Vyvyan Evelegh

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Vyvyan Evelegh
Nickname(s) Santa Claus
Born 1898
Died 1958
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1917–1950
Rank Major-General
Unit Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Commands held
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Commander of the Legion of Merit (USA)

Major-General Vyvyan Evelegh CBDSOOBE (1898–1958) was a British army officer who served during World War II, commanding the 78th Infantry Division and the 6th Armoured Division in North Africa and Italy.

Military career[edit]

World War I and after[edit]

After passing out from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Evelegh was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry on 1 May 1917,[1] and was promoted to lieutenant on 1 November 1918.[2]

He was promoted to captain on 8 July 1927.[3] He was appointed brigade major of the 130th (Devon and Cornwall) Infantry Brigade on 1 April 1935,[4] then brigade major of the 6th Infantry Brigade on 23 May 1937 and seconded to the staff.[5] He was brevetted to major on 1 July and promoted to the substantive rank of major on 14 October.[6][7]

Evelegh was brevetted to lieutenant-colonel on 1 January 1939,[8] relinquishing his appointment as brigade major on 16 April,[9] and was appointed a General Staff Officer 2nd Grade on 3 July.[10]

World War II[edit]

On the outbreak of war in September 1939, he was promoted to war substantive lieutenant-colonel. He saw active service in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force, serving on the staff of II Corps,[11] and being made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, for "distinguished services in the field", on 11 July 1940.[12] He then served as an instructor at the Staff College, Camberley, was promoted to brigadier, and served as Commander of the 11th Infantry Brigade from January to November 1941, before returning to the Staff College to serve as Assistant Commandant.[13] He was promoted to colonel on 18 May 1942 (with seniority from 1 January),[14] and on 13 June was promoted to the acting rank of major-general,[15] and the following day was appointed General Officer Commanding, 78th Infantry Division,[13] formed specifically for Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, in November 1942.

Evelegh commanded 78th Division on subsequent operations in North Africa as part of V Corps, First Army, seeing action in the Tunisia Campaign, and receiving promotion to temporary major-general on 13 June 1943.[16] On 5 August he was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Tunisia",[17] and soon after was granted permission to wear the insignia of a Commander of the Legion of Merit, which had been conferred on him by the United States.[18]

78th Division then took part in the invasion of Sicily and the Italian campaign. In December 1943, Evelegh exchanged commands with Charles Keightley, the commander of 6th Armoured Division.[13] From 16 February to 18 March 1944, during the Battle of Anzio, he served as a deputy commander of the U.S. VI Corps under Major-General John P. Lucas and Major-General Lucian K. Truscott. On 23 March 1944 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the field".[19]

On 24 July 1944 he relinquished command of 6th Armoured, to serve as Assistant Chief of the General Staff from August 1944 to May 1945.[13][20]

Post-war career[edit]

Evelegh was promoted to the substantive rank of major-general on 29 December 1946 (with seniority from 19 July 1944).[21] He served as General Officer Commanding North-West District in 1947–1948 and then General Officer Commanding 42nd (Lancashire) Division from March 1948 to October 1950[13] before retiring on 13 November 1950.[22] He was briefly recalled to the Active List to be specially employed between 2 April[23] and 9 October 1951.[24]

He was colonel of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry from 1953 to 1958.[25]


  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30040. p. 4081. 30 April 1917.
  2. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31053. p. 14467. 6 December 1918.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33303. p. 5333. 16 August 1927.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34149. p. 2441. 9 April 1935.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34403. p. 3512. 1 June 1937.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34414. p. 4250. 2 July 1937.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34456. p. 7264. 19 November 1937.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34586. p. 59. 3 January 1939.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34617. p. 2588. 18 April 1939.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34650. p. 5311. 1 August 1939.
  11. ^ "Recommendation for Award for Evelegh, Vyvyan". The National Archives. 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  12. ^ The Edinburgh Gazette: no. 15725. pp. 432–433. 16 July 1940.
  13. ^ a b c d e "Biography of Major-General Vyvyan Evelegh (1898–1958), Great Britain". generals.dk. 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35582. p. 2423. 5 June 1942.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35633. p. 3141. 17 July 1942.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36071. p. 2938. 29 June 1943.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36120. p. 3521. 3 August 1943.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36125. p. 3579. 6 August 1943.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36436. p. 1367. 21 March 1944.
  20. ^ Mackie, Colin (2011). "Senior Army Appointments". gulabin.com. p. 15. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  21. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37848. p. 221. 10 January 1947.
  22. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39066. p. 5675. 14 November 1950.
  23. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39200. p. 2056. 10 April 1951.
  24. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39352. p. 5221. 9 October 1951.
  25. ^ "The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry: Succession of Colonels 1702–1958". britisharmedforces.org. 2005. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
Military offices
Preceded by
GOC 78th Infantry Division
June 1942–December 1943
Succeeded by
Charles Keightley
Preceded by
Charles Keightley
GOC 6th Armoured Division
December 1943–July 1944
Succeeded by
Gerald Templer
Preceded by
John Kennedy
Assistant Chief of the General Staff
August 1944–May 1945
Succeeded by
Frank Simpson