A Journey Down the Nile
General Sir Richard Nugent O'Connor
intimately known as: "Dick"
KT (1971), GCB (1947; KCB 1941; CB 1940), DSO (1917), MC, LLD, idc, psc
Born 21.08.1889 (Srinagar, Kashmir, India)
Died 17.06.1981 (King Edward VII Hospital for Officers, London)
Education: Wellington College (1903-1907); Royal Military College, Sandhurst (1908)
18.09.1909 commissioned, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) 00.00.1913-00.00.1914 Signal Officer, Malta Brigade 1914-1918 served European War: France & Belgium (9.1914-11.1917), Italy (11.1917-4.11.1918) (A. Sig. Serv. 15.9.1914-28.10.1916) (despatches 9 times, DSO, bar, MC, Italian Silver medal for valour) 00.08.1914-00.11.1915 Signal Officer, 22nd Brigade (UK, France & Belgium) 00.11.1915-28.10.1916 Commander, Signal Company, 7th Division (France) 29.10.1916-29.05.1917 Brigade-Major, 91st Brigade (France) 04.06.1917-19.03.1919 Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion The Honourable Artillery Company (France, Italy) (T/Lt.Col.) 10.04.1919-15.12.1919 Adjutant, 2nd Battalion The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (UK) 22.01.1920-00.12.1920 Staff College 21.01.1921-28.02.1921 General Staff Officer 3rd grade (GSO3), 3rd Division, Southern Command (UK) 01.03.1921-27.01.1924 Brigade-Major, Experimental Brigade, Aldershot Command (UK) 12.02.1924-31.08.1925 Adjutant, 1st Battalion The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (UK) 03.09.1925-31.08.1927 Commander, Company of Gentleman Cadets (General Staff Officer 2nd grade (GSO2)), Royal Military College, Sandhurst (UK) 01.10.1927-20.01.1930 instructor (General Staff Officer 2nd grade (GSO2)), Staff College, Camberley (UK) 00.01.1930-00.12.1930 Commander, Machine Gun Company, 1st Battalion The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (Egypt) 00.12.1930-00.04.1932 Brigade Machine Gun Officer (Egypt, India) 07.04.1932-14.01.1935 General Staff Officer 2nd grade (GSO2), Directorate of Staff Duties, War Office (UK) 15.01.1935-00.00.1936 student, Imperial Defence College 03.04.1936-28.09.1938 Commander Peshawar Brigade (India) (T/Brig.) 29.09.1938-03.11.1939 Military Governor of Jerusalem & General Officer Commanding, 7th Infantry Division (Palestine, Egypt), redesignated as: * 03.11.1939-02.11.1940 General Officer Commanding, 6th Infantry Division (Egypt, Palestine) (5.10-2.11.1940 local Lt.Gen.), redesignated as: * 03.11.1940-15.02.1941 Commander, Western Desert Force (Egypt, Syria, Libya) (from 3.11.1940-17.5.1944 A/Lt.Gen.), redesignated as: * 16.02.1941-08.04.1941 General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, British Troops in Egypt, redesignated as: * 09.04.1941-06.04.1942 Commander, XIII Corps (Egypt, Libya) (POW, escaped successfully in Dec. 1943 after 5 attempts) * 21.01.1944-01.12.1944 Corps Commander, VIII Corps (Normandy, NW Europe) 00.01.1945-00.11.1945 General Officer CommandinginChief, Eastern Command, India 00.11.1945-00.05.1946 General Officer CommandinginChief, North Western Army, India 00.07.1946-00.08.1947 AdjutantGeneral to the Forces (UK) 30.01.1948 retired
* Dates given are from the official personnel records. Redesignations were in effect on other dates (see the account below).
