- Alan Cunningham
Infobox Military Person
name= Sir Alan Cunningham
lived=1 May 1887 - 30 January 1983
caption= General Sir Alan Cunningham
Commandant of the Staff College
World War I World War II
*East African Campaign
North African Campaign
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath Distinguished Service Order Military Cross GeneralSir Alan Gordon Cunningham GCMG, KCB, DSO, MC (1 May 1887 - 30 January 1983) was a British Armyofficer, noted for victories over Italian forces in the East African Campaign during the Second World War. He was the younger brother of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Cunningham of Hyndhope.
Early career and World War I
Cunningham was born in
Dublin, Ireland. He was educated at Cheltenham Collegeand the Royal Military Academybefore taking a commission in the army in 1906. During World War I, he served with the Royal Horse Artillery, and was awarded a Military Crossin 1915 and the DSO in 1918. For two years after the war he served in the Straits Settlements.
In 1937 Cunningham became the Commander
Royal Artilleryof the 1st Infantry Division. This was followed in 1938 by promotion to major-general and appointment as commander of the 5th Anti-Aircraft Division.
World War II
After the beginning of
World War II, Cunningham held a number of short appointments commanding infantry divisions in the United Kingdom before being promoted to lieutenant-general to take command of the British East AfricaForces in Kenya.
During the East African Campaign General Archibald Wavell the Commander-in-Chief of the British
Middle East Commanddirected Cunningham to retake British Somalilandand free Addis Ababa, Ethiopiafrom the Italians whilst forces under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir William Plattwould attack from Sudanin the north through Eritrea. Cunningham's offensive started with the occupation of the Indian Oceanports of Kismayu( _it. Chisimaio) and Mogadishu(Italian: Mogadiscio), the Italians having fled into the interior of Somalia. On 6 April 1941, Cunningham's forces entered Addis Ababa. On 11 May the northernmost units of Cunningham's forces, under South African Brigadier Dan Pienaarlinked with Platt's forces under Major-General Mosley Mayneto besiege Amba Alagi. On 20 May, Mayne took the surrender of the Italian Army, led by Amedeo di Savoia, 3rd Duke of Aosta, at Amba Alagi.
Cunningham's campaign was a swift action which resulted in the taking of 50,000 prisoners and the loss of only 500 of his men.
His success in East Africa led to Cunningham's appointment to command the newly-formed 8th Army in
North Africain August 1941. His immediate task was to lead General Sir Claude Auchinleck's Libyan Desertoffensive which began on 18 November. However, early losses led Cunningham to recommend the offensive be curtailed. This advice was not accepted by his superiors, who relieved him of his command. He returned to Britain to serve the remainder of the war as Commandant of the Staff College (1942) and General Officer C-in-C in Northern Ireland(1943) and Eastern Command (1944). He was knighted in 1941.
Post World War II
After World War II, Cunningham, who was promoted to
generalin 1945, returned to the Middle Eastas High Commissionerof Palestine; he served in the position from 1945 to 1948 when the British mandate in Palestine expired and Israelwas proclaimed an independent state. He had retired from the army a little less than two years before this in October 1946 when he relinquished the role of Commander-in-Chief Palestine. He also served as Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artilleryuntil 1954. [Houterman & Koppes]
Cunningham died in
Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England.
*cite web|url=http://www.unithistories.com/officers/Army_officers_C02.html |title=World War II unit histories and officers|accessdate=2008-06-12 |last=Houterman |first=Hans| coauthors=Koppes, Jeroen
*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 Limited| location=Stroud, U.K.| pages=543 pages| isbn=978-1-86227-431-0
* [http://www.generals.dk/general/Cunningham/Sir_Alan_Gordon/Great_Britain.html Biographical entry for Cunningham on the Generals of WWII website]
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