Highest Ranking British POW held by the Germans during WW2?

#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
Pirimaiboy said:
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.
Captured by the Germans, held by the Italians - does that count?
 
#5
Bubbles_Barker said:
Pirimaiboy said:
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.
Captured by the Germans, held by the Italians - does that count?
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

Thanks!
 
#7
castlereagh said:
Bubbles_Barker said:
Pirimaiboy said:
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.
Captured by the Germans, held by the Italians - does that count?
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

Thanks!
Quick call to the old chap, and its this bloke:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Fortune
 
#9
castlereagh said:
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!
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
JoseyWales said:
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.
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?
 
#13
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...
 
#14
Drop_Short said:
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?
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.

Drop_Short said:
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)?
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.
 
#15
castlereagh said:
leveller said:
Quick call to the old chap, and its this bloke:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Fortune
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.
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

lancslad
 
#16
On 6th April 1941 Major General O'Connor, GOC 7th Armoured Division, Lt Gen Philip Neame, Commander 13th Corps, and Brigadier John Combe, formerly OC 11 Hussars, were captured in a staff car near Benghazi by an Afrika Corps Motor Cycle Unit. On the 7th April, the GOC and most of his command of the 2nd Armoured Division also surrendered at Mechili.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
Lancs, the catch for admirals is you have to get rescued first. The admirals in Hood and Repulse were not so fortunate. Vice-admiral Pridham-Wippell had to swim for it at the Battle of ?Sirte but was picked up by his own side.
 
#18
lancslad said:
castlereagh said:
leveller said:
Quick call to the old chap, and its this bloke:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Fortune
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.
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

lancslad
You are right Boyd would be the most senior British POW held and technically O'Connor would be senior to Percival but if we could keep that quiet, be much obliged! :wink: O'Connor, Neame and Boyd were held by the Italians. So Fortune was the highest ranking German held British POW, unless anyone else knows otherwise!

But thanks for that!
 
#19
An "honourable mention" for Maj Gen Frank Messervy of 4th Indian Division whose HQ was overrun during Gazala and who talked his way out by persuading his captors that he was just one of the batmen, escaping and returning to his command 48 hours later
 
#20
seaweed said:
Lancs, the catch for admirals is you have to get rescued first. The admirals in Hood and Repulse were not so fortunate. Vice-admiral Pridham-Wippell had to swim for it at the Battle of ?Sirte but was picked up by his own side.
There is that too it - although, in my own mind I draw a distinction between Holland onboard the Hood who must have been blown to smithereens along with everyone else in the ship's crew and Philips onboard Prince of Wales (not Repulse) who according to the accounts I've read "went down with his ship". I don't know (never will I expect) if this was a) becuase he was unable to get off or b) through choice.

On a lighter note, for those Admirals over history who chose option b) I have for some reason the image in my head of Alec Guinness in "Kind Hearts & Coronets"8O

lancslad
 

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