Tommy MacPherson

Tommy MacPherson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on October 4, 1920. 1920. His father was Sir Thomas Stewart MacFarson CIE LLD, and his mother, Helen, was the daughter of the Reverend Archibald Borland Cameron. As the youngest of seven children, Tommy attended Edinburgh Academy Prep School and then went on to Fettes College, where he joined the Officer’s Training Corps. Later, he attended Trinity College, Oxford, where he earned his first degree in philosophy, politics, and economics.

MacPherson joined the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders Territorial Army in 1939, where he served in the No. 11 Scottish Commando between 1940 and 1941. MacPherson was part of a four-man team sent to reconnoitre beaches in preparation for Operation Flipper, an attempted raid on the headquarters of a German Field Marshal, Erwin Rommel. Unfortunately, nothing went to has planned, and the men were captured. Captain Radcliffe and Lieutenant Ravenscroft were captured on November 2, and MacPherson and Corporal Evans were captured the next day.

MacPherson was interrogated by four army officers and six carabinieri. One of them asked him to show them how to use his Colt automatic weapon. He did so “by putting in a spare magazine [he] had, and then held the party up with the loaded weapon.”[1] So his specific role in the coup is he escaped but was unfortunately recaptured and placed in solitary confinement. Before being taken to Italy, he attempted to escape but was again unsuccessful. He was held in a prisoner of war camp at Montalbo and, in June 1942, was moved to another camp at Gavi.

After the Italian armistice, the prisoner of war camp was taken over by German forces, and the prisoners of war were transferred to a German POW camp; they were then taken to Austria. During this time. MacPherson managed to get away from his guards but was again recaptured and almost shot. They were then transferred to Stalag XVII-A at Spittal an der Drau. While there, MacPherson and Captain Colin Norman Armstrong managed to hide from the Germans whenever they took a roll call. They then obtained assistance from the French and escaped in French uniforms on September 21, taking with them Captain A.A. Yeomen. They were able to get to the Italian border again and intended to make their way into Yugoslavia. However, on September 26, they ran into a German patrol. MacPherson spoke to the patrol and pretended to be an Italian officer while trying to convince them that Armstrong was Croatian. Unfortunately, the Red Cross rations they were carrying revealed their actual status, and they were sent back to camp, eventually ending up at Stalag XX-A in Poland. On October 9, they escaped again with the assistance of Private Hutson and Sergeant Glancy. The four were able to travel to Sweden and fly to Scotland. They arrived on November 4, 1943, two years after MacPherson was initially captured.

MacPherson discovered he would be part of Operation Jedburgh only a few days after returning. Three men units would be dropped into Europe to carry out sabotage and guerrilla warfare. The other meter of the war, he would kill or capture many German troops and systematically blow apart bridges.

After the war, MacPherson reverted back to the rank of lieutenant and continued to serve in the Territorial Army with the Camerons. He served with them until 1967.

MacPherson also had a successful business career. He was a Managing Director and Chairman of the Mallinson-Denny group. He was also a director of the Brooke Bond Group, the Scottish Mutual Assurance Society, the National Coal Board, and the Chairman of Annington Holdings plc and Boustead plc. He was also a National Board for Prices and Incomes member between 1965 and 1967 and President of the Eurochambers, the Association of European Chambers of Commerce, from 1992 to 1994.

MacPherson passed away at the age of ninety-four on November 6, 2014.[2]

[1] “Recommendations for Honours and Awards (Army)—Image details—MacPherson, Ronald Thomas Stewart—Military Cross,” DocumentsOnline, The National Archives.
[2] Sir Tommy Macpherson and Richard Bath, Behind Enemy Lines: The Autobiography of Britain’s Most Decorated Living War Hero (Edinburgh, Scotland: Mainstream Publishing, 2011).

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