Famous British Soldiers

The British army is the principal land warfare force of United Kingdom. First established in 1660, the British army has resisted numerous wars, battles and conflicts, including the Seven Years' War, Napoleonic Wars, Crimean War, First World War and Second World War. With repeated victories, the British army has established itself as one of the world's leading military powers. It is this status that has allowed Britain to become a world power. And much of the credit for the same goes to the brave, valiant and heroic British soldiers who have even sacrificed their life for the welfare of the country. British soldiers have a fiery sense of patriotism and a deep passion for nationalism. They truly abide by the British army’s official motto, ‘Be the Best’. They are well-equipped to combat situations and are well-trained to take up leadership roles whenever needed. Check this section and know interesting facts about the life of British soldiers.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Horatio Nelson

Horatio Nelson
Famous As: Admiral
Birthdate: September 29, 1758
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Burnham Thorpe
Died: October 21, 1805

Horatio Nelson was a British flag officer whose inspirational leadership brought about several British naval victories, especially during the Napoleonic Wars. Regarded as one of Britain's heroic figures, Horatio Nelson's legacy remains influential and several monuments, including the Nelson Monument and Nelson's Column, have been created in his memory.

 2 Walter Raleigh

Walter Raleigh
Famous As: Politician, Writer, Explorer, Aristocrat
Birthdate: January 22, 1554
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: East Budleigh
Died: October 29, 1618
English explorer Walter Raleigh is best remembered for his involvement in the Siege of Smerwick and for colonizing North America. He made smoking tobacco popular in England. His accounts of his first voyage to South America led to the legend of El Dorado. He was executed to please the Spanish.

 3 John Smith

John Smith
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: January 6, 1580
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lincolnshire, England
Died: June 21, 1631

John Smith was an English explorer, soldier, colonial governor, author, and Admiral of New England. In the early-17th century, Smith played a major role in the establishment of the first indissoluble English settlement in America, which came to be known as the English colony at Jamestown. Apart from helping Jamestown survive various challenges, Smith's leadership also helped the colony flourish.

 4 Peter Townsend

Peter Townsend
Famous As: aviator, writer
Birthdate: November 22, 1914
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Yangon
Died: June 19, 1995

 5 Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein

Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
Famous As: Allied Commander in World War II
Birthdate: November 17, 1887
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kennington
Died: March 24, 1976

Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, was a British Army officer who played important roles in World War I, World War II, and the Irish War of Independence. He commanded the British Eighth Army during the Second World War and also oversaw the operations during the Battle of Normandy. Bernard Montgomery has a couple of statues dedicated to him.

 6 Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 18, 1893
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Oswestry
Died: November 4, 1918

Wilfred Owen was an English soldier and poet. One of the most important poets during World War I, Owen wrote about the horrors of gas warfare. His life and career inspired a docudrama titled Wilfred Owen: A Remembrance Tale where he was portrayed by Samuel Barnett. In 1989, the Wilfred Owen Association was established to commemorate his life and poetry.

 7 Mary Read

Mary Read
Famous As: Pirate
Birthdate: 1685 AD
Birthplace: London, Kingdom of England
Died: April 28, 1721

A legendary female pirate of the early eighteenth century, Mary Read took to piracy when her ship was seized by Jack Rackham in West Indies. By then, she had started dressing as a man and had served in the military, which might have helped her to become a successful buccaneer. Captured in 1720, she died in prison five months later.  

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 8 Henry FitzRoy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset

Henry FitzRoy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: June 15, 1519
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Blackmore, England
Died: July 22, 1536

Henry FitzRoy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, was the son of Henry VIII and his mistress Elizabeth Blount. Henry FitzRoy was the only illegitimate child acknowledged by King Henry VIII of England. In spite of being an illegitimate child, Henry FitzRoy was made Duke of Richmond and Somerset. He was later made Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. 

 9 Siegfried Sassoon

Siegfried Sassoon
Birthdate: September 8, 1886
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Matfield, Kent, England
Died: September 1, 1967

Siegfried Sassoon was an English writer, poet, and soldier. One of the most popular poets during the First World War, Sassoon's works satirized the patriotic pretensions of those accountable for the war as well as described the horrors of the war. Siegfried Sassoon's works and ideology greatly influenced another leading poet of the First World War, Wilfred Owen.

