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
4
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 
John Smith
(Explorer)

John Smith
4
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.

 3 
Peter Townsend
(aviator, writer)

Peter Townsend
8
Birthdate: November 22, 1914
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Yangon
Died: June 19, 1995

 4 

Wilfred Owen
5
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.

Henry FitzRoy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset
4
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. 

 6 
Douglas Bader
(Aircraft pilot)

Douglas Bader
4
Birthdate: February 21, 1910
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: St John's Wood, London, England
Died: September 5, 1982

Sir Douglas Bader was a RAF pilot during World War II. Although he lost both his legs in an aerobatics accident in 1931, he recovered and rejoined the RAF. Following the war, he joined the oil industry. The film and book Reach for the Sky details his life.

Siegfried Sassoon
4
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.

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 8 

Jack Hawkins
4
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.

 9 
John Franklin
(Explorer, Royal Navy officer)

John Franklin
4
Birthdate: April 16, 1786
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Spilsby, England
Died: June 11, 1847

 10 

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
4
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.

 11 

Richard Francis Burton
4
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.

William Marshal, 1st earl of Pembroke
4
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. 

 13 
Banastre Tarleton
(Former lieutenant colonel at the end of the American Revolution)

Banastre Tarleton
4
Birthdate: August 21, 1754
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Liverpool, Lancashire, England
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 
Bill Millin
(Soldier)

Bill Millin
4
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.

 15 
Henry Tandey
(Soldier)

Henry Tandey
4
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.

 16 
Robert Rogers
(soldier, privateer)

Robert Rogers
3
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.

 17 
Ant Middleton
(Television personality)

Ant Middleton
8
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.

 18 
Paddy Mayne
(Former Lieutenant colonel and appointed commanding officer of the re-formed 1st SAS Regiment)

Paddy Mayne
3
Birthdate: January 11, 1915
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Newtownards, United Kingdom
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.

 19 
Philip Sidney
(Poet of the Elizabethan Era Known for a Pastoral Romance Entitled 'The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia')

Philip Sidney
3
Birthdate: November 30, 1554
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Penshurst, 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.

 20 
Arthur Phillip
(Navy officer)

Arthur Phillip
3
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.

 21 
Harry Patch
(Soldier)

Harry Patch
3
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.

 22 
Russell Williams
(serial killer)

Russell Williams
8
Birthdate: March 7, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bromsgrove

British-born Canadian colonel Russell Williams made headlines after his arrest for the murders of Jessica Lloyd and Marie-France Comeau, apart from multiple sexual assaults. The serial killer was later convicted, stripped of his military ranks, and sentenced to life imprisonment. A character in J.K. Rowling’s Troubled Blood was modeled on him.

 23 
Violette Szabo
(Former Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent during the Second World War)

Violette Szabo
3
Birthdate: June 26, 1921
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: February 5, 1945

 24 
Simon Weston
(Writer, Soldier)

Simon Weston
3
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.

Nicholas Alkemade
3
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 

Cedric Hardwicke
3
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.

 27 
Andy McNab
(Writer, Autobiographer, Novelist, Soldier)

Andy McNab
4
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.

 28 
Orde Wingate
(Officer)

Orde Wingate
3
Birthdate: February 26, 1903
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Nainital
Died: March 24, 1944

British military officer Orde Wingate is remembered for forming a band of British, Gurkha, and Burmese guerrilla warriors, known as Chindits, which fought valiantly against the Japanese forces in Burma during World War II. He was killed in a plane crash in Manipur at age 41.

 29 
John Bowes-Lyon
(Stockbroker, Cricketer)

John Bowes-Lyon
3
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.

 30 
John McAleese
(Soldier)

John McAleese
3
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.

John Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher
3
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.

Mike Jackson
4
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.

 33 
Mike Hoare
(Former Irish mercenary soldier who operated during the Simba rebellion, and attempted to conduct a coup d'état in the Seychelles)

Mike Hoare
3
Birthdate: March 17, 1919
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kolkata, India
Died: February 2, 2020

 34 
Stewart Menzies
(Intelligence officer)

Stewart Menzies
3
Birthdate: January 30, 1890
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London
Died: May 29, 1968

Stewart Menzies led the British secret service, the MI6, for over a decade. Born into an affluent family and educated at Eton, he excelled in academics and had a brief military career. He is remembered for his role in the forging of The Zinoviev Letter and for his multiple high-profile marriages.

 35 
John Frost
(paratrooper)

John Frost
3
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.

Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood
3
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.

 37 
Robert Nairac
(Soldier)

Robert Nairac
3
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.  

 38 
John Chard
(Engineer, Military personnel)

John Chard
3
Birthdate: December 21, 1847
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Plymouth
Died: November 1, 1897

Royal Engineers army officer John Chard was one of the 11 men to receive the Victoria Cross for defeating a Zulu army of 4,000 warriors at the battle of Rorke's Drift, with a British army of 135. His handwritten account of the war was later auctioned off for £175,000.

 39 

Patrick Leigh Fermor
3
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.

 40 
Bob Astles
(engineer)

Bob Astles
3
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.

 41 
Arthur Percival
(Military personnel)

Arthur Percival
3
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.

 42 
David Hart Dyke
(Military personnel)

David Hart Dyke
3
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.

 43 
John Hawkwood
(Soldier)

John Hawkwood
3
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.

 44 
Roy Urquhart
(Army officer who saw service during the Second World War and Malayan Emergency)

Roy Urquhart
3
Birthdate: November 28, 1901
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Shepperton, Middlesex, England
Died: December 13, 1988

 45 

B. H. Liddell Hart
3
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.

Valerian Wellesley, 8th Duke of Wellington
3
Birthdate: July 2, 1915
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: December 31, 2014

Apart from being a descendant of the legendary Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, Valerian Wellesley, 8th Duke of Wellington was a British Army brigadier and a senior British peer. Known for his exploits in World War II, he was knighted and was also part of the House of Lords.

 47 
Johnson Beharry
(British soldier who served with the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment.)

Johnson Beharry
0
Birthdate: July 26, 1979
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Grenada

 48 
Leonard Cheshire
(Aviator, Military personnel)

Leonard Cheshire
3
Birthdate: September 7, 1917
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chester
Died: July 31, 1992

Legendary RAF pilot Leonard Cheshire was not just famous for his exploits during World War II but was also a dedicated philanthropist. His heroic action of flying a burned bomber plane back safely won him a Distinguished Service Order. His charitable trust is now known as Leonard Cheshire Disability.

 49 
Tony Booth
(Actor, Soldier)

Tony Booth
0
Birthdate: October 9, 1931
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Died: September 25, 2017

 50 
Simon Mann
(Mercenary, Officer)

Simon Mann
3
Birthdate: June 26, 1952
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Aldershot

A former member of the SAS (Special Air Service), Simon Mann is better known as the cofounder of Sandline International, a private military company active in Angola and Sierra Leone. In 2004, he gained international notoriety for leading the Wonga Coup, which eventually led to his arrest. Sentenced to 24 years prison-term in Zimbabwe, he was released after three years on humanitarian ground.