John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort, 1886-1946

John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort, 1886-1946

John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort, 1886-1946 - Lord Gort

John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort, normally known as Lord Gort. This picture shows him returning to the War Office after his return from Dunkirk.


C OMPREHENSIVE GUIDE

b. 10/07/1886 Westminster, London. d. 31/03/1946 Southwark, London.

John Standish Surtees Prendergast Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort (1886-1946) was born in Westminster, London on 10th July 1886 into the Prendergast Vereker noble dynasty, an old Anglo-Irish aristocratic family, and grew up in County Durham and the Isle of Wight. The family peerage, Viscount Gort, was named after Gort, a town in County Galway in the West of Ireland. His father was John Gage Prendergast Vereker, 5th Viscount Gort, a descendant of Thomas Gage and Margaret Kemble, and descendant from the Schuyler family, Van Cortlandt family, and the Delancey family from British North America.

Educated at Malvern Link Preparatory School and Harrow School, Gort succeeded his father to the family title in 1902. He entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich in January 1904, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards on 16 August 1905, and was promoted to Lieutenant on 1st April 1907. Gort commanded the detachment of Grenadier Guards that bore the coffin at the funeral of King Edward VII in May 1910. He was made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order for his services in that role.

In November 1908 Gort visited his uncle, Jeffrey Edward Prendergast Vereker, a retired British army major and youngest son of the 4th Viscount Gort in Kenora, Ontario. During a moose hunting trip, Gort slipped off a large boulder and his rifle discharged, wounding his guide, William Prettie. Prettie later died of his wound in Winnipeg. Viscount Gort immediately returned to England.

On 22nd February 1911, Gort married Corinna Vereker, a second cousin they had two sons and a daughter. They divorced in 1925. Their eldest son, Charles Standish, was born on 23rd February 1912 and died on 26th February 1941 while serving as a lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards and is buried at Blandford Forum in Dorset. Their second son, Jocelyn Cecil, was born on 27th July 1913 but died before his second birthday. Their daughter, Jacqueline Corinne Yvonne, born on 20th October 1914, married The Honourable William Sidney (later the 1st Viscount De L'Isle) in June 1940.

On 5th August 1914, Gort was promoted to captain. He went to France with the British Expeditionary Force and fought on the Western Front, taking part in the retreat from Mons in August 1914. He became a staff officer with the First Army in December 1914 and then became Brigade Major of the 4th (Guards) Brigade in April 1915. He was awarded the Military Cross in June 1915. Promoted to the brevet rank of major in June 1916, he became a staff officer at the Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force and fought at the Battle of the Somme throughout the Autumn of 1916. He was given the acting rank of lieutenant colonel in April 1917 on appointment as Commanding Officer of 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards and, having been awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in June 1917, he led his battalion at the Battle of Passchendaele, earning a Bar to his DSO in September 1917.

During the attack of the Guards Division on 27th September 1918, across the Canal du Nord, near Flesquieres, when in command of the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards, the leading battalion of the 3rd Guards Brigade. Under heavy artillery and machine-gun fire, he led his battalion with great skill and determination to the "forming-up" ground, where very severe fire from artillery and machine guns was again encountered. Although wounded, he quickly grasped the situation, directed a platoon to proceed down a sunken road to make a flanking attack, and, under terrific fire, went across open ground to obtain the assistance of a Tank, which he personally led and directed to the best possible advantage. While thus fearlessly exposing himself, he was again severely wounded by a shell. Notwithstanding considerable loss of blood, after lying on a stretcher for awhile [sic], he insisted on getting up and personally directing the further attack. By his magnificent example of devotion to duty and utter disregard of personal safety all ranks were inspired to exert themselves to the utmost, and the attack resulted in the capture of over 200 prisoners, two batteries of field guns and numerous machine guns.

After the war Lord Gort had a varied career. In 1919 he attended the Staff College at Camberley, returning as an instructor in 1921. After a spell with his regiment he became chief instructor at the senior officer’s school at Sheerness in 1926, at which point he was promoted to colonel. In 1930 he was promoted to command the Grenadier Guards, in 1932 he became director of military training in India, and in 1936 he returned to the Staff Collage again, as commandant.

