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Miles Dempsey

Lieutenant General M C Dempsey, Cb, Dso, Mc, Commander in Chief, British Second Army, April 1944
Lieutenant General M C Dempsey, Cb, Dso, Mc, Commander in Chief, British Second Army, April 1944

Miles Dempsey was born Dec. 15, 1896, in New Brighton, Cheshire, England. Commissioned into the British Army in 1915, Dempsey fought with the British Expeditionary Force in France during World War I. At the beginning of World War II, Dempsey was a lieutenant colonel in command of an infantry brigade in France.

During the Allied retreat, Dempsey's force provided screening for the British forces as they evacuation from Dunkirk in May-June 1940.

Dempsey was promoted to lieutenant general, in November 1942 and took command of the 13th Corps of the 8th Army in North Africa. In July 1943, the Corps, under Miles Dempsey's command, formed the right wing of Montgomery's forces in the invasion of Sicily. His troops later led the invasion the Italian Peninsula across the Strait of Messina, where they advanced more than 300 miles to the north in 17 days before linking up with U.S. forces at Salerno.

Because of his strategic acumen, Montgomery selected Dempsey to command the 2nd Army in the invasion of Normandy, which was comprised of both Canadian and British forces. According to the plan, the British 50th Infantry, British 3rd Infantry and Canadian 3rd Infantry Divisions were to assault Gold, Sword and Juno beaches respectively. After landing on June 6, the 2nd Army drove inland to capture Caen on July 9. Dempsey's army kept German forces engaged so that the U.S. 1st Army was able to break out of Normandy.

After Normandy, Dempsey continued to command the 2nd Army during its drive up to Germany. The 2nd Army fought major battles at Mortain and Falaise before driving to the east through Belgium. Dempsey's Army was involved in Operation Market Garden, the failed Allied assault on the Netherlands in September 1944. The 2nd Army crossed the Rhine River in late March 1945 and captured the German cities of Bremen, Hamburg, and Kiel.

Following the surrender of German forces, Dempsey served as the British commander-in-chief of Allied land forces in South East Asia and the Middle East before retiring in 1947.

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