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Field Marshal Harold Alexander, 1891-1969

Field Marshal Harold Alexander, 1891-1969

Field Marshal Harold Alexander, 1891-1969

Field Marshal Harold Alexander was one of the most successful senior British generals of the Second World War, and proved to be an able commander of coalition armies. Alexander was born in London in 1891, the third son of the fourth Earl of Caledon. He joined the Irish Guards, with whom he served on the Western Front during the First World War, winning the Military Cross and the DSO (Distinguished Service Order). Somewhat ironically in 1919 he took command of a unit of German Freikorps fighting the Bolsheviks in Latvia. Between the wars he also served in India, commanding the Nowshera Brigade on the North West Frontier. In 1937 he became Britain's younger Major-General of the time, and in 1938 was appointed to command the 1st Division.

At the outbreak of the Second World War the 1st Division formed part of the BEF, and was sent to France. He first came to Churchill's attention during the retreat to Dunkirk. Alexander commanded the vital rearguard during this operation, and then took command of the defence of the Dunkirk beachhead, taking overall command when Lord Gort was withdrawn to Britain. Alexander remained at Dunkirk until the last possible moment, gaining a brilliant reputation as one of the few successful British commanders during the disastrous fighting in France.

Alexander's next appointment was as General Officer Commanding Southern Command, putting him directly in the path of any German invasion during the desperate days after the fall of France. None came, but the possibility did not completely fade until the entry of the United States into the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the buildup of American troops in Britain that followed.

Although the start of the war in the Far East had ended the danger of a German invasion of Britain, it did expose large parts of the Empire to attack. The invasion of Burma began in December 1941 and it was soon clear that there was a real danger that the country would fall to Japan. Alexander was sent out to Rangoon to take command, but by the time he arrived on 5 March 1942 it was too late to hold the city, and the only option left to the Allies was a retreat to India. This was the most controversial period of Alexander's career - different sources depict this retreat as slow and careful, or chaotic and disorganised. It is perhaps best seen as falling into two distinct sections - a first chaotic withdrawal from Rangoon, just in time to avoid being trapped by the Japanese, and a more careful retreat back to the Indian border, which ended in mid-May, at the start of the monsoon.

In August 1942 Alexander was moved from India to replace General Auchinleck as supreme commander in the Middle East, with General Montgomery commanding the Eighth Army. By the time Alexander arrived Auchinleck had defeated Rommel's first attempt to break through the Alamein lines, but the Germans were still dangerously close to Alexandria.

Alexander had arrived in North Africa just as the tide turned permanently in the Allies favour. Montgomery broke through Rommel's lines at El Alamein (23 October-5 November 1942), and the British began to advance west towards Tunisia. On 8 November the Allies landed in Algeria (Operation Torch), and the Germans were trapped between two forces.

When the two Allied forces finally met up Alexander was appointed as Eisenhower's deputy commander and commander of the Anglo-American ground forces, and took command of the final command against Von Arnim's trapped German forces. The final Axis surrender in North Africa came on 13 May 1943, resulting in Alexander's most famous message to Churchill:

"Sir: It is my duty to report that the Tunisian Campaign is over. All enemy resistance has ceased. We are masters of the North African shores"

Alexander's next task was the invasion of Sicily. Once again he served under Eisenhower, as commander of Allied ground forces, giving him overall command of Montgomery's Eighth Army and Patton's Seventh Army. After a campaign lasting five weeks, the island was cleared of Axis troops, and work began on the invasion of Italy.

By now significant elements from Alexander's armies were being moved back to Britain to take part in the D-Day landings. Patton had been replaced by Mark Clark and the US Fifth Army for the landings in Italy, and in December Eisenhower himself would leave to take up his post as SCAEF (Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force). Alexander was promoted to replace him as supreme Allied commander in the Mediterranean Theatre. Although most of his attention would be focused on the fighting in Italy, this also gave him responsibility for Greece, where the German retreat was followed by the start of a brutal civil war.

