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Michael O'Moore Creagh

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Allegiance  United Kingdom
Rank  Major general
Battles and wars  World War I, World War II
Died  1970
Service/branch  British Army
Michael O'Moore Creagh photosgenicomp137834280d5344483947963c90n
Commands held  15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars 7th Armoured Division 3 Armored Group
Battles/wars  First World War, Second World War
Relations  General Sir O'Moore Creagh (father)
Education  Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Awards  Order of the British Empire, Military Cross, Mentioned in dispatches

Major General Sir Michael O'Moore Creagh KBE, MC (16 May 1892 – 1970) was a British soldier who served in both the First and Second World Wars. He commanded the 7th Armoured Division, the Desert Rats, between 1939 and 1941.

Contents

Early life

Creagh was born on 16 May 1892 to O'Moore Creagh, a Victoria Cross recipient and officer in the British Indian Army, and his second wife Elizabeth (née Reade). Educated at Wellington College, he entered the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and was then commissioned into the 7th Queen's Own Hussars in 1911.

First World War

By the end of the First World War, Creagh had served as an aide de camp to the divisional commander Home Forces (1914–15), as a staff captain in France (1917–18) and a brigade major (1918–19).

Creagh stayed in the British Army after the war and commanded 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars from 1934 to 1938.

Second World War

On 4 December 1939, Creagh took over the 7th Armoured Division stationed on the Egyptian frontier, from Major General Percy Hobart who was retired by General Archibald Wavell. In February 1940 the formation was renamed 7th Armoured Division and Creagh's tenure of command of this division was the longest of any of its general officers commanding.

Sidi Barrani

Creagh led the division through its earliest triumphs against the Italians after they entered the war on 10 June 1940. Under General Mario Berti the Italians invaded Egypt and advanced 60 miles to Sidi Barrani where they halted. It was here that Creagh's 7th Armoured Division fought its first major battle in the Operation Compass counterattack on 8 December, joining with 4th Indian Division in the Western Desert Force (WDF) to mount the attack. As a result, the Italians were driven back quickly into Cyrenaica, the eastern province of their colonial territory, Libya.

Bardia and Tobruk

The small port of Bardia fell to advancing British, Australian and Indian forces in the WDF under the command of General Sir Richard O'Connor, followed as the new year of 1941 came in, by Tobruk as the Italians retreated along the Via Balbia, the metallised coastal road that led back to Benghazi and Tripoli. This was the top half of a semicircle, the bottom straight line of the semicircle was formed by rough rock-strewn desert, unpromising territory for armoured and mechanised military units like 7th Armoured Division.

Beda Fomm

Creagh's division was to travel via Mechili, Msus and Antelat (the bottom of the semicircle), while the Australian 6th Division chased the retreating Italian Tenth Army along the coast road round the Jebel Akhdar mountains to the north (the curve of the semicircle). The poor terrain was hard going for the tanks, and Creagh took the bold decision to send a flying column - christened "Combe Force" - south-west across the virtually unmapped Libyan Desert. Combe Force, under its namesake Lieutenant Colonel John Combe of the 11th Hussars, consisted of 11th Hussars, a squadron of King's Dragoon Guards, 2nd Battalion The Rifle Brigade, an RAF armoured car squadron, anti-tank guns from 3rd Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery and C Battery, 4th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery. The force totalled about 2,000 men. On 5 February, Combe Force succeeded in cutting off the Italians at Sidi Saleh and Beda Fomm. The small force held the Italians long enough to be joined by the armour of 4 Brigade on 6 February. The bulk of the Tenth Army surrendered the next day as a result of this successful blockade of their path.

In March 1941 Creagh was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), and was twice mentioned in Despatches that year.

On 3 September 1941 he was relieved as commander of the division by Major General William Gott following the costly failure of Operation Battleaxe. Creagh commanded 3 Armoured Group from 1941 and Hampshire and Dorset District from 1942 before retiring in 1944.

In retirement Creagh worked for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

References

Michael O'Moore Creagh Wikipedia


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