Ouvry Lindfield Roberts

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Sir Ouvry Roberts
OuvryRoberts.jpg
Lt. Gen. Ouvry Roberts greeting former Indian prisoners of war in Malaya, 1945.
Born (1898-04-03)3 April 1898
Died 1986 (aged 87–88)
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1917 - 1955
Rank General
Commands held 10th Indian Infantry Division
20th Indian Infantry Brigade
16th Infantry Brigade
23rd Indian Infantry Division
34th Indian Corps
Northern Ireland District
Southern Command
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order

General Sir Ouvry Lindfield Roberts, GCB, KBE, DSO (3 April 1898 – 1986) was an officer in the British Army and the British Indian Army during World War I and World War II.

Military career[edit]

Educated at Cheltenham College, the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and King's College, Cambridge Ouvry Roberts was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1917.[1] He served as Deputy Director of Military Operations and Intelligence in India from 1939 to 1941.[1]

In January 1941 Roberts was appointed GSO1 (Chief Staff Officer) of 10th Indian Infantry Division which was then forming at Ahmednagar in India. Three months later the division was ordered to Iraq.[2]

The RAF training base at Habbaniya, defended by 1,200 locally recruited Assyrians and Kurds and some armoured cars, was threatened by an Iraqi force in late April and three companies from 1st battalion Kings Own Royal Rifles were sent by air to reinforce the base. Roberts was sent to Habbaniya on 1 May to review the situation[3] and assumed the de facto command of the land operations at RAF Habbaniya after the departure of Air Vice-Marshal H.G. ('Reggie') Smart who had been injured in a car accident.[4] Roberts was awarded the DSO for commanding the ground forces defending RAF Habbaniya.[5]

He commanded what became known as the "Habbaniya Brigade" and, on 19 May 1941, participated in the successful capture of Fallujah.[6] The "Habbaniya Brigade" was formed in the week following the end of the Iraqi siege of the British garrison at Habbaniya. Roberts formed the brigade by grouping the infantry reinforcements from Basra (2/4 Gurkha) and from Kingcol (1 Essex).[7] Roberts returned to 10th Indian Division after completing what his divisional commander, Major-General William Slim, later described as "one of the best single-handed jobs any officer of his then rank had performed in the war".[8]

As chief staff officer Roberts played an important role in 10th Indian Division's involvement in the Euphrates expedition during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign in July 1941 and the Anglo-Soviet Invasion of Iran a month later, earning him promotion to Commanding Officer of the division's 20th Indian Infantry Brigade in Iraq in January 1942.[3]

In July 1942[3] Roberts moved on to be Commanding Officer of 16th Infantry Brigade in Ceylon.[1] As the threat of a Japanese invasion of Ceylon receded, 16th Infantry Brigade was redeployed in July 1943 while Roberts was appointed chief staff officer (BGS)of IV Corps at Imphal commanded by Lieutenant-General Geoffrey Scoones[1][9] and which formed part of Bill Slim's Fourteenth Army.

In August 1943 Roberts was promoted to major-general and appointed General Officer Commanding 23rd Indian Infantry Division, part of IV Corps. The division's units were heavily involved in the decisive Battle of Imphal and the subsequent Allied advance into Burma. In August 1944 the division was withdrawn to India.[10]

In March 1945 Roberts was promoted lieutenant-general and appointed General Officer Commanding XXXIV Indian Corps which was tasked with Operation Roger, an amphibious assault on the Kra Peninsula in Burma. Events moved more rapidly than anticipated and Roger was canceled. The corps was then tasked with Operation Zipper, an amphibious landing on the coast of Malaya. In the event, the landings, which took place in September 1945, were unopposed, taking place days after the Japanese surrender.[1][11]

After the War Roberts was appointed as Vice Adjutant-General at the War Office in 1945.[1] He became General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland District in 1948 and General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Command in 1949.[1] He became Quartermaster-General to the Forces in 1952 and retired in 1955,[1] widely regarded as one of the high achievers of the Second World War.[11]

He was Aide-de-Camp General to the Queen from 1952 to 1955.[1] He was Colonel Commandant the Royal Engineers from 1952 to 1962.[1]

Retirement[edit]

In retirement he was a Director of Grosvenor Laing and then President of Grosvenor Laing from 1955 to 1960.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  2. ^ Mead, p. 395.
  3. ^ a b c Mead, p. 396.
  4. ^ Lyman, Iraq 1941, pg. 19
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35396. p. 7333. 26 December 1941. Retrieved 23 June 2008.
  6. ^ Lyman, Iraq 1941, pg. 20
  7. ^ Lyman, Iraq 1941, pg. 69
  8. ^ Slim, p. 301.
  9. ^ Mead, p. 397.
  10. ^ Mead pp. 397-398.
  11. ^ a b Mead, p. 398.
Military offices
Preceded by
Gerard Bucknall
General Officer Commanding the British Army in Northern Ireland
1948–1949
Succeeded by
Sir Reginald Denning
Preceded by
Sir John Harding
GOC-in-C Southern Command
1949–1952
Succeeded by
Sir Ernest Down
Preceded by
Sir Ivor Thomas
Quartermaster-General to the Forces
1952–1955
Succeeded by
Sir Maurice Chilton