The fighting in Italy soon developed a clear pattern, as Kesselring created a series of defensive lines, starting at Volturno-Termoli, which Alexander had to force his way through or round, while also attempting to prevent too many of his troops being pulled off to support the Normandy invasions or the invasion of Southern France. The most famous of those German lines was the Gustav Line. Allied efforts to break through this line included the long battle at Casino and the Anzio landings. Despite repeated setbacks, on 4 June Alexander's men entered Rome, the first Axis capital to surrender.

The final phase of the fighting in Italy in the spring of 1945 saw the Allies break through the Gothic Line, and threaten to break through into Austria. On 29 April Alexander received the unconditional surrender of all German forces in Italy, the first such surrender of the war.

Alexander was rewarded for his successes with the title of 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis. After the war he served as Governor General of Canada (1946-52) and Minister of Defence (1952-4). Alexander seems to have been almost universally respected amongst his fellow commanders, both British and American. Even the normally prickly Montgomery wrote that Alexander was the "only man under whom any general would gladly serve in a subordinate position".

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Field Marshal Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander (Ulster, 1891-1969)

Field Marshal Alexander, Earl of Tunis was on of England's most successful army commanders. Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander was born in London during 1891, but grew up in a privlidged English-Irish family, spebding most of his early boyhood on the family estate in Ulster. He was trained at Sandhurst and during World War I commanded a battalion of Irish Guards on the Western Front. After the War he bought the Bolshevicks in the Baltics with a unit of largely ethnic-Germans. He cpmmanded the British 1st Division and as commander of I Corps oversaw the Dunkirk evacuation. He is nenowned for the North African campaigns against Field Marshal Erwin Rommel during World War II (1942-43). Under Eisenhower he oversaw the Allied drive on Tunia and the invasion of Sicily and Italy. He was one of the few commanders that was able to work amicably with Montgomery--a major accomplishment in itself. He later commanded the Italian campaign (1943-45). He was Governor General of Canada (1946-52), granted the rank of Earl (1952) and becoming the Minister of Defence under Winston Churchill (until 1954).


Famous Freemasons – Earl Alexander of Tunis

The British field marshal Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis (1891-1969), was the supreme Allied commander of the Mediterranean theater in World War II. He was governor general of Canada from 1946 to 1952 and British minister of defense from 1952 to 1954.

Harold Alexander was born in Northern Ireland on December 10, 1891, the third son of the 4th Earl of Caledon and of Lady Elizabeth Graham Toler, daughter of the 3d Earl of Norbury. Educated at Harrow and Sandhurst, Alexander served in the British army with distinction in France during World War I. Wounded three times and mentioned in dispatches five times for gallantry in action, he received the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross.

Following graduation from the Staff College and the Imperial Defence College, he saw combat in India in 1935 and was again mentioned in dispatches. He served in various staff and command positions, and as a major general he commanded the 1st Division at the outbreak of World War II. The division went to France in 1939 as part of the British Expeditionary Force. When the German blitzkrieg of May 1940 forced France to surrender, Alexander, then a lieutenant general and commander of the I Corps, directed the evacuation of British and French troops from Dunkirk.

Alexander became a full general and took command of the British army forces in Burma in March 1942. He successfully carried out a difficult withdrawal to India, where the British, soon reinforced by American troops, prepared for offensive operations in Southeast Asia.

In August 1942 Alexander was assigned to take command of the British Middle East forces. He defeated Field Marshal Rommel’s Italo-German army at Alam Halfa in late August and early September. On October 23 in the Battle of EI Alamein, Alexander launched an offensive that precipitated a German and Italian retreat of 1,500 miles across Libya to southern Tunisia with the British in pursuit.

