Eric Bols


Eric Bols

Infobox Military Person
name= Eric Bols


caption=
born= 8 June 1904
died= 14 June 1985
placeofbirth= Camberley, Surrey
placeofdeath= ?
branch= British Army
serviceyears=
rank= Major-General
unit= Devonshire Regiment (1924–36)
King's (Liverpool) Regiment (1936–48)
commands= 185th Infantry Brigade (1944)
6th Airborne Division (1944–8)
battles= World War II
*Operation Varsity
awards= Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and bar
Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB)
Silver StarCite newspaper The Times
articlename=Obituary—Maj-Gen E. L. Bols—Command of airborne assault over the Rhine
author=
section=Obituaries
day_of_week=Friday
date=June 14, 1985
page_number=16
page_numbers=
issue=62164
column=G
]

Major-General Eric Louis Bols, CB, DSO and Bar (8 June 190414 June 1985) was an officer in the British Army, who was most notable for serving as the commanding officer of the British 6th Airborne Division during Operation Varsity in 1945. Born in Surrey in 1904, Bols joined the Army in 1924 and saw service in a number of areas of the British Empire during the inter-war period, including Hong Kong and Shanghai, as well as Malta. He served as a Cadet Instructor at Sandhurst and attended courses at the British Army Staff College on promotion to Captain.

When the Second World War began, Bols moved through several staff officer positions, serving in several institutions and Army formations before being promoted to Colonel and taking charge of all training for the troops under the command of 21st Army Group and helping to plan Operation Overlord. Bols was then promoted again and commanded a Brigade during the Allied advance through Western Europe, before taking command of the 6th Airborne Division in late 1944. He led the division in the Battle of the Bulge, as well as Operation Varsity, the airborne operation to cross the River Rhine, then led the division into northern Germany until the end of the conflict. After the end of the war Bols remained in command of the division in peace-keeping duties in the Middle East, and then retired in 1948 as a Major-General.

Early life and career

Bols was born in Camberley in Surrey in June 1904. His father, Louis Bols, was born in Quebec, and was the son of the Belgian Consul stationed in Quebec and later London. Dover, p. 156 ] Louis Bols, who was a dual British and Belgian national, travelled around the world and mastered some even foreign languages, before eventually met his wife and settling down. He served during the First World War, acting as the Chief of Staff for General Allenby for the majority of the conflict. Eric Bols was born when his father was attending Staff College, and was educated in several institutions, including Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Devonshire Regiment on 30 January 1924. Dover, p. 157 ] [LondonGazette|issue=32903|startpage=958|date=1 February 1924|accessdate=2008-06-12] He was promoted to Lieutenant on 31 January 1926, [LondonGazette|issue=33129|startpage=789|date=2 February 1926|accessdate=2008-06-12] and in 1927, Bols was sent with his regiment to China, first being stationed in Hong Kong but later moving to Shanghai, his battalion being tasked with helping to keep the peace in the region. However, he did not stay for very long in China, with his early career being marked by a series of rapid transfers from region to region, and by 1928 he was stationed in Malta, where he found himself playing polo with then-Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was also stationed on the island at the same time. Dover, p. 158 ] From here his career progressed rapidly, appointed an instructor at the Signals School at Catterick Garrison from 27 June 1928 to 29 December 1931 and then becoming an officer of a Company of Cadets at Sandhurst from 6 May 1934 to 21 January 1935 and then to study at the Staff College, Camberley. [LondonGazette|issue=33401|startpage=4576|date=6 June 1928|accessdate=2008-06-12] [LondonGazette|issue=33790|startpage=348|date=15 January 1932|accessdate=2008-06-12] [LondonGazette|issue=34049|startpage=3028|date=11 May 1934|accessdate=2008-06-12] [LondonGazette|issue=34126|startpage=548|date=22 January 1935|accessdate=2008-06-12] [LondonGazette|issue=34129|startpage=770|date=1 February 1935|accessdate=2008-06-12] He was also promoted Captain from that date, transferring to the King's (Liverpool) Regiment, there being no vacancies in the Devonshires. [LondonGazette|issue=34138|startpage=1467|date=1 March 1935|accessdate=2008-06-12]

Quote box
quote = ”I liked him a lot. He was very good with the young chaps and was popular [...] He had the ability to get on well with people who were a couple of decades younger than himself. He was very proud of the Grenadier Guards and made people look up and not down, but with no personal arrogance."
source = Lieutenant-General Frederick Browning on Eric Bols as a Cadet at Sandhurst.
width = 35%
align = right