In the following year Lord Gort began the sudden and somewhat unexpected rise that would end with his appointment to command the B.E.F. Early in the year he was appointed military secretary to the secretary of state for war, Leslie Hore-Belisha, who was looking for a younger officer to revitalise the high command. This was followed later in the year by promotion to the most important post in the army, Chief of the Imperial General Staff. He was appointed above hundreds of more senior men, and to support this move was also promoted two grades, to full General.

Gort commanded the British Expeditionary Force from 1939-40 and he oversaw the evacuation from Dunkirk. After his return to Britain, he was made ADC to King George VI, and then held the position of Governor of Gibraltar (1941-42), and Governor of Malta (1942-44). He was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 1945 and died on 31st March 1946 in Southwark, London. He was buried in the Sidney Family Vault at St John the Baptist Church, Penshurst, Kent. His medals are not publicly held.

LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.

BURIAL LOCATION: SIDNEY FAMILY VAULT, ST JOHN THE BAPTIST, PENSHURST, KENT.


WWII: This British War Minister Was Hated by His Subordinates

During the “Phony” War, British War Minister Leslie Hore-Belisha was unceremoniously sacked.

Lord John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort, Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France in 1940, and his chief of staff, General Henry Pownall, have both been forever associated with the British Army’s greatest continental defeat namely, the retreat through Flanders and eventual evacuation from the harbor and beaches of Dunkirk in May and June, after being engaged with the invading German Wehrmacht for only three weeks.

Ironically, after Dunkirk, Gort became inspector general to the forces training in Great Britain prior to being sent to the island of Malta as governor general. Lt. Gen. Pownall subsequently became chief of ctaff to General Archibald Wavell at the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) command in early 1942 after just having taken command in Singapore a few days earlier.

Despite the debacle of Dunkirk and its mythic representation in the history of British arms, both Gort and Pownall had earlier in January 1940 won a decisive political victory over their civilian superior, the war minister, Leslie Hore-Belisha. At a time when Great Britain and her Western Allies and Dominions were engaged in an inactive, nonshooting conflict with Nazi Germany, the “Phony War,” the British war minister was waging a constant personal struggle against his military subordinates, who for both professional and personal reasons regarded him as unable to serve in this lofty capacity.

In personal diaries of some of the British Expeditionary Force’s (BEF) leaders, the odious tone of the establishment’s anti-Semitism as well as personal incompatibility with the BEF leadership seem to have led to the war minister’s resignation. Others have gone so far as to suggest an analogy between Hore-Belisha’s sacking and France’s Dreyfus affair after the debacle of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Nonetheless, the dismissal of the war minister of one of the chief Allied nations combating Nazi Germany barely four months after the outbreak of hostilities and prior to actual combat for the BEF in both Belgium and France has never been satisfactorily explained.

Isaac Leslie Hore-Belisha: Minister of Parliament

Isaac Leslie Hore-Belisha was born in London in 1893. His father’s family members were Sephardic Jews driven from Spain during the Inquisition. In Manchester, Hore-Belisha’s ancestors established a cotton import firm. Hore-Belisha entered public school at Clifton in 1907. There, he entered Polack’s House, which was entirely made up of of Jewish students. His Clifton schoolmates observed that Hore-Belisha was quarrelsome and that good manners were not his strong suit. After Clifton, he was educated at Oxford, where he was president of the Oxford Union. He was a major in World War I, serving in the Royal Army Service Corps, and was invalided home after being in France, Flanders, and Salonika.

In 1923, he was both called to the Bar and became a member of Parliament (MP) from Devonport as a Liberal. From 1931-1932, he was parliamentary secretary for the Board of Trade, and from 1932-1934 he served as financial secretary to Neville Chamberlain at the Treasury. In 1934, Hore-Belisha became minister of transport and significantly reduced the number of road accidents with the introduction of a number of innovations including pedestrian crossings guarded by the now famous “Belisha beacons.” Three years later, upon Stanley Baldwin’s retirement, the new prime minister, Chamberlain, gave the War Office to Hore-Belisha.

The Innovative Hore-Belisha Against the Aristocratic Army

Hore-Belisha’s notable achievements at the War Office included improvements in other-rank terms and conditions of service as well as barracks and recruiting. This all went over well with the typical British Tommy. In the public’s view, Hore-Belisha ranked only after Eden, always the favorite, and Winston Churchill in popularity. Newspaper photographs and newsreels frequently showed him chatting with the troops or drinking beer in sergeants’ messes in an attempt to democratize the Army.

