Frederick Browning

Infobox Military Person
name= Frederick Arthur Montague Browning

caption= Browning as Commander, Airborne Corps
born= 20 December 1896
died= 14 March 1965
branch= British Army
rank= Lieutenant General
commands= First Allied Airborne Army
I Airborne Corps
1st Airborne Division
battles= World War I
World War II
*North African Campaign
*Operation Market-Garden
awards= Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order

Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Arthur Montague Browning GCVO, KBE, CB, DSO (December 20, 1896 – March 14, 1965) was a British military officer. His most famous role was as the deputy commander of First Allied Airborne Army in Operation Market Garden. He was known affectionately as "Boy" Browning.

World War I

His military career began in World War I, during which he met Winston Churchill, who many years later placed him in command of the 1st Airborne Division during the Second World War.

Inter-War Period

He became a captain in 1920, and a major in 1928.

He spent a while as Adjutant at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where he was the first Adjutant, during the Sovereign's Parade of 1926, to ride his horse "The Vicar" up the steps of Old College and to dismount in the Grand Entrance. There is no satisfactory explanation for why he did it, but it is a tradition which endures to this day. (A ramp has to be provided for the horse to return, since horses are incapable of going down steps). [cite book |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= |editor=Christopher Pugsley, Angela Holdsworth |others= |title=Sandhurst - A Tradition of Leadership |origdate= |origyear=2005 |origmonth= |url= |format= |accessdate= |accessyear= |accessmonth= |edition= |series= |volume= |date= |year= |month= |publisher=Third Millennium Publishing Ltd. |location= |language= |isbn=1 903942 39 x |oclc= |doi= |id= |pages=p180 |chapter=Chapter 30 - The Sovereign's Parade |chapterurl= |quote= ]

Promotion to lieutenant-colonel followed in 1935. In 1935 he was the commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards. He held that position until about the time of the outbreak of World War II, when he became Commandant of the Small Arms School as a Brigadier.

World War II

In 1940, he was given command of the 24th Guards Brigade. During 1941 Churchill, who had by then become Prime Minister, appointed him as commander of the 1st Airborne Division. He held that position through the unit's fighting in North Africa. Relinquishing command of the division on May 6, 1943, he was promoted lieutenant general in December of that year and assigned to HQ Airborne Forces in Britain. On April 16, 1944, he became commander of I Airborne Corps. The corps was part of First Allied Airborne Army, commanded by US Lieutenant-General Lewis H Brereton. While retaining command of the British airborne corps, Browning also became Deputy Commander of the Army.

I Airborne Corps commanded the airborne forces committed during Operation Market Garden. Browning landed with a tactical headquarters near Nijmegen but found it difficult to command the troops due to communications failures and their geographical separation. His use of 36 aircraft to move his corps headquarters on the first lift has been criticisedFact|date=April 2007; the number of combat troops on the first lift was already restricted due to a decision not to make two drops on the first day. The US General James M. Gavin, commanding the US 82nd Airborne Division, was also highly critical of Browning, writing in his diary on September 6, 1944 that he "...unquestionably lacks the standing, influence and judgment that comes from a proper troop experience....his staff was superficial...Why the British units fumble along...becomes more and more apparent. Their tops lack the knowhow, never do they get down into the dirt and learn the hard way."

After the battle Browning's critical evaluation of the contribution of Polish forces led to the removal of Polish Brigadier-General Stanisław Sosabowski as the commanding officer of the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade. This is now seen as unjustified and unjust scapegoating by the inner circle of British higher military ranksFact|date=April 2007. In 2006 the Dutch awarded Sosabowski the Bronze Lion, and the Polish 1st. Independent Parachute Brigade the Order of William.

In the film A Bridge Too Far based on the events of Operation Market Garden, Browning was portrayed by Dirk Bogarde.

Although Field Marshal Montgomery attached no blame to Browning for the failure of Operation Market Garden, he received no further promotion. He subsequently became Chief of Staff to Lord Mountbatten, Commander-in-Chief of the South East Asia Command. His predecessor in that post, Lieutenant General Pownall, acerbically described Browning as "rather nervy and highly strung". Browning remained in South East Asia until the end of the war.

Post-War Period

His last major military post was as Military Secretary of the War Office, 1946-1948. From 1948 to 1952 he was Comptroller and Treasurer to Her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth Duchess of Edinburgh (later Queen Elizabeth II), and from 1952 to 1959 he was Treasurer to the Duke of Edinburgh.

From 1944 to 1962 he was Commodore of the Royal Fowey Yacht Club, and subsequently was elected its first Admiral.

Browning married novelist Daphne du Maurier in 1932, with his wife becoming initially Mrs Browning and then Lady Browning when her husband was awarded a knighthood in 1946. One of their daughters, Tessa, married David Bernard Montgomery, 2nd Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, son of Field Marshal Montgomery. His cousin was the broadcaster and cricket commentator Brian Johnston.

Browning received the DSO in 1917, and was appointed a CB in 1943. He was made a KBE in 1946. In 1953 he was made a KCVO, and was advanced to GCVO in 1959.

tyles and honours

* Mr Frederick Browning (1896-1917)
* Mr Frederick Browning DSO (1917-1943)
* Mr Frederick Browning CB DSO (1943-1946)
* Sir Frederick Browning KBE CB DSO (1946-1953)
* Sir Frederick Browning KCVO KBE CB DSO (1953-1959)
* Sir Frederick Browning GCVO KBE CB DSO (1959-1965)

External links

* []
* [ WW2 orders of battle]


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