Bols returned to regimental duty for a few months from 22 December 1936, [LondonGazette|issue=34352|startpage=8287|date=22 December 1936|accessdate=2008-06-12] having completed the staff course. On 30 August 1937 he was seconded to the staff of the Ceylon Defence Force with the local rank of Major. [LondonGazette|issue=34456|startpage=7264|date=19 November 1937|accessdate=2008-06-12]

World War II

When the Second World War began in September 1939, Bols was still in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The rank of Major was made substantive from 25 February 1940 (though he did not immediately receive the pay and allowances for the rank). [LondonGazette|issue=34863|supp=yes|startpage=3343|date=31 May 1940|accessdate=2008-06-12] He went on to act as an instructor at the Staff College, Camberley, a General Staff Officer (GSO) with the 51st (Highland) Division, then commanded the 3rd Reconnaissance Regiment and acted as the Colonel in charge of training for the 21st Army Group. Bols was also involved in planning for Operation Overlord as well as helping to train the soldiers who would participate in the Invasion of Normandy. When the invasion began on 6 June, 1944 Bols did not participate directly, being retained at the War Office as a staff officer, but was given command of 185th Infantry Brigade in the 3rd Division during the Allied advance from Paris to the Rhine. He was appointed a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his command of the brigade during the Battle of Overloon and the subsequent liberation of Overloon and Venray in the Netherlands, the recommendation for the award of the DSO makes particular mention of the achievement of the brigade in forcing the River Breek despite heavy resistance, poor weather and shortage of assault equipment. The award was gazetted on 1 March 1945. [cite web|url=http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/details-result.asp?queryType=1&resultcount=1&Edoc_Id=7667758|title=Recommendations for honours and awards (Army)—Image detail—Bols, Eric Louis—Distinguished Service Order|work=Documents Online|publisher=The National Archives|accessdate=2008-06-12] [cite web|url=http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATLN=7&CATID=-4334467&j=1|title=Item details WO 373/51/297 (Military Secretary's Department: Recommendations for Honours and Awards for Gallant and Distinguished Service (Army))|work=The Catalogue|publisher=The National Archives|accessdate=2008-06-12|format=fee required to view full original document] [LondonGazette|issue=36961|supp=yes|startpage=1172|date=27 February 1945|accessdate=2008-06-12]

When Bols was finally offered the command of the 6th Airborne Division in 1944, he had not previously commanded a military formation as large as a division. [ Dover, p. 160 ] Bols took command shortly before Christmas of 1944, superseding General Gale, who had previously commanded it during Operation Tonga, the British airborne landings in Normandy. [ Saunders, p. 299 ] He was granted the acting rank of Major-General from 6 December 1944. [LondonGazette|issue=37082|supp=yes|startpage=2559|date=15 May 1945|accessdate=2008-06-12] When he took command the division was back in the United Kingdom, expecting a quiet Christmas training and reorganising. However, with the situation in the Ardennes deteriorating it was thrown into the Battle of the Bulge to support American forces in repelling the German counter-offensive between December 1944 and January 1945, one of only a small number of British formations to do so. The division conducted a counter-attack beginning 3 January alongside other British units, advancing against fierce German resistance until the division linked up with elements of the United States Third Army. Bols then commanded the division as it participated in Operation Varsity, the airborne assault over the Rhine, alongside the US 17th Airborne Division in March 1945. He landed with the glider troops in the initial phases of the operation, commanding from the front, and receiving both a Bar to his DSO and the American Silver Star (on the recommendation of Matthew Ridgway). [cite web|url=http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/details-result.asp?queryType=1&resultcount=1&Edoc_Id=7670342|title=Recommendations for honours and awards (Army)—Image detail—Bols, Eric Louis—Bar to the Distinguished Service Order|work=Documents Online|publisher=The National Archives|accessdate=2008-06-12|format=fee required to view full original document] [cite web|url=http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATLN=7&CATID=-4652627|title=Item details WO 373/54/549 (Military Secretary's Department: Recommendations for Honours and Awards for Gallant and Distinguished Service (Army))|work=The Catalogue|publisher=The National Archives|accessdate=2008-06-12] [LondonGazette|issue=37112|supp=yes|startpage=2877|date=5 June 1945|accessdate=2008-06-12] [cite web|url=http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/details-result.asp?queryType=1&resultcount=1&Edoc_Id=7700035|title=Recommendations for honours and awards (Army)—Image detail—Bols, Eric L—Silver Star medal|work=Documents Online|publisher=The National Archives|accessdate=2008-06-12|format=fee required to view full original document] [LondonGazette|issue=38571|supp=yes|startpage=1529|date=25 March 1949|accessdate=2008-06-12] After the division had crossed the Rhine, it then advanced through the North German Plain until it linked up with Russian forces at Wismar on 2 May, the first British unit to do so. On 5 July 1945 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB). [LondonGazette|issue=37161|supp=yes|startpage=3489|date=3 July 1945|accessdate=2008-06-12]

