Oliver Leese file photo [18951]

Oliver Leese

Given NameOliver
Born27 Oct 1894
Died22 Jan 1978
CountryUnited Kingdom


ww2dbaseOliver William Hargreaves Leese was born to Second Baronet Sir William Hargreaves Leese in London, England, United Kingdom in 1894. He was educated at Ludgrove School (Wokingham, Berkshire, England) and Eton College (also in Berkshire). During WW1, he saw combat with the Colstream Guards regiment of the British Army and was wounded three times; he was Mentioned in Despatches and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his WW1 service. He was promoted to the rank of captain in 1921. Between 1927 and 1928, he attended the Staff College, Camberley in Surrey, England; he would strike a friendship with Bernard Montgomery while at Camberley. In Nov 1929, he was appointed as Brigade Major to 1st Infantry Brigade (Guards); a few days later he was formally promoted to the rank of major. In Jul 1933, he was promoted to the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel. In Dec 1936, he was promoted to the permanent rank of lieutenant-colonel. In Jan 1937, upon his father's passing, he was made the Third Baronet of the Leese Baronetcy. In Sep 1938, he was promoted to the rank of brevet colonel, followed by permanent colonel two months later after being posted to the Staff College, Quetta in India (now Pakistan) as an instructor. The European War broke out while he was in India. Returning in Britain in Mar 1940, he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the British Expeditionary Force in France. After being evacuated near Dunkerque, France on 31 May, he was given command of first 29th Infantry Brigade, then West Sussex County Division, and 15th (Scottish) Division in Jan 1941. In Nov 1940, he was promoted to the rank of brevet major-general, followed by a permanent promotion in Dec. In Jun 1941, he was made the commanding officer of the newly-formed Guards Armoured Division. In Sep 1942, he was assigned to the British Eighth Army in North Africa by the request of Montgomery to command the XXX Corps at the acting rank of lieutenant-general, and he would be with XXX Corps through the end of the Desert War and through the invasion of Sicily, Italy. In Sep 1943, he was promoted to the rank of brevet lieutenant-general. In Dec 1943, while in Britain, he was ordered to travel to Italy to take command of Eighth Army, where he would remain for about one year. In Jul 1944, he was promoted to the permanent rank of lieutenant general. In Sep, he was appointed the commanding officer of Eleventh Army Group; when he assumed command in Nov, it had been renamed Allied Land Forces, South-East Asia. Under his leadership, the Allies pushed through Burma, capturing the capital of Rangoon by May 1945, but conflicts between him and the field generals he inherited, namely William Slim, caused him grief. It culminated in 1945 when Leese's attempt to replace Slim with Philip Christison became his own undoing, resulting in Louis Mountbatten and Alan Brooke replacing Leese with Slim. Having lost his command in Southeast Asia, he returned to Britain to head up the Eastern Command, which was viewed as a demotion. He retired from military service in Jan 1947 without reaching the rank of full general. He moved to Worfield, Shropshire, England and kept a well-noted garden. In 1958, he served as the High Sheriff of Shropshire. In 1973, his right leg was amputated. He passed away from a heart attack at his small Dolwen estate at LLanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in Wales, United Kingdom in 1978. He was buried at a church in Worfield in Shropshire.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Sep 2013

Oliver Leese Interactive Map


Lieutenant General Oliver Leese speaking with his divisional commanders, North Africa, 1942-1943Oliver Leese, Harold Alexander, Winston Churchill, Alan Brooke, and Bernard Montgomery at Tripoli, Libya, date unknownBrigadier R. E. Urquhart, Lieutenant General Oliver Leese, and Lieutenant Colonel W. B. H. Ray in Sicily, Italy, 1943Lieutenant General Oliver Leese, General Harold Alexander, and Lieutenant General Mark Clark, Italy, 1944
See all 22 photographs of Oliver Leese

Oliver Leese Timeline

27 Oct 1894 Oliver Leese was born in London, England, United Kingdom.
15 May 1915 Oliver Leese joined the Colstream Guards regiment of the British Army.
17 Jan 1937 Upon his father's passing, Oliver Leese was made the Third Baronet of the Leese Baronetcy.
31 May 1940 Oliver Leese was evacuated from a beach near Dunkerque, France.
17 Jun 1941 The Guards Armoured Division was established by the British Army with Major General Sir Oliver Leese in command.
24 Dec 1943 While in Britain, Oliver Leese received orders to take command of British Eighth Army in Italy.
31 Dec 1943 Lieutenant General Oliver Leese assumed command of the British 8th Army.
14 Sep 1944 Winston Churchill approved the transfer of Oliver Leese to Southeast Asia for a high command position.
24 Oct 1944 Winston Churchill informed Lieutenant General Sir Oliver Leese that he had been appointed as the new Commander of 11th Army Group.
8 Nov 1944 Oliver Leese arrived in Delhi, India.
12 Nov 1944 Lieutenant-General Sir Oliver Leese was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Allied Land Forces South East Asia (ALFSEA).
15 Nov 1944 Oliver Leese set up his headquarters at Barrackpore, India.
3 May 1945 Oliver Leese and Louis Mountbatten met at Kandy, Ceylon; Leese recommended William Slim be relieved now that the Burma campaign was effectively completed.
14 May 1945 Alan Brooke reprimanded Oliver Leese for his intention to dismiss William Slim.
22 Jan 1978 Oliver Leese passed away in LLanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, Wales, United Kingdom.

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More on Oliver Leese
Event(s) Participated:
» Invasion of France and the Low Countries
» Advance into Tunisia
» Conclusion of the Desert War
» Invasion of Sicily and Italy's Surrender
» Battle of Monte Cassino
» Gothic Line Offensive
» Battle of Rangoon

Oliver Leese Photo Gallery
Lieutenant General Oliver Leese speaking with his divisional commanders, North Africa, 1942-1943
See all 22 photographs of Oliver Leese

Famous WW2 Quote
"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You win the war by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country!"

George Patton, 31 May 1944

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