The war minister reformed the Army, and as war clouds were again gathering in Europe, Hore-Belisha doubled the size of the Territorial Army and introduced conscription. However, it was in the endeavor of Army reorganization and leadership that Hore-Belisha was sowing a bitter harvest. Specifically, by the late summer of 1937, in close collaboration with Basil Liddell Hart, the noted military correspondent, Hore-Belisha began a reduction in the number of strictly infantry units, particularly in the garrisons of India, to save funds for increased mechanization under the armor pioneer, Percy Hobart, among others. Specifically, when Hobart’s name was proposed by Hore-Belisha to lead the first home-based armored division, Field Marshall Sir Cyril Deverell, chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS), argued that cavalry officers could not be asked to serve under an officer from the comparatively new mechanized branch besides, it would not be possible for the wives of cavalry officers to call on the one tank commander qualified, because Hobart had been divorced years before.

The hierarchy of the British military reflected the nobility caste in England with its rules and snobbishness. Since these initial proposals to reorganize the Army met with so much opposition, Hore-Belisha became convinced that a wholesale replacement of the senior generals in the War Office must precede more constructive reforms. Hore-Belisha decided that Deverell must leave the War Office. Thus, the war minister began to directly antagonize Britain’s generals nearly two years before the onset of World War II. Furthermore, since Hore-Belisha orchestrated these changes with Basil Liddell Hart, a former Army captain, current military correspondent, and frequent critic of the Army who had numerous enemies in its hierarchy, a deepening of hostilities between the war minister and the Army’s leadership developed.

The Cabinet Clash Over Appeasement

First, Hore-Belisha replaced Deverell as CIGS with the recently appointed military secretary, Lord Gort, who was junior to many of the British generals. Deverell had refused to reduce the garrison in India and also typified the cavalry mind-set at the War Office. Lt. Gen. Sir Harry Knox, the adjutant general, and Lt. Gen. Sir Hugh Elles, the master general of the ordinance, were both replaced by younger and more flexible men. Thus, the upper echelon of the Army Council at the War Office was purged.

No one could dispute Lord Gort as a fighting general of boundless courage however, Gort somewhat reluctantly became CIGS with General Sir Ronald Adam as his deputy. Pownall became Gort’s new director of military operations and intelligence at the War Office. This triumvirate of general officers now leading the War Office was to become obstructionist toward Hore-Belisha’s new proposals, suspecting, often correctly, that the plans originated with Liddell Hart. It is ironic that the close association between Hore-Belisha and Liddell Hart began to thaw in 1938 while the ire of the Army’s leadership was brewing up. Hore-Belisha was increasingly disappointed at the lack of reforming zeal shown by his new team of Gort, Adam, and Pownall, but knew that another purge was impossible following the recent dismissal of Deverell.

As the Munich Crisis, involving Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland, unfolded in September 1938, Hore-Belisha began to defy and anger Chamberlain, his political leader and benefactor, by pressing for conscription and for a Ministry of Supply. He also abandoned the concept of “limited liability” to save funds for the other services and set plans in motion for a larger BEF should hostilities commence. These stances were at odds with Chamberlain’s efforts to minimize actions that would signify an aggressive posture to the Nazi regime and, thereby, negate the appeasement strategy that he had implemented until the invasion of Poland in 1939.

So, Hore-Belisha, who previously had delighted Chamberlain by “stirring the old dry bones” at the War Office and received the prime minister’s support, now clashed with him and his ardent pro-appeasement cabinet ministers. This cabinet struggle was to have grave consequences for Hore-Belisha.

“It is Time We Had a Better Chap in the War Office”

The most damaging rift between Hore-Belisha and Britain’s military leadership occurred with the outbreak of war in September 1939, and ultimately caused the war minister’s downfall. This occurred despite Hore-Belisha’s aggressive stance and vocal opposition to the Nazis. In October 1939, he enunciated British war aims on the BBC: “We are concerned with the frontiers of the human spirit … only the defeat of Nazi Germany can lighten the darkness which now shrouds our cities, and lighten the horizon for all Europe and the world.” Unfortunately, it was still Chamberlain’s policy, ably supported by his pro-appeasement sycophants in the cabinet, to avoid offending the Nazis although England and Germany were at war.