 10 Jack Hawkins

Jack Hawkins
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 14, 1910
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wood Green, London, England, UK
Died: July 18, 1973

Jack Hawkins was an English actor best remembered for playing military men during the 1950s. Hawkins achieved international stardom in the '50s when he entered Hollywood. In 1958, Jack Hawkins was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the art.

 11 Richard Francis Burton

Richard Francis Burton
Famous As: Translator
Birthdate: March 19, 1821
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Torquay
Died: October 20, 1890

Richard Francis Burton was a British explorer, soldier, and scholar. He is best remembered for his explorations in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Along with John Hanning Speke, Burton was the first European to witness the Great Lakes of Africa. A prolific writer, Burton wrote several scholarly articles about numerous subjects like sexual practices, falconry, human behavior, travel, and ethnography.

 12 Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
Famous As: Political figure
Birthdate: November 10, 1565
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: England
Died: February 25, 1601

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, was an English nobleman. Considered a favorite of Elizabeth I, Robert Devereux did the unthinkable when he led an abortive coup d'état in 1601 against the government of Elizabeth I. He was subsequently executed for treason. Over the years, Robert Devereux has been portrayed in many stage plays, TV series, and films.

 13 Banastre Tarleton

Banastre Tarleton
Famous As: Politician, Military personnel
Birthdate: August 21, 1754
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Liverpool
Died: January 15, 1833

Banastre Tarleton was a British politician and general. He served in the American Revolutionary War where he was a lieutenant colonel. An iconic figure, Tarleton has been portrayed in several films, such as Sweet Liberty, The Patriot, and Amazing Grace. He has also been depicted in many TV series and novels.   

 14 William Marshal, 1st earl of Pembroke

William Marshal, 1st earl of Pembroke
Famous As: English regent
Birthdate: 1146 AD
Birthplace: Caversham, United Kingdom
Died: May 14, 1219

William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, was an Anglo-Norman statesman and soldier. Knighted in 1166, William Marshal was widely regarded as the best knight of his generation. William Marshal, who served five English kings, is now considered a cultural icon. 

 15 Bill Millin

Bill Millin
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: July 14, 1922
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Regina
Died: August 17, 2010

Bill Millin was a British piper who served as Brigadier Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser's personal piper during World War II. He is best remembered for playing his instrument whilst under fire during the Normandy landings. His action during the Normandy landings was depicted in the American epic war film, The Longest Day, where he was played by Leslie de Laspee.

 16 Henry Tandey

Henry Tandey
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: August 30, 1891
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Royal Leamington Spa
Died: December 20, 1977

Henry Tandey was a British soldier who played an important role during the First World War. In 1918, Tandey was honored with the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his efforts during the second Battle of Cambrai. The same year, Henry Tandey was also honored with the prestigious Victoria Cross for exhibiting bravery in the face of death.

 17 Adrian Carton de Wiart

Adrian Carton de Wiart
Famous As: Military personnel
Birthdate: May 5, 1880
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Brussels
Died: June 5, 1963

Adrian Carton de Wiart was a British Army officer who served in the Boer War, World War I, and World War II. He suffered several injuries during his service; he was shot in the face, ankle, leg, stomach, head, hip, and ear. He also lost vision in his left eye. He was honored with many awards, including the Victoria Cross.

 18 Andy McNab

Andy McNab
Famous As: Writer, Autobiographer, Novelist, Soldier
Birthdate: December 28, 1959
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Southwark

Andy McNab is a British novelist and former infantry soldier. McNab was honored with the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his efforts during the Persian Gulf War where he was part of a military mission with the Special Air Service. Andy McNab published a book titled Bravo Two Zero, recounting his experience in the mission. The book earned him national prominence.