00.00.1951-00.00.1954 Colonel, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) 00.00.1955-00.00.1964 Lord Lieutenant, County of Ross & Cromarty 00.00.1946-00.00.1948 Aide de Camp General to the King 00.00.1948-00.00.1959 Commandant, Army Cadet Force, Scotland 00.00.1964 Lord High Commissioner, Church of Scotland General Assembly 00.00.1952- Justice of the Peace, Ross and Cromarty
06.05.1911 Lieutenant 11.03.1915 Captain 01.01.1917 Brevet/Major 16.12.1926 Major 17.12.1926 Brevet/Lieutenant-Colonel 12.01.1936 Lieutenant-Colonel 03.04.1936 (sen. 17.12.1929) Colonel 29.09.1938 (sen. 06.01.1938) Major-General 18.05.1944 (sen. 10.08.1941) Lieutenant-General 17.04.1945 General
Decorations: WWI: Mention in Despatches (17.2.1915, 1.1.1916, 4.1.1917, 15.5.1917, 18.12.1917, 30.5.1918, 4.12.1918, 6.1.1919, 5.6.1919); Military Cross (18.2.1915); Distinguished Service Order (1917) and Bar; 1914 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal; Palestine: Mention in Despatches (15.9.1939); Palestine 1936-1939 Medal & Clasp; WWII: Companion of the Order of the Bath (1940); Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (4.3.1941); Mention in Despatches (1.4.1941, 27.1.1944, 22.3.1945); 1939-45 Star; France and Germany Star; Legion of Honour, Commander, Croix de Guerre with palm; Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (1947); Knight of the Thistle (7.1971) Literature: Corelli Barnett. The desert generals (London : Allen and Unwin, 1960)
Charles E. Pfannes & Victor A. Salamone. The great commanders of World War II. Vol. II: The British (New York : Zebra Books, 1981)
John Baynes.The forgotten victor : General Sir Richard O'Connor, KT, GCB, DSO, MC (London : Brassey's, 1989)
Richard Nugent O'Connor was born in Srinigar, Kashmir in India on 21 August 1889, the son of Major Maurice O'Connor, of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, and Lilian, nee Morris. He attended Tonbridge Castle School from 1899 and The Towers School in Crowthorne from 1902, transferring to Wellington School in Somerset in 1903. O'Connor's military career began in earnest when, in 1908, he joined the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. In October 1909 he was gazetted to 2 Battalion, the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) based at Aldershot. He was posted to Colchester in January 1910 where he attended a signalling and musketry course. During 1911 to 1912, the battalion was stationed in Malta, with O'Connor as Regimental Signal Officer. For papers relating to the classification of regimental signallers during the Helio Sending exercises by 2 Battalion in Malta, 1912 and the following Court of Inquiry, see 2/1. For accounts of O'Connor's early life and schooling, see 1/1 and 1/3.
Service in World War I and the inter-war years, to September 1938
O'Connor's early service during World War I included periods as Signal Officer of 22 Brigade in 7 Division; Captain, in command of 7 Division Signal Company; and Brigade Major in 91 Brigade, 7 Division. In February 1915 he was awarded the Military Cross, and in March of that year saw service in the Battle of Arras, and attacks on Bullecourt. In June 1917, O'Connor was appointed temporary Lt Col and commander of 2 Infantry Battalion in the Honourable Artillery Company, as part of 7 Division, and was awarded the DSO. The Division was transferred in November that year to the Italian Front, near the River Piave, for operations against Austrian forces. In late October 1918, O'Connor was directed to capture the island of Grave di Papadopoli on the River Piave. The operation was successfully carried out by 2 Battalion between 24 and 27 October, and O'Connor was awarded the Italian Silver Medal of Honour and a Bar to his DSO. See 2/2/3-5 for the detailed diaries kept by O'Connor covering his service during World War I and immediately after, and 2/2/7 for newspaper cuttings relating to the Italian campaign. Service in the inter-war years included appointments as Brigade Major in the Experimental Brigade, also known as 5 Brigade, which was formed to run testing procedures for the use of tanks and aircraft by infantry and artillery, 1921-1924; adjutant in The Cameronians, 1924-1925; instructor at the Staff College, Camberley, 1927-1929; and attendance at the Ninth Course of the Imperial Defence College in 1935. In October 1935 O'Connor was appointed Commander of the Peshawar Brigade, North West Frontier Province in India. Little survives to document this period in O'Connor's career, although confidential reports on his progress, made by Maj Gen C B Dashwood Strettall, are held as 2/4/5-6. O'Connor later referred to lessons learned in mobility during his time in India, which he employed to great effect in the First Libyan Campaign.
