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Hugh Stockwell

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Title: Hugh Stockwell  
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Subject: Suez Crisis, 82nd (West Africa) Division, 6th Airborne Division in Palestine, 36th Infantry Division (United Kingdom), Moorhouse Affair
Collection: 1903 Births, 1986 Deaths, British Army Generals of World War II, British Army Personnel of the Malayan Emergency, British Military Personnel of the Palestine Emergency, British Military Personnel of the Suez Crisis, Commandants of Sandhurst, Deaths from Leukemia, Graduates of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Nato Military Personnel, People Educated at Cothill House, People Educated at Marlborough College, Royal Welch Fusiliers Officers, Royal West African Frontier Force Officers
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Hugh Stockwell

Sir Hugh Charles Stockwell
Born 3 June 1903
Died 27 November 1986 (aged 83)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1923 – 1964
Rank General
Commands held Royal Welch Fusiliers (1942–1943)
30th (East Africa) Infantry Brigade (1943–1945)
82nd (West Africa) Division (1945–1946)
44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division (1946–1947)
6th Airborne Division (1947–1948)
RMA Sandhurst (1948–1950)
3rd Division (1950–1952)
Malaya (1952–1954)
I Corps (1954–1956)
Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (1960–1964)

Second World War

Suez Crisis
Awards GCB (June 1959)[1]
KCB (June 1954)[2]
KBE (January 1949)[3]
CB (June 1946)[4]
CBE (July 1945)[5]
DSO (August 1940)[6] and bar (June 1947)[7]
MID (April 1941)[8] (July 1943)[9] (April 1945)[10] (January 1949)[11]
Other work Colonel Royal Welch Fusiliers
Colonel Malay Regiment
Colonel Commandant, Army Air Corps[12]

General Sir Hugh Charles Stockwell, GCB KBE DSO* (16 June 1903 – 27 November 1986) was a British soldier, most remembered for commanding the Anglo-French ground forces during the Suez Crisis and his service as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1960 to 1964.


  • Early life 1
  • Second World War 2
  • Post-War service 3
  • Retirement 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Stockwell was born in Jersey, but spent his childhood in India where his father (also Hugh Charles Stockwell) served as an officer in the Highland Light Infantry. Stockwell attended Cothill House school,[13] Marlborough College, and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.[14] On graduation from Sandhurst he was commissioned into the Royal Welch Fusiliers on 1 February 1923.[15] Stockwell was stationed in India until 1929,[14] he was promoted lieutenant on 1 February 1925,[16] and then seconded to the Royal West African Frontier Force from 1 January 1930,[14][17] he was promoted captain on 25 June 1932.[18] In 1935, he left the Frontier Force to join the Small Arms School Corps as a Vickers machine gun instructor in Netheravon,[14] taking up his post on 30 January 1936.[19] He served in that capacity until 1938.[14]

Second World War

With the approach of the Second World War, on 23 December 1938, Stockwell became Brigade Major of the 158th Brigade,[20] which was known as the "Royal Welch Brigade" because it was composed entirely of three Territorial Army battalions of his regiment.[14][21] He was promoted major on 1 February 1940.[22] Unlikely to see action in Northern Ireland where his unit was based, Stockwell volunteered in March 1940 and was selected to command one of the independent companies formed to serve in the Norwegian Campaign.[23] The independent companies arrived in Norway in early May under the command of Colin Gubbins. Stockwell, commanding No. 2 Independent Company, was soon promoted to lieutenant-colonel to replace Gubbins who had been given command of 24th Guards Brigade. By late May it was clear that lacking air support the British force was outmatched and there was no alternative to evacuation. As the British withdrew from Norway, Stockwell was assigned to the rearguard and commanding a force of two independent companies and a battalion of the Irish Guards successfully held a defensive position for two days, before being ordered to withdraw.[23] After withdrawing, he assembled two platoons and attacked the German positions to stop their assault. For his "great courage and determination" in this action, he was appointed to the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1940. The citation for this award read:

After the Norwegian Campaign, the independent companies were disbanded but many individuals involved moved to the newly formed British Commandos. Stockwell was selected to head the commando training centre at Lochailort.[23] In 1942, he returned to the Royal Welch to command the 2nd battalion, part of 29th Independent Infantry Brigade Group which was training in amphibious operations to take part in Operation Ironclad, the seizure of the natural port of Diego Suarez in Madagascar which was occupied by the Vichy French. The brigade left Scotland in late March 1942 and after a brief pause in South Africa, sailed for Madagascar to land unopposed on 5 May. After a day's fighting the British force achieved its objectives.[23] The brigade group took part in further fighting in September when it was decided to take control of the whole of the island and establish Free French control.[25]

After his success in the battle, Stockwell was promoted to brigadier in late October and given command of the 30th (East Africa) Infantry Brigade. After a tenure of only just over a month he was posted to South Africa to take command of the 29th Independent Infantry Brigade Group which was preparing to ship to India as part of 36th Infantry Division. Arriving in India in late January 1943, Stockwell remained the brigade's commander until January 1945 seeing action in the Second Arakan Campaign in early 1944 and then in northern India and Burma from mid 1944 onwards.[25][26]

In January 1945, Stockwell was granted the acting rank of Philip Christison, the commander of XV Indian Corps and a party of senior officers being placed in jeopardy when visiting the division's front. Christison placed Bruce on the sick list and called for Stockwell.[28] Stockwell was not without his own eccentricites. He selected a WO 1 (RSM) as a sort of adviser on the Africans. This man, who Stockwell described as 'tremendous', had fought for the Germans in the First World War and won the Iron Cross. Stockwell got him a DCM (Distinguished Conduct Medal). "He must have been the only soldier to wear an Iron Cross and a DCM."[29]

But Louis Mountbatten, the theatre supreme commander, wrote in his diary: His promotion from major to acting major general had taken less than five years[14] although on taking command of the division his permanent rank was still only lieutenant-colonel (war substantive colonel) and he became a substantive colonel only in July 1946.[31] 82nd Division saw heavy fighting and suffered the highest casualties of any formation in XV Indian Corps. April 1945 saw the end of the division's active service but it remained in Burma until October 1946.[30] Stockwell's major-general's rank was made permanent in May 1947.[32] For his services in Burma he was made CBE in 1945 and CB in 1946. He was also mentioned in despatches in 1945.

Post-War service

At the end of the war, Stockwell remained in the army, commanding the 44th (Home Counties) Infantry Division until 1947. He then took command of the 6th Airborne Division, stationed in Palestine. In that capacity, "he was responsible for the evacuation" of all British troops from Palestine in 1948, as the result of the Israeli declaration of independence.[14] In April 1948, Stockwell was able to arrange a truce in Haifa between the Jewish and Arab sides.[33] As Stockwell wrote in his report afterwards, the Arab leaders told him "that they were not in a position to sign the truce, as they had no control over the Arab military elements in the town and that, in all sincerity, they could not fulfil the terms of the truce, even if they were to sign".[34] Instead, the Arab leaders offered "as an alternative, that the Arab population wished to evacuate Haifa and that they would be grateful for military assistance".[35] Stockwell told the Arab leaders: Despite Stockwell's advice, the Arab leaders insisted upon evacuation, and Stockwell oversaw the evacualtion of 30,000 Arabs from Haifa.[35] For his services in Palestine between March and September 1947 Stockwell was mentioned in despatches and for his "gallant and distinguished services" in Palestine between March and June 1948 he was knighted KBE, an unusual honour for an officer of major-general rank.