In September 1939, Hore-Belisha traveled to France to inspect the BEF’s defensive works. He appointed a team of military and civil engineers to make further technical inquiry and recommendations to strengthen the British Army’s dispositions. This seems to have incensed General Pownall, Gort’s chief of staff, who regarded it as odd that the war minister went to France to deal with strategic and tactical matters.

Hore-Belisha thought it was his prerogative to visit the BEF’s fortifications because he had to fight for the Army’s plans and budget in Parliament. Also, if disaster occurred, it would be the war minister’s head that would roll. After a second visit to France to meet with Gort and Pownall in November 1939, Hore-Belisha criticized the rate at which concrete pillboxes were being built. This so outraged the generals that they enlisted the support of the upper crust of power in England in an attempt to oust him. Pownall even traveled back to England after this second Hore-Belisha visit to express the “virtues and failings of Hore-Belisha” at the War Office.

Some historians assert that Pownall convinced King George VI and other powerful government leaders, including General William Edward Ironside, the CIGS, who replaced Gort when the latter assumed command of the BEF in France. Upon returning from a meeting with Gort and Pownall in France, Ironside was concerned about the rage he found in the BEF leadership and stated, “It is time we had a better chap in the War Office.”

The Choice Between Hore-Belisha and the BEF Leadership

After receiving many reports from the BEF leadership that there was resentment toward Hore-Belisha, the king went to France in December 1939 to meet with Gort and Pownall among others. The king became convinced that Hore-Belisha would have to be replaced and had actually asked Pownall who should be the new war minister. Almost two weeks later, Chamberlain went to France to meet with the same BEF leadership. Gort told the prime minister that the BEF did not have confidence in the war minister.

Hore-Belisha’s days were numbered as 1940 began. Next to Churchill, the war minister was the most vigorous in prosecuting the war, even though no actual fighting occurred. However, friction between Hore-Belisha and the War Office had grown to such an extent that, in Chamberlain’s view, it was impeding the development of Britain’s war effort, especially in France. Hore-Belisha had expressed lack of confidence in the commander in chief of the BEF, Lord Gort.

After Chamberlain visited Gort’s headquarters on December 15, 1939, and listened to Gort’s account of the deficiencies of equipment in the BEF, he realized that no confidence existed between the senior British officers in France and their minister. Amid the rumors circulating during the debate to sack Hore-Belisha in January 1940, it was made clear that the choice before Chamberlain lay between the dismissal of Hore-Belisha and a request from Gort and the two corps commanders (Lt. Gen. Sir Alan Brooke being one of them) to be relieved of their appointments.

After conferences between Chamberlain and Hore-Belisha in the latter part of December, the prime minister decided to replace Hore-Belisha with Oliver Stanley, the son of the Earl of Derby. On January 4, 1940, Chamberlain summoned Hore-Belisha to the cabinet room, and informed him that he was to leave the War Office. Chamberlain wanted to offer him the Ministry of Information, but Lord Halifax, the foreign secretary, objected to the appointment because it would have a “bad effect among the neutrals … because HB is a Jew”.

The “Pillbox Affair”

Ultimately, the now deposed war minister was offered the presidency of the Board of Trade, but Hore-Belisha rejected this position and withdrew to the back benches. Thus ended the sacking of the war minister just four months after the commencement of hostilities with Germany and prior to any land action on the Continent or in Scandinavia seemingly based on the number and speed of construction of pillboxes, the “Pillbox Affair,” in northern France.

According to General Freddie DeGuignand, Hore-Belisha’s military secretary (and later to be Montgomery’s ubiquitous chief of staff), the war minister was trying to be helpful rather than critical of the BEF leadership. Gort, Pownall, and Maj. Gen. R.P. Pakenham-Walsh, a subordinate of Gort’s, resented any criticism at all since they believed they were doing their best in adverse conditions, which the war minister had totally failed to grasp.

It seems Hore-Belisha’s particular problem was that he inaccurately presented the facts of the pillbox construction to the Army Council, discussed the matter in cabinet after Ironside had left, sent a verbal reprimand to Gort through a subordinate office (Pakenham-Walsh), and dispatched the CIGS to inspect the defenses on the authority of the War Cabinet. Perhaps, the most galling to the GHQ in Northern France was Hore-Belisha’s mistaken impression that the French were setting an example in the construction of pillboxes and could serve as a model for the British.