Commander of 7 Division and Military Governor of Jerusalem
In September 1938, O'Connor was notified of his appointment as Commander of 7 Division in Palestine, and on his arrival there was informed of his additional responsibility as Military Governor of Jerusalem. The responsibility for maintaining control involved close cooperation with the Commander-in-Chief, Maj Gen Robert Haining, and the High Commissioner for Palestine and Transjordan, Sir Harold MacMichael, and is reflected in the wealth of surviving correspondence between civil and military authorities. The correspondence also illustrates means of control exercised in areas of gang warfare where, for example, the sabotage and mining of railway sleepers and sniper attacks were commonplace. These means of control included orders for curfews; cooperation between the police and military, and training of the police by the latter; establishment of tactical police outposts in rural areas, and regular patrols; special regulations for road travel outside municipal boundaries for civil and military authorities, and traffic control posts; detention centres; confiscation and general control of firearms. O'Connor worked alongside Maj Gen B L Montgomery, Commander of 8 Division, to monitor and control areas of unrest between the Arab and Jewish communities. The papers contain much correspondence with Haining and refer to particular incidents, including reports on the district of Ramallah, January and February 1939 (3/3/8) and the political situation in the sub district of Hebron, 1938-1939 (3/4/10); declaration by Montgomery of the general policy to be pursued by 8 Division, November 1938 (3/4/4); and suggestions by the District Commissioner of Jerusalem, Edward Keith-Roach, for alterations to the methods of government in Palestine, February 1939. The papers also include a despatch on the operations carried out by British forces in Palestine and Transjordan, covering action between November 1938 and March 1939 (3/4/53), and those relating to the theory and practice of military control (3/4/55).
Commander of 7 and 6 Division and Western Desert Force
In August 1939, 7 (later 6) Division was transferred to the fortress at Mersa Matruh, Egypt where O'Connor was concerned with the defences of the area in view of the massed forces of the Italian Tenth Army over the border in Libya. Much of the correspondence concerns the defensive system, which included anti-tank obstacles, and machine and Bren gun pill boxes and mountings, as well as concrete dug outs, camouflage and dummy vehicles. Other preparations included provision for tank stepping stones and bridges (4/1/65). See 4/10/1 for diagrams of intended defensive systems. Mussolini declared war on Britain and France on 10 June 1940 and O'Connor was appointed Commander, Western Desert Force, with the task to protect Egypt and the Suez Canal from Italian attack, as well as the oilfields at Mosul in Iraq and at the head of the Persian Gulf. The forward divisions of the Tenth Italian Army crossed the frontier of Egypt on 13 September 1940, under the command of the Commander-in-Chief, Marshal Rodolfo Graziani. They reached Sidi Barrani, about sixty miles inside the border, and began to dig in. The Italian forces consisted of one Blackshirt Division in Sidi Barrani, two Libyan divisions divided between Maktila on the coast and the two camps at Tummar, a mobile group at Nibeiwa, and a metropolitan division in the Sofafi and Rabia camps. At this time the Western Desert Force under O'Connor's command comprised some 30,000 men making up the 4 Indian Division, commanded by Maj Gen Beresford Peirse, 7 Armoured Division, under the command of Maj Gen Michael O'Moore Creagh, the Support Group, commanded by Brig W H E 'Strafer' Gott, and Selby Force. Lt Gen H Maitland Wilson was General Officer Commanding, British Troops in Egypt. While plans for the 'Five Day Raid', which developed into what was to become known as the First Libyan Campaign, were being laid, preparations for attack and provision for munitions continued. The Italians were periodically bombarded by the Royal Navy and the RAF, so that stores and equipment could be supplied. A letter from Creagh in June 1940 (4/1/33) includes an appreciation of 7 Div and enemy positions, and refers to the bombing of Bardia by the Royal Navy and operations in Giarabub; another letter to Creagh refers to the policy of 202 Group, RAF in attacking enemy aerodromes and aircraft rather than military targets and troops, and fighter planes as escorts in land operations and observation rather than in strafing missions. Armoured Fighting Vehicles were modified for service in the desert and weaponry (4/1/73) and Bofors equipments, Boyes rifles and anti-aircraft guns were transferred to Mersa Matruh fortress (4/1/54). A small raiding party known as Jock's Column after its leader, Lt Col John Charles Campbell, operated as part of 7 Armoured Division (4/1/102). Secrecy was a prerequisite to the planned surprise attack on the Italian forces, and a letter from O'Connor (4/1/133) criticises recent breaches in security caused by needless discussion of objectives. The existence of a captured appreciation, dated August 1940, by Italian 2 Division of British positions in areas including Bardia and Sidi Omar, with map, indicates effective policing by British troops. An appreciation of enemy position at Sidi Barrani (4/1/97) also touches on the condition of vehicles of 7 Armoured Division, and 1 Royal Tank Regiment (4/1/98), problems which surfaced constantly throughout the campaign. The operations known as the First Libyan Campaign began on the night of 8 and 9 December, with Operation COMPASS. 