Anglo-Canadian Infantry/Armoured brigade commanders 21st Army Group

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by Nick_43, Apr 22, 2022.

  1. Nick_43

    Nick_43 Member

    Just found this group and it seems like a pretty good resource for my research. I'm writing my PhD dissertation on the aforementioned title and I'm looking for any personal papers/secondary sources on the British brigade commanders. I've already located personal papers at the LHMA and the IWM for Cooke-Collis, Coad, Whislter, Carver, Elrington, Cunningham, Money, Cass, Harvey, Brown, Churcher, Verney and Wingfield. Just wondering if anyone knows of personal papers that are kept outside of the government/King's College archives? Secondary sources such as memoirs and biographies would also be useful so that I can build up and understanding of who these gentlemen were, how/why they were selected for brigade command, and why (in some case) they were relieved of command. Any information/recommendations would be appreciated.
    Chris C likes this.
  2. Nick_43

    Nick_43 Member

    I should also mention that I managed to get the service files of 72/73 british officers who commanded infantry and armoured brigades in 21st Army Group. Provides a lot of insight into what these men did during the FWW and interwar period along with how they progressed to brigade command during the SWW.
  3. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Fascinating! I don't have any information but I hope you are able to find more resources.
  4. Nick_43

    Nick_43 Member

    Thanks very much.
  5. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Might be worth checking Jim Storr's book 'Human Face of War', as one chapter - In simple terms - looked at the divisional and higher-level commanders 1/3 went on, 1/3 went nowhere and 1/3 disappeared from sight.

    Check your list against this website, some may appear and point to resources.

    Temujin has explained how to access the Canadian online archives on a recent thread: Charlie Six

    How about the National Army Museum's library? I know they have personal papers having found a box on the exit from the North-West Frontier in 1947.

    Identify their obituaries, in The Daily Telegraph for example and articles in their home regiment journals (some are in the NAM Library, others at their museums).
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2022
  6. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    Check out the following, although they deal with high level commanders. They may give some insight of their movement 'up the ladder':

    Granatstein, J.L The Generals: The Canadian Army’s Senior Commanders in the Second World War. Toronto: Stoddart, 1993.

    Keegan, John, ed. Churchill's Generals. New YorkL Grove Weidenfeld, 1991.
  7. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member


    English, John A. The Canadian Army and the Normandy Campaign: A Study of Failure in High Command. New York: Praeger, 1991
  8. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Pure curiosity, but who was the single one you couldn't secure files for?
  9. Nick_43

    Nick_43 Member

    Thanks for these. I'm pretty familiar with the Canadian historiography and I've been through Granatstein's and English's works on many occasions. One of the reasons why I decided to look at Canadian brigadiers was the fact that they were overlooked in much of the literature. I've also managed to chart out Canadian officer career progression at the brigade level and found (IMHO) that it was an ad hoc process that pulled officers either from staff or command training backgrounds (e.g. almost 1/2 of the Canadian brigade commanders in FCA had no staff training or experience).
    Chris C likes this.
  10. Nick_43

    Nick_43 Member

    Brigadier George Frederick Johnson - comd of the 32nd Guards Infantry Brigade. He was a member of the Scots Guards so his service file is not held with the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow. It was a long process to get the other 72 so I opted not to request his service file. That said the people at the APC were amazing. I received all the files I paid for ahead of schedule despite there being a COVID outbreak at the archives.
  11. Nick_43

    Nick_43 Member

    Thanks for this.

    I'm not seeing a link to a website.

    I'm good with the online Canadian archives. The Héritage website is a good resource but you need the master list of what has been digitized to ease the pain of trying to find the war diaires.

    I've searched online at the NAM but I didn't get any hits on the brigadiers I'm looking at. It may be worthwhile for me to email them to see if I've missed anything.

    Good point on the regimental journals. I hadn't thought of that. I'll take a look at those today.
  12. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Do you have a complete list you could copy here (I shan't ask you to type one out)?

    It's a long shot, but I have a large number of memoirs and autobiographies of senior British officers.
  13. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    You asked:
    I meant this website!

    Now many years ago there appeared to be plenty of studies of military leadership, especially when drawing comparisons with the Wehrmacht's use of - set the objective, let those at the front execute the mission- alas my memory has lost the term. Found it: Auftragstaktik or Mission Command. See: How the Germans Defined Auftragstaktik: What Mission Command is - AND - is Not | Small Wars Journal

    I am not convinced that either the British or Canadian armies truly reflected upon what happened in WW2.

    As a recent article reflecting on Afghanistan and Iraq stated:
    From: Heads in the Afghanistan Sand » Wavell Room
    Nick_43 likes this.
  14. Nick_43

    Nick_43 Member

    This should be the whole gang. I have copies of Carver's, Murray's, and Smith's memoirs. I'm not aware of any others.

