George Erskine

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Sir George Erskine
Georgeerskine.jpg
George "Bobby" Erskine
Nickname(s) Bobby[1]
Born 23 August 1899
Died 29 August 1965 (aged 66)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank General
Commands held 2nd Bn King's Royal Rifle Corps
7th Armoured Division
43rd Wessex Division
Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong
British Troops in Egypt
Eastern Command
East Africa Command
Southern Command
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Mau Mau Uprising
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order

General Sir George Watkin Eben James Erskine GCB, KBE, DSO (23 August 1899 – 29 August 1965) was a senior British Army officer during the Second World War.

Background[edit]

Erskine was the son of Major General George Elphinstone Erskine by his second wife Eva Constance Sarah, daughter of Canon Ebenezer Wood Edwards. He was a descendant of the noted 18th century jurist John Erskine of Carnock.[2]

Military career[edit]

Erskine was commissioned into the King's Royal Rifle Corps. He served during the First World War in France and Belgium. During the 1930s he served in India but returned to Britain in 1937 to become Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General at Eastern Command. In 1939 he became a General Staff Officer for 1st London Division of the Territorial Army. In 1941 he was appointed Commander of 2nd Bn King's Royal Rifle Corps who were then part of 69th Infantry Brigade and deployed to North Africa,[3] where he earned his Distinguished Service Order in 1942.[2] He was then appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7th Armoured Division and served in North Africa, Italy and Normandy between 1943 and 1944.[3]

During the Battle of Normandy, however, Second Army commander Miles Dempsey was unimpressed with 7th Armoured Division's performance and VIII Corps commander, Richard O'Connor, considered his direction of the division during Operation Goodwood as excessively cautious.[4] Shortly afterwards, in the difficult bocage country during Operation Bluecoat, the division failed to gain its objectives and Erskine was replaced. In spite of his indifferent performance as a field commander Erskine had qualities which suited him to other roles so that this episode proved only a temporary setback to his career.[4] He became Head of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force Mission to Belgium in 1944 and then GOC 43rd Wessex Division in 1945.[3]

After the war Erskine was Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong in 1946, Director General of the Territorial Army in 1948 to 1949 and GOC British Troops in Egypt in 1949. Returning to the United Kingdom, he became GOC-in-Chief, Eastern Command in 1952. In 1953 he was appointed GOC-in-Chief, East Africa Command where he was responsible for managing the response to the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya and led Operation Anvil in Nairobi in April 1954. He was GOC-in-Chief, Southern Command from 1955 to 1958 when he retired.[3] He was an Aide-de-Camp General to the Queen from 1955 to 1965.[2]

Erskine was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1950, a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in 1952 and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) in 1955.[2] From 1958 to 1963 he was Lieutenant Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Jersey.[3]

Family[edit]

Erskine married Ruby de la Rue, daughter of Sir Evelyn de la Rue, 2nd Baronet, in 1930. They had two sons and one daughter.[2]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Mead, Richard (2007). Churchill's Lions: A biographical guide to the key British generals of World War II. Stroud (UK): Spellmount. ISBN 978-1-86227-431-0. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
John Harding
GOC 7th Armoured Division
January 1943 – August 1944
Succeeded by
Gerald Lloyd-Verney
Preceded by
Sir Francis Festing
Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong
1946–1948
Succeeded by
Francis Matthews
Preceded by
Richard Gale
GOC the British Troops in Egypt
1949–1952
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Festing
Preceded by
Sir Gerald Templer
GOC-in-C Eastern Command
1952–1953
Succeeded by
Sir Geoffrey Bourne
Preceded by
Sir Alexander M. Cameron
GOC East Africa Command
1953–1955
Succeeded by
Sir Gerald Lathbury
Preceded by
Sir Ernest Down
GOC-in-C Southern Command
1955–1958
Succeeded by
Sir Nigel Poett
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Gresham Nicholson
Lieutenant Governor of Jersey
1958–1963
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Villiers