Oliver Leese

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Oliver Leese in Italy in April 1944

Sir Oliver William Hargreaves Leese, 3rd Baronet , KCB , CBE , DSO (born October 27, 1894 in London , † January 22, 1978 in Wales ) was a British Lieutenant-General during the Second World War .


Leese attended Ludgrove School and Eton College . During the First World War , he joined the Coldstream Guards in 1915 . He was wounded during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He fought in the British Expeditionary Corps and was wounded two more times in addition to being wounded during the Battle of the Somme. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order in the First World War .

Leese stayed in the British Army after the war. Until 1938 he was still a member of the Coldstream Guards. From 1938 to 1940 he was an instructor at the Northwest Indian Quetta Staff School.

When his father died in 1937, he inherited his title of baronet , of Send Holme in the Parish of Send in the County of Surrey .

Oliver Leese received his promotion to major-general during World War II , as well as command of the 15th (Scottish) Division in 1941. Later that year, he was given command of the newly formed British Guards Armored Division . In September 1942 he was transferred to North Africa as a temporary lieutenant-general in command of the XXX. Corps in Bernard Montgomery's 8th Army . He also led this in the second battle of El Alamein and in the Tunisian campaign .

Leese also took part in Operation Husky in Sicily under Montgomery in the summer of 1943 , after which his corps returned to Great Britain in preparation for Operation Overlord . When Montgomery left Italy in December 1943 to take on a new role in Operation Overlord, Leese was appointed as its successor as Commander in Chief of the 8th Army. Such was Leese also the Army during the decisive commander Battle of Monte Cassino , in units of the subordinate 2nd Polish Corps were able to occupy more difficult after months fighting the monastery without resistance after the North African units of the French Expeditionary Corps, which the US 5th Army under General Mark W. Clark was subordinate to the breakthrough of the German Gustav Line south of Monte Cassino .

In the autumn of 1944, Leese was sent to Burma to serve as the commander in chief of the Allied land forces in Southeast Asia. After the conquest of Rangoon in May 1945, he was replaced by William Slim and returned to Great Britain. Here he served until his retirement from the army in early 1947 as Commander in Chief of the Eastern Command .

In retirement he became a noted horticultural artist and wrote several books on the subject. He died on January 22, 1978 at his home in Wales. Since his 1933 marriage with Margaret Alice Leicester-Warren († 1964) remained childless, his brother inherited him as 4th Baronet.

King George VI Knight Leese in Italy, July 26, 1944

Orders and awards


  • Rowland Ryder: Oliver Leese. Hamish Hamilton, London 1987.

Web links

Commons : Oliver Leese  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
William Leese Baronet (of Send Holme)
Alexander Leese