Harold Freeman-Attwood

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Harold Freeman-Attwood
Harold-Augustus-Freeman-Attwood.jpg
Major General Harold Freeman-Attwood, c. 1942
Born (1897-12-30)30 December 1897
Died 22 September 1963(1963-09-22) (aged 65)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1915–1943
Rank Major General
Unit Royal Welch Fusiliers
Commands held 46th Infantry Division (1941–43)
141st (London) Infantry Brigade (1940–41)
5th London Brigade (1940)
Battles/wars First World War
North-West Frontier
Second World War
Awards Distinguished Service Order
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Military Cross

Major General Harold Augustus Freeman-Attwood, DSO, OBE, MC (30 December 1897 – 22 September 1963) was a British Army officer who fought in both World Wars.

Early life and military career[edit]

Born Harold Freeman on 30 December 1897, he was the eldest son of Edward Freeman, a British Army officer, and Katherine Margaret. Freeman was educated at Marlborough College and, during the First World War, attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where he graduated on 13 July 1915 and was subsequently commissioned as a second lieutenant into his father's regiment, the Royal Welch Fusiliers.[1] He served with the 1st Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers, part of the 22nd Brigade of the 7th Division, a Regular Army unit, on the Western Front, where he was awarded the Military Cross during the Battle of Passchendaele in August 1917,[2] and, with his battalion, was sent to the Italian Front later in the year, where it remained until the end of the war.[3]

Between the wars[edit]

Remaining in the army between the wars, Freeman married Jessie Job on 10 September 1921 and together they had three children; Harold Warren Freeman, born in 1923; Edward Augustus Carson, born in 1930; and Alice Avalon, born in 1932.[4] He served with his regiment throughout the interwar period, mainly with the 1st Battalion, in operations in Wazaristan in the early 1920s before returning to the United Kingdom where he became adjutant to a Territorial Army (TA) battalion of his regiment from 1924 to 1928. He attended the Staff College, Camberley from 1928 to 1929 and later served in Cyprus, where he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for suppressing a Greek Cypriot rebellion in 1931–1932.[5][3] He returned again to the United Kingdom where he served at the staff of the War Office from 1932 to 1934.

Second World War[edit]

At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, Freeman-Attwood (having added Attwood to his name in 1937)[6] by now a lieutenant colonel, was serving as a General Staff Officer (GSO) with the 50th (Northumbrian) Motor Division, a TA formation.[3] He was sent with the division to France in January 1940 where it became part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). He served with the division throughout the Battle of France in May 1940 and took part in the Dunkirk evacuation, and, in late July, was promoted to brigadier and assumed command of the 5th London Brigade, another TA unit, part of the 2nd London Division (both redesignated in November 1940 as the 141st (London) Infantry Brigade and 47th (London) Infantry Division).[3] In November 1941 he was promoted to major general and became General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 46th Infantry Division, another TA unit, in succession to Major General Miles Dempsey.[3]

The division, recruiting from the North Midlands and the West Riding of Yorkshire, was composed of the 137th, 138th and 139th Infantry Brigades, along with supporting divisional troops. The division was, in June 1942, reorganised into a 'mixed' division, comprising two infantry brigades and one armoured brigade. However, a month afterwards, the division was converted back into a standard infantry division and, in place of the 137th Infantry Brigade (which had been converted into the 137th Armoured Brigade), in August, the division gained the 128th Infantry Brigade, retaining this composition for the rest of the war.[3] In January 1943 Freeman-Attwood led the division overseas to French North Africa, where, upon its arrival in Tunisia, came under command of Lieutenant General Charles Allfrey's V Corps, itself part of Lieutenant General Kenneth Anderson's British First Army.[3] The division fought in the Tunisian Campaign, most notably in the final stages of the Battle of Kasserine Pass and in Operation Ochsenkopf, until the campaign came to an end in May 1943, with Freeman-Attwood being awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his division's actions at Djebel Abiod.[3]

Retirement and later years[edit]

In August, as the division was preparing to take part in the Allied invasion of Italy, Freeman-Attwood was relieved of his command and retired from the army in October, after being court-martialled for writing home in a letter to his wife expressing a wish to be drinking champagne in Italy on their wedding anniversary and disclosing details of future military operations.[7] Returning to civilian life, he joined the Imperial Chemical Industries and, by 1949, was Staff Manager.[7]

Freeman-Attwood divorced in 1945, and remarried to Marion Louise the following year, he retired to Nottinghamshire where he was involved in politics and active for the Conservative Party.[8][7]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Smart, Nick (2005). Biographical Dictionary of British Generals of the Second World War. Barnesley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 1844150496. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Miles Dempsey
GOC 46th Infantry Division
1941–1943
Succeeded by
John Hawkesworth