Field Marshal Sir John Chapple, former British Army chief and governor of Gibraltar, has died aged 90, the government of the overseas territory said.

In a statement on Saturday, the Gibraltar government said flags will fly at half-mast on Sunday and on the day of Sir John’s funeral as a “sign of respect and affection from the people of Gibraltar”.

Sir Joe Bossano, who was chief minister at the time that Sir John was governor, said: “I am very sorry to hear of the death of John Chapple.

“He was a good friend and very supportive of my government at the time that he was governor, even though at that time we had our fair share of disputes with London.

“Despite that, he was really helpful to all our plans and actions and I enjoyed working with him given his great sense of humour.

“I remember him very fondly and pass my condolences to Lady Chapple and his children.”

Sir John was governor and commander-in-chief of Gibraltar between 1993 and 1995 after retiring as chief of the general staff – the professional head of the British Army – a year earlier.

He read modern languages and history at Trinity College, Cambridge, before rising through the ranks of the army.

Throughout his career, he held roles like Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong, director of military operations, UK, and commander-in-chief of UK Land Forces, and was knighted in 1985.

In 1988, Sir John was appointed chief of the general staff, where he provided military advice to the government on the Gulf War before retiring with the promotion to field marshal in 1992.

After retiring, he took up the position of president of the Zoological Society of London as well as governor of Gibraltar.

Fabian Picardo, chief minister of Gibraltar, said: “I have been greatly saddened to hear of the death of former Governor Field Marshal Sir John Chapple.

“Sir John remained, throughout his retirement, a huge supporter of Gibraltar, attending all our events when he could.

“I last saw him at a Gibraltar Day event in London before the pandemic.

“He was greatly missed on Monday when all former Governors met in London on the occasion of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment mounting the Guard at Buckingham Palace, when he would have been in his element.”

Richard Burge, former director-general at the Zoological Society of London, also paid tribute to Sir John, tweeting: “I remember Sir John fondly as a constant source of wise counsel and support during difficult days when I was DG at @OfficialZSL.

“My father in law was his staff sergeant in Germany.

“A remarkable Briton and a loss.”