|Field Marshal Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis, 1st Viscount Alexander of Tunis, 1st Baron Rideau PC (Can) PC (UK) KG OM GCB GCMG CSI DSO MC LM DSM (10 December 1891 - 16 June 1969) was a British military commander and field marshal, notably during the Second World War as the commander of the 15th Army Group. He later served as the last British Governor General of Canada.|
Earl Alexander of Tunis is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created on 14 March 1952 for the prominent military commander Field Marshal Harold Alexander, 1st Viscount Alexander of Tunis. He had already been created Viscount Alexander of Tunis, of Errigal in the County of Donegal, on 1 March 1946, and was made Baron Rideau, of Ottawa and of Castle Derg in the County of Tyrone, at the same time he was given the earldom. These titles are also in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. Alexander was the third son of James Alexander, 4th Earl of Caledon.
He was succeeded by his eldest son, the second and (as of 2007) present holder of the titles. He briefly served as a Lord-in-Waiting (government whip in the House of Lords) under Edward Heath from January to March 1974. However, he lost his seat in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999. As a descendant of the fourth Earl of Caledon Lord Alexander of Tunis is also in remainder to this peerage and its subsidiary titles. From 1980 to 1990 he was in fact heir presumptive to these titles, before the birth of the current Earl of Caledon's son and heir, Viscount Alexander.
Background and family
The third son of the 4th Earl of Caledon and the former Lady Elizabeth Graham-Toler, a daughter of the 3rd Earl of Norbury, he was born in London and educated at Harrow School and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Alexander was the 11th batsman in the famous Fowler Match between Eton and Harrow in 1910.
In 1931, Alexander married Lady Margaret Diana Bingham, GBE DStJ, younger daughter of George Bingham, 5th Earl of Lucan. The couple had two sons and two daughters (of which, one was an adopted daughter).
He was commissioned into the Irish Guards in 1911. During the First World War, Alexander's battalion formed a part of the original British Expeditionary Force (BEF), in which he was a 22-year-old lieutenant and platoon commander.
Alexander became the youngest lieutenant-colonel in the British Army during the war, and when the Great War ended he was in temporary command of a brigade. He served on the Western Front and was wounded twice in four years of fighting. He received the Military Cross in 1915, the Distinguished Service Order in 1916, and the Legion of Honour, and by 1918 was an acting brigadier. Rudyard Kipling, who wrote a history of the Irish Guards in which his own son fought and was killed, noted that, "It is undeniable that Colonel Alexander had the gift of handling the men on the lines to which they most readily responded . . . his subordinates loved him, even when he fell upon them blisteringly for their shortcomings; and his men were all his own."
In 1919 - 1920 Alexander led the Baltic German Landeswehr in the Latvian War of Independence, commanding units loyal to the Republic of Latvia in the successful drive to eject the Bolsheviks from Latgale. He later served in Turkey and Gibraltar before returning to England and the Staff College, Camberley and the Imperial Defence College. In 1937 he was promoted to major-general.
World War II
Alexander joined the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), as commander of the 1st Infantry Division, in France in 1939. He was instrumental in leading the retreat of the BEF to Dunkirk, and was the last man in his command to leave . For the rest of 1940 and 1941 he held commands equivalent to corps and then army in mainland Britain, before being sent to Burma, commanding what was later to be the Fourteenth Army at the beginning of that campaign. In August 1942 Winston Churchill sent him, as Commander-in-Chief Middle East, and under him Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery as General Officer Commanding Eighth Army, to North Africa to replace General Claude Auchinleck who had held both positions. He presided over Montgomery's victory at the Second Battle of El Alamein. After the Anglo-American forces from Torch and the Eighth Army met in Tunisia in January 1943, he became deputy to Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean.
Alexander was very popular with both US and British officers, and was Eisenhower's preference for the ground command of D-Day, but Field Marshal Alan Brooke applied pressure to keep him in Italy, considering him unfit for the assignment. Alexander remained in Italy as commander of the 15th Army Group, with the US Fifth Army and British Eighth Army under his command.
Montgomery, who was both a long-time friend and subordinate of Alexander in Sicily and Italy, said of him, "Alexander....is not a strong commander...the higher art of war is quite beyond him." He advised his US counterparts, Mark Clark and George S. Patton, to ignore any orders from Alexander with which they did not agree.
In 1943 the Prime Minister,Winston Churchill, proposed to make the Irish aristocrat Alexander a Knight in the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick. The Commonwealth Office advised against it and Alexander was made a Viscount in the Peerage of the United Kingdom instead.
