William Platt

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Sir William Platt
War Office Second World War Official Collection E871.jpg
William Platt inspecting troops in World War II
Nickname(s) "The Kaid"
Born (1885-06-14)14 June 1885
Brooklands, Cheshire, England
Died 28 September 1975(1975-09-28) (aged 90)
London, England
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1905–1945
Rank General
Unit Northumberland Fusiliers
Wiltshire Regiment
Commands held 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment
7th Infantry Brigade
British Troops in Sudan
East Africa Command
Battles/wars North-West Frontier
World War I
World War II
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire[1]
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath[2]
Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in dispatches (6)
Grand Cordon of the Order of the Nile (Egypt)
Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Ethiopia
Commander of the Legion of Honour (France)
Other work Colonel of The Wiltshire Regiment (1942–54)
Director, Messrs. Mather and Platt Ltd., Manchester (1946–57)

General Sir William Platt GBE, KCB, DSO (14 June 1885 – 28 September 1975) was a senior officer of the British Army during both World War I and World War II.

Early years[edit]

Platt was educated at Marlborough College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.

On graduating from the latter, Platt was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Northumberland Fusiliers in August 1905.[3] From 1908 to 1914 he served on the North-West Frontier in India where he won the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and was mentioned in despatches for the first of six such citations.[4][5][6] Platt was promoted to lieutenant in June 1909[7] and captain in November 1914.[8]

First World War[edit]

From 1914 to 1918, Platt fought in France and Belgium on the Western Front during the First World War. Between 1915 and 1916, he was appointed brigade major[9] of the 103rd (Tyneside Irish) Brigade and was promoted brevet major, a Kitchener's Army unit, in December 1916.[10] Between 1916 and 1917, Platt was a General Staff Officer Grade 2 (GSO2)[11] of the 21st Division, another Kitchener's Army unit. In 1917, he was made a GSO2 of II Australian and New Zealand Army Corps in France. This corps was later reformed as the British XXII Corps. In 1918 he was appointed GSO1 in the temporary rank of lieutenant colonel.[12]

Between the wars[edit]

After attending the Staff College, Camberley from 1919 to 1920, Platt was a GSO1 of the 37th Division. In 1920 he once more became a brigade major,[13] this time of the 12th Brigade, Eastern Command and then until 1922 Galway Brigade, Irish Command, after which he returned to regimental duties.[14] Platt's permanent rank was advanced to major in January 1924,[15] simultaneous with the award of brevet lieutenant colonel status.[16] In March 1924 Platt once again received an appointment as brigade major,[17] this time for two years in Egypt. In late 1927 Platt returned to the War Office in London, taking the post of Deputy Assistant Adjutant General on the Adjutant-General's staff.[18] His promotion to substantive lieutenant colonel rank came in 1930 simultaneous with his transfer to the Wiltshire Regiment to command its 2nd Battalion.[19] On completion of this tour of duty in January 1933 Platt was promoted full colonel,[20] and appointed as the GSO1 of the 3rd Division, Bulford.[21] In October 1934 Platt was given command of 7th Infantry Brigade in the rank of temporary brigadier.[22] From 1937[23] to 1938, he was aide-de-camp to the King and in late 1938 Platt was promoted to major general[24] to take up the appointment as Commandant of the Sudan Defence Force.[25] In this role he carried the Arabic title of al-qa'id al-'amm ("the Leader of the Army") and was often referred to simply as "the Kaid".[26] He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1939.[27]

Second World War[edit]

As a result of the threat from Italian forces in Italian East Africa, Platt's modest forces in Sudan were reinforced in late 1940 and early 1941, primarily by the arrival of the Indian 4th Infantry Division and the Indian 5th Infantry Division. In recognition of his larger corps-sized command he was promoted acting lieutenant general in January 1941.[28] He commanded the forces invading Italian East Africa from Sudan during the East African Campaign. After re-taking the abandoned Kassala railway junction in Sudan on 18 January 1941, Platt advanced into Eritrea and captured Agordat on 28 January. He next faced strong Italian resistance at Keren. From 3 March to 1 April, Platt's leadership played a large part in the successful outcome of the Battle of Keren. The Eritrean capital, Asmara, was taken by the Indian 5th Infantry Division on 1 April while Keren was still being mopped up by the Indian 4th Infantry Division. After the battle of Keren, Platt lost the Indian 4th Infantry Division which returned to Egypt. On 8 April, the port city of Massawa surrendered. The forces still under Platt then marched on Amba Alagi.

Platt's forces, advancing from the Sudan, met the forces of Lieutenant General Alan Cunningham, advancing from Kenya, at Amba Alagi. A large Italian force under Amedeo, Duke of Aosta, was dug in at Amba Alagi in what it considered impregnable positions. The Battle of Amba Alagi started on 3 May. On 18 May, the Duke of Aosta surrendered his embattled force and the campaign in East Africa was all but over.

