Gerald Lathbury, who was born into a military family, was educated at Wellington College and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Lathbury was commissioned into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in 1926.
He served in France in 1940 where he was awarded an MBE.
Lathbury raised the 3rd Parachute Battalion in 1941 and the 3rd Parachute Brigade in 1943 and then taking command of the 1st Parachute Brigade in North Africa. During the landings in Sicily Lathbury was tasked with the capture of the Primasole Bridge where he was wounded in the back and both thighs, although he remained in command until reinforcement arrived.
Lathbury was still in command of the 1st Parachute Brigade during the Battle of Arnhem, part of Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands. On 18 September 1944 he was cut off from his command while in the company of Major-General Roy Urquhart when he was badly wounded in the left leg and his spine was chipped, leaving him temporarily paralysed. He was then placed in the care of a Dutch couple who later had him placed in a field hospital. He concealed his rank, pretending to be a Lance Corporal. He escaped by simply walking out of the main doors of the hospital in which he was held. The Dutch resistance put him in touch with other hiding British soldiers. Lathbury, along with Lieutenant Colonel David Dobie and Major Digby Tatham-Warter, organised an escape across the Rhine. Lathbury and Digby crossed the Rhine on 22 October with one hundred and thirty-seven men linking up with Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.
After the War he went to Palestine for several years and then went on to the Imperial Defence College in 1948. He was appointed General Officer Commanding 16th Airborne Division in 1948 and then Commandant of the Staff College, Camberley in 1951. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief East Africa in 1955 and Director General of Military Training at the War Office in 1957. He became General Officer Commanding-in-Chief for Eastern Command in 1960 and Quartermaster-General to the Forces in 1961. He was also an ADC General to the Queen from 1962 to 1965 as well as Colonel Commandant of both the 1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd) and the Parachute Regiment from 1961 to 1965. Finally he was appointed Governor of Gibraltar in 1964; he retired in 1969.
In 1965 he participated in the third of the series of Harold Hall Australian ornithological collecting expeditions.
04.02.1926: 2nd Lieutenant
29.02.1940: Acting Major
29.05.1940: Temporary Major
06.04.1941: Major (War sub)
06.01.1941 Acting Lieutenant Colonel
06.04.1941: Temporary Lieutenant Colonel
08.06.1943: Lieutenant Colonel (war sub)
08.12.1942: Acting Colonel
08.06.1943: Temporary Colonel
08.12.1942: Acting Brigadier
08.06.1943: Temporary Brigadier
15.12.1948: Tempray Major-General
02.05.1955: Temporary Lieutenant-General
29.04.1960 (retired 25.02.1965, re-instated 24.08.1965; retired 20.06.1969)
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