Cyril Lomax

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Cyril Ernest Napier Lomax
Nickname(s) Sunny[1]
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1912 - 1949
Rank Major-General
Unit The Welch Regiment
Commands held Delhi Independent Brigade Area
16th Infantry Brigade
Indian 14th Infantry Division
Indian 26th Infantry Division
East Anglia District
Battles/wars

World War I
World War II

Awards CB ()
CBE (July 1941)[2]
DSO (March 1919)[3]
DSO ()
DSO ()
MC ()
MID (July 1945)[4] (January 1946)[5]
Croce di Guerra (Italy) (1918)[6]

Major-General Cyril Ernest Napier Lomax CB, CBE, DSO and two bars, MC (born 1893; died 1973) was an officer in the British Army in World War I and World War II.

Early career[edit]

Lomax attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and was commissioned 2nd lieutenant into The Welch Regiment in September 1912.[7] He was promoted to lieutenant in November 1914.[8]

In August 1916, by which time he had been awarded the Military Cross, Lomax was appointed second in command of a battalion in the Manchester Regiment with the rank of temporary major.[9] He was promoted to temporary lieutenant-colonel in June 1917 to command the battalion.[10]

Having been awarded the Distinguished Service Order during his period in command, Lomax left the 21st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in June 1919 and reverted from the temporary rank of lieutenant-colonel to his substantive rank of captain.[11] In December 1919 he was appointed adjutant of the Welch Regiment.[12] (DSO MC)

In April 1923, he relinquished his appointment as adjutant of the 3rd battalion[13] and returned to his regiment[14] and in March 1924 was appointed adjutant of the 6th battalion The Welch Regiment.[15] In March 1928 Lomax finished his spell as adjutant of the 6th battalion The Welch Regiment.[16] (DSO MC)

In November 1932, Lomax was promoted to major[17] and in January 1935 he was made a brevet lieutenant-colonel.[18] He was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in November 1936[19] and given command of the 2nd Battalion The Welch Regiment in India.[20]

From March to October 1938, Lomax also commanded of the Delhi Independent Brigade Area with a local rank of brigadier.[21][22]

Lomax was promoted full colonel in July 1939[23] and was also given command of 16th Infantry Brigade in Palestine[24] with the temporary rank of brigadier.[23]

World War II[edit]

In September 1940, Lomax and his brigade was sent to Egypt to join Western Desert Force. For Operation Compass in December the brigade was attached to Indian 4th Infantry Division which had been short a brigade. They saw action in a successful attack on the Italian positions at Sidi Barrani.[24] In mid-December the Indian Division was sent to East Africa and 16th Brigade most of the ensuing period in reserve until mid February when it was withdrawn back to Egypt to join the reforming 6th Infantry Division.[24] For services from December 1940 to February 1941 Lomax was made CBE.[2]

16th Brigade was ordered forward in mid June 1941 as reinforcement to the forces advancing north against Vichy-controlled Syria and Lebanon. They experienced hard fighting until the Vichy surrender on 11 July.[24]

In September 70th Infantry Division (the re-designated 6th Division) was shipped to Tobruk to replace the besieged 9th Australian Division. During Operation Crusader the brigade's battalions were involved in the break-out from Tobruk to link with the New Zealand Division on the night of the 26 November. However, a permanent relief of Tobruk was not achieved until a week later.[25]

In February 1942, 70th Division was ordered to India. 16th Brigade set off in March but following the fall of Singapore, the Royal Navy's most important remaining base in the East at Trincomalee in Ceylon was felt to be under threat from the Japanese and the brigade was diverted to Ceylon where it was attached to 34th Indian Infantry Division. Lomax was appointed Fortress Commander in June 1942[25] and given the rank of acting major-general in July.[26]

In March 1943, Lomax travelled to India to take command of Indian 26th Infantry Division. He was immediately ordered to the Arakan to replace Major-General Lloyd who had incurred the Army commander's displeasure (Noel Irwin). Part of the problem had been that after an encouraging start the campaign had gone into reverse and Irwin had committed more and more brigades until Lloyd's divisional headquarters had ended up with nine brigades under command, far too many to control effectively.[25] Finally Irwin introduced Indian XV Corps HQ under William Slim to take control. By 8 May after heavy fighting the British were back to the point they had started at the previous December but the front had been stabilised.[27] Slim later wrote of Lomax:

