published 09/01/2013 at 05:48 PM GMT
Major-General John Graham, who has died aged 89, planned and supervised a palace coup d’état in 1970 which forced the abdication of the Sultan of Oman.
In 1970, as a seconded brigadier, Graham took command of the Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces — in total, no more than 4,000 all ranks. The inflexible nature and repressive policies of the Sultan,
Said bin Taimur, had allowed most of the rich southern province of Dhofar to fall under the control of a well-armed and highly motivated rebel communist army.
Qaboos, the Sultan’s Sandhurst-trained son, who was living under virtual house arrest, made a personal appeal to Graham, who then played a leading part in the Sultan’s removal and exile to Britain. Qaboos replaced him, and during the following years the northern provinces were cleansed of Marxist gangs and their weapons; and in Dhofar, a series of operations in collaboration with British forces succeeded in re-establishing the rule of the Sultan’s government over much of the province.
When he left in 1972, Graham handed over an army 11,000-strong, an air force of 49 aircraft and a growing navy of modern warships. Once the country was secure, much-needed modernisation followed. He regarded the contribution he had been able to make to the transformation of the lives of the Omanis as the highlight of his career.
John David Carew Graham, was born at Chatham on January 18 1923 and educated at Cheltenham College. In 1941 he enlisted as a private in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.
The following year he was commissioned, and landed in Normandy with the 2nd Battalion in mid-June 1944. His baptism of fire came later that month with the launch of Operation Epsom, during which the battalion captured intact two bridges, essential to the advance of the Allied armour, over the river Odon, south-west of Caen.
Graham was subsequently appointed adjutant but was wounded in March 1945 during the forced crossing of the Rhine. He rejoined the battalion in July in the British Zone in occupied Germany. He was mentioned in despatches.
Having taken a regular commission, he went with the 1st Battalion to Palestine as part of the 6th Airborne Division. A secondment to the 5th (Scottish) Battalion of the Parachute Regiment in BAOR was interrupted by the Soviet blockade of Berlin.
Graham was sent to the School of Slavonic Studies in London to learn Czech and, having qualified as an interpreter, was attached to the British embassy in Prague for a year before moving to GCHQ in England. The Security Service would not let him serve with his friends in the Argylls in the Korean War, but he rejoined his regiment in late 1952.
After postings to British Guiana, HQ Scottish Command, Cyprus and BAOR, he served at HQ Allied Forces Central Europe as military assistant to the C-in-C, a French general. From 1964 to 1966 he commanded the 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment and, after a spell at Staff College as an instructor, went to RHQ the Parachute Regiment as its Regimental Colonel.
After his return from Oman Graham went to India’s National Defence College, New Delhi, followed by a Nato staff appointment at HQ AFCENT in the Netherlands. He was promoted to major-general in 1976 on his appointment as GOC Wales.
On retirement in 1978, he moved to Kent to take up the post of Administrator of Chevening. There he and his wife looked after a succession of Foreign Secretaries and their guests. In 1991 he bought a house in Barbados and settled there.
He was appointed CBE in 1973 and CB in 1978.
He published, in 1999, Ponder Anew: Reflections on the Twentieth Century; and, in 2007 (with Humphrey Metzgen), Caribbean Wars Untold: A Salute to the British West Indies.
John Graham married, in 1956, Rosemary Adamson, who survives him with their son and daughter.
Maj-Gen John Graham, born January 18 1923, died December 14 2012