Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton: Wikis


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Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton
1903 – 1973
Place of birth London, England, UK
Place of death Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Service/branch RAuxAF 1927-1936, RAF 1939-1945
Years of service 1927-1945
Rank Air Commodore
Commands held 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, Air Training Corps
Awards Air Force Cross, Mentioned in Despatches
Other work Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, Deputy Governor of the British Linen Bank,Chairman of Norwich Union (Scotland), Director of Scottish Aviation, and Securicor (Scotland)

Air Commodore Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton and 11th Duke of Brandon, KT, GCVO, AFC, PC, DL, FRCSE, FRGS, (3 February 1903 – 30 March 1973) was a Scottish nobleman and pioneering aviator.

He was the eldest of four brothers who were to make military history by all being at the rank of Squadron Leader or above simultaneously at the outbreak of World War II.


Early life

Hamilton was born in Pimlico, London, England. He was the son of Alfred, the 13th Duke of Hamilton and his wife Nina Benita Poore. He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, where he gained a Blue in boxing, this in turn led to his winning of the Scottish Amateur Middleweight title. He also represented the university in rowing.

Styled Marquess of Douglas and Clydesdale before he succeeded his father as the Duke of Hamilton and Keeper of Holyroodhouse in 1940, he had been a prominent Unionist Member of Parliament (MP) for East Renfrewshire from 1930 until he succeeded. In 1935 in order to experience the life of the employees in his family's mines, he joined a Trades Union and worked for a time at the coal face, as plain 'Mr. Hamilton'.

Flight over Everest

First flight over Everest 1933, Lord Clydesdale piloting the plane shown, with the summit of Everest in front

He became interested in flying at an early age and served in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) becoming the youngest Squadron Leader of his day, commanding 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron from 1927 to 1936. He was involved in one of the most ambitious avionic enterprises of the early twentieth century, the Houston-Mount Everest expedition. Flying higher than any before. Lord Clydesdale, as he was known, was chief pilot on the first flight over Mount Everest in 1933, using an open cockpit bi-plane. The extremity endured by the crews of these aeroplanes was instrumental to the introduction of pressurised cabins in modern aircraft, it also was the first detailed and scientific survey of the Himalaya region, and resulted in the birth of Scottish Aviation Ltd (now part of BAE Systems).

In recognition of his role in the expedition, he was decorated with the Air Force Cross in 1935. As a pioneering early aviator he was regarded in much the same heroic way as the astronauts a generation later.

Later, at the outbreak of World War II he resumed his commission, at the rank of Air Commodore. He was responsible for air defence in Scotland, and took command of the Air Training Corps.

World War II, the Hess Affair, and after

Wreckage of Hess' plane, Bonnyton Moor, Scotland

Hamilton had attended the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. A keen sportsman, he had flown his own plane to Germany where he was a member of a multi-party parliamentary group which had been invited to Berlin to observe the games by the German government.

In Berlin he attended numerous functions, including a grand dinner for the British contingent hosted by Joachim von Ribbentrop the German ambassador to Britain and later Foreign Minister, where he was introduced to Hitler, and other leading members of the National Socialist government. Hamilton had previously met Ribbentrop in London as the Ambassador to the Court of St. James's. Hamilton was invited by Hermann Göring to inspect the newly reinstated Luftwaffe, for his professional interest in aviation. It has been suggested that Hamilton either through his own initiative or under instruction indulged in some minor espionage during these occasions. He did not however, meet the deputy Führer Rudolf Hess whilst in Germany.

Whilst in Germany Hamilton had met the Geopolitician Albrecht Haushofer, son of the distinguished Geopolitical academic Professor Karl Haushofer. The younger Haushofer had studied alongside Hess at Munich University. On Hess' rise to prominence within the Nazi Party, Haushofer became his advisor on foreign affairs.