    Colin Muir Barber
    Cyril Nelson Barclay
    Valentine Blomfield
    Eric Louis Bols
    (Hugh) Alan Ward Brown
    Richard Michael Power Carver
    Edward Earnshaw Eden Cass
    Archibald James Halkett Cassels
    John Bryan Churcher
    William Stanhope Clarke
    Basil Aubrey Coad
    John Cockburn Cockburn
    Cyril Frederick Charles Coleman
    Edward Charles Colville
    Edward Cunliffe Cooke-Collis
    William Reginald Cox
    Hugh John Barnard Cracroft
    James Crossley Cunningham
    John Cecil Currie
    Andrew Dunlop
    Maurice Seymour Ekins
    Maxwell Elrington
    Hubert Essame
    Cecil Llewellyn Firbank
    Reginald Willoughby Hessey Fryer
    Desmond Spencer Gordon
    Edward Henry Goulburn
    Eneas Henry George Grant
    Walter Douglas Campbell Greenacre
    Norman Wilmshurst Gwatkin
    Charles Barnett Cameron"Roscoe" Harvey
    David Harvey Haugh
    William Robert Norris Hinde
    Henry Charles Hovell-Thurlow-Cumming-Bruce
    George Frederick Johnson
    Stanley Oswald Jones
    Walter Francis Herbert Kempster
    Percy Paulet King
    George Sherwin Knight
    Fergus Y. Carson Knox
    Norman David Leslie
    John Lingham
    Harry Ripley Mackeson
    John Ronald Mackintosh-Walker
    Edmond Ronayne Mahony
    Francis Raymond Gage Matthews
    James Francis Scott McLaren
    Gerard Herbert Leo Mole
    Harold Douglas Kyrle Money
    Horatius Murray
    James Alexander Oliver
    Arthur Dennis Gordon Orr
    Ernest Cecil Pepper
    George Erroll Prior Palmer
    George Douglas Renny
    James Dewar Russell
    John Gray/Grey Sandie
    Henry Balfour Scott
    Ronald Henry Senior
    James Roderick Sinclair
    Kenneth Pearce Smith
    John Michael Kane Spurling
    Sir Alexander Beville Gibbons Stanier
    Gwynne Brian Sugden
    John Ormsby Evelyn Vandeleur
    Gerald Lloyd Verney
    Richard Montague Villiers
    John Francis Walker
    Bendyshe Brome Walton
    Lashmer Gordon Whistler
    (John) Harold Owen Wilsey
    Anthony Desmond Rex Wingfield
    Henry Wood
  15. Nick_43

    Nick_43 Member

    Thanks. Mission command sounds great and the concept was reflected in the pre-SWW FSRs. The problem is that you require a highly professional force that a commander can trust to operate within his intent to employ mission command. I think Monty recognized this wasn't possible with a large conscript army, which is why he adopted the top-down command set-piece battle tactical doctrine. I think it made particular sense in FCA because, despite 5 years of war, it was still a very inexperienced army in 1944 (5th and 6th Canadian Infantry brigades were commanded by RCCS officers). That said, I just found an interesting piece based on interviews with the comd of the 231st brigade where he argued that the brigade commander was just a coordinator. He planned collaboratively and allowed his bn comds to figure out how they were going to accomplish the tasks assigned to them. Certainly shades of the idea of mission command.
    TTH likes this.
  16. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Let's see, top of my head
    • There's a biography of Bolo Whistler by J G Smyth. (I own)
    • J.O.E. Vandeleur has a privately published memoir called A Soldier's Story.
    • G.L. Verney wrote a history of the Desert Rats.
    • There's a biography of Alexander Stanier called 'Sammy's War' (I own)
    • There's an autobiography of Horatius Murray named 'A Very Fine Commander' (I own)
    • Hubert Essame co-wrote a book with Horrocks called 'Corps Commander' and also a history of the 43rd Wessex Division. (I own the first).
    • C.N. Barclay wrote a number of military books, I think, but not directly about himself.
    • Coad wrote a history of The Second Division (1809 - 1965).
    davidbfpo likes this.
  17. Nick_43

    Nick_43 Member

    Thanks for this. I forgot I had Whistler's bio and I was tracking the works of Verney, Essame, and Barclay. I'll have to track down a copy of Vandeleur's and Stanier's books though. Greatly appreciate you bringing them to my attention.
  18. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    You'll upset the airborne and commando gang. :D


  19. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    So I did a quick search here for the last five names on Nick's list, quickly scanned and unclear if useful. Hopefully it will encourage you, Nick, to check here!:

    Bendyshe Brome Walton Photo ID - 130th Infantry Brigade officer commanding
    Lashmer Gordon Whistler 156049 Lashmer Gordon WHISTLER, GCB, KBE, DSO**, MiD**, Royal Sussex Regiment and The General Perspective and 7th Loyals / 92nd (Loyals) LAA Regiment, RA, 1940-1946
    (John) Harold Owen Wilsey British involvement in the Bulge and 1st Bn East Lancs Citations - DSO (recommended for VC) and MM - Ardennes Jan 1945
    Anthony Desmond Rex Wingfield Volunteers from Eire who have won distinctions ...
    Henry Wood NT
  20. Nick_43

    Nick_43 Member

    Every good dissertation needs a left and right of arc. :D I was considering looking at the commandos and airborne brigades but that meant looking at commands outside of 21st AG. Same thinking was why I didn't incorporate the Mediterranean into my research (at least on the British side.

Share This Page