Meanwhile, Anglo-American forces under the supreme Allied commander Dwight D. Eisenhower had landed in French Northwest Africa on November 8, 1942, and together with French forces moved into Tunisia. On February 19, 1943, at the height of an American disaster inflicted by Rommel at Kasserine Pass, Alexander became Eisenhower’s deputy and commander of the 18th Army Group. Alexander took command of all the Allied ground forces. They expelled the Germans and Italians from Tunisia in May 1943 and cleared the entire North African shore of Axis troops.

As commander of the 15th Army Group, Alexander directed the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 and the subsequent ground operations, which included General Bernard Montgomery’s British 8th Army and General George Patton’s U.S. 7th Army. Alexander’s leadership was largely responsible for the conquest of the island in 38 days.

Alexander then played an important role in the secret negotiations leading to the surrender of Italy. He headed the ground forces that invaded southern Italy in September 1943 and directed Montgomery’s 8th Army in the eastern part of the country and General Mark Clark’s U.S. 5th Army west of the Apennines. Alexander coordinated the capture of Naples and the Foggia airfields by October 1, 1943.

Then he began what turned out to be a grueling advance toward Rome. Through tangled, easily defended terrain, in the face of incredible difficulties, and against tenacious German opposition, Alexander engineered the Allied progress to the Gustav Line in the Cassino area. Attempting to go around the resistance, he executed the Anzio amphibious landing on January 22, 1944. It failed to dislodge the Germans from the Gustav Line or from Rome. As a consequence, battles at Cassino and Monte Cassino were fought during January, February and March, but they resulted in a stalemate. Alexander then shifted the bulk of the 8th Army west of the Apennine Mountains in April. On May 11 he launched the massive Operation Diadem. This broke the Gustav Line, brought relief to the beleaguered Anzio beachhead, and liberated Rome on June 4. Later in 1944, promoted to field marshal, Alexander became supreme Allied commander of the Mediterranean theater. He engineered the air, sea and ground movements that broke the German Gothic Line, seized all of Italy and compelled the Germans to capitulate in April 1945.

In 1946, Alexander was made a viscount and named governor-general of Canada. He served there until 1952, when he was named both an earl and minister of defense in Sir Winston Churchill’s cabinet. He retired in 1954 and was involved in business until he died on June 16, 1969, in Slough, England.

A man of great personal charm, Alexander was handsome, self-possessed, modest and distinguished in appearance. Field Marshal Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, said Alexander was always “completely composed and appeared never to have the slightest doubt that all would come out right in the end.” Eisenhower called him “broad-gauged,” meaning that he worked on an Allied rather than a narrowly nationalistic basis. His most important qualities were his ability to impart and instill confidence among superiors, colleagues and subordinates and his capacity to persuade a multitude of Allied contingents to work together toward common goals. He was known for his charm and imperturbability.


Field Marshal, Earl ALEXANDER of Tunis (1891-1961)

Field Marshal Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis, KG, OM, GCB, GCSI, GCMG, GCVO, DSO, MC, LL.D, PC (10 December 1891 - 16 June 1969) was a British military commander and field marshal, notably during the Second World War as the commander of the 15th Army Group. He later served as the last British Governor General of Canada.

The third son of the 4th Earl of Caledon (a descendant of the Alexanders of Limavady, fCounty Londonderry) and the former Lady Elizabeth Graham-Toler, a daughter of the 3rd Earl of Norbury,

He was commissioned into the Irish Guards in 1911. During the First World War, Alexander's battalion formed a part of the original British Expeditionary Force (BEF), in which he was a 22-year-old lieutenant and platoon commander.

Alexander became the youngest lieutenant-colonel in the British Army during the war, and when the Great War ended he was in temporary command of a brigade. He served on the Western Front and was wounded twice in four years of fighting. He received the Military Cross in 1915, the Distinguished Service Order in 1916, and the Legion of Honour, and by 1918 was an acting brigadier.

Rudyard Kipling, who wrote a history of the Irish Guards in which his own son fought and was killed, noted that, "It is undeniable that Colonel Alexander had the gift of handling the men on the lines to which they most readily responded . . . his subordinates loved him, even when he fell upon them blisteringly for their shortcomings and his men were all his own."

