Thomas Wynford Rees

Thomas Wynford Rees

Infobox Military Person
name=Thomas Wynford Rees
lived=12 January, 1898 - 15 October, 1959

The Docker
General Sahib Bahadur
allegiance=United Kingdom
commands=3rd Battalion 6th Rajputana Rifles (1939)
Indian 10th Infantry Brigade - (March 1941 - March 1942)
Indian 10th Infantry Division (1942)
Indian 19th Infantry Division (1942 - 1945)
Indian 4th Infantry Division (1945 - 1947)
battles=East African Campaign
Western Desert Campaign
Burma Campaign
awards=CB (5 Jul 1945) [LondonGazette |issue=37161|linkeddate=1945-07-03 |startpage=3491 |endpage= |supp=y |accessdate=2008-08-04]
CIE (1 Jan 1931) [LondonGazette |issue=33675|linkeddate=1930-12-30 |startpage=7 |endpage= |supp=y |accessdate=2008-08-04]
DSO (1919) [LondonGazette |issue=31183|linkeddate=1919-02-14 |startpage=2365|endpage= |supp=y |accessdate=2008-08-04]
DSO (9 Jul 1941) [LondonGazette |issue=35209|linkeddate=1941-07-04 |startpage=3883 |endpage= |supp=y |accessdate=2008-08-04]
MC (2 June 191?)
MID (1924)
MID (1936)
MID (1937)
MID (30 Dec 1941) [LondonGazette |issue=35396|linkeddate=1941-12-26 |startpage=7354 |endpage= |supp=y |accessdate=2008-08-04]
MID (24 Jun 1943) [LondonGazette |issue=36065|linkeddate=1943-06-22 |startpage=2863|endpage= |supp=y |accessdate=2008-08-04]
laterwork=Hon. Colonel Welch Regiment TA unit(28 Aug 1951) [LondonGazette |issue=39347|linkeddate=1951-09-28 |startpage=5115|endpage= |supp=y |accessdate=2008-08-04]
Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Monmouthshire (15 Jan 1955) [LondonGazette |issue=40391|linkeddate=1955-01-25 |startpage=512|endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-08-04]

Thomas Wynford Rees CB, CIE, DSO & Bar, MC, DL (12 January, 1898 - 15 October, 1959) was an officer in the British Indian Army during World War I, the interwar years, World War II, and post-war.

Early life and career

He was the son of the Reverend T. M. Rees. He passed out from the Officer Cadet College, Quetta and was commissioned into the British Indian Army in November 1915.LondonGazette |issue=29483|linkeddate=1916-02-22 |startpage=1960|endpage=1961 |supp= |accessdate=2008-09-29]

During World War I he was awarded the DSO and MC and was mentioned in dispatches. The citation for his DSO, published in the "London Gazette" on 29 July, 1919 read:quote|For conspicuous gallantry throughout the day on September 19th, 1918, during the attack on the Turkish position about Tabsor, and especially after passing through the last objective into open country. Collecting various details of four different units up to a total of about 80 men, he organised them intoparties, charged in face of strong opposition, and took two trenches, capturing about 50 prisoners and two field guns. Subsequently, when mounted on a captured pony, he saw a third field gun escaping, whereupon he galloped after it and, single-handed, captured the gun and team complete. He set a magnificent example to all units by his initiative and utter disregard of danger. [LondonGazette |issue=31480|linkeddate=1919-07-29 |startpage=9682 |endpage= |supp=y |accessdate=2008-08-04]

Between the two World Wars he spent much of his time serving on the North West Frontier of India, being mentioned in dispatches three more times.

World War II

During World War II, Rees fought in the East African Campaign, the North African Campaign, and the Burma Campaign. He was awarded a second DSO and mentioned in dispatches twice.

As head staff officer of Indian 4th Infantry Division (GSO1) he organised the division's highly successful action during Operation Compass in the Western Desert in 1940.Mead (2007), p. 372] The division then played a key role in defeating the Italian imperial forces in Eritrea during the East African Campaign during which time he was promoted to command Indian 10th Infantry brigade, part of Indian 5th Infantry Division which was fighting alongside 4th Indian Division. 10th Brigade played a leading role in the Battle of Keren, the decisive battle of the campaign.

5th Indian Division left East Africa in March 1941 spending periods in Iraq, Egypt and Cyprus. In March 1943 Rees was promoted to command Indian 10th Infantry Division which was at the time in Iraq. Two months later the division was sent to the Western Desert to reinforce Eighth Army.

Controversially, during the Eighth Army's retreat from the Battle of Gazala, Rees was relieved of command of the division by his Corps commander William Gott. The division, having been employed piecemeal during the battle, was ordered to consolidate near Mersa Matruh on the Egyptian border and hold off the Axis advance for 72 hours. Rees responded that the division had only just come together and that defensive works were still inadequate. He therefore doubted the division's ability to hold off a full-scale attack despite the addition of an extra brigade (2nd Free French Brigade). Gott told Rees he lacked resolution for the job and sacked him. Claude Auchinleck, the C-in-C, doubting that Rees was irresolute (but obliged to support his senior commander) gave Rees the job of organising the defence of Cairo in case of an Axis breakthrough. Shortly thereafter Rees's fears were confirmed when 10th Indian division's position was overrun.Mead (2007), p. 373] When the Axis threat to Cairo faded, Rees was sent back to India.