Was Religion the Real Factor in Hore-Belisha’s Dismissal?

Did the handling of the dismissal of Lesley Hore-Belisha bear any analogy to France’s Dreyfus affair after the calamitous Franco-Prussian War? There is evidence to suggest that some of the British generals, notably Gort’s chief of staff, Pownall, had made up their minds on the outbreak of war that for the Army’s sake Hore-Belisha would have to go from the War Office.

When Hore-Belisha resigned his office in January 1940, the reaction of the popular press reflected the frenetic suspicion of the time that somebody, somewhere, was conspiring against democracy. Among the wilder assertions were that Hore-Belisha had been fired at the instigation of British friends of the Nazis, because he was a Jew that he was the victim of high society intrigue to replace him with Oliver Stanley, son of the Earl of Derby and that the brass was determined to get rid of him so that they could set up a military dictatorship. It is not too difficult to imagine what the reaction would have been if the king’s part in the affair had become known.

It cannot be ignored that the war minister’s religion played some role in his dismissal. Some months after his requested resignation, Hore-Belisha was asked why he had been dismissed. “Jewboy!” he replied. There is also a clear trail of remarks that constitute ethnic slurs. Pownall commented about the relationship between Lord Gort and Hore-Belisha, “The ultimate fact is that they could never get on—you couldn’t expect two such utterly different people to do so—a great gentleman and an obscure, shallow-brained charlatan, political Jewboy.” Gort’s nickname for the War Minister was “Horeb Elisha.”

In May 1937, General Ironside noted in his diary, “We are at our lowest ebb in the Army and the Jew may resuscitate us.” Some have speculated that Hore-Belisha’s ostentatious pushiness provoked the comment, “of course he’s Jewish.” However, the provocative behavior, not the religion, was probably the real cause of the prejudice against Hore-Belisha.

There were other, more pragmatic and non-religious reasons to explain Hore-Belisha’s dismissal. He was prone to failing to consult the Army leadership about important reforms, such as doubling of the Territorial Army. His association with Liddell Hart was troublesome. Hore-Belisha stirred fear in the GHQ in France, thinking that he intended to replace some of its senior officers from Gort downward.

Gort and Pownall resented Hore-Belisha’s style of making high-level appointments without consulting them. Perhaps, Pownall in his diary summed up the ill-will toward Hore-Belisha: “He has an amazing conceit, thinking himself in the direct line of descent with Cardwell and Haldane in matters of Army organization. He knows nothing about it … and he doesn’t seem to listen and he will not read what is put before him. Impossible to educate, thinking he knows when he doesn’t know, impatient, subject to a lot of outside influence, ambitious, an advertiser and self-seeker—what can we do with him?”

Ultimately, Chamberlain and his Cabinet bear a large responsibility for failing to support Hore-Belisha in his disagreements with the generals and arriving at a more appropriate conclusion, especially during wartime. Fortunately for the king’s generals and the British throne, the man who was accused of being too publicity minded retired to the back benches and did not make a major press issue of his sacking. This was important because in five short months, Great Britain would be fighting for its life as the remnants of the BEF were evacuated from the harbor and beaches of Dunkirk.


Deaths in History in 1946

Dion Fortune

Jan 8 Dion Fortune, British occultist and author dies at 55

    Countee Cullen, African American poet of the Harlem Renaissance (Black Christ, One Way to Heaven), dies at 42 Matteo Giulio Bartoli, linguist, dies at 72 Adriaan van Maanen, Dutch-American astronomer (b. 1884) Harry L Hopkins, US min of Business (Loan & Lease law), dies at 55 Hans Bethge, German poet, dies at 70 Margarete Boie, writer, dies José Streel, Belgian World War II collaborator (b. 1911) Tomoyuki Yamashita [Yamashita Tomobumi], Imperial Japanese general dubbed "Tiger of Malaya," executed for war crimes by hanging at 60 Fidél Pálffy, Hungarian National socialist (leading supporter of Nazism in Hungary), dies at 50 George E. Stewart, American army officer and Medal of Honor recipient, dies at 73 Bror von Blixen-Finecke, Danish big-game hunter (b. 1886) Frederick Lanchester, English Engineer who built the first British petrol automobile (1896), dies at 77 Abraham Bredius, Dutch art historian (Rembrandt), dies at 90 Werner von Blomberg, German minister of Reichswehr, dies at 67