In 1919 - 1920 Alexander led the Baltic German Landeswehr in the Latvian War of Independence, commanding units loyal to the Republic of Latvia in the successful drive to eject the Bolsheviks from Latgale[3]. He later served in Turkey and Gibraltar before returning to England and the Staff College, Camberley and the Imperial Defence College. In 1937 he was promoted to major-general.

Years of service1911 - death

Commands1st Battalion, Irish Guards (1915 - temporary)

2nd Battalion, Irish Guards (1917)

4 Guards Brigade (Mar 1918 - temporary)

Baltic Landeswehr (Jul 1919 - Mar 1920)

1st Battalion, Irish Guards (1922)

Nowshera Brigade, India (13 Oct 1934 - 14 Jan 1938)

1st Infantry Division (17 Feb 1938 - 7 Jun 1940)

I Corps (8 Jun 1940 - 14 Dec 1940)

Southern Command (UK) (15 Dec 1940 - 26 Feb 1942)

Army in Burma (5 Mar 1942 - 6 Aug 1942)

Commander-in-Chief, Middle East (7 Aug 1942 - 18 Feb 1943)

18th Army Group (19 Feb 1943 - 14 May 1943)

15th Army Group/Allied Central Mediterranean Force/Allied Armies in Italy (10 Jul 1943 - 11 Dec 1944)

Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theatre (12 Dec 1944 - 29 Sep 1945)

Latvian War of Independence

MID (4 Jan 1917, 27 Dec 1918, 8 Jul 1919, 3 Feb 1920, 7 Feb 1936, 8 May 1936, 20 Dec 1940, 28 Oct 1942)


The inter-war years [ edit | edit source ]

Alexander in 1919 served with the Allied Control Commission in Poland. As a temporary lieutenant-colonel, ⎟] he led the Baltic German Landeswehr in the Latvian War of Independence, commanding units loyal to Latvia in the successful drive to eject the Bolsheviks from Latgalia. During service there, he was accidentally wounded by one of his own sentries on 9 October 1919. ⎠]

Alexander returned to Britain in May 1920 as a major, second in command of 1st Battalion Irish Guards Ε] in May 1922, he was promoted substantive lieutenant-colonel and appointed commanding officer. ⎡] He commanded the battalion at Constantinople (a sensitive posting in the runup to the Chanak Crisis), then Gibraltar from October 1922, then in London from April 1923 until January 1926, when he was released from that role to attend Staff College, Camberley. ⎢] ⎣] Alexander was then in February 1928 promoted to colonel (backdated to 14 May 1926 ⎢] ) and was the next month appointed Officer Commanding the Irish Guards Regimental District and 140th (4th London) Infantry Brigade in the Territorial Army ⎢] ⎤] ⎥] a post he held until January 1930, when he again returned to study, attending the Imperial Defence College for one year. ⎦] ⎧] There, two of Alexander's instructors—the future field marshals Alan Brooke and Bernard Montgomery—were unimpressed by him. ⎨]

After the completion of his courses, Alexander, on 14 October 1931, married Lady Margaret Bingham, the daughter of the Earl of Lucan and with whom Alexander had two sons—Shane, born 1935, and Brian, born 1939—and a daughter, as well as adopting another daughter during his time as Canada's governor general. ⎗] Alexander then held staff appointments as (from January 1931) GSO2 in the Directorate of Military Training at the War Office and (1932–34) GSO1 at HQ Northern Command in York, ⎢] before being made in October 1934 a temporary brigadier and given command of the Nowshera Brigade, ⎩] ⎪] on the Northwest Frontier in India. ⎫] ⎬] For his service there, and in particular for his actions in the Loe-Agra operations against the Pathans in Malakand between February and April 1935, Alexander was that year made a Companion of the Order of the Star of India and was mentioned in despatches. ⎭] ⎮] He was mentioned once more for his service during the Second Mohmand Campaign in Mohamad Province from August to October of the same year, serving under Brigadier Claude Auchinleck. Alexander had a reputation for leading from the front and for reaching mountain crests with or even ahead of his troops. ⎢] ⎯]