 19 Ant Middleton

Ant Middleton
Famous As: Television personality
Birthdate: September 22, 1980
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Portsmouth, Hampshire, England

Although best known as the chief instructor of SAS: Who Dares Wins, a reality quasi-military training television program, Ant Middleton is more than just that. A former soldier and successful Mt Everest-summiter, he has also appeared in the role of William Bligh in Mutiny and authored four books, two of which have become No.1 on The Sunday Times best-seller chart.

 20 Robert Rogers

Robert Rogers
Famous As: soldier, privateer
Birthdate: November 7, 1731
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Methuen
Died: May 18, 1795

Robert Rogers was a British soldier who served during the American Revolution and the French and Indian War. Rogers is remembered for raising and commanding the popular Rogers' Rangers during the French and Indian War. In 1992, he was inducted into the United States Army Ranger Hall of Fame. Robert Rogers’ heroics are depicted in the 1940 film Northwest Passage.

 21 Philip Sidney

Philip Sidney
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: November 30, 1554
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Penshurst, Kent, England Kent, England
Died: October 17, 1586
Legendary Elizabethan poet Philip Sidney is best remembered for his works such as Arcadia and the sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella. Born into an aristocratic family, he became an MP from Shrewsbury at the tender age of 18. He died in a military combat against Spain at age 31.

 22 Paddy Mayne

Paddy Mayne
Famous As: Solicitor, Rugby union player, Military personnel, Boxer
Birthdate: January 11, 1915
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Newtownards
Died: December 14, 1955

Paddy Mayne was not just a British Army lieutenant colonel but also a legendary rugby player who had represented both Ireland and the British Lions. He was also known for his reckless behavior, including his drunken brawls. He was part of a huge debate after being denied the Victoria Cross.

 23 John Bowes-Lyon

John Bowes-Lyon
Famous As: Stockbroker, Cricketer
Birthdate: April 1, 1886
Sun Sign: Aries
Died: February 7, 1930

John Bowes-Lyon was a British stockbroker and cricketer. He was the son of the Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne and the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. He was also Queen Elizabeth II's uncle. He is also remembered for being a part of the Black Watch during World War I.

 24 Harry Patch

Harry Patch
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: June 17, 1898
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Somerset
Died: July 25, 2009

Harry Patch was an English soldier who served during the First World War. A supercentenarian, Patch was the last surviving combat soldier to have fought in the trenches during the First World War. At the time of his death, Harry Patch was the world's third oldest man and the oldest man in Europe.

 25 Nicholas Alkemade

Nicholas Alkemade
Famous As: Spy
Birthdate: December 10, 1922
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Loughborough
Died: June 22, 1987

Initially a gardener, Nicholas Alkemade joined the Royal Air Force during World War II. An expert in aerial combat, he made headlines when he jumped out of his burning bomber and fell 18,000 feet below, without a parachute, and survived. Following the war, he worked in the chemical industry.

 26 Arthur Phillip

Arthur Phillip
Famous As: Navy officer
Birthdate: October 11, 1738
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cheapside, London, England
Died: August 31, 1814

British admiral Arthur Phillip was a pioneering leader of the colonization of Australia. He established the first permanent European colonial settlement in Australia. He had also served as the first governor of New South Wales but was unable to establish peace. He was part of the Seven Years' War, too.

 27 Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood

Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood
Famous As: Politician, Officer
Birthdate: September 26, 1748
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Newcastle upon Tyne
Died: March 7, 1810

Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood was a legendary British naval commander known for his heroics at the Battle of Trafalgar. He had been sailing since age 12 and was second in command to Lord Nelson at Trafalgar. His exploits earned him the title of Baron and an annual pension £2,000.

 28 Simon Weston

Simon Weston
Famous As: Writer, Soldier
Birthdate: August 8, 1961
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Caerphilly

A British Army veteran, Simon Weston sustained 46% burns and permanent facial damage at the Falklands War. His recovery was an uphill journey, with years of reconstructive surgery that included 96 major operations. He is now a motivational speaker and a bestselling author, who appears on TV and radio regularly.

