CRUSADER as a career-defining event: Post-operation fate of Empire commanding officers

Background

I had previously written at this link about the DSO awarded to a range of officers in Eighth Army following Operation CRUSADER and the fate of German general officers at this link.

The purpose of this article is to provide some information about the fate of officers in command positions following the operation. it is no secret that this blog is highly critical of the command performance of number of the officers and considers that it had a major role to play in the difficulties that the empire forces encountered in achieving their objectives.

The sources for this article are Generals.dk, ordersofbattle.com and triangulation through Wikipedia.

Explanatory Note

I define ‘field command’ as commanding a combat formation in a combat theatre. So being in charge of an armoured unit in the UK does not count. I use March 1942 as cut-off for ‘continued in command’ – if an officer made it beyond that with their unit then I presume their career survived CRUSADER.

I am only providing this for commanders of combat and higher commands, so not e.g. for Brigadiers Royal Artillery.

I am also leaving out oddities, such as Brigadier D.A. Stirling, who was in command of the (non-existent) 1 Armoured Brigade and captured when the HQ of 4 Armoured Brigade was overun on 22 November 1941.

Canvas

Brigadier Charles Oakes Marriott, Commanding Officer 22 Guards Brigade during CRUSADER. National Portrait Gallery

The List 

Eighth Army command

  • General Cunningham: relieved of duty, never received another field command 
  • General Ritchie: continued in command

Corps command

  • General Godwin Austen (13 Corps): relieved of command, never received another field command
  • General Norrie (30 Corps): continued in command 

Division command

30 Corps

  • General Brink (1 S.A. Division): moved to staff post in South Africa in March
  • General Gott (7 Armoured): promoted to 13 Corps command 
  • General Scobie (70 Division/TobFort): moved to staff position in Middle East command, later commander forces in Malta

13 Corps

  • General Freyberg (2 NZ Division): continued in command 
  • General Lumsden (1 Armoured): wounded in an air attack, then returned to 1 Armored Division command.
  • General Messervy (4 Indian): moved to 1 Armored Division then moved to 7 Armored Division 
  • General Tuker (4 Indian): continued in command
  • General de Villiers (2 S.A. Division): continued in command  

Brigade command

Eighth Army

  • Brigadier Reid (29 Indian): continued in command, later captured, later division command

30 Corps

  • Brigadier Marriott (Guards Brigade): continued in command

7 Armoured Division

  • Brigadier Campbell (7 Support Group): promoted to 7 Armoured Division command, died in car accident
  • Brigadier Davey (7 Armoured): relieved of command, never received another field command 
  • Brigadier Gatehouse (4 Armoured): continued in command later promoted to acting then permanent division command of 7 and 10 and 1 Armoured Divisions.
  • Brigadier Scott Cockburn (22 Armoured): relieved of command, never received another field command 

1 S.A. Division

  • Brigadier Armstrong: captured, later escaped, never received another field command.
  • Brigadier Pienaar: continued in command, later division command, later died in air crash

TobFort

  • Brigadier Willison (32 Army Tank) continued in command, later captured 

70 Division

  • Brigadier Chappel (14 Infantry): continued in command, later division command
  • Brigadier Cox (23 Infantry): continued in command
  • Brigadier Lomax (16 Infantry): continued in command, later division command

13 Corps

  • Brigadier Watkins (1 Army Tank): relieved of command, never received another field command

1 Armoured Division

  • Brigadier Briggs (2 Armoured): continued in command, later division command
  • Brigadier Vallentin (1 Support Group): relieved of command, never received another field command on permanent basis[1]

2 NZ Division

  • Brigadier Barrowclough (6 NZ): continued in command, later division command
  • Brigadier Hargest (5 NZ): captured, later escaped, never received another field command
  • Brigadier Ingliss (4 NZ): continued in command 

4 Indian Division

  • Brigadier Anderson (11 Indian): continued in command, later captured
  • Brigadier Briggs (7 Indian): continued in command, later division command 
  • Brigadier Russell (5 Indian): continued in command, later division command 

2 S.A. Division

  • Brigadier Borain (3 S.A. Infantry): wounded, repatriated
  • Brigadier Hayton (4 S.A. Infantry): continued in command
  • Brigadier Cooper (6 S.A. Infantry): continued in command
  • Brigadier Poole (2 S.A. Infantry): continued in command, later division command

Polish forces (TobFort)

  • Brigadier-General Kopański (Carpathian Brigade): continued in command, later division command, later Chief of Polish General Staff

French forces (2 S.A. Division)

  • Brigadier-General Larminat (1st Free French Brigade): continued in command, later Corps command

Notes

[1] He was appointed as acting General Officer Commanding for 5 Indian Division for one week in May 1942.

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