Downing Street included the name of retired British Army General Sir Michael Rose as a signatory of ex-military chiefs backing the campaign for the UK to stay in the EU by mistake.
Sir Michael contacted Sky News to say that he had not backed the EU In campaign, despite the fact his name was included on the list in the letter, orchestrated by No 10 and published in The Daily Telegraph.
It prompted a No 10 spokesman to admit a “mistake was made” in naming Sir Michael and admitting he had contacted Downing Street to point out he had not put his name to the letter.
Some of Britain”s most senior retired military officers warned in the letter that the threats from Russia and the so-called Islamic State meant the UK would be safer staying in the EU .
The letter had 13 former Generals, Admirals and Air Chief Marshals as signatories to the letter, including Sir Michael.
However, Sir Michael told Sky News he had been sent a draft of the letter and was aware that it was circulating but had decided he did not want to add his name to the letter.
In it they write: “We are proud to have served our country, and to have played our part in keeping Britain safe.
“In the forthcoming referendum, therefore, we are particularly concerned with one central question: will Britain be safer inside the EU or outside it? When we look at the world today, there seems to us only one answer.”
The senior figures have fought in almost every British conflict since the Second World War. They include Field Marshall Lord Bramall, who took part in the Normandy Landings and former Deputy NATO Commander General Sir Richard Shirreff.
“NATO, of course, is and will remain the most important alliance for maintaining Britain”s national security, particularly when we need complex military capabilities,” they go on.
“But the other, increasingly important pillar of our security is the European Union. Europe today is facing a series of grave security challenges, from instability in the Middle East and the rise of Daesh (Islamic State), to resurgent Russian nationalism and aggression.
“Britain will have to confront these challenges whether it is inside or outside the EU. But within the EU, we are stronger. Inside it, we can continue to collaborate closely with our European allies, just as we did when we helped to force the Iranians to the negotiating table through EU-wide sanctions, or made sure that Putin would pay a price for his aggression in Ukraine.”
Other signatories include Lord Dannatt, former Head of the British Army, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, former First Sea Lord and Marshal of the RAF Jock Stirrup.
Between them they have served in France, Aden, Malaysia, East Africa, Falklands, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq, the Caribbean, Germany and Cyprus.
Lord Dannatt told Sky News: “I think if you look around the world at resurgent Russia and what Mr Putin is trying to do, look at the problems of Daesh, so-called Islamic State, this is not a time for Europe to start to fragment, for countries to decide for their own reasons to leave the European Union – and that in itself runs the risk of unpicking NATO, which has been that very successful defensive alliance which the defence of this country has rested on since the end of the Second World War.”
David Cameron”s opponents are likely to accuse him of scare-mongering.
The letter has been published 24 hours after Downing Street orchestrated a similar endorsement from business leaders.