4 Indian Division planned to break through the Italian defences at Sidi Barrani, and head west along the coast road, reaching Nibeiwa by the morning. The Support Group was stationed on the escarpment, to cut off the Rabia and Sofafi garrisons; 4 Armoured Brigade headed north to cut off the Sidi Barrani-Sollum road; and 7 Armoured Brigade waited in reserve. The raid was a success, though letters to Selby at Matruh and Beresford Peirse indicate the concerns over communications and supplies (4/2/19). O'Connor then learned of the orders issued by General Sir Archibald Wavell for the withdrawal of 4 Indian Division, to spearhead the invasion of Italian East Africa, and its replacement by 6 Australian Division, untrained in desert warfare. The campaign continued with the assault on the fortress of Bardia, where the garrisons of Sollum, Fort Capuzzo and Sidi Azeiz had rushed following attack. Bardia was beseiged by members of 6 Australian Division and by the end of December some 40,000 prisoners and 400 guns had been taken. Letters of appreciation to Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham and members of the RAF highlight the contribution of these forces in taking Bardia (4/2/26). In January 1941 the Western Desert Force was renamed 13 Corps, and O'Connor came directly under the command of General Sir Archibald Wavell, Commander-in-Chief, Middle Eastern Forces, resolving the problems highlighted by O'Connor in his letter to Galloway at HQ in Egypt and referring to the 'Archipelago' plan, to capture Mechili (4/2/32). Correspondence with Creagh in early January 1941, referring to plans to advance to Tobruk and Mechili, indicate the need for a swift end to the raid, and by 9 January enough troops and supplies had arrived to launch an assault on the fortress of Tobruk. The fortress was attacked on 21 January and 25,000 prisoners were taken, as well as valuable supplies in the way of guns, tanks and food. The next object was Mechili, and in correspondence with Creagh (4/2/35-36 and 4/2/38-41) O'Connor stresses the need to contain Italian forces there. 7 Armoured Division in fact failed in this task, and the Italian troops retreated successfully to the north west during the nights of 26 and 27 January. The First Libyan Campaign ended with the pursuit and ultimate defeat of the retreating Italian forces, culminating in the battle at Beda Fomm on 6 February. The British forces had covered 500 miles in ten weeks, taking a total of 130,000 Italian and Libyan soldiers prisoner. The cable sent to Wavell recorded the victory with the term, 'Fox killed in the open...'. Copies of minutes of meetings of the War Cabinet Defence Committee (Operations) in 4/4/- illustrate the discussions leading to the decision to assist Greece in the German offensive, rather than advance to Tripoli. The papers include the retrospective views of O'Connor (4/4/8). Manuscript accounts written by O'Connor during his confinement in prison in Italy (and smuggled out by Colonel Fiske, US Military Attache in Rome) include details of plans and offensives, and factors influencing the campaign, including the use of surprise and administrative problems. They also touch on O'Connor appointment as General Officer Commanding, British Troops in Egypt and his recall in April 1941 in order to assist Lt Gen Sir Philip Neame following the German attack on Cyrenaica. See 4/3/15 and 4/3/21 for accounts by Neame and Lt Col J F B Combe, Cdr of 11 Hussars, of the desert campaign.
Prisoner of War, Castle Vincigliata, Florence in Italy
O'Connor and Neame were captured by a German reconnaissance night patrol on 7 April 1941, and O'Connor spent the next two and a half years as a Prisoner of War, mainly in Castle Vincigliata, near Florence in Italy. O'Connor found himself in impressive company, fellow inmates including Maj Gen Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart and Air Vice Marshal O T Boyd. Escape plans were quickly laid, and the escape narratives (4/5/1 and 4/5/2) closely document, with the aid of plans, the first attempt, over the castle walls and subsequent month's solitary confinement. The second initially successful attempt, via the escape tunnel constructed between October 1942 and March 1943, was made in the company of de Wiart. The two were captured in the region of the Po Valley, Bologna while Brig Combe and AVM Boyd reached Como. Fellow inmates Brigs Miles and James Hargest secured their escape by journeying to Switzerland. The final and successful escape was made after the Italian surrender. Following unsuccessful attempts at a rendezvous with a submarine at Cattolica and Cervia, O'Connor arrived by boat at Termoli and transferred to Bari as the guest of General Alexander on 21 December 1943. See 4/5/4, 'After Vincigliata' the narrative of events after the Italian surrender. O'Connor maintained links in later life made with members of the Italian resistance, who had sheltered him during his escape.
