Anderson, Sir John D'Arcy (1908–1988), army officer, was born 23 September 1908 in Ballyhosset, Downpatrick, Co. Down, the only child of Major Reginald D'Arcy Anderson of Ballyhosset, Downpatrick, and his wife, Norah, daughter of Colonel Thomas Gracey of Blackheath, London. He won a scholarship to Winchester College, and later attended New College, Oxford; he graduated MA in 1930. In the same year he was commissioned second lieutenant of the 5th Royal Inniskilling dragoon guards, before being promoted captain in 1938. He served throughout the Second World War, and during the course of 1940 he saw action in France and became a temporary brigade major in the British expeditionary force and deputy assistant quartermaster-general. In 1941 he passed staff college, before serving in the Middle East with the 8th armoured division and then as deputy commander of the 4th armoured brigade in 1943. He returned to England at the beginning of 1944 and took command of the Sherwood Rangers in March to June of that year; he landed in France with his regiment on D-day. Promoted to brigade general staff (staff duties, allied force headquarters) in 1944–5, he was second in command, 7th armoured brigade, central Mediterranean forces, from November 1944 until 1945, and he took part in the Italian campaign. In 1946–7 he became colonel general staff, general headquarters of the central Mediterranean forces, and was made major of the Royal Inniskilling dragoon guards in 1948. In 1955–6 he was general officer commanding, 11th armoured division, British army of the Rhine, and in 1956–8 served as chief of staff, headquarters northern army group and British army of the Rhine. He was then appointed director, Royal Armoured Corps, in 1958, before serving as director general, military training, War Office, in 1959–61. He was deputy chief of imperial general staff in 1961–3, and military secretary to the secretary of state for war (1963–4) and Ministry of Defence (1964–5). He served as commandant, Imperial Defence College 1966–8, colonel, 5th Royal Inniskilling dragoon guards 1962–7, and colonel commandant, Royal Army Educational Corps 1964–70.
Anderson retired in 1968 but came out of retirement when asked by Field Marshal Sir Geoffrey Baker, chief of the general staff, to become commandant of the newly formed Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). He served in this capacity from 1969 to 1979 and played a pivotal role in establishing the regiment and chairing the UDR advisory committee, whose job was to advise the general officer commanding on the running of the regiment. He also established the UDR Benevolent Fund in 1972; it later became a private registered charity. As the first commandant of the UDR, a post he held for ten years, he became widely known for his frequent visits to regimental battalions, which earned him a reputation as an unusually personable general. Friends considered that his position in the UDR cost him his health. At his memorial service the Right Rev. Arthur Butler (1912–91), the former Church of Ireland bishop of Connor, said that the biggest disappointment in Anderson's life was the decline in catholic membership of the regiment. He certainly spent considerable time encouraging catholic recruitment and met Cardinal William Conway (qv) to discuss this matter in 1970, hoping that approximately 35 per cent of UDR positions would be filled by catholics.
Anderson's principal residence was the family estate at Ballyhosset, Downpatrick, to where he moved for his short-lived retirement in 1968, and which he inherited from his mother but later sold, living at 36 Whitelands House, Cheltenham Terrace, London, from the beginning of the 1980s. He was the recipient of many military honours: he was made companion of the distinguished service order in 1940 for conspicuous gallantry in the fighting to the south-west of Abbeville, shortly before the fall of France, and was later mentioned in three dispatches, one from the Middle East and two from Italy, where he was wounded twice in 1945. He was a member of the commonwealth war graves commission in 1963–71 and served as aide-de-camp to Queen Elizabeth II in 1966–8. He was honorary colonel, Oxford University officers’ training corps, in 1961–7, and held the same post at Queen's University, Belfast, from 1964 to 1975. He also served as a member of the Army Museums Ogilby Trust, vice-president of the Sandes Soldiers' and Airmens' Homes, and deputy president of the army cadet force (Northern Ireland). In 1967 he established the Irish cavalry regimental museum in Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim. He was made CBE in 1945, CB in 1957, KCB in 1961, and GBE in 1967, and was also honoured by the Belgian monarchy, having been made grand officer, order of the crown, in 1963, and grand officer, order of Leopold, in 1966. He served as pro-chancellor of Queen's University, Belfast (1969–80), and received an honorary LLD from that university in 1980. He was deputy lieutenant for Co. Down (1969–80), and served as high sheriff for the county in 1974. He was an accomplished painter and enjoyed the distinction of having one of his watercolours exhibited at the Royal Academy, London. On 7 December 1937 he married Elizabeth Antoinette Merrifield, daughter of Augustus Merrifield Walker JP of Ballards, Wickham Bishops, Essex; they had no children. He suffered from Parkinson's disease during the last eight years of his life and died 16 April 1988 in London.