In the autumn of 1942 Rees was appointed to command Indian 19th Infantry Division. Although the division was not sent to the front line in Burma until November 1944, from this date until the end of the war it was in continuous action until the end of the war, gaining a formidable reputation for itself and Rees, who was seen as one of the army's most offensively-minded generals.

After World War II

From 1945 to 1947 Rees commanded the Indian 4th Infantry Division and from August to September 1947, he commanded the neutral Punjab Boundary Force tasked to maintain law and order in the Punjab which was to be divided during the transfer of power to India and Pakistan. The force was too small to control such a large area, particularly since the police forces either disintegrated or became polarised. Despite the Boundary Force's best efforts full-scale riots and massacres took place. The scrupulous neutrality shown by Rees's force brought serious criticism from the politicians of both sides and it was disbanded in early September 1947, two weeks after independece. [Mead (2007), pp. 374–375]

Promoted to the permanent rank of major-general in 1947, Rees took the job as head of the Military Committee of the Indian Emergency Cabinet until he retired from the army in 1948. [Mead (2007), p.375]

He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for Monmouthshire on 15 January 1955.

Army career

* Passed out from Officer Cadet College, Quetta and commissioned 2nd lieutenant into the Indian Army unattached list (1915)
* Attached to 73rd Carnatic Infantry (1915) [LondonGazette |issue=29588|linkeddate=1916-05-19 |startpage=4985|endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-08-04]
* attached to 125th Napier's Rifles (later 5th (Napier's) battalion 6th Rajputana Rifles)
* World War I, MC, mentioned in dispatches
* Awarded DSO whilst in Egypt - (1919)
* Captain in Wazir Force, Waziristan - (1922 - 1925) [LondonGazette |issue=32806|linkeddate=1922-03-16 |startpage=2078 |endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-08-04]
* Staff Officer (Intelligence) (GSO3), India - (1925 - 1926) [LondonGazette |issue=33087|linkeddate=1925-09-25 |startpage=6207|endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-08-04] [LondonGazette |issue=33214|linkeddate=1926-10-22 |startpage=6755 |endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-08-04]
* Instructor, Royal Military College Sandhurst - (1926 - 1928) [LondonGazette |issue=33200|linkeddate=1926-09-10 |startpage=5910 |endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-08-04]
* Private Secretary to Governor of Burma - (1928 - 1930) [LondonGazette |issue=33626|linkeddate=1930-07-18 |startpage=4503|endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-08-04] [LondonGazette |issue=33964|linkeddate=1933-07-28 |startpage=5049|endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-08-04]
* Attended Staff College, Camberley (1931 - 1932)
*Promoted to major (November 1933) [LondonGazette |issue=34007|linkeddate=1933-12-22 |startpage=8319|endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-09-29]
* Staff Officer (GSO3), India - (1934) [LondonGazette |issue=34112|linkeddate=1934-12-07 |startpage=7929|endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-08-04] [LondonGazette |issue=34140|linkeddate=1935-03-08 |startpage=1636|endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-08-04]
* Waziristan, North West Frontier, India - (1935 - 1937)
* Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General, India - (1936 - 1937) [LondonGazette |issue=34264|linkeddate=1936-03-13 |startpage=1661|endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-08-04] LondonGazette |issue=34385|linkeddate=1938-12-23 |startpage=8184|endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-09-29]
* Appointed brevet lieutenant-colonel for "distinguished services in the field Waziristan during the period 25th November 1936 and 16th January 1937" - (1937)) [LondonGazette |issue=34462|linkeddate=1937-12-10 |startpage=7737|endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-09-29]
* General Staff Officer Grade 2, Waziristan District, North West Frontier, India - (1937 - 1938) [LondonGazette |issue=34582|linkeddate=1938-12-23 |startpage=8184|endpage= |supp= |accessdate=2008-08-04]
* Commanding Officer, 3rd Battalion, 6th Rajputana Rifles, India - (1938 - 1939)
* General Staff Officer 1, Indian 4th Infantry Division, North Africa and Sudan - (1940 - 1941)
* Commanding Officer, 10th Indian Brigade, Sudan - (1941 - 1942)
* General Officer Commanding, Indian 10th Infantry Division, Middle East - North Africa - (1942)
* General Officer Commanding, Indian 19th Infantry Division, Burma - (1942 - 1945)
* General Officer Commanding, Indian 4th Infantry Division - (1945 - 1947)
* General Officer Commanding, Punjab Boundary Force, India - (1947)
* Head Military Emergency Staff to Emergency Committee of Cabinet, India - (1947)
* Retired - (1948)


Rees was married in 1926 to Rosalie, only daughter of Sir Charles Innes. They had one son and one daughter.


*cite book | first=Richard| last=Mead| title=Churchill's Lions: A biographical guide to the key British generals of World War II| year=2007| publisher=Spellmount| location=Stroud (UK)| pages=544 pages| isbn=978-1-86227-431-0

External links

* [,8816,797328,00.html "Burma Turnabout" from Time Magazine, 1945]


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