Commander, 8 Corps and Operation OVERLORD
O'Connor was immediately appointed Commander, 8 Corps as of 21 January 1944. The Corps comprised Guards and 11 Armoured Division, commanded by Maj Gen Allan Adair and Maj Gen G P B Roberts, 15 (Scottish) Infantry Division commanded by Maj Gen G H A MacMillan, 6 Guards Tank Brigade commanded by Brig G L Verney, 8 Army Group Royal Artillery commanded by Brig A P Campbell and 2 Household Cavalry Regiment commanded by Lt Col Henry Abel Smith. Correspondence documents the training and exercises in Yorkshire,and preparations leading to Operation OVERLORD, the planned invasion of Europe, particularly Operation EAGLE, February 1944, concerning the low standard of water discipline (5/2/20). Other papers highlight the need for training in the use of anti-mine devices and mine clearing apparatus, including the Flail and Conger tanks (5/2/36). Correspondence with Sir Winston Churchill in April and May, following the PM's inspection of Guards Armoured Division, discusses the armour protection of Cromwell and Sherman tanks, and the escape hatches of the Cromwell tanks (5/2/39 and 5/4/5). 8 Corps HQ transferred to Normandy on 11 June 1944. The first major attack which followed was codenamed Operation EPSOM, to break out of the existing bridgehead on the front of 3 Canadian Division and to cross the Rivers Odon and Orne, securing a position on high ground north east of Bretteville-sur-Laize and dominating exits from Caen to the south. A letter to Maj Gen R F L Keller commends the reconnaissance patrols by 3 Canadian Division (5/3/11) and a letter from Montgomery, 21 Army Group, congratulates O'Connor and the Corps on the attack on the Odon Valley (5/4/10). The British had secured a bridgehead in the Caen area, but failed to encircle the town. Consolidation of ground taken was necessary, and in a letter to Maj Gen R K Ross, Commander of 53 (Welsh) Division, O'Connor urges the provision of adequate anti-tank defences, including trenches, mines and wiring (5/3/13). The advance continued with orders for 43 (Wessex) Division to secure Hill 112 in Operation JUPITER, 8 Corps attack towards the Upper Orne. O'Connor wrote to the Commander, Maj Gen I G Thomas, in appreciation of their achievements on 11 July 1944 (5/3/15). 8 Corps moved into reserve immediately after, when 12 Corps, commanded by General Neil Ritchie, took over the sector. O'Connor was put in charge of the next advance, Operation GOODWOOD MEETING, with plans for 8 Division to attack southwards and establish an armoured division in the area Bourguebus-Vimont-Bretteville sur Laize. In a letter of thanks to Abel-Smith (5/3/19) O'Connor praises the work of 2 Household Cavalry Regiment in controlling the movement of the Corps from the west to the east bank of the Orne at the outset of the Operation. The attack began on 18 July with an aerial bombardment by 9 USAAF and was ended on 20 July with a successful three pronged drive to capture Bras and Hubert Folie on the right, le Poirier on the left and Four and Bourguebus in the centre. See The Forgotten Victor for a full account of the battle. Plans for Operation BLUECOAT, the attack towards Vire in July 1944, were quickly formulated and on 29 July O'Connor wrote to MacMillan concerning plans for 15 (Scottish) Division to attack enemy ground east and west of the Bois du Homme, in order to facilitate American advance into Normandy (5/3/25). Fierce fighting followed a swift drive south during the first two days of the advance, and both sides sustained heavy casualties. As the allies prepared to pursue the German armies from France, O'Connor learned that 8 Corps would not take part in this phase of the campaign. His command was reduced in mid-August, with the transfer of 11 Armoured Division to 30 Corps and 15 (Scottish) Division to 12 Corps. In a letter to his close friend Lt Gen Sir John Harding, Chief of Staff, Allied Armies in Italy, O'Connor summarized the three main 8 Corps operations, to capture the bridgehead over the Odon; to surround Caen and enable its capture by Canadian troops; and the advance to Caumont (5/3/37). While in reserve, O'Connor became concerned with the need for armoured vehicles for the transport of infantry, and in letters to Maj Gen Sir Percy Hobart, Lt Gen M C Dempsey and Montgomery he recommends the supply of Ram Chassis for the purpose (5/3/41-42). These requests were successful, since in a letter of 4 October to Dempsey he refers to the arrival in Ostend of converted armoured carriers, and further requests a supply of these and Priest vehicles from Bayeux for use as carriers (5/3/58). In a letter to Maj Gen J F Evetts dated 16 October, O'Connor suggests the modification of armoured vehicles such as Priests, Rams and Cromwells (5/4/52), and in another letter to Evetts at the