After leaving Palestine, he was appointed Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he served until the end of 1950.[36] Stockwell then commanded the 3rd Division for two years.[14]

In June 1952, Stockwell was made GOC Malaya[37] with responsibility for the British forces fighting in the Malayan Emergency.[38] He was raised to the temporary rank of lieutenant-general and this rank was made permanent in September 1953.[39] In 1954, Stockwell left Malaya to take command of the I Corps,[40] before leaving in 1956 to take command of II Corps and attached French ground forces at Port Said during the Suez Crisis.[14][41] In his planning for the war against Egypt, Stockwell as ground commander for the Allied Task Force preferred slow, low-risk, methodical operations centered around the Centurion battle tank.[42] In the summer of 1956, Stockwell rejected the Contingency Plan prepared by the British Chiefs of Staff, and instead submitted Operation Musketeer, which called for the British to take Alexandria and then for British armoured forces to engage in a decisive battle of annihilation with the Egyptians north of Cairo.[43] Together with his deputy, the French General Andre Beaufre, Stockwell was highly opposed to the change imposed on Musketeer in September 1956 when Port Said replaced Alexandria as the main target.[44] Stockwell was not popular with the officers who served under him. One French officer recalled that Stockwell was: When Beaufre suggested on 3 November 1956 that the Allies launch Telescope, namely Anglo-French paratroop landings in the Canal Zone ahead of schedule, Stockwell reluctantly argeed to the change.[46] Stockwell was always in favour of rigidly following already agreed to plans, and was most reluctant to see any changes, whereas Beaufre was all for changing plans to match with changed circumstances.[47] The differences between Stockwell and Beaufre were summarized by the American historian Derek Varble as: "Stockwell favored existing plans; their methodical construction and underlying staff work reduced risks. Beaufre, by contrast an opportunist, saw plans merely a means to an end, without much inherent value. For him, altered circumstances or assumptions provided adequate justfication to jettison part or all of the original plan".[47]

For this service in the Suez War, he was awarded a Bar to his DSO in the 1957 Queen's Birthday Honours. In the recommendation for the award, Stockwell's commander, General Sir Charles Keightley wrote, "[Stockwell's] skill, energy and courage throughout [the Suez campaign] were of the highest order."[48]

In February 1957 Stockwell became Military Secretary to the Secretary of State for War,[49] and was promoted to full general that August.[50] He served as Military Secretary until 1959[38] when he was appointed Adjutant-General to the Forces.[14][51]

In 1960, on the advice of Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Stockwell was appointed Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO,[52] a post which he held until his retirement in 1964.[53] Stockwell was described as a "surprise choice" for the position because he had never attended Staff College, Camberley, and had "spent his whole career as a fighting soldier."[54] As Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, he worked to promote the creation of strong conventional forces, and advocated "the use of tactical nuclear weapons only as a last resort."[53]


After retiring from the military, Stockwell became the chairman of the

Military offices
Preceded by
George Bruce
General Officer Commanding the 82nd (West Africa) Division
Succeeded by
Post Disbanded
Preceded by
Eric Bols
General Officer Commanding the 6th Airborne Division
Succeeded by
Post Disbanded
Preceded by
Francis Matthews
Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Succeeded by
David Dawnay
Preceded by
Lashmer Whistler
General Officer Commanding the 3rd Division
Succeeded by
Nigel Poett
Preceded by
Roy Urquhart
GOC Malaya
Succeeded by
Sir Geoffrey Bourne
Preceded by
Sir James Cassels
GOC 1st (British) Corps
Succeeded by
Sir Harold Pyman
Preceded by
Sir Colin Callander
Military Secretary
Succeeded by
Sir Geoffrey Thompson
Preceded by
Sir Charles Loewen
Adjutant General
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Goodbody

External links

  • Arthur, Max (2004). Forgotten Voices of The Second World War. Random House.  
  • Joslen, HF, Orders of Battle Volumes 1 and 2 United Kingdom and Colonial Formations and Units in the Second World War 1939 - 1945, London, HMSO 1960
  • Karsh, Efraim (2002). The Arab-Israeli conflict : the Palestine War 1948. Oxford: Osprey.  
  • Mead, Richard (2007). Churchill's Lions: A biographical guide to the key British generals of World War II. Stroud (UK): Spellmount.  
  • Varble, Derek (2003). The Suez crisis, 1956. Essential Histories. Oxford: Osprey.  


