He was born in South Shields, County Durham, England, the son of an engineer from the Acklam iron and steel works who had retired early for health reasons. He was educated at the Middlesbrough High School for boys He joined the Boy Scouts and attained the rank of Eagle Scout. His first job in the newspaper industry began in 1936 as reporter for the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette. During World War II he served in the British Army and was an officer under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.
World War II
In late 1944, Hamilton was a Major and temporary Commanding Officer of the 11th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. At that time the battalion was broken up with the soldiers and officers dispersed as reinforcements to other units. Hamilton was transferred to the Duke of Wellington's Regiment 1/7th Battalion, as second in command under Lt Col Wilsey, in November. During December when the battalion was stationed at the bridgehead at Nijmegen he took temporary command of the 1/7th, on 2 December, whilst Wilsey took temporary command of the Brigade for a week. On the day he took command the battalion came under attack from German units at Haalderen, in an attempt to retake the bridge. A German officer, 2/Lt Heinich, 5 Coy 16 Parachute Regiment 6 Parachute Division, was captured by members of 'B' company, who were laying trip flares. Hamilton quickly organised a defence, using his Bren Gun Carriers to hold back the Germans. The attack continued for several days during which the battalion received heavy artillery and mortar fire. Large numbers of prisoners were taken from the 5th, 7th and 10th companies of the German 16 Para Regiment. Fighting intensified, taking in house to house action throughout Haalderen, where the German forces took heavy losses in killed and wounded. 'D' company of the Royal Scots Fusiliers moved in to support the 1/7th on 4 December. German artillery fire intensified on the battalion positions. By 7 December the main attack had been repulsed, though artillery, mortar and sniper attacks continued until the battalion was withdrawn to Nijmegen on 22 January. For his actions and leadership Hamilton was awarded a DSO. A few weeks later, in January 1945, Hamilton was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and took command of the 1/7th Battalion, when Lt Col Wilsey became the Brigade Commander.
In 1959, he became editor of the Sunday Times. He later became editor in chief and chairman of Times Newspapers Ltd., a group that included The Times. During this period, Hamilton struggled with production unions over staff cutbacks and the introduction of computer technology. He also introduced the colour magazine supplement into weekly national newspapers in England. He was knighted in 1976. From 1978 to 1983, he served as president of the International Press Institute. In 1979 he became chairman of Reuters until his retirement in 1985.
He died in London and was survived by his wife Olive and four sons. One of his sons, Nigel Hamilton, is a Cambridge University educated historian and author.
- Serving History .com
- Evans, Harold (2009). My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times. Hachette Digital, Inc. p. 194. ISBN 0-316-03142-9.
- AP (8 April 1988). "Sir Denis Hamilton, 69, British News Executive". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
- Heathcote, Graham (6 May 1981). "The mind of Monty". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
- [The History of The Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding)| by JM Brereton and ACS Savory|Page 318, Para 3|ISBN 0952155206]
- Battalion War Diary Dec 1944|National Archives HS/WD/NWE/906/1
- Staff (21 April 1981). "Beneath the crustiness and vanity that was Monty". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 5. Retrieved 18 April 2011.