John Maynard Keynes

Apr 21 John Maynard Keynes, English economist whose ideas changed the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, dies of a heart attack at 62

    Harlan F. Stone, American lawyer & jurist (SCOTUS, 1941-46), dies at 73 Hermann von Keyserling, Baltic German philosopher (Unsterblichkeit), dies at 65 Louis Bachelier, French mathematician, dies at 76 Anton Mussert, Dutch fascist and leader of the Nationalist Socialist Movement, executed for high treason at 51 Booth Tarkington, American novelist (b. 1869) Jacob Ellehammer, Danish watchmaker and inventor (powered flight), dies at 74 Friedrich A H von Waldeck, monarch of Waldeck, dies Martin Gottfried Weiss, Commandant of Dachau concentration camp (b. 1905) Louis Slotin, Canadian Physicist and Chemist at Los Alamos, dies of radiation poisoning at 35 (b. 1910)

Gerhart Hauptmann

Jun 6 Gerhart Hauptmann, German author (Before Dawn - Nobel Prize in Literature, 1912), dies at 83

    John L. Bates, American lawyer and politician (41st Governor of Massachusetts), dies at 86 Rama VIII [Ananda Mahidol], King of Siam (1935-46), dies of a mysterious gunshot wound at 21 Count Hisaichi Terauchi, Japanese fieldmarshal, dies Edward Bowes, American radio host (Major Bowes Amateur Hour), dies at 71

John Logie Baird

Jun 14 John Logie Baird, Scottish inventor and father of the television, dies of a stroke at 57

    Ludwig Winder, writer, dies Louise Whitfield Carnegie, American philanthropist (b. 1857) Max Kögel, SS officer (b. 1895) Yosuke Matsuoka, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan (b. 1880) Eduard Veterman, Dutch painter/playwright, dies in an auto accident Anthony Overton, publisher/cosmetics manufacturer/banker, dies at 81 Othenio Able, Austrian artist, fossil creator and founder of paleobiology, dies at 71 Gerda Steinhoff, Nazi concentration camp overseer (b. 1922) Ray Stannard Baker, American journalist (Puliter Prize 1940), dies at 76

Alfred Stieglitz

Jul 13 Alfred Stieglitz, American photographer/art dealer (Camera Work), dies at 82


Famous Birthdays

    Raymond A Spruance, U.S. Navy admiral (Battle of Midway), born in Baltimore, Maryland (d. 1969) Heinrich Kaminski, German composer, born in Tiengen, Schwarzwald, Germany (d. 1946) Felix Timmermans, Flemish painter and illustrator (Pallieter), born in Lier, Belgium (d. 1947) Willem Drees, Dutch statesman of the Labour Party (PvdA) and Prime Minister of the Netherlands, born in Amsterdam (d. 1988) Nathaniel Niles, American figure skater and tennis player, born in Boston, Massachusetts (d. 1932) John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort, British soldier, Field Marshal during WW II, born in London, England (d. 1946) Boris Grigoriev, Russian painter (d. 1939) Jean Hersholt, Danish actor (Heidi, Greed, Men in White, Aryan), born in Copenhagen, Denmark (d. 1956) Harry Green, English athlete (WR marathon 2:38:16.2 1913), born in Islington, Greater London, England (d. 1934) Arthur Whitten Brown, British aviator (first nonstop airplane crossing of the Atlantic with John W. Alcock), born in Glasgow, Scotland (d. 1948) Jan Poortenaar, Dutch painter, etcher and cartoonist, born in Amsterdam (d. 1958) Salvador de Madariaga y Rojo, Spanish writer (Englishmen, Frenchmen, Spaniards) and diplomat, born in La Coruña, Spain (d. Walter H. Schottky, German physicist (Thermodynamik), born in Zürich, Switzerland (d. 1976) Junichiro Tanizaki, Japanese writer (Snow Dusting), born in Nihonbashi, Tokyo (d. 1965) Lars Hanson, Swedish actor (Flesh & Devil), born in Gothenburg, Sweden (d. 1965) Ernst May, German architect and city planner (New Frankfurt), born in Frankfurt am Main (d. 1970) Algot Haquinius, Swedish composer, born in Sveg, Sweden (d. 1966) Fred Quimby, American film producer (Tom and Jerry), born in Minneapolis, Minnesota (d. 1965) Salvatore Maranzano, Sicilian-born American organized crime figure, born in Sicily, Italy (d. 1931) Constant Permeke, Flemish painter and statues artist (Sow), born in Antwerp, Belgium (d. 1952) Larry Doyle, American baseball second baseman (NL MVP 1912, NL batting champion 1915 NY Giants), born in Caseyville, Illinois (d. 1974)

