Henry Curtis (British Army officer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Henry Curtis
Birth name Henry Osborne Curtis
Nickname(s) "Squeak"[1]
Born 18 November 1888
Died 28 January 1964 (aged 75)
Buried Lytchett Minster Parish Churchyard, Purbeck District, Dorset, England[2]
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1908–1946
Rank Major-General
Service number 4309
Unit King's Royal Rifle Corps
Commands held 4th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps
1st Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps
3rd Infantry Brigade
46th Infantry Division
49th (West Riding) Infantry Division
Aldershot Command
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal (United States)[3]
Mentioned in dispatches (3)
Spouse(s) Jean Mackenzie Low
Relations Daniel Sargent Curtis (grandfather)
Ralph Wormeley Curtis (uncle)

Major-General Henry Osborne Curtis CB, DSO, MC, DL (18 November 1888 – 28 January 1964) was a British Army officer who saw service in both World War I and World War II. During the latter, he commanded the 46th Infantry Division during the Battle of France in 1940, and later the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division during the Occupation of Iceland from 1940–1942.[1][4]

Early life[edit]

Curtis was born 18 November 1888. He was the son of Osborne Sargent Curtis, an American-born graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge,[5] and Frances Henrietta Gandy.[6] His paternal uncle was the artist Ralph Wormeley Curtis (1854–1922) and his grandfather was the American lawyer and banker, Daniel Sargent Curtis (1825-1908).[7]

Military career[edit]

Curtis was commissioned in the King's Royal Rifle Corps in 1908.[8] He saw First World War service in France, Salonika and in Palestine. Mentioned in dispatches three times and wounded three times, he was awarded the MC in 1917,[9] and the DSO in 1919.[10]

He commanded the 3rd Infantry Brigade, part of Major General Sir Harold Alexander's 1st Infantry Division, from 1938–1939.[11] Handing over the brigade to Brigadier Thomas Wilson, a fellow KRRC officer, he was sent home from France in December 1939 and promoted to acting major general on 21 December (with seniority backdated to 18 July 1938),[12] to assume command of the 46th Division.[11] Curtis rejoined the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) with his division in April 1940. Evacuated from Dunkirk, he was appointed to command the 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division in June 1940[11] which, at a reduced establishment, was detailed to occupy Iceland. Curtis spent the next two years nominally in charge of his division based in Scotland from his office in Reykjavik. Made commander of Salisbury Plain District 1943,[11] he was appointed commander of the Hampshire District in 1944[11] and the Dorset District in 1945. He retired from the army in 1946.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Curtis was married to Jean Mackenzie Low (1894–1977),[13] the daughter of John L. Low of Butterstone, Perthshire. He was the father of four sons, two of whom were killed in action, Richard Osborne Curtis (d. 1944) and Philip Evelyn Curtis (d. 1943).[14]


  1. ^ a b Smart, p. 76
  2. ^ https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56621836/henry-osborne-curtis
  3. ^ "No. 35645". The London Gazette. 24 July 1942. p. 3293. 
  4. ^ "Biography of Major-General Henry Osborne Curtis (1888 – 1964), Great Britain". www.generals.dk. Retrieved 24 August 2017. 
  5. ^ "Curtis, Osborne Sargent (CRTS878OS)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  6. ^ Thayer, William Roscoe; Castle, William Richards; Howe, Mark Antony De Wolfe; Pier, Arthur Stanwood; Voto, Bernard Augustine De; Morrison, Theodore (1909). The Harvard Graduates' Magazine. Harvard Graduates' Magazine Association. Retrieved 24 August 2017. 
  7. ^ Pub, Matthews, George E. , & Co (1898). The men of New York: a collection of biographies and portraits of citizens of the Empire state prominent in business, professional, social, and political life during the last decade of the nineteenth century ... G.E. Matthews & Co. Retrieved 23 August 2017. 
  8. ^ "No. 28185". The London Gazette. 13 October 1908. p. 7383. 
  9. ^ "No. 30111". The London Gazette. 1 June 1917. p. 5476. 
  10. ^ "No. 31370". The London Gazette. 30 May 1919. p. 6818. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Army Commands" (PDF). Retrieved 4 August 2017. 
  12. ^ "No. 34819". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 March 1940. p. 1825. 
  13. ^ Houterman, J.N. "Officers of the British Army 1939-1945 -- C". www.unithistories.com. Retrieved 24 August 2017. 
  14. ^ Churchill, Winston; Gilbert, Martin (1993). The Churchill War Papers: The ever-widening war, 1941. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 1072. ISBN 9780393019599. Retrieved 24 August 2017. 


  • 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
Algernon Ransome
GOC 46th Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Desmond Anderson
Preceded by
Pierse Mackesy
GOC 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Evelyn Barker
Preceded by
Charles Norman
GOC Aldershot District
Succeeded by
Robert Ross