SOME years ago I was sitting (as you do) by the fire in one of London’s quiet clubs reading a book, sipping some tea and minding my own business.

Behind me were a group of very eminent looking men gently carousing and congratulating one of their number.

They looked like the eminence grise of the British Establishment and indeed they were. It turned out they were marking one of the final speeches in the House of Lords by Field Marshal Edwin Noel Westby Bramall, Baron Bramall, KG, GCB, OBE, JP, D.

He died this week aged 95 after what can only be described as one of the most remarkable military service careers in British history. His last years were coloured by an appalling calumny against him by a man now convicted for doing so. But history will record the long sweep starting at the Normandy landings.

He served in the Lords after retiring from active service, and it was there that he made two contributions that are worth us all remembering, including whomever enters Downing Street as Prime Minister.

He spoke out in Parliament in 2004 against UK involvement in the second Gulf War arguing “unlike naked aggression, terrorism cannot be defeated by massive military means” but by “competent protection and positive diplomacy”. If only Prime Minister Tony Blair had listened.

And his opposition to renewing the Trident Nuclear system was consistent: “Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently face or are likely to face, particularly international terrorism,” he argued in a letter to The Times in sentiments repeated in the Lords that night which I shared. “Our independent deterrent has become ­virtually irrelevant, except in the context of domestic politics.”

In both those interventions we saw the voice of service and experience and truth contradicting the partisan politics of the day and today. Bramall is the opposite of the “Sound and fury … signifying nothing”. The country is indeed poorer for his passing.