Arguably the most famous wartime Commando.

Brigadier Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat, DSO, MC, TD, JP, DL

Discover the extraordinary life of one of the key driving forces behind the introduction of modern-day special service troops, initially with the formation of the Commandos which then spawned a host of other special forces units which have since shaped the elite troops of today.

Pioneering Vision

It was Lord Lovat’s vision, along with his cousins the Stirling brothers, who proposed that new tactics were needed to thwart the Nazi’s advances in Europe having made significant gains and were now threatening a UK invasion.
The Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, agreed with their proposal and concept so these well-heeled, well connected land owners who knew the Highlands of Scotland so well, with their families owning significant swathes of land, set to work to establish a Special Training Centre (STC) at Inveraillort House situated on the Road to the Isles near Mallaig. This was effectively the first ever Special Forces training area.

Lovat Scouts

Born in July 1911 into a prominent, influential and aristocratic family centred around Beauly near Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland. The Fraser family had strong, distinguished military and political traditions and his father, the 14th Lord Lovat had raised the Lovat Scouts to fight in the second Boer War in 1899 and then with distinction in the First World War as Brigadier General before ending his career as Major-General, The Right Honourable Lord Lovat KT, GCVO, KCMG, CB, DSO.

 He owned 250,000 acres in the West Highlands and firmly believed that the fieldcraft learnt on the mountains watching and stalking deer were relatable skills for his Lovat Scouts observing an enemy force and hunting them down in the Boer War in South Africa.

Winston Churchill had also fought as an officer in the Boer War and was so impressed by the small but effective Commando raiding teams, that he introduced the same concept and their namesake for Britain’s newly formed Army Commandos.

Scottish aristocracy

His son, the 15th Lord Lovat, was also commissioned into the Lovat Scouts, a reservist unit, but at the outbreak of the Second World War he transferred into the regular army joining the Scots Guards along with his cousins William and David Stirling and friend Donald Cameron of Lochiel.

It was this exclusive group of well-connected Scottish aristocrats who set up the whole training infrastructure, the land, the training area, the hunting lodges and tented camps and training program.
Shimi Lovat was himself the senior Fieldcraft Instructor, drawing on his hunting and stalking experience from early boyhood adventures on the family estate.

So began a new era of unorthodox ‘butcher and bolt’ raiders who would combine sea, air and land attacks using surprise as a key component. It was essential to use volunteers only due to the arduous nature of the course, which required extremely high standards of endurance, physical fitness and motivation.

Butcher and Bolt

After setting up this elite military training program the charismatic Shimi joined the war effort on the front line and led many daring raids, becoming one of the most celebrated Commando leaders of the Second World War. As a Major he led No. 4 Commando on the raid of the German-occupied Lofoten Islands. In the successful raid, the commandos destroyed fish-oil factories, petrol dumps, and 11 ships.

They seized encryption equipment and codebooks and captured 216 German troops; 315 Norwegians chose to accompany the commandos back to Britain and subsequently joined the commando training program and deployed back to their homeland on future operations.

He commanded 100 men from No. 4 Commando on the Hardelot raid in France, for which he was awarded a Military Cross (MC). After Promotion to Lt Colonel he led a successful component of the abortive Dieppe raid, Operation Jubilee, attacking and destroying a battery of six 150mm guns, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).


During Operation Overlord, the D Day landings, he led the Special Service Brigade at Sword Beach and then successfully captured Pegasus Bridge, accompanied by his piper Bill Millin. Brutal fighting ensued for days and many commandos were killed.
He led the brigade with his inspirational leadership and spirit. A Lt Colonel was killed and Shimi Lovat was one of two Brigadiers severely wounded with a large fragment of shell embedded in his back and side. His second in command who found him being given a battlefield blood transfusion would later reveal: 'He was in a frightful mess... but very calm. "Take over the Brigade," he said, "and whatever happens - not a foot back."

He repeated this several times and then said, "Get me a Priest...". The priest wasn’t needed and this physically fit and larger than life character pulled through. This hugely charismatic man and arguably the most famous wartime Commando, in addition to the MC and DSO, was also decorated with the Légion d'honneur and the Croix de Guerre.

Ministry of Economic Warfare

Lord Lovat was a stalwart of the Inverness Highland aristocracy. In 1942 he was appointed a Deputy lieutenant of the county, and two years later a Justice of the Peace. Although Lord Lovat sustained severe wounds during his service in France, he made a good recovery, but was unable to return to the army (he transferred to the reserve in 1949). In early 1945 Churchill sent Lord Lovat to Moscow as his envoy in a Parliamentary delegation to pay his respect to Stalin and the Presidium, then in 1945 joined the Government as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, "becoming responsible for the functions of the Ministry of Economic Warfare when these were taken over by the Foreign Office", resigning upon Winston Churchill's election defeat. In 1946 he was made a Commander of the Venerable Order of Saint John. His formal retirement from the army came on 16 June 1962, he retained the honorary rank of brigadier.

Lord Lovat's involvement in politics continued throughout his life, in the House of Lords where he spoke on Scottish Affairs and served in the Inverness County Council for the next forty-two years where he pressed for modernising improvements. He also devoted much of his time to the family estates of 250,000 acres in the highlands and to Fraser Clan affairs. He bred a pedigree herd of shorthorn cattle and was an international judge of cattle travelling widely to Canada, America, Latin America and Australia. He lectured on agronomy and loved racing. He was chieftain of Lovat Shinty Club, the local shinty team which bears his family name.

Lord Shimi Lovat led a very full life, from his early days as a boy who lived off the land, fishing and trapping rabbits. He was tough and resilient, he never expected to have an easy or a soft path. His background bred self-reliance. So, when there was a call for a new kind of soldier, a commando, someone unorthodox who could use the land and its contours to disguise what they were doing, he was perfect. His life was full of public service in his community in Highlands of Scotland and at Westminster. His military lasting legacy was that he contributed significantly to the formation of elite Special Forces. He was there at the beginning, in the Rough Bounds of Scotland, and it was largely his vision that made it all possible.

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Paying homage to the breaktaking region of the Rough Bounds and those who made it their training ground.