Post-War

At the end of the conflict, Bols retained his temporary rank of Major-General (and his war substantive rank was increased to Colonel) [LondonGazette|issue=37388|supp=yes|startpage=6087|date=11 December 1945|accessdate=2008-06-12] and with it command of the 6th Airborne Division, on 21 September 1945 he travelled to Egypt with his Headquarters staff, arriving shortly after at his final destination, Tel Aviv. The rest of the division followed. Dover, p. 170 ] He commanded the division whilst it conducted peace-keeping duties in Palestine. After almost three years service in the Middle East, Bols retired from the Army with the honorary rank of Major-General (his actual regimental rank was still that of lieutenant-colonel) on 8 January 1948. [LondonGazette|issue=37769|supp=yes|startpage=5294|date=25 October 1946|accessdate=2008-06-12] [LondonGazette|issue=38172|supp=yes|startpage=202|date=6 January 1948|accessdate=2008-06-12] In 1965, it was reported by The Times that the former Russian General and then Soviet Deputy Defense Minister Konstantin Rokossovsky argued in a journal article that Bols had attempted to use the 6th Airborne Division to 'infiltrate' Russian lines. Rokossovsky claimed that the division had manoeuvered behind Soviet troops advancing towards Lubeck, and Russian troops had only avoided opening fire on the airborne troops when they had recognized the British uniforms they wore. [Cite newspaper The Times|articlename='1945 Infiltration by British troops'—Soviet Marshal's claim|author=Reuters|section=News|day_of_week=Wednesday|date=April 28, 1965|page_number=11|issue=56307|column=F] Bols died at his home on 14 June, 1985 at the age of 81.

Footnotes

References

*cite book
last = Dover
first = Major Victor
title = The Sky Generals
publisher = Cassell
date = 1981
isbn = 0-30430-480-8

*cite book
last = Saunders
first = Hilary St. George
title = The Red Beret: The Story of the Parachute Regiment 1940-1945
publisher = Michael Joseph Ltd
date = 1950
isbn =


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • List of World War II topics (E) — # E. Frederic Morrow # E. Howard Hunt # E. Ion Pool # E. Lloyd Du Brul # E. R. Stephenson # E. S. Gosney # E. V. Loustalot # E. William Exshaw # Earffel Tower (Paris) # Earl E. Anderson # Earl G. Harrison # Earl Johnson (athlete) # Earl Johnson… …   Wikipedia

  • James Cassels (British Army officer) — For other people named James Cassels, see James Cassels (disambiguation). Sir James Cassels Field Marshal Sir James Cassels Nickname …   Wikipedia

  • 6th Airborne Division (United Kingdom) — Infobox Military Unit unit name= 6th Airborne Division caption=The divisional shoulder flash of the airborne forces dates= World War II 3 May 1943 1 April 1948 country= Great Britain allegiance= branch= British Army type=Airborne role=Parachute… …   Wikipedia

  • Operation Varsity — Part of Operation Plunder C 4 …   Wikipedia

  • Richard Nelson Gale — Sir Richard Nelson Gale Gale as GOC 6th Airborne Division, 10 June 1944. Nickname Windy …   Wikipedia

  • 6. Britische Luftlandedivision — Richard Gale gibt der 6. Britischen Luftlandedivision Anweisungen für die Operation Tonga Die 6. Britische Luftlandedivision (engl. British 6th Airborne Division) war eine britische Luftlandedivision im Zweiten Weltkrieg und in der Nachkriegszeit …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • British 6th Airborne Division — Richard Gale gibt der 6. Britischen Luftlandedivision Anweisungen für die Operation Tonga Die 6. Britische Luftlandedivision (engl. British 6th Airborne Division) war eine britische Luftlandedivision im Zweiten Weltkrieg und in der Nachkriegszeit …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Operation Varsity — Teil von: Westfront, Zweiter Weltkrieg Verlauf der Operationen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • 6e division aeroportee (Royaume-Uni) — 6e division aéroportée (Royaume Uni) 6th Airborne Division Hommes de la 6e division avant leur saut sur la Normandie Période mai 1943 – 1er avril 1948 Pays …   Wikipédia en Français

  • 6e division aéroportée (Royaume-Uni) — 6th Airborne Division Hommes de la 6e division avant leur saut sur la Normandie Période mai 1943 – 1er avril 1948 P …   Wikipédia en Français


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.