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Major Giles Lomas - known as Jack or The Major - has died

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: October 11, 2012

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MAJOR Giles John Eyre Lomas, farmer, landed gentry and decorated war hero, has died.

He passed away peacefully at his home, Cornborough in Abbotsham, surrounded by his family. He leaves behind three sons, ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

He was known as Jack or The Major and as Grumps by the grandchildren. He lived a full and colourful life and, with his wife Margaret, worked steadfastly for the good of the local community.

Jack was born in Almora, India, where his father was a commissioner in the Indian civil service. Poorly as a baby, he was sent back to Britain when he was just three months old and looked after by his maternal grandparents at Cornborough until 1922 when his parents came home. He started his education at Buckleigh School and then the United Services College at Westward Ho!

From there he attended Bradfield College near Reading before going to Lincoln College, Oxford, to read history, subsequently achieving an MA (hons) in the subject.

During his time at Oxford he joined the Officer Training Corps and learned to fly on several aircraft including the Hawker Hart, a British two-seater light bomber biplane.But an interest in gunnery saw him joining the Royal Artillery as a commissioned officer, completing his military training at Mons, Woolwich and Larkhill colleges.

His first appointment was with a heavy horse regiment at Exeter in 1938. This was followed by a posting to Plymouth in 1939 to the 1st Heavy Horse and, later that year, to the 4th Field Regiment Royal Artillery in India.

While there he continued the family sporting tradition of shooting.

Jack's next posting was to Egypt with the 4th Indian Division as a gun position officer, followed relatively quickly by a transfer to 31 Field Regiment as captain. He served with various regiments while in Egypt, supporting British, Australian and New Zealand troops during the African campaign.

He was also attached to the 4th Royal Horse Artillery as a Forward Observation Officer and it was during this period that he won the Military Cross for his bravery at Fort Capuzzo, Libya.

He also served at Tobruk and El Alamein and was extremely proud to be one of the original Desert Rats.

In 1942 he was appointed to the Tactical School in Gaza as an instructor, before being promoted to major and second in command of 32 Field Regiment, seeing service in both Egypt and Syria.

The next move saw him supporting the USA Long Rifle Battalion at Monte Cristo, Italy, before being sent home to take up the role of training officer, first near Southampton and then at Sennybridge, Wales.

In 1945 he attended the Staff College at Camberley, Surrey, and at the end of the war was part of the occupying forces in Iserlohn, Germany.

He became a brigade major and was stationed at Abergavenny, Wales, for just over a year until returning to Germany in 1948, as Director Artillery Adjutant General (DAAG) of the British Army of the Rhine.

His military career then took him to Kupferdreh as battery commander of 42 Field Regiment where he stayed for three years until a staff posting to Khartoum, Sudan, in 1951. He served at various locations before being sent to Tanganyika to carry out the same job.

His last posting overseas was to Kenya in 1955 where he supported the Kings African Rifles during the Mau Mau uprising. He returned to Britain the following year to become the training officer for the West Dorset Yeomanry, based at Yeovil, before retiring from the Army in 1958.

Throughout his career he was supported by his wife Margaret who originally came from Dolton.

On retirement Jack, Margaret and their three sons moved into The Orchard which was originally the laundry for Cornborough. They moved into the main house in 1960 following the death of Jack's father.

Jack then took over the running of the 500-acre estate, comprising sheep and cattle, and was proud of the fact that he pioneered Barley Beef, the process of intensively rearing calves.

Hunting was always a passion. He served twice as master of the Stevenstone Hunt, the latter in a temporary capacity.

He served as a local magistrate for many years and became chairman of the bench.

Both he and Margaret were steadfast supporters of the local community.

He served as churchwarden of St Helen's at Abbotsham for 34 years, and fought successfully to keep the local primary school open. He also worked voluntarily as a tax inspector and was involved in various committees.

Both he and Margaret were both past presidents of the Bideford and District Horse Show. Margaret died in May this year at the age of 93. Jack died on September 26 at the age of 97.

Their sons Hugh, known as Jack, Peter, known as Ryker, and David, will continue to run the estate.

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  • westwardhobod  |  October 11 2012, 10:42AM

    Thank you Major Giles Lomas for everything you have done for the good of Great Britain.