His forces captured Rome in June 1944, thereby achieving one of the strategic goals of the Italian campaign. However, US Fifth Army forces at Anzio, under Clark's orders, failed to follow their original breakout plan that would have trapped the German forces escaping northwards. At the end of 1944 Alexander was promoted to field marshal, his promotion being backdated to the fall of Rome, on 4 June 1944, so that he would once again become senior to Montgomery, who had been made a field marshal earlier in the year, on 1 September 1944, after the end of the Battle of Normandy.
Alexander received the German surrender in Italy on 29 April 1945.
Sir Harold Alexander was created Viscount Alexander of Tunis, of Errigal in the County of Donegal, in 1946 for his leadership in North Africa and Italy. In December 1946 he was made a Knight of the Garter and was created Baron Rideau, of Ottawa and of Castle Derg in the County of Tyrone, and Earl Alexander of Tunis in 1952.
|Field Marshal Rt. Hon. Sir Harold Rupert Leofic George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis1|
M, #41704, b. 10 December 1891, d. 16 June 1969
Field Marshal Rt. Hon. Sir Harold Rupert Leofic George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis was born on 10 December 1891.1 He was the son of Major Sir James Alexander, 4th Earl of Caledon and Lady Elizabeth Graham Graham-Toler.2 He married Lady Margaret Bingham, daughter of George Charles Bingham, 5th Earl of Lucan and Violet Sylvia Blanche Clay, on 14 October 1931.1 He died on 16 June 1969 at age 77.2
Field Marshal Rt. Hon. Sir Harold Rupert Leofic George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis was educated at Harrow School, Harrow on the Hill, London, England.1 He was educated at Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Berkshire, England.1 He fought in the First World War, where he was wounded three times and mentioned in despatches five times.1 He was decorated with the Legion of Honour.1 He was decorated with the Military Cross (M.C.).1 He was decorated with the Companion, Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.).1 He was Temporary Brigadier and Brigade-Commander of the Indian Army in 1934.1 He was Commander of the Nowshera Brigade between 1934 and 1938 at India.1 He held the office of Aide-de-Camp to HM King Edward VIII in 1936.1 He was invested as a Companion, Order of the Star of India (C.S.I.) in 1936.1 He gained the rank of Major-General in 1937.1 He gained the rank of Colonel in 1937 in the service of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Punjab Regiment.1 He was invested as a Companion, Order of the Bath (C.B.) in 1938.1 He was Commander of the 1st Division, Aldershot between 1938 and 1940.1 He was General Officer in Command of the Southern Command between 1940 and 1942.1 He was invested as a Knight Grand Cross, Order of the Bath (G.C.B.) in 1942.1 He gained the rank of General in 1942.1 He was Commander-in-Chief of the forces in the Middle East in 1942.1 He was General Officer in Command of the forces in Burma in 1942.1 He was Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the forces in North Africa in 1943.1 He was Commander-in-Chief of the Italy between 1943 and 1944.1 He was Supreme Allied Commander of the Mediterranean between 1944 and 1945.1 He held the office of Aide-de-Camp General to HM King George VI between 1944 and 1946.1 He was invested as a Knight, Order of the Garter (K.G.) in 1946.1 He was invested as a Knight Grand Cross, Order of St. Michael and St. George (G.C.M.G.) in 1946.1 He held the office of Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada between 1946 and 1952.1 He was created 1st Viscount Alexander of Tunis, of Errigal, co. Donegal [U.K.] on 1 March 1946.1 He adopted Lady Susan Mary Alexander. He was invested as a Privy Counsellor (P.C.) in 1952.1 He was invested as a Privy Counsellor (P.C.) [Canada] in 1952.1 He held the office of Minister of Defence between 1952 and 1954.1 He was created 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis [U.K.] on 14 March 1952.1 He was created 1st Baron Rideau, of Ottawa and of Castle Derg, co. Tyrone [U.K.] on 14 March 1952.1 He held the office of Lord-Lieutenant of the County of London between 1957 and 1965.1 He was decorated with the Order of Merit (O.M.) in 1959.1 He held the office of Constable of the Tower of London between 1960 and 1965.1 He held the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London between 1965 and 1966.1 He has an extensive biographical entry in the Dictionary of National Biography.3
| CROCI AL MERITO|
(PRO PIIS MERITIS)
GRAN CROCI AL MERITO CON FASCIA
10 4 1948 S.E. Gen. PAUL DARIUS DASSAULT
CRAN CROCI AL MERITO CON PLACCA
23 5 1945 S. E. HAROLD ALEXANDER, visconte di Tunis
23 5 1945 S. E. MYRON C TAYLOR
11 11 1948 Brig. Gen. Barone DEAN de MARGUERITTES
17 11 1948 REINHARD GEHLEN
|I got the Order of Merit with the first class from the Knights of Malta, that’s a sovereign order. They have ambassadors and Field Marshall Alexander got the same decoration.|
Winston Churchill, Bernard L. Montgomery, Harold Alexander (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Social Network Diagram (negligible):