Charles Coleman (British Army officer)

Lieutenant-General Sir Cyril Frederick Charles Coleman KCB CMG DSO OBE (16 April 1903 – 17 June 1974) was a senior British Army officer.[2]

Sir Charles Coleman
Birth nameCyril Frederick Charles Coleman
Born16 April 1903[1]
Stonehouse, Plymouth, Devon, England
Died17 June 1974(1974-06-17) (aged 71)
Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot, Hampshire, England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1923–1959
RankLieutenant General
Service number27168
UnitWelch Regiment
Commands heldEastern Command
British Forces in Berlin
43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division
160th Infantry Brigade
4th Battalion, Welch Regiment
Battles/warsSecond World War
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Distinguished Service Order
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Knight 4th Class of the Military Order of William (Netherlands)

Early lifeEdit

Charles Coleman was born in Stonehouse, Plymouth, Devon, in 1903, the son of Albert Edward Coleman of Downderry, Cornwall, and Adelaide Maxwell Moore, of Seaforth, Lancashire.[1][3] He was educated at Plymouth College and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Welch Regiment in 1923.[4][2]

Military careerEdit

Coleman served with his regiment in China, Malaya and India during the interwar period, and was appointed adjutant of the 2nd Battalion from 1932 to 1935.[4][2]

During the Second World War, Coleman commanded the 4th Battalion, Welch Regiment from 1941 to 1944 and took over as acting commander of the 160th Infantry Brigade, his battalion's parent formation, in late 1943, before Brigadier Lashmer Whistler arrived in January 1944 to take command, with Coleman returning to commanding the 4th Welch. In June 1944 Coleman succeeded Whistler in command of the brigade, leading it throughout the campaign in North-West Europe from Normandy very nearly to the borders of Denmark by way of Falaise, Antwerp, Nijmegen, 's-Hertogenbosch, Wessem, the Ardennes, the Reichswald, the Rhine, the Weser, and Hamburg. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1945 and the Dutch Knight 4th Class of the Military Order of William in 1947.[5] As his brigade major wrote after his death, the respect the men of the brigade had for him "probably gave him as much pleasure and satisfaction as any of his later achievements".[6] Certainly he wrote very warmly of the achievements of the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division, of which his brigade formed a part, in his preface to the history of its part in the Second World War, published in 1955, and as its author makes clear, he made a considerable contribution to this account.[7]

In 1945, Coleman briefly served as the acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 53rd Division. In 1946 he attended the Staff College, Camberley before returning to command the 160th Brigade from 1947 to 1948.[4] From 1949 to 1951 he was GOC South-Western District and 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division.[4] He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1950. He served as Commandant of the British Sector in Berlin from 1951 to 1954 and was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1954. From 1954 until 1956 he served as Chief of Staff to the Northern Army Group (British Army of the Rhine).[4] He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in 1957. His final appointment was as GOC-in-C Eastern Command from 1956 to 1959.[4] He served as colonel of the Welch Regiment from 1958 to 1965.[8]

Coleman retired from the army in 1959, but he was appointed to serve as the Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Guernsey from 1964 to 1969.[4][2]

Coleman played hockey for Wales and was a keen shot. He married Margaret Mary, daughter of Bruce Petrie of Singapore, in 1935. They had three daughters.[2]

Coleman died on 17 June 1974 in the Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot and was buried at St Mary’s Church, Bentworth. He was survived by his wife.[2]


  1. ^ a b 1911 England Census
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Obituary: Lieut-Gen Sir Charles Coleman". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 24 June 1974. p. 12.
  3. ^ Liverpool, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754–1932
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  5. ^ "No. 38018". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 July 1947. p. 3320.
  6. ^ C.N.B. (29 June 1974). "Sir Charles Coleman". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. p. 16.
  7. ^ Barclay, History of 53rd (Welsh) Division
  8. ^ "The Welch Regiment [UK]". Archived from the original on 4 January 2006. Retrieved 1 November 2015.

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
George Symes
GOC 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Cecil Firbank
Preceded by
Lord Bourne
Commandant, British Sector in Berlin
Succeeded by
Sir William Oliver
Preceded by
Sir Francis Festing
GOC-in-C Eastern Command
Succeeded by
Sir James Cassels
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Cyril Lomax
Colonel of the Welch Regiment
Succeeded by
Frank Brooke
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Geoffrey Robson
Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Mills