Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis

British field marshal; Governor General of Canada (1891–1969) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis (10 December 1891 – 16 June 1969),[2] was a senior British Army officer who served with distinction in both the First and the Second World War and, afterwards, as Governor General of Canada and the first Lord Lieutenant of Greater London in 1965.

Quick facts: Field Marshal The Right HonourableThe Earl Al...
The Earl Alexander of Tunis
Harold Alexander in the 1940s
17th Governor General of Canada
In office
12 April 1946  28 January 1952
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime Minister
Preceded byThe Earl of Athlone
Succeeded byVincent Massey
Minister of Defence
In office
1 March 1952  18 October 1954
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byWinston Churchill
Succeeded byHarold Macmillan
Lord Lieutenant of the County of London
In office
25 April 1957  1 April 1965
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byAlan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke
Succeeded byHimself (as Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London)
Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London
In office
1 April 1965  28 December 1966
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byHimself (as Lord Lieutenant of the County of London)
Succeeded byGerald Templer
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
1 March 1946  16 June 1969
Hereditary Peerage
Preceded byPeerage established
Succeeded byThe 2nd Earl Alexander of Tunis
Personal details
Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander

(1891-12-10)10 December 1891
London, England
Died16 June 1969(1969-06-16) (aged 77)
Slough, Buckinghamshire, England
(m. 1931)
Alma mater
Military service
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Branch/serviceBritish Army
Years of service1911–1946[1]
RankField Marshal
UnitIrish Guards
AwardsSee below...
Quick facts: Harold Alexander 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis...
  • Harold Alexander
  • 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis
Earl Alexander of Tunis
Arms of Earl Alexander of Tunis
Tenure14 March 1952 – 16 June 1969
SuccessorShane Alexander, 2nd Earl
Other titles
  • 1st Viscount Alexander of Tunis
  • 1st Baron Rideau

Alexander was born in London[2] to aristocratic parents, and was educated at Harrow before moving on to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, for training as an army officer of the Irish Guards. He rose to prominence through his service in the First World War, receiving numerous honours and decorations, and continued his military career through various British campaigns across Europe and Asia. In the Second World War, Alexander oversaw the final stages of the Allied evacuation from Dunkirk and subsequently held high-ranking field commands in Burma, North Africa and Italy, including serving as Commander-in-Chief Middle East and commanding the 18th Army Group in Tunisia. He then commanded the 15th Army Group for the capture of Sicily and again in Italy before receiving his field marshal's baton and being made Supreme Allied Commander Mediterranean.

In 1946, he was appointed as Governor General of Canada by King George VI, on the recommendation of Prime Minister of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King, to replace the Earl of Athlone as viceroy, and he occupied the post until he was succeeded by Vincent Massey in 1952. Alexander proved to be enthusiastic about the Canadian wilderness and popular with Canadians. He was the last Governor General before Adrienne Clarkson who was not born in Canada as well as the last Governor General to be a peer.

After the end of his viceregal tenure, Alexander was sworn into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and thereafter,[3] in order to serve as the British Minister of Defence in the Cabinet of Winston Churchill, into the Imperial Privy Council. Alexander retired in 1954 and died in 1969.