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Major-General Sir Fitzroy Hew Royle MacLean of Dunconnel, 1st Baronet KT CBE (11 March 1911, Egyptmarker – 15 June 1996, Scotlandmarker) was a Scottish diplomat, soldier, adventurer, writer and politician. In Eastern Approaches, MacLean recounted his extraordinary adventures in Central Asia, the Western Desert Campaign, where he specialized in commando raids behind enemy lines, and with Tito and his Yugoslav Partisans. It has been speculated that Ian Fleming used Maclean as one of his inspirations for James Bond.[105871]

Early life

Maclean went to school at Eton Collegemarker, followed by King's Collegemarker, Cambridge Universitymarker, where he read Classics and History. On going down from Cambridge, he joined the Diplomatic Service in 1933. His clan's ancestral home was Duart Castlemarker on the Isle of Mullmarker in the Hebridesmarker.

In the Soviet Union

In the mid-1930s Fitzroy MacLean was posted to the embassy in Parismarker. Bored with the pleasant but undemanding routine, he requested a posting to Moscowmarker. The two and a half years he spent in the Soviet Unionmarker formed the first third of his best known book, the autobiographical Eastern Approaches. MacLean was in Moscow until late 1939, and so was present during the great Stalinist purges, observing the fates of Bukharin and other Russian revolutionaries. Although he was stationed in the capital, MacLean travelled extensively, primarily by train, into remote regions of the USSR which were off limits to foreigners, and was shadowed by the NKVD as he did so.

World War II: North Africa and Yugoslavia

When war broke out in 1939 Maclean was prevented from joining the military because of his position as a diplomat. Therefore he resigned from the Diplomatic Service "to go into politics". After tendering his resignation he immediately took a taxi to the nearest recruiting office and enlisted as a Private in the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. He was soon promoted to Lance Corporal and was commissioned in 1941. In that year he became the Conservative MP for Lancaster.

In North Africa in 1942, he distinguished himself in the early actions of the newly formed Special Air Servicemarker (SAS). Amongst his accomplishments was the famed kidnapping of the German Consul from Axis-controlled Iraq, an incident that soon led to Hitler's government to withdraw its support of the military junta in that country. Maclean was a brilliant practitioner in the T. E. Lawrence brand of fighting, and he reported directly to Churchill in Cairo. Along with Ralph A. Bagnold, he developed ways of driving vehicles over the Libyan sand "seas".

Winston Churchill personally chose him to lead a liaison mission to central Yugoslaviamarker in 1943. As MacLean himself wryly put it, his mission was "simply to find out who was killing the most Germans and suggest means by which we could help them to kill more." (See also Yugoslavia and the Allies). At the time of MacLean's deployment to Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito and his partisans were emerging as a major irritant to the German control of the Balkans.

Little was known at the time about Tito: some suspected this was an acronym for a committee or that he might in fact be a young woman. Maclean got to know Tito well, and would later produce two biographies of him. Maclean's relationship with Tito's Partisans was not always easy, partly because they were Communist, while he came from an upper-class Scottish background, and had witnessed Stalinism in action. His biography of Tito reveals the admiration he held for the Yugoslav leader and the Yugoslav Communist-led anti-fascist struggle. He developed a great affection for Yugoslavia and its people and was later given permission to buy a house on the island of Korčulamarker.

He received the Order of Kutuzov (Russiamarker) (which impressed the Soviet troops in Belgrade), and after the war the Croix de Guerre (Francemarker), and Order of the Partisan Star (Yugoslavia). He reached the rank of Brigadier during the war, and was promoted to Major-General in 1947.

Later life

Maclean had been elected as Conservative Member of Parliament for Lancaster in a 1941 by-election. He served briefly as a junior Minister at the War Office from 1954 to 1957. In the 1959 general election he switched constituencies to Bute and North Ayrshire where he was re-elected until he retired at the February 1974 general election. In his last two years, he was appointed as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Western European Union.

He married Veronica Nell Fraser-Phipps (1920–2005), a Roman Catholic, in 1946. She was the daughter of the 16th Lord Lovat and widow of naval hero Lt. Alan Phipps, who was killed ashore at Leros in 1943. Sir Fitzroy and Lady Maclean had two sons: Charles Edward (b. 1946) and Alexander James Simon Aeneas (b. 1949), who were apparently raised in their mother's faith. Fitzroy Maclean was also stepfather to her children from her first marriage, Susan Rose "Suki" Phipps (b. 1941) and Jeremy Julian Phipps (b. 1942), who were not raised Catholic. Suki married the writer Derek Marlowe, and is stepmother to autistic savant Derek Paravicini. James founded the Erotic Review.

Sir Fitzroy was honoured with the baronetcy of Maclean of Strachur and Glensluain in 1957, was made the 15th Hereditary Keeper and Captain of Dunconnel Castle in 1981 and was made a knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle in 1994.

In retirement Maclean wrote extensively. His wide range of subjects included: Scottish history, biographies (including Tito and Burgess), a Russian trilogy and assorted works of fiction. He also contributed to other books, for example writing the foreword to a 1984 biography of Joseph Wolff, the so-called "Eccentric Missionary" in whose footsteps he had travelled to Bukharamarker almost half a century before.

Maclean and his wife managed a hotel at Strachurmarker. In 1964 he commissioned his wartime friend, fellow commando and yacht designer Alfred Mylne II to build the motor yacht Judi of Bute for use around the West Coast of Scotland. Maclean was a patron of Strachur and District Shinty Club. He collected an extensive library, including a full set of early editions of James Bond novels, which sold after his death for over £30,000.

Styles and Honours

  • Mr Fitzroy Maclean (1911–1941)
  • Mr Fitzroy Maclean MP (1941–?)
  • Mr Fitzroy Maclean CBE MP (?–1957)
  • Sir Fitzroy Maclean Bt. CBE MP (1957–1974)
  • Sir Fitzroy Maclean Bt. CBE (1974–1994)
  • Sir Fitzroy Maclean Bt. KT CBE (1994–1996)


  • Maclean, Veronica: Past Forgetting: A Memoir of Heroes, Adventure, Love and Life With Fitzroy Maclean
  • McLynn, Frank: Fitzroy MacLean


  • Eastern Approaches 1949
  • Disputed Barricade: the life and times of Josip Broz-Tito, Marshal of Yugoslavia 1957
  • The Heretic: the life and times of Josip Broz-Tito 1957
  • A Person from England 1958
  • Back to Bokhara 1959
  • Yugoslavia 1969
  • Concise History of Scotland 1970
  • The Battle of Neretva 1970
  • The Back of Beyond: an illustrated companion to Central Asia and Mongolia 1974
  • To Causasus 1976
  • Holy Russia 1978
  • Take Nine Spies 1978
  • Tito 1980
  • Josip Broz Tito: A Pictorial Biography 1980 ISBN 0070446601
  • The Isles of the Sea 1985
  • Portrait of the Soviet Union 1988
  • Bonnie Prince Charlie 1988
  • All the Russias 1992
  • Highlanders: A History of the Scottish Clans 1995

See also


External links

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