In understanding the Second World War, it is necessary to understand the people who were involved. There have been several books and other works published on the key politicians of the war, and to begin to place in context how the war progressed from a British viewpoint, it is desirable to gain an insight into the life of Sir Winston CHURCHILL. He held not only the post as Prime Minister from the 10 May 1940 until the 26 July 1945, but he also held the post of Minister of Defence.
There has been excellent work undertaken recently by various people and organisations to record the lives of the soldiers who participated in the war. Examples include the BBC and Imperial War Museum’s recording of individual’s memoirs. This web-site is not intended to replicate these areas.
There remains, however, the opportunity to find out a little more about the senior Army officers who played key roles during the war. At the outbreak of the war, almost all the officers of the rank of Brigadier and above had fought in the Great War; many had been decorated for bravery and many had been wounded, some severely. They had progressed slowly up the rank structure between the wars in a system heavily reliant on seniority. Most had attended the Staff College at Camberley, or the Indian Staff College at Quetta. Above the rank of Major General, several of the senior officers had attended the Imperial Defence College established in London in 1927.
The stress of command during the war led to the decline or end of the careers of some officers, but allowed others to demonstrate their skills and abilities at times of crisis. Promotion in the rapidly expanding Army gave opportunities to many, but found out others who were not suitable to hold command. By 1944, the vast majority of senior commanders had proven themselves and were in their appointments on merit. Some officers who had joined the Army after the Great War began to make senior rank; Hughie STOCKWELL and Frankie FESTING being two notable examples.
Short biographies of some of the key commanders are contained in this section. Many more remain to be written. The initial focus has been on commanders in Burma and South East Asia, because that is the author’s main area of interest.
I have currently two-thousand, five hundred and eighty-eight officers in my database. The majority of those in my database held the rank of Brigadier or higher during the war, but I have included some others of the rank of Colonel down to Captain.
If you have an interest in a particular officer, or can amend, alter or add any information that I will be most grateful to hear from you.