Gerard Bucknall

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Gerard Bucknall
Lt General Bucknall 1944 IWM B 5468.jpg
Bucknall, pictured here on the left with Brigadier Harold Pyman, sometime in 1944.
Nickname(s) "Gerry"
Born 14 September 1894
Died 7 December 1980 (aged 86)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1914–1948
Rank Lieutenant-General
Unit Middlesex Regiment
Commands held 2nd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
138th Infantry Brigade
53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division
XI Corps
I Corps
5th Infantry Division
XXX Corps
Northern Ireland District
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath
Military Cross

Lieutenant-General Gerard Corfield Bucknall CB, MC, DL (14 September 1894 – 7 December 1980) was a senior British Army officer who served in both World War I and World War II, where he commanded the 5th Infantry Division and later XXX Corps during the Battle of Normandy in mid-1944.[1]

Military career[edit]

Educated at West Downs School,[2] Bucknall was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Middlesex Regiment in 1914.[3] During the Great War he served with the 1st Battalion in France and Belgium with some distinction, in particular during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 where he took command of the battalion.[4]

During the interwar period he served with the Egyptian Army[3] (Egypt was then de facto part of the British Empire) and attended the Staff College, Camberley from 1928 to 1929.

He was Commanding Officer (CO) of the 2nd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment[3] by the outbreak of the Second World War, in September 1939, to be succeeded by Brian G. Horrocks (who would later take up another of Bucknall's posts), by the time the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) left for France. He then commanded the 138th Infantry Brigade and was later appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC) 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division in July 1941 and GOC XI Corps in East Anglia in September 1942[5] before eventually seeing action from April 1943 as Commander of I Corps[6] and then from August 1943 as GOC 5th Infantry Division, in the final stages of the Allied invasion of Sicily. He later led the division during the Allied invasion of Italy and in the early stages of the Italian Campaign.[3]

Bucknall impressed General Bernard L. Montgomery, the 21st Army Group commander, and when he was chosen to command Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy, he appointed Bucknall to command XXX Corps – Bucknall took command in January 1944.[3] However, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) Alan Brooke believed Bucknall to be unsuitable for command at that level. By August 1944 Bucknall was removed from his command,[3] due to the relatively poor performance of XXX Corps (see Operation Perch), to be replaced by Brian Horrocks. Montgomery conceded that it had been a mistake to appoint him and, in November 1944, Bucknall was given command of Northern Ireland, a post which he held until his retirement.[3]

In 1952 he was given the colonelcy of the Middlesex Regiment, a position he held until 1959.[7]


Military offices
Preceded by
Bevil Wilson
GOC 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Robert Ross
Preceded by
John Crocker
GOC XI Corps
Succeeded by
Gerald Templer
Preceded by
Frederick Morgan
GOC I Corps
April – August 1943
Succeeded by
John Crocker
Preceded by
Horatio Berney-Ficklin
GOC 5th Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Philip Gregson-Ellis
Preceded by
Sir Oliver Leese
January 1944 – July 1944
Succeeded by
Brian Horrocks
Preceded by
Sir Alan Cunningham
GOC Northern Ireland District
Succeeded by
Sir Ouvry Roberts
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir John Crocker
Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex
Office abolished