Following the outbreak of war in 1939, memories of the earlier pan-European camaraderie of 1936 quickly faded. In 1940, upon his father's death, Hamilton succeeded to the Dukedom and was exerting all his efforts into the Air war, the aerial defence of his sector of Southern Scotland and Northern England.

On May 11, 1941, Hess parachuted into Scotland, the reason for his doing so was ostensibly to meet with the Duke and plot a secret peace treaty that would lead to the supremacy of Germany within Europe and the reinforcement of the British Empire without.

Hess' Messerschmitt 110 crashed on Bonnyton Moor near to Hamilton's home at Dungavel House. Hess was captured by a local farmer, David McLean, and assuming the false name "Albert Horn", he asked to be taken to the Duke. Hess however, was taken to hospital for injuries sustained during his descent. Hamilton was informed of the prisoner and visited him whereupon he revealed his true identity. Hamilton immediately contacted Sir Winston Churchill, and informed him of the Deputy Führer's arrival. Hess was imprisoned by the British authorities until the end of the war and the subsequent Nuremberg trials.

Hamilton came under pressure from the press to explain his role in the affair, with suspicions being raised that he may have been in prior contact with Hess. Questions were asked in the House of Commons. On the 22 May, Sir Archibald Sinclair, the Secretary of State for Air, gave this statement to the House:

"When deputy fuehrer Hess came down with his aeroplane in Scotland on the 10th of May, he gave a false name and asked to see the Duke of Hamilton. The Duke being apprised by the authorities, visited the German prisoner in hospital. Hess then revealed for the first time his true identity, saying that he had seen the Duke when he was at the Olympic games at Berlin in 1936. The Duke did not recognise the Deputy Fuehrer. He had however, visited Germany for the Olympic games in 1936, and during that time had attended more than one large public function, at which German ministers were present. It is, therefore, quite possible that the deputy Fuehrer may have seen him on one such occasion. As soon as the interview was over, Wing Commander the Duke of Hamilton flew to England and gave a full report of what had passed to the Prime Minister, who sent for him. Contrary to reports which have appeared in some newspapers, the Duke has never been in correspondence with the Deputy Fuehrer. None of the Duke's three brothers, who are, like him, serving in the Royal Air Force has either met Hess or has had correspondence with him. It will be seen that the conduct of the Duke of Hamilton has been in every respect honourable and proper." Hansard, 22 May 1941

The Duke was Mentioned in Dispatches.

At the end of February 1950 the Duke led the funeral procession, on foot, through Hamilton for his friend Sir Harry Lauder, said to be the largest funeral ever held in the town, and read The Lesson during the service describing Lauder as "a Great Scot".

Offices and positions held

He was appointed Privy Counsellor and Lord Steward of the Household, holding the latter office until 1964.

He served as Chancellor of the University of St Andrews from 1948 to 1973. He was admitted to the Order of the Thistle in 1951. He was also a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the Sovereign's bodyguard for Scotland.

He served as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland four times, in 1953, 1954,1955 and 1958.

In 1963 the Duke was made honorary President of the Boys Brigade, he had been the treasurer since 1938. He was the President of the Air League from 1959-1968.


Business positions held


The Pilots' Book of Everest- with Group Captain MacIntyre. Hodge, London, 1936.

Marriage and issue

In 1937, he married the Lady Elizabeth Ivy Percy, the daughter of the Duke of Northumberland. They produced five sons:

See also


Who's Who 1973. A. & C. Black, London, 1973.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alexander MacRobert
Member of Parliament for Renfrewshire East
Succeeded by
Sir Guy Lloyd
Political offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry
Lord Steward
Succeeded by
The Duke of Westminster
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Earl Baldwin of Bewdley
Chancellor of the University of St Andrews
Succeeded by
The Lord Ballantrae
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
Alfred Douglas-Hamilton
Duke of Hamilton
1940 – 1973
Succeeded by
Angus Douglas-Hamilton
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Alfred Douglas-Hamilton
Duke of Brandon
1940 – 1973
Succeeded by
Angus Douglas-Hamilton


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