Arms of the Chindit Commander Brigadier Bernard Fergusson, afterwards Lord Ballantrae
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Measurements: 13.5cm (5.25in) x 19cm (7.5in)
Enamelled silver. An armorial plaque in the manner of a knight’s stall plate, displaying the arms of Sir Bernard Fergusson, Baron Ballantrae, K.T., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., D.S.O., O.B.E., Governor of New Zealand (1962-67) - Beneath a peer’s helm, the arms are quarterly: 1st quarter, Azure, a buckle Argent between three boars’ heads couped Or armed and langued gules (Fergusson of Kilkerran); 2nd quarter, Or, a lion rampant couped at all joints Gules within a double tressure flory counter flory Azure (Maitland); 3rd quarter, Argent, a shakefork Sable (Cunningham of Glencairn): 4th quarter, Or, on a saltire Azure nine lozenges of the first, on a bordure of the second eight mullets and as many boars’ heads erased alternately Or (Dalrymple of New Hailes). The present plate is possibly a trial for a stall plate produced by a heraldic enameller.
It should be noted that the arms Lord Ballantrae’s arms additionally included grandquarterings for Ramsay and Broun of Colston. The heraldic expert the late David Sanctuary Howard (1928- 2005), taking into account the peer’s helm, suggested Ballantrae as the most likely identification.
Brigadier Bernard Edward Fergusson, Baron Ballantrae (1911-1980) was educated at Eton and Sandhurst and commissioned into the Black Watch in 1931. He commanded No.5 Column in Brigadier Orde Wingate’s Operation Longcloth - the first long range penetration behind Japanese lines 1943. In 1944 he commanded 16th Infantry Brigade in Operation Thursday - the Chindits’ second incursion into Burma (cf ‘Beyond the Chindwin’). Post-war he stood unsuccessfully for Parliament, and served in Palestine where he was embroiled in the murder of a Jewish dissident by a subordinate, the SAS war hero Roy Farran. Having impressed superiors in counter insurgency operations during the Malayan Emergency, Fergusson was put in charge of the psychological warfare component of Britain's plan (not adopted) to retake the Suez Canal. He retired from the Army in 1958 with the honorary rank of brigadier. In 1962 he was appointed Governor-General of New Zealand, a post previously filled by father and both grandfathers. He was created a life peer in 1972 as Baron Ballantrae, of Auchairne in the County of Ayshire and the Bay of Islands in New Zealand.