 29 Acker Bilk

Acker Bilk
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: January 28, 1929
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pensford, Somerset, England
Died: November 2, 2014

Best known for his bestselling 1962 instrumental hit Stranger on the Shore, British clarinettist Acker Bilk was loved by his fans for his stage presence. Though he focused more on football and boxing in childhood, he was pushed by his parents to learn the piano and later switched to the clarinet.

 30 Prince Aly Khan

Prince Aly Khan
Famous As: Father of Aga Khan IV
Birthdate: June 13, 1911
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Turin, Italy
Died: May 12, 1960

Son of All-India Muslim League president Aga Khan III, Aly Khan was known for his numerous affairs and his marriage to Hollywood star Rita Hayworth. The socialite and race-horse owner was stripped of his inheritance, as Aga Khan’s will mentioned Aly’s son Karim as his successor.

 31 Cedric Hardwicke

Cedric Hardwicke
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 19, 1893
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lye, England
Died: August 6, 1964

English actor Cedric Hardwicke is mostly remembered for his roles in the plays of Shakespeare and Shaw. Nicknamed Butch and Badger, he was one of the finest character actors of the initial days of talkies. He was also known for his baritone voice and later moved to the US permanently.

 32 Patrick Leigh Fermor

Patrick Leigh Fermor
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: February 11, 1915
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: June 10, 2011

A soldier and an avid traveler, Patrick Leigh Fermor is remembered for his travelogues such as A Time of Gifts. Affectionately known to fans as Paddy Fermor, his autobiographical writings hardly ever mentioned his military exploits. Though he had initially declined the knighthood, he later accepted it.

 33 Brian Horrocks

Brian Horrocks
Famous As: Athletics competitor, Military personnel
Birthdate: September 7, 1895
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: India
Died: January 4, 1985

Born to an army doctor in India, Brian Horrocks was educated at Sandhurst and later became a British Army officer. He was skilled in modern pentathlon and had also participated in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. Post-retirement, he penned a memoir and was featured in several BBC programs.

 34 John McAleese

John McAleese
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: April 25, 1949
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Laurieston, Falkirk
Died: August 26, 2011

John McAleese was a Scottish soldier who was part of the Special Air Service. In 1987, he was honored with the Military Medal for his efforts during the Loughgall ambush. McAleese also served as a bodyguard for as many as three prime ministers of the UK. After his military career, McAleese co-founded a security company called NNK Special Services Group.

 35 John Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher

John Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: January 25, 1841
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sri Lanka
Died: July 10, 1920

John Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher, was 13 when he first joined the navy. The British admiral later became the First Sea Lord. He is remembered for introducing torpedo-boat destroyers and for improving the naval gunnery. He retired over bitter disagreements with the likes of Winston Churchill and their naval expedition plans.

 36 Gonville Bromhead

Gonville Bromhead
Famous As: Military personnel
Birthdate: August 29, 1845
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Versailles
Died: February 9, 1891

Recipient of the Victoria Cross, Gonville Bromhead was a British army officer, hailed for his role in the defence of Rorke's Drift during 1879 Anglo-Zulu War. He not only played an important part in repulsing the Zulu assault, but also stayed back to defend the area from future attacks until he was sent back to England to receive his award.  

 37 Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby

Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: April 23, 1861
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nottinghamshire, England
Died: May 14, 1936

Known for his distinguish services during WWI, Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby, is especially hailed for his decisive victory over the Turks at Gaza, leading to the capture of Jerusalem. Later, he also captured Damascus and Aleppo, thus ending Ottoman power in Syria. Later appointed Special High Commissioner of Egypt, he governed the country firmly, until its independence in 1922.

 38 Mike Jackson

Mike Jackson
Birthdate: March 21, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sheffield

One of the most high-rated British Army generals during World War II, Mike Jackson has been the Chief of General Staff and has led British forces in Iraq. He has also led peacekeeping campaigns in Kosovo and Bosnia. Knighted for his achievements, he is now a motivational speaker and a lecturer.

 39 John Frost

John Frost
Famous As: paratrooper
Birthdate: December 31, 1912
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Pune
Died: May 21, 1993

A major figure of The Parachute Regiment, which was operational during World War II, British Army airborne officer John Frost was also a two-time Distinguished Service Order awardee. He led campaigns and operations in places such as Malta, Libya, Sicily, and Italy, before retiring to focus on farming.