From 1941 to 1945, Platt was the General Officer Commandering-in-Chief of the East Africa Command, which although no longer a theatre of war was an important source of manpower. Platt raised seventeen new battalions of the King's African Rifles.[29] From 1942[30] to 1954, Platt was the honorary colonel of the Wiltshire Regiment. His lieutenant general rank was made permanent in May 1941[31] and he was promoted to general in January 1943.[32] He retired from the army in April 1945.[33]

Honours and awards[edit]

In addition to his British honours, Platt also received the Egyptian Order of the Nile (1st Class) in 1942,[34] the Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Ethiopia in 1945,[35] and the French Légion d'Honneur in 1945.

Aftermath[edit]

After his retirement from the army Platt joined his family's business, Mather & Platt, where he served as a director until 1957.

Army career summary[edit]

  • Commissioned officer, Northumberland Fusiliers – 1905 to 1914
  • Captain, Northumberland Fusiliers – 1914 to 1915
  • Brigade-Major, 103rd Infantry Brigade – 1915 to 1916
  • General Staff Officer, Grade 2, of the 21st Division – 1916 to 1917
  • General Staff Officer, Grade 2, of the 2nd Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – 1917 to 1918
  • General Staff Officer, Grade 1, of the 37th Division – 1918 to 1920
  • Brigade-Major, 12 Infantry Brigade, 1st Eastern Command and Galway Brigade, Irish Command – 1920 to 1922
  • Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment – 1930 to 1933
  • General Staff Officer 1, 3rd Division – 1933 to 1934
  • Commanding Officer 7th Brigade – 1934 to 1938
  • General Officer Commanding, British Troops in Sudan – 1938 to 1941
  • General Officer Commanding, Sudan Defence Force – 1938 to 1941
  • General Officer Commanding, Northern Front, Eritrea and Ethiopia – 1941
  • Commander in Chief, East Africa Command – 1941 to 1945

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "No. 35841". The London Gazette. 29 December 1942. p. 9. 
  2. ^ "No. 38176". The London Gazette. 30 May 1942. p. 3091. 
  3. ^ "No. 27827". The London Gazette. 15 August 1905. p. 5620. 
  4. ^ "No. 28199". The London Gazette. 24 November 1908. p. 8698. 
  5. ^ "No. 28168". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 August 1908. p. 6058. 
  6. ^ "No. 35120". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 March 1941. p. 1870. 
  7. ^ "No. 28288". The London Gazette. 14 September 1909. p. 6875. 
  8. ^ "No. 28986". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 November 1914. p. 9971. 
  9. ^ "No. 29073". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 February 1915. p. 1676. 
  10. ^ "No. 29886". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1916. p. 18. 
  11. ^ "No. 29874". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 December 1916. p. 12451. 
  12. ^ "No. 30882". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 September 1918. p. 10484. 
  13. ^ "No. 31776". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 February 1920. p. 1789. 
  14. ^ "No. 32669". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 April 1922. p. 3004. 
  15. ^ "No. 32912". The London Gazette. 26 February 1924. p. 1722. 
  16. ^ "No. 32927". The London Gazette. 15 April 1924. p. 3101. 
  17. ^ "No. 32930". The London Gazette. 25 April 1924. p. 3346. 
  18. ^ "No. 33342". The London Gazette. 30 December 1927. p. 8370. 
  19. ^ "No. 33640". The London Gazette. 2 September 1930. p. 5426. 
  20. ^ "No. 33907". The London Gazette. 31 January 1933. p. 671. 
  21. ^ "No. 33907". The London Gazette. 31 January 1933. p. 672. 
  22. ^ "No. 34099". The London Gazette. 26 October 1934. p. 6788. 
  23. ^ "No. 34414". The London Gazette. 2 July 1937. p. 4249. 
  24. ^ "No. 34574". The London Gazette. 25 November 1938. p. 7433. 
  25. ^ "No. 34574". The London Gazette. 25 November 1938. p. 7434. 
  26. ^ Richard Mead, p. 352
  27. ^ "No. 34633". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 June 1939. p. 3854. 
  28. ^ "No. 35089". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 February 1941. p. 1198. 
  29. ^ Richard Mead, p. 355
  30. ^ "No. 35629". The London Gazette. 10 July 1942. p. 3086. 
  31. ^ "No. 35175". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 May 1941. p. 3071. 
  32. ^ "No. 36139". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 August 1943. p. 3727. 
  33. ^ "No. 37033". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 April 1945. p. 2011. 
  34. ^ "No. 35739". The London Gazette. 9 October 1942. p. 4397. 
  35. ^ "No. 36961". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 February 1945. p. 1187. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Harry Wetherall
(As GOC East Africa Force)
GOC East Africa Command
1941–1945
Succeeded by
Sir Kenneth Anderson