Highest Ranking British POW held by the Germans during WW2?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by castlereagh, Jul 8, 2008.

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  1. During another CR winning pub quiz victory, the question was asked who was the highest ranking British soldier captured by the enemy during world war II? (The winning answer answer being A.E Percival, who was held by the Japanese.)

    But if asked who was the highest ranking British POW held by the Germans? I would have so no idea!
  2. Viscount George Lascelles, nephew to George VI?

    Held in Colditz as a member of the 'Prominente'?

    Earl Haig's son - 'only' a Captain?

    Depends what you really mean - most celebrated or highest rank. Wasn't O'Connor a POW?
  3. Sir Richard Nugent O'Connor KT, GCB, DSO & Bar, MC, ADC (21 August 1889 – 17 June 1981) was a British Army general who commanded the Western Desert Force in the early years of World War II. He was the field commander for Operation Compass, in which his forces completely destroyed a much larger Italian army — a victory which nearly drove the Axis from Africa entirely, and in turn, led Adolf Hitler to send the German Africa Corps under Erwin Rommel to try and reverse the situation. O'Connor was captured by a German reconnaissance patrol during the night of 7 April 1941, and spent over two years in an Italian prisoner of war camp. He eventually escaped in December 1943, and in 1944 commanded VIII Corps in Normandy and later during Operation Market Garden. In 1945 he was General Officer in Command of the Eastern Command in India and then in the closing days of British rule in the subcontinent headed Northern Command. His final job in the army was Adjutant-General to the Forces in London in charge of the British Army's administration, personnel and organisation.
    C&P from Wkipedia.
  4. Captured by the Germans, held by the Italians - does that count?
  5. Both your answers are so useful and so interesting but my criteria are:

    1) Highest military rank
    2) Held by German forces in a POW camp/prison

  6. O'Connor was picked up in the Western Desert. But there again, so was Von Toma.
  7. Quick call to the old chap, and its this bloke:-

  8. Do believe you are right! It makes sense that it was someone from the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division given their role in the retreat but it is a shame that Fortune died as a result of his captivity! Thanks to all that replied.
  9. There are still quite a few who believe this ignomy to have been on Churchill's orders.

    At least the Division was re-constituted and revenged their forebears during the battle for Normandy, Northern Europe and not forgeting North Africa.
  10. Rommel's first Panzer drive ends at Saint - Valery en Caux, on the English channel. A British division has surrendered to him, and there is bitterness in the face of it's commander, Major - General Victor Fortune.
  11. My bold, the point that any impartial historian would make is that the sucess of Dunkirk (if it could be regraded as such) was borne on the backs of those like the original 51st Scottish Division whose sacrifice enabled them to escape across the Channel.

    Would you not be bitter if you were ordered to do likewise?
  12. Surely one of the greatest mysteries of modern warfare is why Hitler ordered the advance on the Channel to stop.

    Was it a fear of over extending his lines of communication (it did not stop him in the East)?

    Or was it some vain hope that we would join him against the communists?

    Answers on a postcard please...
  13. 51st Div weren't between Rommel and Dunkirk - Rommel was between the 51st and Dunkirk - so they weren't really the rearguard. The div had been operating under the French on the Maginot line, withdrew with them and was basically sacrificed on the altar of the not-so-auld alliance. Only one brigade made a fairly clean break as they'd been sent back to the next line.

    51st Div's situation illustrates that there was a large chunk of the French Army south of Rommel's thrust and I suspect that was more of a concern at the time than in hindsight. I'm guessing that the panzers had also got a little bit ahead of the German inf divs which would have added to the worry.
  14. Castlereagh,

    Re your question - wasn't Sir Philip Neame VC a Lt. Gen when captured by the Germans in N. Africa alongside O'Connor?

    Re highest ranking POW - more than just Percival to consider if you extend the scope to RAF & RN. Other than Neame (above) from the RAF perspective there's also Air Marshal Owen Tudor Boyd - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owen_Tudor_Boyd

    Not aware mind you of any senior RN bods being captured - happy to be corrected :D