 40 Robert Nairac

Robert Nairac
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: August 31, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mauritius
Died: May 15, 1977

A distinguished Military Intelligence Liaison Officer of the British Army, Captain Robert Nairac is one of three IRA victims whose grave has not yet been found. Abducted from a pub in North Ireland, where he had gone in the guise of a motor mechanic, he refused to reveal his identity in spite of physical abuse and was finally shot dead.  

 41 David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty

David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty
Famous As: Politician, Military personnel
Birthdate: January 17, 1871
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: County Wexford
Died: March 11, 1936

Royal Navy officer David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty, had been the Admiral of the Fleet and is remembered for his exploits in World War I. Some of his major heroics were seen in the Battle of Jutland and the Battle of Heligoland Bight. He was also knighted for his achievements.

 42 Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: October 3, 1390
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 23, 1447

The youngest son of King Henry IV of England, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, also known as Humphrey of Lancaster, is known for his exploits in the Hundred Years' War. He was also popular as "good Duke Humphrey" for being a patron of education, especially as a benefactor for Oxford.

 43 Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence

Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: September 29, 1387
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: March 22, 1421

The second son of King Henry IV of England, Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence, was knighted by his father and also served as the Lieutenant of Ireland. Though initially opposed to his brother, King Henry V, he later assisted him in his campaigns against France.

 44 Bob Astles

Bob Astles
Famous As: engineer
Birthdate: 1924 AD
Birthplace: Ashford
Died: December 29, 2012

British soldier Bob Astles is best remembered as an associate of Ugandan presidents Milton Obote and Idi Amin. He also led Uganda’s anti-smuggling unit, for which he was given the title of Major by Amin, while Obote made him the head of the TV section of Uganda’s Information Ministry.

 45 Guy Gibson

Guy Gibson
Famous As: Military personnel
Birthdate: August 12, 1918
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Shimla
Died: September 19, 1944

Royal Air Force bomber pilot Guy Gibson was born in India but moved to England at age 6. While he was initially rejected by the RAF for his short stature, he was later accepted. He is best remembered for leading the 1943 Dambusters raid, which damaged two dams of Ruhr.

 46 David Hart Dyke

David Hart Dyke
Famous As: Military personnel
Birthdate: October 3, 1938
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Havant

Former Royal Navy officer David Hart Dyke was the son of a Royal Navy commander and had begun his career as a midshipman. His transcriptions on his return from the disastrous Falklands War were later released as Four Weeks in May. He had also been an aide-de-camp to Queen Elizabeth II.

 47 B. H. Liddell Hart

B. H. Liddell Hart
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: October 31, 1895
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 29, 1970

Also known as Captain B. H., soldier and historian B. H. Liddell Hart is best remembered for his research on military theory and his book Strategy. He was against frontal attack as a war strategy. He had also been part of the Battle of the Somme and was later knighted.

 48 John Hawkwood

John Hawkwood
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: 1323 AD
Birthplace: Sible Hedingham, England
Died: February 29, 1394

Legendary 14th-century English soldier John Hawkwood is best remembered for his services as a condottiero, or mercenary leader, in Italy. Starting his military career with the Hundred Years’ War in France, and later joined the White Company, spending over three decades in Italy. He was immortalized in a Paolo Uccello fresco.

 49 Arthur Percival

Arthur Percival
Famous As: Military personnel
Birthdate: December 26, 1887
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Aspenden
Died: January 31, 1966

Blamed for undermining the British Imperial prestige by surrendering to the Japanese Army during the Battle of Singapore, Arthur Percival was actually a distinguished military officer, known for his successful campaigns in interwar period.  Plagued with underequipped garrison from the beginning, he was forced to surrender in order to save the lives of his 100,000 men and became the scapegoat.

 50 Roy Urquhart

Roy Urquhart
Famous As: Officer
Birthdate: November 28, 1901
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London
Died: December 13, 1988