In March 1937, Alexander was appointed as one of the aides-de-camp to the recently acceded King George VI and in May returned to the United Kingdom to take part in this capacity in the state procession through London during the King's coronation. ⎰] ⎱] Alexander would have been seen in this event by two of his Canadian viceregal successors: Vincent Massey, who was then the Canadian high commissioner to the United Kingdom, and Massey's secretary, Georges Vanier, who watched the procession from the roof of Canada House on Trafalgar Square. ⎲] Following the coronation celebration, Alexander returned to India, where he was made the honorary colonel of the 3rd Battalion 2nd Punjab Regiment, ⎳] and then in October 1937 was promoted to the rank of major-general, ⎴] making Alexander the youngest general in the British Army. ⎗] He relinquished command of his brigade in January 1938, ⎵] and in February returned to the United Kingdom to take command of the 1st Infantry Division. ⎶] In June 1938 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath. ⎷]


Funeral Of Lord Alexander of Tunis

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Field Marshal Harold Alexander

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Person:Harold Alexander (2)

Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis, (10 December 1891 – 16 June 1969), was a senior British Army officer who served with distinction in both the First World War and the Second World War and, afterwards, as Governor General of Canada, the 17th since Canadian Confederation.

Alexander was born in London, England, to aristocratic parents and was educated at Harrow before moving on to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, for training as an army officer of the Irish Guards. He rose to prominence through his service in the First World War, receiving numerous honours and decorations, and continued his military career through various British campaigns across Europe and Asia. In World War II, Alexander oversaw the final stages of the Allied evacuation from Dunkirk and subsequently held high-ranking field commands in Burma, North Africa and Italy, including serving as Commander-in-Chief Middle East and commanding the 18th Army Group in Tunisia. He then commanded the 15th Army Group for the capture of Sicily and again in Italy before receiving his field marshal's baton and being made Supreme Allied Commander Mediterranean.

In 1946 he was appointed as governor general by King George VI, on the recommendation of Prime Minister of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King, to replace the Earl of Athlone as viceroy, and he occupied the post until succeeded by Vincent Massey in 1952. Alexander proved to be enthusiastic about the Canadian wilderness and was a popular governor general with Canadians. He was the last non-Canadian-born governor general before the appointment of Adrienne Clarkson in 1999, as well as the last governor general to be a peer.

After the end of his viceregal tenure, Alexander was sworn into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and thereafter, in order to serve as the British Minister of Defence in the Cabinet of Winston Churchill, into the Imperial Privy Council. Alexander retired in 1954 and died in 1969.


Alexander & Hume In Bologna

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Harold Alexander

Field Marshall Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis - Commander-in-Chief o/t forces i/t Middle East 1942 Commander-in-Chief of Italy 1943-1944 Supreme Allied Commander o/t Mediterranean 1944-1945

Earl Alexander of Tunis is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created on 14 March 1952 for the prominent military commander Field Marshal Harold Alexander, 1st Viscount Alexander of Tunis. He had already been created Viscount Alexander of Tunis, of Errigal in the County of Donegal, on 1 March 1946, and was made Baron Rideau, of Ottawa and of Castle Derg in the County of Tyrone, at the same time he was given the earldom. These titles are also in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. Alexander was the third son of James Alexander, 4th Earl of Caledon.

He was succeeded by his eldest son, the second and (as of 2007) present holder of the titles. He briefly served as a Lord-in-Waiting (government whip in the House of Lords) under Edward Heath from January to March 1974. However, he lost his seat in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999. As a descendant of the fourth Earl of Caledon Lord Alexander of Tunis is also in remainder to this peerage and its subsidiary titles. From 1980 to 1990 he was in fact heir presumptive to these titles, before the birth of the current Earl of Caledon's son and heir, Viscount Alexander.

