Alan Jolly

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Sir Alan Jolly
Born 1910
Died 1977
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1931-1969
Rank General
Unit Royal Tank Regiment
Commands held 144th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps
4th Royal Tank Regiment
5th Division
1st Division
Far East Land Forces
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order

General Sir Alan Jolly GCB CBE DSO (1910–1977) was a senior officer of the British Army of the 20th century. Notably he served as Quartermaster-General to the Forces.

Early career[edit]

Jolly joined the British Army and was commissioned into the Royal Tank Corps in 1931.[1] He served on the North West Frontier in India from 1936 to 1937.[2]

World War II[edit]

During World War II he was appointed Commanding Officer of the 144th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps (144 RAC, previously the 8th East Lancashire Regiment) on 10 April 1944[3] and led it throughout the campaign in North-West Europe 1944–45.[2] The regiment landed in Normandy on 14 June 1944 and first went into action during Operation Pomegranate, supporting an infantry attack on Noyers. The advance was badly hampered by minefields (both Allied and German), and 144 RAC had many tanks disabled by 'friendly' mines. This seriously reduced the force that could be used. The Official History records that 'Noyers was attacked again and again' for two days, but the garrison held out, except around the station and Point 126, which was taken at bayonet point by 'A' Company of the 2/6th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, serving as part of 177th Brigade of the 59th (Staffordshire) Division, following 'A' Squadron 144 RAC.[4][5] Casualties to 144 RAC had been heavy and after the battle Jolly wrote a detailed report to highlight the tactical lessons learned.[5] He became regarded as a good tactician, and infantry commanders bowed to his tactical judgement when planning joint operations.[6]

On 8 September 1944 RAC supported 51st (Highland) Division in the assault on the German-held French port of Le Havre (Operation Astonia). This difficult operation was successful.[7][8][9] In October, Jolly was awarded the DSO.[10] In January 1945 144 RAC cooperated with 53rd (Welsh) Division in the British counter-attacks against the northern side of the 'Bulge' developed by the German Ardennes offensive.[11][12]

In January 1945, 144 RAC became part of 79th Armoured Division, which operated specialist armoured vehicles, and the regiment re-equipped with Buffalo LVT amphibious vehicles to begin training for the assault crossing of the Rhine.[11]

On 1 March 1945, 144 RAC was redesignated 4th Royal Tank Regiment to replace the original 4th RTR, which had been captured at Tobruk in June 1942.[13][14] Jolly took the salute at the final parade of 144 RAC on 28 February, having arranged for the band of the East Lancashire Regiment to play the regimental march (144 RAC had originally been the 8th Battalion of the East Lancs).[11]

Jolly led the regiment under its new title in Operation Plunder, ferrying troops of the 51st (Highland) Division across the River Rhine on the night of 23/24 March 1945. On landing, Jolly had the satisfaction of planting the World War I standard of the original 4th RTR on the far bank.[15][16]

Postwar career[edit]

Jolly was appointed Deputy Quartermaster General for British Army of the Rhine in 1957, General Officer Commanding 5th Division in 1959 and GOC 1st Division in 1960.[2] He then became Chief of Staff for Southern Command in 1961 and Vice-Quartermaster-General at the War Office in 1962.[2] He went on to be GOC Far East Land Forces in 1964; in this capacity he was able to report that, following British military intervention, there was hardly any terrorism in Malaysia by July 1965.[17] He became Quartermaster-General to the Forces in 1966 and retired in 1969.[2]


  1. ^ "No. 33685". The London Gazette. 30 January 1931. p. 676. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  3. ^ 144 RAC War Diary April 1944, The National Archives, Kew, file WO 171/878.
  4. ^ Ellis, Vol I, p. 334.
  5. ^ a b Jolly, The Battle of Noyers 16–18 July 1944, Appendix to 144 RAC War Diary July 1944, The National Archives, Kew, file WO 171/878.
  6. ^ Lindsay, p. 58.
  7. ^ Ellis Vol II, p. 14–15.
  8. ^ Lindsay, pp. 76–80.
  9. ^ 144 RAC War Diary September 1944, The National Archives, Kew, file WO 171/878.
  10. ^ "No. 36753". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 October 1944. p. 4785. 
  11. ^ a b c 144 RAC War Diary January–February 1944, The National Archives, Kew, file WO 171/4720.
  12. ^ Ellis, Vol II p. 191.
  13. ^ "". Archived from the original on 19 May 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-19. 
  14. ^ The Royal Tank Regiment
  15. ^ Walter Fuller — Across the Rhine WW2 People's War
  16. ^ Saunders p. 68.
  17. ^ Malaysian Forces Doing Well The Age, 6 July 1965


  • Major L. F. Ellis, History of the Second World War: United Kingdom Military Series: Victory in the West, Volume I: The Battle of Normandy, London: HMSO, 1962/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2004, ISBN 1-845740-58-0.
  • Major L.F. Ellis, History of the Second World War: United Kingdom Military Series: Victory in the West, Volume II: The Defeat of Germany, London: HMSO, 1968/Uckfield: Naval & Military, 2004, ISBN 1-845740-59-9.
  • Lt-Col Martin Lindsay, So Few Got Through, London: Collins, 1946/Arrow Books (pbk; nd)/Leo Cooper, 2000, ISBN 0850527546. Page references are to Arrow edition.
  • Tim Saunders, "Operation Plunder: The British and Canadian Rhine Crossing, Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 2006, ISBN 1-84415-221-9.
Military offices
Preceded by
Reginald Hobbs
General Officer Commanding the 1st Division
Succeeded by
Thomas Pearson
Preceded by
Sir Reginald Hewetson
GOC Far East Land Forces
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Carver
Preceded by
Sir Charles Richardson
Quartermaster-General to the Forces
Succeeded by
Sir Anthony Read