Gerard Bucknall

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Gerard Bucknall
File:Lt General Bucknall 1944 IWM B 5468.jpg
Lieutenant-General Bucknall, pictured here on the left as General Officer Commanding XXX Corps, with Brigadier Harold Pyman, 1944.
Born 14 September 1894
Died 7 December 1980 (aged 86)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1914–1948
Rank Lieutenant-General
Commands held 2nd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
138th Infantry Brigade
53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division
XI Corps
I Corps
5th Infantry Division
XXX Corps
Northern Ireland District
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath
Military Cross

Lieutenant-General Gerard Corfield Bucknall CB, MC, DL (14 September 1894–7 December 1980) was a senior officer of the British Army who served in World War I and World War II, where he became commanded XXX Corps during the Battle of Normandy in mid-1944.[1]

Military career

Educated at West Downs School,[2] Bucknall was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Middlesex Regiment in 1914.[3] During the Great War he served with his battalion in France and Belgium with some distinction, in particular during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 where he took command of his battalion.

Between the wars he served with the Egyptian Army[3] (Egypt was then de facto part of the British Empire) and attended the Staff College, Camberley. He was commander of the 2nd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment[3] by the outbreak of the Second World War, in September 1939, to be succeeded by Brian Horrocks (who would later take up another of Bucknall's posts), by the time the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) left for France. He then commanded 138th Infantry Brigade, of the 46th Infantry Division, was and later appointed General Officer Commanding 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division in July 1941 and GOC XI Corps in East Anglia in September 1942[4] before eventually seeing action from April 1943 as Commander of I Corps[5] and then from August 1943 as General Officer Commanding the 5th Infantry Division, in the final stages of the Allied invasion of Sicily. He later led the division during the Allied invasion of Italy and in the early stages of the Italian Campaign.[3]

Bucknall impressed General Bernard L. Montgomery, 21st Army Group commander, and when he was appointed to command Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy, he appointed Bucknall to command XXX Corps – Bucknall took command in January 1944.[3] However, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff Alan Brooke believed Bucknall to be unsuitable for command at that level. By August 1944 Bucknall was removed from his command,[3] due to the relatively poor performance of XXX Corps (see Operation Perch), to be replaced by Brian Horrocks. Montgomery conceded that it had been a mistake to appoint him and, in November 1944, Bucknall was given command of Northern Ireland, a post which he held until his retirement.[3]

References

Military offices
Preceded by
John Crocker
GOC XI Corps
September 1942 – April 1943
Succeeded by
Gerald Templer
Preceded by
Sir Frederick Morgan
GOC I Corps
April 1943 – August 1943
Succeeded by
Sir John Crocker
Preceded by
Horatio Berney-Ficklin
General Officer Commanding 5th Infantry Division
1943–1944
Succeeded by
Philip Gregson-Ellis
Preceded by
Oliver Leese
GOC XXX Corps
January 1944 – July 1944
Succeeded by
Brian Horrocks
Preceded by
Sir Alan Cunningham
General Officer Commanding the British Army in Northern Ireland
1944–1948
Succeeded by
Sir Ouvry Roberts
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir John Crocker
Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex
1963–1965
Office abolished