John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort, 1886-1946 - History

Captain (Brevet Major, Acting Lieutenant-Colonel), 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery, skilful leading and devotion to duty during the attack of the Guards Division on 27th September 1918, across the Canal du Nord, near Flesquieres, when in command of the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards, the leading battalion of the 3rd Guards Brigade. Under heavy artillery and machine-gun fire he led his battalion with great skill and determination to the "forming-up" ground, where very severe fire from artillery and machine guns was again encountered. Although wounded, he quickly grasped the situation, directed a platoon to proceed down a sunken road to make a flanking attack, and, under terrific fire, went across open ground to obtain the assistance of a Tank, which he personally led and directed to the best possible advantage. While thus fearlessly exposing himself, he was again severely wounded by a shell. Notwithstanding considerable loss of blood, after lying on a stretcher for a while, he insisted on getting up and personally directing the further attack. By his magnificent example of devotion to duty and utter disregard of personal safety all ranks were inspired to exert themselves to the utmost, and the attack resulted in the capture of over 200 prisoners, two batteries of field guns and numerous machine guns. Lt.-Col. Viscount Gort then proceeded to organise the defence of the captured position until he collapsed even then he refused to leave the field until he had seen the "success signal" go up on the final objective. The successful advance of the battalion was mainly due to the valour, devotion and leadership of this very gallant officer.

After the war, he became an instructor at various Army Colleges, rising to the rank of Colonel.

At the start of WW2, he became the Commander-in-Chief of the BEF and, in this role, organised the evacuation of Dunkirk.

Having been posted to Palestine from 1944 -1945, he became terminally ill and returned to Britain.

He died of liver cancer in Guy's Hospital on 31 March, 1946. He was 59, and buried in the Sidney family vault (right) at St John the Baptist, Penhurst, Kent.

Unfortunately, his reputation suffered after the war owing to a number of critical accounts of his handling of the BEF. His death robbed him of the chance to put into print his own account.


Birthdays in History

Birthdays 1 - 100 of 294

    Carl B. Hamilton, Swedish economist and politician Cissy King, American entertainer Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, Mexican drug lord (Guadalajara Cartel), born in Culiacán, Mexico John Piper, American theologian Lady Cosgrove, Scottish lawyer & judge, born in Glasgow, Scotland Harold Shipman, British serial killer, born in Bestwood Estate, Nottingham (d. 2004) Michael L. Coats, Capt USN/astr (STS 41-D, 29, 39), born in Sacramento, California Joseph Deiss, Swiss economist & politician, born in Fribourg, Switzerland Alexandr Vladimirovich Shchukin, Russian cosmonaut Julian Barnes, English writer (Before She Met Me, The Sense of an Ending), born in Leicester, England Susan Vreeland, American author (The Passion of Artemisia), born in Racine, Wisconsin (d. 2017) Vincent Placoly, Martinique, writer (L'eau-de-mort guildive)

Arnoldo Aleman

Jan 23 Arnoldo Aleman, 81st President of Nicaragua (1997-2002), born in Managua, Nicaragua


Award-winning streaming service of full-length docs for the likes of history buffs, royal watchers, cinema aficionados & train enthusiasts. Visit britishpathe.tv British Pathé now represents the Reuters historical collection, which includes more than 136,000 items from 1910 to 1984. Start exploring!

Lost Heritage

East Cowes Castle was a fairytale vision and home of the renowned architect John Nash who designed and built it himself. The Castle was an important building in its own right as part of architectural history for its role in the spreading of the nascent Gothic revivalism movement both in the UK and abroad.

Nash had been visiting the Isle of Wight since 1793 and in 1798 he bought some land in East Cowes overlooking the bay and started building. The castle was a typical John Nash 'Gothick' country house of which he had designed and built several including Luscombe Castle in Devon and Lough Cutra Castle in Ireland - the design of which gives an impression of what East Cowes may well have looked like.

