Discussion in 'General' started by Gerry Chester, Sep 8, 2006.

  1. Gerry Chester

    Gerry Chester WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Several WW II senior commanders were considered to be eccentric in one way or another.

    In my opinion Orde Wingate leader of the Chindits certainly could be deemed so. Any further chaps come to mind?
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  2. spidge


    Mad Jack Churchill

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  3. Herroberst

    Herroberst Senior Member

    Hermann Wilhelm Göring:)
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I nominate Brigadier 'loony' Hinde:

    The day after Villers Bocage, attack by 2nd Panzer only just broken up by bombardment....
    The 'brigade box' was now threatened with a serious risk of encirclement. Brigadier 'looney' Hinde drove up to his tank positions in a scout car, and began to give his officers their orders for night withdrawal, covered by the exhausted infantry of the Queens. Hinde had won his nickname in the desert both for courage and eccentricity. Now, he suddenly broke off in mid-sentence and peered fascinated at the ground. "anybody got a matchbox?" he demanded in excitement. Amidst the acute strain of the battle, Lieutenant-colonel Carver of 1st RTR suggested this might not be a good moment to worry about nature. "Don't be such a bloody fool, mike!" exploded Hinde. "You can fight a battle every day of your life, but you might not see a caterpillar like that in fifteen years!" (From Max Hastings 'Overlord')
    Fantastic stuff.
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  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    OC No 3 Company, 2nd Bn coldstream Guards. Major Angus McCorquodale.
    ...another larger-than-life character who liked to wear a papier-mache mock up of a helmet rather than the real thing, adopting the principle that if a shell was directed at his head, it would kill him whatever he was wearing so he might as well be comfortable.
    McCorquodale also adapted the conventional BEF uniform, making a feature of his trade mark green socks and brown shoes,which he wore even in pitched battles.
    Dunkirk Fight To The Last Man Hugh Sebag-Montefiore. pages 424-425

    Initials: A
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Major
    Regiment/Service: Coldstream Guards
    Unit Text: 2nd Bn.
    Age: 34
    Date of Death: 01/06/1940
    Service No: 34851
    Additional information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold McCorquodale; husband of Pamela McCorquodale.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Row A. Grave 2.

    CWGC :: Casualty Details

    found this quote of his on the net.
    Major Angus McCorquodale, a company commander in the British Expeditionary Force. He was an "old-fashioned" soldier, and didn't like the modern uniform. He preferred the old, polished brass and leather. As the major said, "I don't mind dying for my country, but I'm not going to die dressed like a third-rate chauffeur." Later on, after his men had stopped a German infantry advance, McCorquodale pulled out some bottles of sherry and some glasses and proposed a toast "To a very gallant and competent enemy."
  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  7. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    From Stuart Hills By Tank Into Normandy page 146.

    Our Squadron Leader, Peter Selerie.....was a great character and posessed of a somewhat exaggerated old world courtesy and charm.
    His portly figure , protruding blue eyes and bristling moustache were positively Pickwickian, and he could be maddeningly pedantic of speech, occasionally coming over the radio with things like:

    " I can without question discern three moving objects in yonder wood to my left front, which give me the impression of resembling three Tigers. It is my immediate intention to engage."

    It could be infuriating but in a funny way also communicated calm in the heat of battle.
  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Just read about Major-General Ernst Gunter Baade, commander of 90 Panzer-Grenadier Division at Cassino.
    He supposed like to wear a kilt over his uniform and instead of a pistol carried a bone handled dagger.
    (Cheers Kev, for Monte Cassino by Matthew Parker.)

    Aha, just found this too.

    Battles & Campaigns: Italy, 1943
    The 90th Panzergrenadier Division was led in 1943-44 by the eccentric Ernst Baade. He defended the Cassino Front during the first phase of the battle with great skill. His troops loved his foibles, such as going into battle wearing a Scottish plaid kilt, or radioing his American opponents across the line to wish them a Happy New Year.

    Some photos of him here.
    Fallschirmartz - Errnnst Gunther Baade
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  11. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Just read that "Pip" Roberts when Commanding 26th Armd Bde, 6th Armd Div, in Tunisia had a piano in a lorry at his Bde HQ as he was a rather good Jazz Pianist.
  12. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Seen quite a few. But my old friend Captain J. was a wonderful man. The Recce regiment.

    Got to be daft to be in that suicidal lot! Went to war with his double barreld shot gun under his arm. Stood at the bottom of a church tower tossed a coin with his Sgt, to see who would go up and kill the Sniper in the tower.
    Sgt lost so he went up and shot the German....
    Or Leut C-T RE. Who put on Normandy peasants clothes, and went down to inspect the raised banks of the Escaut canal. Under the noses of the watching Germans, to plan where we would make the assault crossing later that night.

    What was so special about that? That officer was a regular British officer, with the bearing of a British army officer... and he stuck out like a sore thumb, He looked every bit of what he was, how he got away with it? I shall never know.
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  13. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Just watching a Commando veteran on the television remembering Mad Jack standing up in the landing craft & playing his bagpipes as the assault went in on the Vaagso/Måløy raid, (before using a Broadsword as his primary weapon in the attack).
    The chap on TV still had a somewhat puzzled look on his face while telling the story 60 years on... :huh:
    Chris C likes this.
  14. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Read this originally in The Tiger Strikes but just re-read it in Fourth Indian Division History.

