A Biography of Charles Henry Carmichael
Major Charlie Carmichael
1941 - 2008
Charles Henry Carmichael was born on 9 January 1941 in Boston, Massachusetts
where his mother Joan, née Garratt, was working in the British Consulate General.
An only child, he was educated at The Dragon School, Oxford, Rugby School and the
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Charles followed his uncle, Brigadier Stanley
Garratt, and was commissioned into XX The Lancashire Fusiliers, joining the 1st
Battalion in Osnabruck in 1963.
Regimental duty as a young officer saw Charles return from BAOR to Norton
Barracks in Worcester, from where the battalion embarked on a nine months
unaccompanied tour to British Guiana in January 1965 to relieve the Devon and
Dorsets. There they formed part of the two battalion internal security force required
to maintain order against a background of racial unrest between the Afro-Caribbean
and Asian population.
He married Penny Ormsby in 1966 when he was Regimental Signals Officer at
Weeton Camp, near Preston in Lancashire. In June of that year he went to Malaya as
an instructor at the Royal Military College, Sungei Besi, and in the following April
was seconded to 2 Malaysian Rangers (2 Renjer Malaysia) with whom he operated
against the remnants of the communist terrorists still active in the jungle. Penny and
Charles had four delightful daughters, Diana who was born in Kuala Lumpur in
February 1967, Victoria born in Hong Kong in 1968, Sophy born in England in 1969
and Elizabeth who was also born in England in 1971.
David Lloyd-Jones had selected Charles to be his adjutant when he took command of
1st Battalion XX The Lancashire Fusiliers for the tour in Hong Kong and to steer it
through the transition to the 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. This was
done with consummate skill and success at a memorable Vesting Day Trooping the
Colour parade followed later by an evening pageant and Beating Retreat in Gun Club
Hill Barracks, Kowloon. A very keen swimmer, he represented the Battalion in the
highly successful water polo team and also played hockey. A notable achievement
was his participation in the Hong Kong Harbour Race, a daunting stretch of highly
insalubrious open water between Kowloon and Hong Kong island.
The 4th Battalion returned to the United Kingdom in 1969 for a period in limbo
before being removed from the army orbat later that year. Whilst his fellow officers
were assigned to the other three battalions of the regiment, Charles was selected for a
post as an instructor at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Two weeks before
the start of his first term, he was suddenly posted to Belfast for six months as the
army was committed in support of the Royal Ulster Constabulary at the onset of the
sectarian troubles in the Province. Returning to take up his appointment at Sandhurst,
he completed a very successful tour as a highly respected instructor, influencing at
least one young cadet to become a Fusilier. This was followed by a one year Grade 3
staff appointment at Headquarters, North West District at Cuerden Hall in Bamber
Bridge near Preston in Lancashire prior to the Staff College.
Having successfully completed the Army Staff Course, he was appointed to a Grade
2 staff appointment at Headquarters, West Midland District in Shrewsbury for the
next two years.
Returning to regimental duty, he commanded W Company in the 1st Battalion.
Following an Operation Banner tour in Northern Ireland, he chose to retire and
embarked on a second career in civilian life. On the sporting front, Charles had been
Field Master of the working section of the Beagle Club in the 1980s.
Initially, he took a job managing a lime works in Bedfordshire, and then became the
assistant emergency planning officer with the Greater London Council. After the
demise of the GLC he became the Emergency Planning Officer with
Northamptonshire County Council before retiring again to become a self employed
consultant and moving to Criccieth in Wales. By now, Charles was dogged by
increasingly incapacitating arthritis and was forced to retire completely after moving
to North Devon in 2003.
The marriage to Penny was dissolved in 1987 and he subsequently married Jill
Garratt, the widow of his cousin Peter who had also served briefly as a Lancashire
Fusilier. There were four stepchildren, Virginia, Jonathan, Victoria and Alexandra
(Boo). Jill died in October 2004.
Charles Carmichael died after a period of sustained ill health on 15 August 2008 and
is survived by his four daughters and four stepchildren.