Fitzroy Maclean

Fitzroy Maclean

Major-General Sir Fitzroy Hew Royle MacLean of Dunconnel, 1st Baronet KT CBE (March 11, 1911, EgyptJune 15, 1996, Scotland) was a Scottish diplomat, soldier, adventurer, writer and politician. In "Eastern Approaches", MacLean recounted his extraordinary adventures in Soviet Central Asia, and in the Western Desert Campaign, where he specialized in commando raids behind enemy lines. It has been speculated that Ian Fleming used Maclean as one of his inspirations for James Bond.

Early life

Maclean went to school at Eton College, followed by King's College, Cambridge University, where he read Classics and History. On going down from Cambridge, he joined the Diplomatic Service in 1933. His clan's ancestral home was Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull in the Hebrides.

In the Soviet Union

In the mid-thirties Fitzroy MacLean was posted to the British embassy in Paris. Bored with the pleasant but undemanding routine, he requested a posting to Moscow, which would later become the basis for 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 great Russian revolutionaries. While in Moscow, MacLean ventured by train and by foot into often remote regions of the Soviet Union, which were off limits to foreigners, and was pursued by the NKVD as he did so.

World War II: North Africa and Yugoslavia

When war broke out, Maclean was prevented from enlisting at first because of his position as a diplomat. He eventually managed to sign up in 1941 by standing for the House of Commons, one of the few possible reasons for resigning the Diplomatic Corps. Only entering in order to quit the foreign service, he actually won election to Parliament as the Conservative MP from Lancaster. He immediately joined the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders as a private, but was quickly commissioned.

In North Africa in 1942, he distinguished himself in the early actions of the newly formed SAS. Amongst his accomplishments was the famed kidnapping of the German Consul from Axis-controlled Iraq, an incident that soon led to Hitler's government to withdraw its support of the military "junta" in that country. Maclean was a brilliant practitioner in the T. E. Lawrence brand of fighting, and he reported directly to Churchill in Cairo. Along with Ralph A. Bagnold, he developed ways of driving vehicles over the Libyan sand 'seas'. Winston Churchill personally chose him to lead a liaison mission to central Yugoslavia in 1943, where Tito and his partisans were emerging as a major irritant to the German control of the Balkans. At the time of his deployment to Yugoslavia little was known about Tito, some suspected this was an acronym for a committee or that he might in fact be a young woman. His mission, as he wryly put it, was "simply to find out who was killing the most Germans and suggest means by which we could help them to kill more." [Maclean, F: "Eastern Approaches", page 287. Time Life Books (1980).] Maclean knew 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. However, 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. He reached the rank of Brigadier during the war, and was promoted to Major-General in 1947.

After the war he received the Croix de Guerre (France), Order of Kutuzov (Russia) and Order of the Partisan Star (Yugoslavia).

Later life

Maclean had been elected as Conservative Member of Parliament for Lancaster in a 1941 by-election. He served briefly as a junior Minister at the War Office from 1954 to 1957. In the 1959 general election he switched constituencies to Bute and North Ayrshire where he was re-elected until he retired at the February 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.

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 Veronica Maclean had two sons: Charles Edward (b. 1946) and Alexander James Simon Aeneas (b. 1949), who were apparently raised in their mother's faith. Fitzroy Maclean was also stepfather to her children from her first marriage, Susan Rose "Suki" Phipps (b. 1941) and Jeremy Julian Phipps (b. 1942), who were not raised Catholic.

Sir Fitzroy was honoured with the baronetcy of Maclean of Strachur and Glensluain in 1957, 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.

In retirement Maclean wrote extensively [His wide range of subjects included: Scottish history, biographies (inc Tito and Burgess), a Russian trilogy and assorted works of fiction.] and managed a hotel at Strachur. [ "Hotel-keeping in the Highlands" The Countryman Autumn 1977, pp22-27]

tyles and Honours

* Mr Fitzroy Maclean (1911–1941)
* Mr Fitzroy Maclean MP (1941–?)
* Mr Fitzroy Maclean CBE MP (?–1957)
* Sir Fitzroy Maclean Bt. CBE MP (1957–1974)
* Sir Fitzroy Maclean Bt. CBE (1974–1994)
* Sir Fitzroy Maclean KT Bt. CBE (1994–1996)


* Maclean, Lady Veronica: "Past Forgetting: A Memoir of Heroes, Adventure, Love and Life With Fitzroy Maclean"
* McLynn, Frank: "Fitzroy MacLean"

ee also

*Special Operations Executive
*Winston Churchill
*Josip Broz
*Balkan Air Force
*Partisans (Yugoslavia)
*Special Air Service
*Inspirations for James Bond


*"Eastern Approaches" 1949
*"Disputed Barricade: the life and times of Josip Broz-Tito, Marshal of Yugoslavia" 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 0070446601
*"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


External links

* [ Sir Fitzroy, the original James Bond, is dead]
* [ Scots adventurer was never a spy, reveals widow]

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