  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41727. p. 3699. 5 June 1959. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  2. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40188. p. 3259. 1 June 1954. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38505. p. 122. 7 January 1949. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37595. p. 2729. 4 June 1946. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37161. p. 3491. 3 July 1945. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34914. p. 4789. 2 August 1940. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41092. p. 3419. 4 June 1957. Retrieved 29 April 2009.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35146. p. 2424. 25 April 1941. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36083. p. 3090. 6 July 1943. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37015. p. 1815. 3 April 1945. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38505. p. 126. 7 January 1949. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41254. p. 7347. 13 December 1957. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  13. ^ 'General Sir Hugh Stockwell' in Patricia Burgess & Trish Burgess, eds., The Annual Obituary 1986 (Chicago & London: St James Press, 1989), p. 677
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Farrar-Hockley, p. 836
  15. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32792. p. 806. 2 February 1923. Retrieved 29 April 2009.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33017. p. 778. 3 February 1925. Retrieved 29 April 2009.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33575. p. 649. 31 January 1930. Retrieved 29 April 2009.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33849. p. 4864. 26 July 1932. Retrieved 29 April 2009.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34254. p. 910. 11 February 1936. Retrieved 29 April 2009.
  20. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34587. p. 127. 6 January 1939. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  21. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34587. p. 127. 6 January 1939. Retrieved 29 April 2009.
  22. ^  
  23. ^ a b c d Mead, p.438.
  24. ^ "The Norwegian Campaign: First List of Army Awards". The Times. 1 August 1940. p. 7c. 
  25. ^ a b Mead, p. 439.
  26. ^ Joslen, pp. 276-277.
  27. ^ Joslen, p. 125.
  28. ^ Mead, pp. 439-440.
  29. ^ Arthur, Max - Forgotten Voices of The Second World War, 2004, Random House, ISBN 0091897343, p. 443
  30. ^ a b Mead, p.440.
  31. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37643. p. 3493. 5 July 1946. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  32. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37944. p. 1942. 39 April 1947. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  33. ^ Karsh, pp. 45-46
  34. ^ Karsh, pp. 46-47
  35. ^ a b c Karsh, p. 47
  36. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39110. p. 49. 2 January 1951. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  37. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39585. p. 3573. 27 June 1952. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  38. ^ a b "Obituary: Gen. Hugh Stockwell; Led British Into Egypt" (subscription required for online access).  
  39. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40021. p. 6271. 17 November 1953. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  40. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40300. p. 5831. 12 October 1954. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  41. ^ a b "Gen. Sir Hugh Stockwell".  
  42. ^ Varble, pp. 16-17.
  43. ^ Varble, p. 22.
  44. ^ Varble, p. 25.
  45. ^ Kyle, Keith (2011) [1991]. Suez: Britain’s End of Empire (Revised ed.). London: I.B Tauris. p. 176.  
  46. ^ Varble, p. 52.
  47. ^ a b Varble, p. 63.
  48. ^ "Recommendations for Honours and Awards (Army)—Image details—Stockwell, Hugh Charles—Bar to Distinguished Service Order" (fee usually required to view pdf of full original recommendation). DocumentsOnline.  
  49. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40990. p. 719. 29 January 1957. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  50. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41158. p. 5033. 23 August 1957. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  51. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41788. p. 5057. 11 August 1959. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  52. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 42149. p. 6465. 20 September 1960. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  53. ^ a b c Farrar-Hockley, p. 837
  54. ^ "NATO Picks Stockwell".  


[41].Swindon, England in leukemia He died on 27 November 1986 of [53]

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