Collection O'CONNOR - O'CONNOR, Gen Sir Richard (1889-1981)

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Key Information

Reference code



O'CONNOR, Gen Sir Richard (1889-1981)


  • 1899-1981 (Creation)

Level of description



16 boxes or 0.17m3

Scope and content

Retrospective accounts of early life and career, and extracts from official confidential reports on military service, 1899-1981; papers relating to military career, 1912-1938, including service in Malta with 2 Battalion, Scottish Rifles, 1912, diaries relating to service on Western Front and in Italy, World War One, 1915-1919, and papers relating to command of Peshawar Infantry and District, India, 1935-1938; correspondence while Commander of 7 Division and Military Governor of Jerusalem, Sep 1938-Aug 1939; papers including correspondence and accounts of First Libyan campaign, Western Desert, while Commander of 6 Division and Western Desert Force, 1940-1941; papers including escape narrative relating to period as Prisoner of War in Italy, 1941-1943; papers including correspondence relating to command of 8 Corps and operations in North West Europe, 1944; service as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command and General Officer Commanding, North Western Army, India, 1945-1946; service as Adjutant General to the Forces, 1946-1947; appraisal of the careers of selected senior military personnel, 1971; official and military appointments and invitations, 1946-1973; personal correspondence and papers, 1928-1979; newspaper obituaries of senior military personnel and related correspondence, 1926-1981; book reviews and newspaper articles, 1945-1981; papers relating to the proposed Channel Tunnel, 1929-1930.

System of arrangement

Prior to deposit, the majority of the papers had already been sorted and arranged in binders by Maj J K Nairne, who had assisted General O'Connor with the collation of his papers since the late 1960s, and had annotated a small quantity of the material with biographical notes. Those papers which remain in their original order include contemporary correspondence relating to service in Palestine, 1938-1939; semi-official correspondence, Mersa Matruh fortress, 1939-1940; and correspondence as Commander, 8 Corps, 1944. Later binders, compiled chronologically and concerning O'Connor's life mainly after his retirement from active service, have been broken up for ease of reference into subjects comprising official and military appointments and invitations; personal correspondence and papers; newspaper obituaries of senior defence personnel and related correspondence; and reviews and newspaper articles.

General Information

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born in 1889; attended Royal Military College, Sandhurst, 1908-1909; joined 2 Battalion, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), 1909; served in Malta with Scottish Rifles, 1911-1912; Signal Officer of 22 Brigade, 7 Division, 1914; appointed Captain; command of 7 Division Signal Company, 1915; Brigade Major, 91 Brigade in 7 Division, 1916; Brigade Major, 185 Brigade in 62 Division, 1917; appointed temporary Lt Col and command of 2 Infantry Battalion, Honourable Artillery Company, 7 Division, 1917; capture of Grave di Papadopoli, River Piave in Italy, 1918; attended Staff College, Camberley, 1920; Brigade Major, Experimental Brigade, 1921; Adjutant, The Cameronians, 1924; Company Commander, Sandhurst, 1925-1927; Instructor, Staff College in Camberley, 1927-1929; service with 1 Battalion, The Cameronians in Egypt, 1930; service in Lucknow, India, 1931-1932; General Staff Officer, Grade 2, War Office, 1932-1934; Imperial Defence College, London, 1935; command of Peshawar Brigade, North West Frontier Province, India, 1936-1938; command of 7 Infantry Division and Military Governor in Palestine, 1938-1939; 7 Division HQ transferred to Mersa Matruh, Egypt, 1939; Commander, Western Desert Force in Egypt, 1940; General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, British Troops in Egypt, 1941; captured and imprisoned in Castle Vincigliata, Italy, 1941; escape and arrival in England, 1943; command of 8 Corps, North West Europe, 1944; General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command in India, 1945; Gen, 1945; General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, North Western Army, India, 1945-1946; Adjutant General to the Forces, 1946; ADC General to the King, 1946; resigned as Adjutant General, 1947; Knight Grand Cross of the Bath, 1947; retired, 1948; Commandant of the Army Cadet Force, Scotland, 1948-1959; Colonel of the Cameronians, 1951-1954; Justice of the Peace, Ross and Cromarty, 1952; Lord Lieutenant for Ross and Cromarty, 1955-1964; Lord High Commissioner, Church of Scotland General Assembly, 1964; Knight of the Thistle, Jun 1971; died in 1981.

Custodial history

Presented to the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives by Gen Sir Richard O'Connor in several deposits, between 1975 and 1982, latterly via his literary executor, Maj J K Nairne.

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied from open material for research purposes only.

Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, via the Archives.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Finding aids

This collection level description and detailed catalogue.

Related materials

The Imperial War Museum, London holds copies of the account of the First Libyan Campaign and the escape narrative, and tapes of an interview in 1973 with General O'Connor relating to the First Libyan Campaign.

Related descriptions

Publication note

Biography, The Forgotten Victor by John Baynes (Brassey's, London, 1989). Account of the desert campaigns during World War Two in The Desert Generals by Correlli Barnett (William Kimber and Co Ltd, London, 1960). Essay by Barrie Pitt in Churchill's Generals, edited by John Keegan (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1991).


Decorations: KT, GCB, DSO, MC

Alternative identifier(s)

People and Organisations

Genre access points

Rules and/or conventions used

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000.


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