The third son of the 4th Earl of Caledon and the former Lady Elizabeth Graham-Toler, a daughter of the 3rd Earl of Norbury, he was born in London and educated at Harrow School and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Alexander was the 11th batsman in the famous Fowler Match between Eton and Harrow in 1910.[2]

In 1931, Alexander married Lady Margaret Diana Bingham, GBE DStJ, younger daughter of George Bingham, 5th Earl of Lucan. The couple had two sons and two daughters (of which, one was an adopted daughter).

He was commissioned into the Irish Guards in 1911. During the First World War, Alexander's battalion formed a part of the original British Expeditionary Force (BEF), in which he was a 22-year-old lieutenant and platoon commander.

Alexander became the youngest lieutenant-colonel in the British Army during the war, and when the Great War ended he was in temporary command of a brigade. He served on the Western Front and was wounded twice in four years of fighting. He received the Military Cross in 1915, the Distinguished Service Order in 1916, and the Legion of Honour, and by 1918 was an acting brigadier. Rudyard Kipling, who wrote a history of the Irish Guards in which his own son fought and was killed, noted that, "It is undeniable that Colonel Alexander had the gift of handling the men on the lines to which they most readily responded . . . his subordinates loved him, even when he fell upon them blisteringly for their shortcomings and his men were all his own."

In 1919 - 1920 Alexander led the Baltic German Landeswehr in the Latvian War of Independence, commanding units loyal to the Republic of Latvia in the successful drive to eject the Bolsheviks from Latgale[3]. He later served in Turkey and Gibraltar before returning to England and the Staff College, Camberley and the Imperial Defence College. In 1937 he was promoted to major-general.

Alexander joined the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), as commander of the 1st Infantry Division, in France in 1939. He was instrumental in leading the retreat of the BEF to Dunkirk, and was the last man in his command to leave [4]. For the rest of 1940 and 1941 he held commands equivalent to corps and then army in mainland Britain, before being sent to Burma, commanding what was later to be the Fourteenth Army at the beginning of that campaign. In August 1942 Winston Churchill sent him, as Commander-in-Chief Middle East, and under him Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery as General Officer Commanding Eighth Army, to North Africa to replace General Claude Auchinleck who had held both positions. He presided over Montgomery's victory at the Second Battle of El Alamein. After the Anglo-American forces from Torch and the Eighth Army met in Tunisia in January 1943, he became deputy to Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean.

Alexander was very popular with both US and British officers, and was Eisenhower's preference for the ground command of D-Day, but Field Marshal Alan Brooke applied pressure to keep him in Italy, considering him unfit for the assignment. Alexander remained in Italy as commander of the 15th Army Group, with the US Fifth Army and British Eighth Army under his command.

Montgomery, who was both a long-time friend and subordinate of Alexander in Sicily and Italy, said of him, "Alexander. is not a strong commander. the higher art of war is quite beyond him."[citation needed] He advised his US counterparts, Mark Clark and George S. Patton, to ignore any orders from Alexander with which they did not agree.[citation needed]

In 1943 the Prime Minister,Winston Churchill, proposed to make the Irish aristocrat Alexander a Knight in the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick. The Commonwealth Office advised against it and Alexander was made a Viscount in the Peerage of the United Kingdom instead.

His forces captured Rome in June 1944, thereby achieving one of the strategic goals of the Italian campaign. However, US Fifth Army forces at Anzio, under Clark's orders, failed to follow their original breakout plan that would have trapped the German forces escaping northwards. At the end of 1944 Alexander was promoted to field marshal, his promotion being backdated to the fall of Rome, on 4 June 1944, so that he would once again become senior to Montgomery, who had been made a field marshal earlier in the year, on 1 September 1944, after the end of the Battle of Normandy.


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