John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort

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John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort (1939/40)

John Standish Surtees Prendergast Vereker, 6. Viscount Gort , VC , GCB , CBE , DSO , MVO , MC (born July 10, 1886 in London , † March 31, 1946 in London), usually called Lord Gort , was a British field marshal . He commanded the British Expeditionary Force during the German conquest of France , was Governor of Gibraltar and Malta and High Commissioner in Palestine and Transjordan .


John Vereker was born in London and grew up in Durham and the Isle of Wight . He came from a family of British nobility. He went to school in Harrow . When his father John Gage Prendergast Vereker died in 1902, he inherited the dignity of Viscount Gort at the age of 16 .

In 1904 Vereker entered the army and attended the Royal Military Academy . In the following year he was assigned as an officer in the Grenadier Guards . At the state funeral for King Edward VII in 1910, he commanded the pallbearers.

The following year Vereker married Corinna Vereker, a second cousin with whom he had two sons and a daughter over the next few years. The marriage ended in divorce in 1925.

In 1913 he became an adjutant to the commanding general of the military district of London.

First World War

Vereker had achieved the rank of captain at the beginning of the First World War . He served with his unit on the Western Front throughout the war .

Due to his outstanding bravery, he was mentioned by name nine times in the official war reports in the London Gazette ( Mentioned in Despatches , comparable to the mention in the Wehrmacht report for German soldiers in World War II), which was not achieved by any other soldier in the British armed forces in World War I. He was awarded the Military Cross and - three times - the Distinguished Service Order , both war awards.

On November 27, 1918, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and received the Victoria Cross , Great Britain's highest honor for outstanding bravery in the face of the enemy. On September 27, 1918 near Flesquières , despite heavy defensive fire in open terrain and although he was wounded several times, he personally led a successful attack by his battalion, the Grenadier Guards , across the Canal du Nord .

Interwar period

After he had completed the staff officer course, Vereker was used in infantry training. After an assignment abroad in China, he commanded the Guards Brigade in London for two years. This was followed by a deployment in the British Indian Army until he was commandant of Staff College Camberley for a year .

In 1937 Vereker was promoted directly to general from major-general , omitting the rank of lieutenant general , and, to the surprise of many, appointed chief of the imperial general staff . He campaigned for the increased expansion of the army.

Second World War

Lord Gort with his Chief of Staff Henry Royds Pownall studying maps, Habarcq, November 26, 1939

At the beginning of World War II , Vereker was appointed Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France. After the German advance through the Ardennes split the Allied forces, it withdrew the British troops together with Allied units to the coast, from where they could be evacuated to Great Britain during the Battle of Dunkirk ( Operation Dynamo ).

Vereker's role as commander is still controversial today. On the one hand, the disposition of the troops was conventional and not up to the German tactics; on the other hand, his orders enabled the repatriation of thousands of well-trained soldiers.

Vereker did not receive any further troop command. He was initially the personal military adjutant of King George VI. , then Governor of Gibraltar (1941/42) and Malta (1942–1944), where he again distinguished himself through personal courage and leadership qualities. In 1943 he was appointed field marshal . He experienced the end of the war as British High Commissioner in the League of Nations mandate for Palestine .

post war period

In November 1945, at Vereker cancer diagnosed. Three months later he was awarded the title of Viscount Gort in the Peerage of the United Kingdom , which also gave him a seat in the House of Lords . Although Gort had held a title of the same name since the death of his father, the inherited title belonged to the Peerage of Ireland , whose holders were not automatically members of the House of Lords.

As Viscount Gort in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, he was able to move into the House of Lords , but the new title expired the following month with the field marshal's death, as his own sons had died childless in 1915 and 1941. The title of Viscount Gort in the Peerage of Ireland passed on to his younger brother.

Field Marshal Lord Gort was the father-in-law of William Sidney, 1st Viscount De L'Isle . He was present when the Victoria Cross was awarded to them in 1944.


Web links

Commons : John Vereker, 6. Viscount Gort  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The London Gazette : No. 31034 (Supplement), p. 14039 , November 26, 1918.
predecessor Office successor
Cyril Deverell Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Edmund Ironside
Clive Gerard Liddell Governor of Gibraltar
Noel Mason-MacFarlane
William Dobbie Governor of Malta
Edmond Schreiber
Harold MacMichael High Commissioner of Palestine
Alan Gordon Cunningham
John Gage Prendergast Vereker Viscount Gort
(Peerage of Ireland)
Standish Vereker
New title created Viscount Gort
(Peerage of the United Kingdom)
Title expired