    "In the gunner mess it was a rule that every officer before he could drink or dine should kill 30 flies.
    The late arrivals sometimes had difficulty in complying.
    One day the Commanding Officer returned late- hot , dirty and tired - and wearily picked up the fly swatter.
    At that moment his batman entered the dugout and handed him a plate with the words
    'Your flies , Sir'. "
  15. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Seen quite a few. But my old friend Captain J. was a wonderful man. The Recce regiment.

    Got to be daft to be in that suicidal lot! Sapper

    I think that my late father would take that as a compliment!!:D

  16. brispencer

    brispencer Member

    This, presumably is same McCorquodale who was written about in Walter Lords book on Dunkirk.
    "The 2nd Coldstream Guards remained holding a line along Bergues-Furnes Canal, the 1st East Lancashire Regiment were also along the canal, but east of Bergues. Further along to the left was the 5th Borderers. On the other side of the canal was a party of the German infantry and about midday they managed to cross the canal. So desperate was the situation in relation to holding the perimeter, even officers were threatened should they disobey:
    An officer from the Borderers hurried over to Major McCorquodale's command post to warn that his battalion was exhausted and about to withdraw.
    "I order you to stay put and fight it out," the Major answered.
    "You cannot do that. I have overriding orders from my colonel to withdraw when I think fit."
    McCorquodale saw no point in arguing: "You see that big poplar tree on the road with the white milestone behind it? The moment you, or any of your men go back beyond that tree, we will shoot you."
    The officer again protested, but the Major had had enough. "Get back or I will shoot you now and send one of my officers to take command."
    The Borderer went off, and McCorquodale turned to Langley (Lt Jimmy Langley of the 2nd Coldstream Guards), standing nearby: " Get a rifle. Sights at 250. You will shoot to kill the moment he passes that tree. Are you clear?"
    McCorquodale picked up a rifle himself, and the two Coldstreamers sat waiting, guns trained on the tree. Soon the Borderer reappeared near the tree with two of his men. They paused, then the officer moved on past McCorquodale's deadline. The two rifles cracked at the same instant. The officer fell, and Langley never knew which one of them got him."

    These were desperate times.
  17. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Not sure if this counts as eccentric behaviour or coolness under fire, what ever it's a good story.

    25th November 1941, during Operation Crusader a force of 28 Panzer III & IV attack the 4/11th Sikhs and 1st Field Regiment.
    A battle between the Panzers and the 25 Pdrs ensues meanwhile,

    Water-Carrier Rattan Singh of the Sikhs was preparing breakfast for his comrades in a slit trench when the tanks appeared.
    The guns and panzers fought it out over his head.
    The battle over , he emerged to announce that,
    "Tea is ready!"
  18. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Eccentric ? May I offer Lt.Whitfield of the 49th L.A.A Rgt. RA.

    We were parked in this nameless field in Sicily, just outside a similarly nameless village.
    Ted Dudley and I had just stripped down our Johnson Chore Horse preparatory to carrying out maintenance , and that otherwise excellent two stroke battery charger was now laying in pieces on the tailboard of our 15cwt wireless truck.

    Suddenly Ted exclaimed 'S*d it !' and I knew what had happened even before he had a chance to explain.
    The tiny butterfly spring that normally sat in the carburettor had jumped off the tail-board, was now somewhere in the grass below and Ted and I were now in deep s**t. The engine could not function without the spring.

    You need to understand that the afore-mentioned butterfly spring was only about 3/8th of an inch in diameter (sorry, I can't measure in metric ) and we did not have a spare having already lost it on a similar operation. The spring was now off the tailboard, in the surrounding scrub and as far as we were concerned anyway, gone forever.

    Just at that moment Lt.Whitfield came ambling by (did I mention that he was rather portly) and spotting that something was amiss demanded to know what was up.

    One of us said ‘We’ve lost the butterfly spring Sir’.

    “Nonsense” he said , “you havn’t lost it, you just don’t know where it is”

    He then took charge.

    “Where was the spring when you last saw it ?”
    “ How far do you think it could have jumped ?”
    “What does it look like, what colour is it ?

    Having been given the necessary data he then made us mark a three foot circle with minefield tape, shift the truck forward and then BURN the grass within the inner circle.
    He then made us sift the remaining sand through cheese-cloth obtained from the cook house and empty the examined waste OUTSIDE the magic circle.

    I can’t remember how long the operation took but to our utter amazement we ‘found’ the missing spring !.

    Our emotions on making the discovery were mixed.

    Gratitude ? certainly, he had virtually saved our bacon. Chagrin ? that's for sure, nobody likes to be made to look like a fool, but, to his everlasting credit , Lt.Whitfield only said ‘I told you it wasn’t lost’ and then ambled away again , no doubt to tell the rest of the officer’s mess how he had just solved another problem.

    Please Lt.Whitfield, tell me you are still around and I will buy you a much deserved drink.
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  19. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Ron, that's a fantastic story.
  20. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    And completely true !

    I've always maintained that a liar has to have a very good memory, that's why all my stories are true :)


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