Henry Bowreman Foote

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Henry Robert Bowreman Foote
Henry Robert Bowreman Foote VC.jpg
Born 5 December 1904
Ishapore, British India
Died 11 November 1993
Pulborough, West Sussex
Buried at St Mary's Churchyard, West Chiltington
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1925-1958
Rank Major General
Unit Royal Tank Regiment
Commands held 7th Royal Tank Regiment
2nd Royal Tank Regiment
7th Armoured Brigade
11th Armoured Division
Director-General of Fighting Vehicles, Ministry of Supply
Director of Royal Armoured Corps, War Office
Battles/wars Second World War
Awards

Major General Henry Robert Bowreman Foote VC CB DSO (5 December 1904 – 11 November 1993) was a British recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Life and career[edit]

Foote was born in Ishapore, India the son of Henry Bruce Foote, a major in the Royal Artillery, and his wife Jennie Elizabeth. He was the grandson of the archaeologist and geologist Robert Bruce Foote, often considered the "Father of Indian Prehistory".

Foote's mother died when he was a child and he went to England to board at St Cyprian's School, Eastbourne at the age of four.[1] In 1918 he went to Bedford School where he stayed until 1923. He joined Royal Tank Corps in 1925.[2]

Second World War[edit]

Foote was a Staff Officer from 1939 to 1942 and a member of the British Army Staff Mission, Washington, DC USA in 1941.[2] In 1942 he became Officer Commanding, 7th Royal Tank Regiment[2] and it was in this post that he won the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Gazala.

Shortly after this, Foote was captured and became a prisoner of war. However, he subsequently escaped and entered Switzerland in April 1944, it was only then that he learned he had been awarded the Victoria Cross.[3] After a period as a General Staff Officer at Allied Forces Headquarters in 1944, he became Second in Command, 9th Armoured Brigade in 1945.[2]

Post-War[edit]

After the end of the war, Foote was flying to Berlin to take part in a victory parade when he had to bail-out, as the aircraft was about to crash. Consequently, he became a member of the Caterpillar Club, an informal group of those who have been saved from death or serious injury by means of a parachute.[3]

Foote was Brigadier of the Royal Armoured Corps, Middle East Land Forces from 1945 to 1947 and then Officer Commanding 2nd Royal Tank Regiment from 1947 to 1948.[2] He was at the Fighting Vehicles Proving Establishment, at the Ministry of Supply from 1948 to 1949 and commanded the 7th Armoured Brigade from 1949 to 1950 and the 11th Armoured Division from 1950 to 1953.[2] He was Director General of Fighting Vehicles at the Ministry of Supply from 1953 to 1955 and Director, Royal Armoured Corps, at the War Office from 1955 until his retirement in 1958 as Major General.[2]

After his retirement, Foote was a trustee of the Bovington Tank Museum until his death. He was featured as a guest on the biographical television programme This Is Your Life on 22 October 1986.[3][4]

Details of Award[edit]

Matilda II tank at the Bovington Tank Museum, England, painted to represent a similar tank used by Lieutenant Colonel Foote

Foote was 37 years old, and a temporary lieutenant colonel in the 7th Royal Tank Regiment, British Army, during the Second World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

During the period 27 May/15 June 1942 in Libya, Lieutenant Colonel Foote commanded his battalion with outstanding courage and leadership, always being at the crucial point at the right time. On 6 June, although wounded, he continued to lead his battalion from an exposed position on the outside of a tank, and succeeded in defeating the enemy's attempt to encircle two Allied divisions. On 13 June, when a number of Allied tanks had been destroyed, he went on foot, "from one tank to another, to encourage the crews under intense artillery and anti-tank fire". By "his magnificent example the corridor was kept open and the Brigade was able to march through".

The medal[edit]

His medals are displayed at the Royal Tank Regiment Museum, Bovington, Dorset.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michael Shelden Orwell: The Authorised Biography William Heinemann 1991
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  3. ^ a b c "“A Marvellously Brave Leader”: Major General Robert Foote VC". The Bovington Tank Museum. 6 June 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Lee, Tony. "Series 27:1986-87". Big Red Book: Celebrating Televisions 'This is Your Life'. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Vacant
(last held by George Roberts)
GOC 11th Armoured Division
1950–1953
Succeeded by
Harold Pyman