Daniel Knox, 6th Earl of Ranfurly

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Thomas Daniel Knox, 6th Earl of Ranfurly KCMG (29 May 1914 – 6 November 1988), known as Dan Ranfurly, was a British soldier and farmer, and served as governor of the Bahamas. He was a Second Lieutenant in the British 7th Armoured Division, called "the Desert Rats". His exploits in the Second World War, along with those of his wife, Hermione and his valet, Whitaker, were chronicled in his wife's memoirs from the time, To War With Whitaker: The Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939–1945.

Background[edit]

Ranfurly was the son of Captain Thomas Uchter Caulfeild Knox, Viscount Northland, and succeeded his grandfather in the earldom in 1933. He was educated at Eton. He was commissioned into the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry in 1936. He and his wife met in 1937 when he was an aide-de-camp to Lord Gowrie, the Governor-General of Australia, an appointment Ranfurly held from 1936 to 1938. Two years later, both aged 25, they returned to Britain and were married. They later had a daughter, Caroline.

Action in World War II[edit]

On outbreak of war Second Lieutenant, Lord (Dan) Ranfurly of the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry (Sherwood Rangers) - 1st Cavalry Division was initially posted to British-controlled Palestine, thence to join with the 7th Division in Egypt. His wife, violating multiple British Army protocols forbidding the wives of soldiers at the front, repeatedly hatched schemes to join him as he was shuffled across the Middle East and North Africa, finally succeeding in Cairo in 1941.
Soon after, however, Dan Ranfurly who had been appointed as ADC to Lt. Gen. Neame were both captured in Cyrenaica desert between Derna and Mechili in April 1941. He was taken to Sulmona camp in the Abruzzo near Rome, but joined Neame again when they were both transferred to Castello di Vincigliata PG12 in October 1941. He was amongst many distinguished British officers including generals Richard O'Connor, Philip Neame, and Adrian Carton de Wiart. He became friends with Carton De Wiart, and adapted to prison life, managing the officers house-keeping and Red Cross parcels.[1] As de Wiart wrote, ‘He was our most expert gambler, did me the good turn of teaching me to play backgammon.’ [2] Boyd's ADC Flt.Lt.Leeming wrote 'Four more prisoners arrived ..including Lieutenant Lord Ranfurly, who took over the management of the household in my place.[3] He helped with the tunnel escape. 'Air Marshal Owen Tudor Boyd and Ranfurly made a cover for our hole from the lift shaft to the chapel, and Ranfurly plastered it over and it was never detected'.[4][5]

He was amongst the small party including some NCO’s released by General Chiapati in September 1943 after the Italian Armistice. They were driven to Firenze Campo di Marte railway station from where a special train took them to Arezzo. The party eventually dispersed and spent many months with the partisans in the Apennines. He, together with Rudolph Vaughan, John Combe, Ted Todhunter and Guy E Ruggles-Brise (who was an old school-friend) from Vincigliata, an American pilot Jack Reiter (who had been shot down over Italy. He escaped from a military hospital to join the partisans) together with John Kerin and Irish Sapper, who they had picked up along the way, managed to reach the coast. After further delays they put out to sea in a boat, which began to leak badly. After rowing and bailing for 24 hours they were at last picked up by an Italian vessel which landed them at Ancona, from where they were shipped to brigade HQ on 30 May 1944. Lady Ranfurly, records this incident in her book of memoirs, To War with Whittaker.

After World War II[edit]

Following the end of World War II, Lord Ranfurly worked briefly in insurance at Lloyd's of London, not long after being appointed Governor of the Bahamas by Winston Churchill. While there, he and his wife began the Ranfurly Library Service in Nassau.

After they returned home in 1957, Lady Ranfurly continued to ship books to parts of the world short on libraries, founding an organisation now known as Book Aid International. Lord Ranfurly, meanwhile, took up farming at his Buckinghamshire estate.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carton de Wiart p194
  2. ^ Carton de Wiart p195
  3. ^ Leeming p111
  4. ^ Carton de Wiart p208
  5. ^ Escape and Evasion 1939-1945. MRD Foot & JM Langley, The Bodley Head, London 1979 page 240,

Sources[edit]

  • Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990.
  • Leigh Rayment's Peerage Pages [self-published source][better source needed]
  • To War with Whitaker, The wartime diaries of The Countess of Ranfurly 1939 -1945, William Heinemann Ltd, London 1994 ISBN 0-434-00224-0
  • Happy Odyssey, Lt-Gen. Sir Carton De Wiart,V.C.,K.B.E.,C.M.G.,D.S.O., Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1950, in PAN paperback 1956, re-printed by Pen & Sword Books 2007 ISBN 1-84415-539-0
  • Playing with Strife, The Autobiography of a Soldier, Lt-Gen. Sir Philip Neame, V.C., K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., George G Harrap & Co. Ltd, 1947.
  • Farewell Campo 12, Brigadier James Hargest, C.B.E., D.S.O. M.C., Michael Joseph Ltd, 1945.
  • 'Always To-Morrow', 1951, John F Leeming, George G Harrap & Co. Ltd, London, 188p, Illustrated with photographs and maps, (Tells of the authors' experiences as a prisoner of the Italians during WW2)

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Robert Arthur Ross Neville
Governor of the Bahamas
1953–1956
Succeeded by
Sir Raynor Arthur
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Uchter John Mark Knox
Earl of Ranfurly
1933–1988
Succeeded by
Gerald Francoys Needham Knox