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Leese, Oliver William Hargreaves (1894-1978)

Leese was the son of a baronet who attended Lundgrove and Eton. He fought with distinction in France during the First World War and later became a tank expert. During the Second World War he fought with the BEF and was named by Montgomery, who thought very highly of him, to command XXX Corps in North Africa. He did not get along well with Slim, and attempted to relieve the latter on 9  May 1945. Leese was overruled by Brooke and Mountbatten and himself relieved shortly thereafter. Slim, never one to hold a grudge or speak ill of a fellow officer, glossed over this rift in his memoirs and praised Leese for his sound military judgment, though he also noted that Leese brought his 8 Army staff with him, which "had a good deal of desert sand in its shoes and ... [was] rather inclined to thrust Eighth Army down our throats" (Allen 1984).

Leese was a huge man at 6'4", affected a quiet, easygoing disposition that masked a rare explosive temper. He affected casual dress and liked to lead from the front.

Service record

1894-10-26    

Born
1936
Colonel     
Commander, 1 Battalion, Coldstream Guards
1938

Chief instructor, Staff College Quetta, India
1940
Brigadier     
Commander, 20 Independent Brigade
1940

Deputy chief of staff, British Expeditionary Force, France
1940

Commander, 29 Independent Brigade Group
1940
Major general     
Commander, Division West Sussex County
1941

Commander, 15 Division
1941

Commander, Guards Armored Division
1942
Lieutenant general     
Commander, XXX Corps, North Africa
1943

Commander, 8 Army, Italy
1944-11-12

Commander, Allied Land Forces, Southeast Asia Command
1945

Commander, Eastern Command
1946

Retires
1978

Dies

References

Allen (1984)

Boatner (1996)

Generals.dk (accessed 2008-12-11)

Hastings (2007)

Slim (1956)



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