Veronica Lady Maclean of Dunconnel". The Telegraph. 12 January 2005.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Sir Fitzroy Maclean Bt". The Independent. 19 June 1996. Born in 1911 in Egypt, the son of an officer in the Cameron Highlanders ... Educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Đilas, Milivoj (5 June 2002). "Škotska lady koja obožava Tita i Mesića". Nacional (weekly) (in Croatian) (342). Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "British Forces Involvement in Yugoslavia 1943-45". BBC Scotland. 31 January 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Eric Pace (18 June 1996). "Fitzroy Maclean, War Hero And Author, Is Dead at 85". New York Times. Retrieved 19 August 2014. Sir Fitzroy Maclean, an intrepid Scot known for his farflung military adventures in World War II and his writings about faraway lands, died on Saturday at the home of friends whom he and his wife were visiting in the English county of Hertford. He was 85 and lived in Strachur House, the family home in Strachur, a village in the Scottish county of Argyll. ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Odluka o odlikovanju (posmrtno) Sir Fitzroya Macleana Redom kneza Branimira s ogrlicom" (in Croatian). Narodne novine. 12 December 2001. Retrieved 17 January 2011. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Herwald Ramsbotham
Member of Parliament for Lancaster
Succeeded by
Humphry Berkeley
Preceded by
Charles MacAndrew
Member of Parliament for Bute and North Ayrshire
1959Feb 1974
Succeeded by
John Corrie
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Strachur and Glensluain)
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Edward Maclean