Ministry of Supply in London he refers to German superiority in armoured infantry carriers (5/3/85). Equipment wastage in 8 Corps throughout Operations EPSOM, JUPITER, GOODWOOD MEETING, BLUECOAT and GROUSE, 15 July to 17 August, is also detailed (5/3/46). Troops suffering from battle exhaustion also became a significant issue in the campaign. Cases of feigned battle exhaustion were suspected, and in a letter to Maj Gen I G Thomas of 43 Division and MacMillan dated July 1944, O'Connor recommends disciplinary action against offenders (5/3/18). A top secret and personal letter from MacMillan dated 22 July refers to the creation of the Divisional Exhaustion Centre, with comments on the numbers admitted (5/4/14). Another letter from Roberts dated 1 November includes statistics for cases of troops missing, battle exhaustion and desertion for units of 11 Armoured Brigade, 19 September to 19 October (5/3/84). O'Connor retained command of 8 Corps and next saw action during September 1944 in support of 30 Corps, commanded by Lt Gen B G Horrocks, in Operation MARKET GARDEN, the allied operation to establish a bridgehead across the Rhine in the Netherlands. The advance by 8 Corps lead to the capture of two Dutch towns, Helmond and Deurne. In a letter to Maj Gen L G Whistler, dated 15 September (5/3/53) O'Connor outlines a possible forecast of operations for the following days, including the construction of bridges over Escaut and the Meuse Junction canal, and the capture of Soerendonck and Weert. In letters to Whistler and Roberts (5/3/53) he refers to plans for the occupation by 3 Division of Deurne, Genert and Helmond, and necessary maintenance routes. 8 Corps next took part in Operation CONSTELLATION, the advance to take Venraij and then Venlo, which began on 12 October. O'Connor, in a letter to Brig C M Barber, Commander of 15 Division, criticises unnecessary breaches in security (5/4/50). CONSTELLATION began successfully with the capture of Venraij and the collapse of German defences, and effectively ended with the unexpected transfer of 15 Division to operations in the Scheldt estuary. Attacks by the German forces continued at the end of October notably on 7 US Armoured Division at Meijel, and in letters of 27 and 30 October to Maj Gen Lindsay Silvester, Commander, O'Connor urges provision for active patrols in the area and stresses the need to defend Weert and Nedeweert, and the destruction of the nearby footbridge over the canal (5/3/77 and 5/3/83). After his transfer to India, O'Connor stayed in touch with members of the Corps and received accounts of advances made. Some of the most detailed letters are from Serjeant J S Green, including 8 Corps' crossing of the Elbe, the advance into Germany and occupation of Plon in Schleswig-Holstein (5/4/94), and from Barker, including an account of Operation PLUNDER (5/4/95).
GOC-in-C, Eastern Army in India
O'Connor first heard rumours of his possible transfer to India in September 1944. A letter to him dated 4 September from Montgomery refutes any likelihood of this happening (5/4/40), but on 27 November he received orders to take over from Lt Gen Sir Mosely Mayne. In November 1945 he was appointed GOC-in-C, North Western Army. Little survives to document this period in O'Connor's career, though a letter from Sir George Cunningham, Governor of the North-West Frontier Province describes likely developments in the Indian Army and government of India following independence.
Adjutant General to the Forces
O'Connor's appointment as Adjutant General was announced in May 1946 and he took over in July. Much time was spent visiting British troops stationed abroad, including the Far East and India. However, O'Connor's career as Adjutant General was to be short lived. Following a disagreement over the cancellation of demobilization for troops stationed in the Far East, O'Connor offered his resignation in August 1947, which was accepted. Correspondence including that with Montgomery, CIGS during August to September 1947 documents the events behind the resignation (7/19).
Despite his retirement at the age of fifty eight, O'Connor maintained links with the Army and took on other responsibilities. He was Commandant of the Army Cadet Force, Scotland from 1948 to 1959, Colonel of the Cameronians, 1951-1954, and Justice of the Peace and Lord Lieutenant for Ross and Cromarty, 1952 and 1955 1964 respectively. Following the death of his wife Jean in 1959, he married Dorothy Russell in 1963. In July 1971 he was created Knight of the Thistle. He died on 17 June 1981 in London.
[Taken from: King's College London Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, PAPERS OF GENERAL SIR RICHARD O'CONNOR KT, GCB, DSO, MC (1889-1981), http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lhcma/cats/oconnor/ocon00.htm]