Battle honour for soldier Alex

Brigadier gets CBE for his final horrific campaign

Brigadier Alex Birtwistle, who received a military CBE in the New Year’s Honours, was the straight-talking officer who masterminded the Army’s battle against foot-and-mouth.

Brig Birtwistle, who lives in Lancashire, postponed his retirement, which was planned for April 2, after

senior officers urged him to continue overseeing the Army’s involvement in the country’s first mass burial site at Great Orton, near Carlisle.

Brig Birtwistle, 53, was commissioned in 1967. During his career, he also held the title of Colonel of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, based in Fulwood, and another of his responsibilities was aide-de-camp to the Queen.

In May this year he caused a storm when he told a BBC documentary that there was evidence of unscrupulous farmers breaking strict movement bans in a bid to pick up generous compensation payments for slaughtered animals or hide them from the cull. He said: “People are still trans-siting sheep illegally and there is strong anecdotal evidence to suggest that is the case.

“And it’s so bloody annoying. So bloody annoying. You know everyone’s worked 20-hour days and it’s devastated the whole area and people are still moving sheep without a licence.”

The previous month, when he handed over command of the operation, Brig Birtwistle said he was sad to leave his

dedicated team.

“I was very fortunate to be there when the team was brought together,” he said.

On the future, he added: “I am not going to put my feet up. I have two children aged 12 and 10 so I shall definitely not be retiring in a financial sense or in the sense of domestic work.”

During three decades of service, Brig Birtwistle had tours of duty in Northern Ireland, Germany, Nigeria and Cyprus and was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours last year.