The resulting house was noted for its towers, turrets and extensive crenallations. In 1868 the National Gazetteer 1 wrote ". its picturesque turret, rising boldly over the wooded screen which embosoms it, forms a pleasing addition to the scenery of the coast" and in Mason's Guide 2 of 1876 as ". a large castellated mansion and when beheld from the sea, or the opposite banks of the Medina, with its towers and battlements rising above the luxuriant plantations around, [it] has a fine and pleasing effect". According to George Brannon, who wrote a famous travel guide to the Isle of Wight in 1849 3 , East Cowes Castle ". enjoys a truly enviable site (for it combines an uncommon degree of shelter with the most extensive and animated prospect)". The house he described as having ". three handsome fronts of varied elevations, with a tasteful diversity of towers, mantled more or less by the most luxuriant ivy. ". Brannon in his earlier book, 'The Vectis Scenery' 4 , had decided that "The west or Conservatory front is perhaps the most beautiful: opening upon a bowling-green terrace —and through the graduated tints of several vistas in the luxuriant plantations, are some very pleasing catches of the more distant objects."

Brannon also wrote that Nash would occasionally make additions and alterations as the whim took him. Though this was usually to the benefit of the overall Picturesque look, the result was also that the changes ". certainly [are] not calculated to insure the greatest amount of domestic convenience (as regards the size and arrangement of the rooms)". These changes no doubt contributed to its eventual demise as an inconveniently arranged house was seen as more of a burden.

Nash died in 1835 and the Castle was sold the same year to the Earl Shannon. Following his death it was bought by one N. Barwell esq. in 1846 and the furniture and art collection sold. By 1906 the house had been bought by John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort (also more famously known as Field Marshal John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort VC, GCB, CBE, DSO & Two Bars, MVO, MC (b.10 July 1886 - d.31 March 1946) commander of the British Expeditionary Force who defended France against the German invasion in 1940). Interestingly, the Gort title and estates were centred around Lough Cutra in Ireland. The 1st Viscount Gort had seen East Cowes Castle and been sufficiently impressed that he commissioned Nash to build something very similar. Subsequent financial difficulties meant that the Gort family had to sell Lough Cutra in the late 1840s.

East Cowes Castle became Lord Gort's retreat during his illustrious military career. Appropriately, during WWII, the house was requisitioned by the Army. Further information has been provided by someone who lived locally and had met Lord Gort.

"There was little doubt that the requisitioning of East Cowes Castle by the army for the duration of the war wrought the most horrendous damage upon it, despite it being unscathed - as far as I am aware - by enemy action. It was in a pitiful state after the war and, upon returning home from evacuation elsewhere, I used to wander through the ruins, some rooms floorless and most with smashed windows. I recall in particular the magnificent Conservatory was a ruin with broken glass, making walking very tricky, although most of the stone work and the tiled floor survived the British Army onslaught!

Later on when it was clear the Vereker family had no intention of attempting its rehabilitation, after much local controversy - bearing in mind this was before Listed Building status came into force - the Council gave consent for the current housing development to take place over most of the Park, so it was demolished. After all, it did help provide affordable homes, at the expense of our heritage, of course. I think the Council may have taken the view that East Cowes had more than enough examples of Nash villas along York Avenue to justify sacrificing the Castle for the greater good. You may find help from archived copies of the Isle of Wight County Press of that post-war period to confirm the substance of the arguments that were raged over the Castle's fate. I can recall reading about it at the time. 5

The house was demolished in 1960 and the site is now covered by a housing estate though the ice house and Lodge remain.


Postwar and death [ edit | edit source ]

Gort was present when his son-in-law, Major William Sidney, received the VC from General Alexander on 3 March 1944 in Italy. ⎰] In 1945 Gort's health deteriorated and he was flown to London where the diagnosis was inoperable cancer. ⎰]

In February 1946, he was created a Viscount in the Peerage of the United Kingdom under the same title as his existing Viscountcy in the Peerage of Ireland: upon his death on 31 March 1946 without a son, the Irish Viscountcy of Gort passed to his brother, and the British creation became extinct. ⎰]


Watch the video: FRANCE. DEFENCE: Viscount Gort to inspect Maginot Line 1939