Never had a divisional commander, immediately on taking over a strange formation,in a new type of war, been confronted by a more desperate situation. I was filled with admiration for the way in which he took hold. Wherever he went, he inspired confidence by his steadiness, decision and obvious competence.[28]

In October 1943, Slim was made commander of Fourteenth Army and Lomax spent a month as an acting lieutenant-general in charge of XV Corps pending the arrival of the new commander, Philip Christison.[29] When the Japanese launched their HA-GO offensive in February 1944, Indian XV Corps had Indian 5th and 7th Infantry Divisions forward with 36th Infantry Division and Lomax's Indian 26th Infantry Division pulled back in reserve. The Japanese tactic was to infiltrate to cut off the forward divisions' line of supply and so force their capitulation. Army commander Slim had anticipated this and ordered that the forward divisions should fight where they stood and be supplied by air. Meanwhile, the reserve divisions were to fight their way forward and so crush the Japanese between them. By mid March, the 26th Indian Division, with responsibility for the eastern half of the front, had linked up with 7th Indian Division. Heavy fighting continued as XV Corps strove to take the important Maundaw-Buthidaung road. Finally, on 5 May, Lomax's division captured Point 551, the key hill, to seal the victory.[1] Lomax's rank of major-general was made substantive in December 1944.[30]

In January 1945, Lomax was given the task of capturing Ramree Island. After landing two brigades on the north end of the island on 21 and 22 January, they had fought their way south to Ramree town by 9 February and resistance ceased by 17 February.[1]

Having commanded his division for two years, Lomax was rested and saw no further action before the war came to an end.

Post War[edit]

Returning to the UK Lomax became GOC East Anglia District. His final assignment was as President of the No.1 Commissions Board, relinquishing the appointment in August 1949[31] and retiring from the army the following month.[32] In retirement he maintained his links with the army as the honorary colonel of 44th Infantry Division Signals Regiment, a territorial signals unit, from 1948[33] until 1950[34] and Colonel of The Welch Regiment from 1949[35] until 1958.[36]

Personal[edit]

Lomax was married to Rene Lomax. Their son Peter Francis Napier Lomax, a pilot officer with 229 Squadron, RAF died on 24 February 1940.[37]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Mead 2007, p. 261.
  2. ^ a b The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35209. p. 3882. 4 July 1941. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31219. p. 3226. 7 March 1919. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37184. p. 3746. 17 July 1945. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37425. p. 380. 8 January 1946. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31039. p. 14099. 26 November 1918. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28641. p. 6537. 3 September 1912. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29160. p. 4627. 11 May 1915. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29965. p. 2104. 27 February 1917. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30235. p. 8440. 14 August 1917. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31771. p. 1653. 6 February 1920. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31706. p. 15946. 23 December 1919. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32930. p. 3349. 25 April 1924. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32815. p. 2812. 17 April 1923. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32927. p. 3101. 15 April 1924. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33375. p. 2675. 13 April 1928. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33888. p. 7665. 2 December 1932. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34120. p. 61. 1 January 1935. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34344. p. 7645. 27 November 1936. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  20. ^ Lomax, Cyril Ernest Napier; De Courcy, John (1952). The history of the Welch Regiment, 1919-1951. Western Mail &Echo. p. 32. 
  21. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34510. p. 3122. 13 May 1938. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  22. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34571. p. 7271. 18 November 1938. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  23. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 34647. p. 5023. 21 July 1939. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  24. ^ a b c d Mead 2007, p. 259.
  25. ^ a b c Mead 2007, p. 260.
  26. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35653. p. 3404. 31 July 1942. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  27. ^ Mead 2007, pp. 260 - 261.
  28. ^ Slim, William (1975) [1st. pub. 1956]. Defeat into Victory. London: Cassell. p. 157. ISBN 9780304291144. 
  29. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36306. p. 5651. 28 December 1943. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  30. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36851. p. 5865. 22 December 1944. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  31. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38691. p. 3965. 16 August 1949. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  32. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38710. p. 4383. 13 September 1949. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  33. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38278. p. 2747. 30 April 1948. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  34. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39132. p. 477. 23 January 1951. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  35. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38557. p. 1256. 11 March 1949. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  36. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41276. p. 144. 3 January 1958. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  37. ^ "Winkfield War Memorials, Berkshire". www.roll-of-honour.com website. Retrieved 15 May 2012. 

References[edit]