Lieutenant Colonel Monty Ormsby MBE MC*

Monty Ormsby when commanding the 1st Battalion, 1958

Montagu Ormsby, always known as ‘Monty’, was born in 1916 and joined the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Goorkhas in September 1939.  After serving with them in Waziristan he became Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal in 6th Indian Division in 1941, thus avoiding captivity when the 2nd Battalion was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese in Malaya.  He went with the 6th Division to Iraq where he was found by Lieutenant Colonel Os Lovett and transferred to the 1st Battalion, who were also in that theatre.

Subedar Major Narbahadur Gurung, Captain Ramsay-Brown and Lieutenant Ormsby in Iraq, 1941.

He served with the 1st Battalion in North Africa, taking over as Adjutant in April 1943.  On 29 April 1943 he was in sole charge of the Battalion when the other officers were away on a reconnaissance, and led it in a counter-attack to successfully beat off a German assault, for which he was mentioned in despatches.  He had about a year’s break as a Training Officer in Malta and India before returning to the 1st Battalion to command C Company at the first battle of Monte Cassino, leading his men well forward on the fire-strewn approach to the objective.  He was wounded there on 18 February 1944 and awarded the Military Cross for his part in the battle.  After recovering he returned to the Battalion in May, again as Adjutant.  He went with them to Greece, but soon afterwards returned to the UK for leave before taking command of one of the 2nd Goorkhas Training Battalions in Dehra Dun.

In 1947 he rejoined the 1st Battalion in Santa Cruz as Second-in-Command and in Singapore in 1948 assumed command of A Company.  Leading them on operations in Malaya he was awarded a bar to his MC for operations in Johore.  In September 1949 a shortage of officers meant he simultaneously held the appointments of Officer Commanding B Echelon, Headquarters Company and Support Company.  He officiated in command of the Battalion from March 1950 to February 1951 as an acting and later temporary Lieutenant Colonel.  Reverting to his substantive rank of Major he then did staff jobs in various headquarters in Malaya before commanding the 1st Battalion in Hong Kong from May 1958 to July 1960.  After command he had staff appointments in the UK before retiring from the Army in 1967.  In retirement he worked for the Wiltshire County Cadet Force, for which he was appointed MBE.

Monty Ormsby was a well-known and popular member of the Regiment.  He was an unusually brave and gallant officer and a renowned and amusing raconteur.  In his early days he was keen on shooting, and all his life he was an ardent fisherman.  Late in life, while salmon fishing on the west coast of Scotland, he was struck on the head by the tail-board of a vehicle and the resulting stroke left his right arm paralysed.  With typical courage he taught himself to fish with his left arm and continued to enjoy the sport.  He was a strong supporter of the Regimental Association and attended reunions to the end of his life even when confined to a wheelchair.  He died in 2006.

He married his wife Beanie in 1945 and they had one son, Rory, who also served in the 2nd Goorkhas from 1970 to 1993.

Click here to return to Distinguished Sirmooris index page.