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Noel Mason MacFarlane

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Allegiance  United Kingdom
Party  Labour Party
Years of service  1909–1945
Service/branch  British Army

Name  Noel Mason-MacFarlane
Rank  Lieutenant-general
Role  British Politician
Unit  Royal Artillery
Noel Mason-MacFarlane wwwgeneralsdkcontentportraitsMasonMacFarlane

Born  23 October 1889 Cookham, Berkshire (1889-10-23)
Commands held  44th Division Governor of Gibraltar Allied Control Commission for Italy
Battles/wars  First World War Third Anglo-Afghan War Second World War
Awards  Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath Distinguished Service Order Military Cross & Two Bars Mentioned in Despatches
Died  August 12, 1953, Twyford, United Kingdom
Battles and wars  World War I, Third Anglo-Afghan War, World War II

Lieutenant General Sir Frank Noel Mason-MacFarlane, (23 October 1889 – 12 August 1953) was a senior British Army officer, administrator and politician who served as Governor of Gibraltar during the Second World War.


Early life and military career

Born on 23 October 1889, Mason-MacFarlane was educated at Rugby School and, after attending the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Royal Artillery in 1909. He served in the First World War on the Western Front and in Mesopotamia. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1916, a bar to the award in 1918 (gazetted in September) and a second Bar in the same year, awarded while he was attached to the Artillery Headquarters of the 41st Division, the most junior Kitchener's Army division. The citation for the second Bar was published in a supplement to the London Gazette on 2 December 1918, and reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. While he was engaged on a reconnaissance another officer who was with him was severely wounded by a sniper. He removed him to a place of safety and also brought in a stretcher-bearer who was wounded by the same sniper. He then completed his reconnaissance and returned with valuable and accurate information.

Mason-MacFarlane was also awarded the French Croix de guerre and mentioned in despatches during the First World War.

Between the wars

Between the wars he attended the Staff College, Quetta from 1919 to 1920, and serving on regimental duties, before attending the Imperial Defence College, a prestigious posting for the most promising officers, in 1935. He served as Britain's military attaché to Berlin prior to the Second World War (and proposed the assassination of Adolf Hitler, an offer turned down by his superiors) as well as to Hungary, Austria, Switzerland and Denmark.

Appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 1939 New Year Honours, Mason-MacFarlane was Director of Military Intelligence with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in 1939–40 and during the Battle of Dunkirk was operational commander of "Mac Force," an improvised formation covering the British right flank. For his services, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

Second World War

From July 1940 to March 1941, during the Second World War, Mason-Macfarlane was Second in Command of Gibraltar City and Garrison. This position allowed him to head the Joint Intelligence Centre. He was the head of a joint group of British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel whose role it would be to support General Franco if Spain were to be invaded by Germany. They were to assist the Spanish defence and, if the Spanish did not resist, then they were to create maximum damage.

He briefly served as General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 44th (Home Counties) Division, a Territorial Army (TA) formation, from April to June 1941, before being appointed Head of the British Military Mission in Moscow, shortly after the German invasion of the Soviet Union (see Operation Barbarossa). He was Governor of Gibraltar from 31 May 1942 to 14 February 1944, and witnessed the air crash there on 4 July 1943, which took the life of his friend the Polish Prime Minister Władysław Sikorski. Advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in August 1943, Mason-MacFarlane was appointed a Commander of the Legion of Merit by the United States government that the same month and made a Grand Cross of the Polish Order of Polonia Restituta in October. He later served as Chief Commissioner of the Allied Control Commission for Italy in 1944, effectively head of the interim post-war government.

Politics and later life

At the 1945 general election, Mason-Macfarlane was elected as a Labour Member of Parliament for Paddington North, defeating Winston Churchill's close ally, Brendan Bracken. He left parliament due to ill-health on 22 October 1946.

It was reported in Time magazine on 24 August 1953 that "one of Britain's ablest soldier-administrators" had died of arthritis and complications from a broken leg. Mason-Macfarlane's papers and correspondence are archived in the Imperial War Museum's Department of Documents.


Noel Mason-MacFarlane Wikipedia