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Michael Gambier-Parry
Michael Gambier-Parry (right), Lieutenant-General Philip Neame (centre) and Brigadier John Combe (left), following their capture in North Africa
Born (1891-08-21)August 21, 1891
Died 1976
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1911 - 1944
Rank Major General
Commands held Malaya Infantry Brigade
2nd Armoured Division
Awards Military Cross

Major General Michael Denman Gambier-Parry MC DL (21 August 1891 – 1976) was a British Army officer who commanded 2nd Armoured Division.

Early life and family

The Gambier-Parry’s of Highnam Court, Gloucestershire were an artistic and military family (see Thomas Gambier Parry and the latter's son, eminent composer Sir Hubert Parry). His uncle Ernest Gambier-Parry was a major in the army sent to Egypt to avenge the death of General Gordon, and wrote a book (Suakin, 1885) about his experiences.[1] Michael's father was architect Sidney Gambier-Parry.[2]

Military career

Gambier-Parry was commissioned, a Captain into the Royal Welch Fusiliers in 1911.[3] He served in World War I in France (awarded the Military Cross) and in the Gallipoli Campaign and then in Mesopotamia.[3] He transferred to the Royal Tank Corps in 1924 and then served as a General Staff Officer at the War Office before becoming Commander of the Malaya Infantry Brigade in 1938.[3]

He served in World War II as Head of the British Military Mission to Greece in 1940 and then as General Officer Commanding 2nd Armoured Division[4] in North Africa before becoming a Prisoner of war in 1941.[3]

He was captured with Brigadier Vaughan at Mechili in April 1941. Arriving in Villa Orsini near Sulmona with Philip Neame, Richard O'Connor, John Combe and George Younghusband, he was sent to Castello de Vincigliata PG12 near Florence the same year. As Carton de Wiart wrote of him "…he was also a most gifted man, made delightful sketches, was a first class 'forger' – which could no doubt earn him a steady income in the underworld".[5][6] Known as 'GP', he was a knowledgeable musician, "and led the choir in our church services on Sunday".[7] In September 1943 he escaped with the other officers and after various adventures arrived in Rome[8] where he had obtained sanctuary in a convent, till the allies arrived. He retired in 1944.[3]

In retirement he lived at the Weavers House in Castle Combe near Chippenham and became Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire.[9]


Sources and further reading

  • De Wiart, Carton, Happy Odyssey, Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1950, in PAN paperback 1956, re-printed by Pen & Sword Books 2007, 287 pages, ISBN 1-84415-539-0 (Foreword by Winston S Churchill)
  • Hargest, James, Farewell Campo 12, Michael Joseph Ltd, 1945, 184 pages contains a sketch map of Castello Vincigliata page 85 (no index)
  • Neame, Philip, Playing with Strife, The Autobiography of a Soldier, Lt-Gen. Sir Philip Neame, V.C., K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., George G Harrap & Co. Ltd, 1947, 353 pages, (written whilst a POW , the best narrative of Vincigliata as Campo PG12, contains a scale plan of Castello di Vincigliata, and photographs taken by the author just after the war)
  • MI9 Escape & Evasion 1939-45, M.R.D. Foot & J.M Langley, The Bodley Head, 1979, 365 pages
  • To War with Whitaker', 1994, The wartime diaries of The Countess of Ranfurly 1939 -1945, William Heinemann Ltd, London, 375 pages, ISBN 0-434-00224-0 pages:123,231,232,
Military offices
Preceded by
Justice Tilly
GOC 2nd Armoured Division
February 1941–April 1941
Succeeded by
Post Disbanded

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