John Dill

John Dill

John Dill, the son of a bank official, was born in Belfast on 25th December 1881. Educated at Sandhurst Military Academy Dill was commissioned into the British Army in 1901 and saw action in the Boer War.

In 1936 Dill was promoted to lieutenant general and was sent to Palestine to restore order. The following year he was knighted and became a full general.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Dill was placed in charge of the 1st Corps and sent with General John Gort and the British Expeditionary Force to France.

In April 1940 Dill was recalled to Britain where he was appointed to the post of deputy to William Ironside, the Commander of the Imperial General Staff. Dill replaced Ironside on 26th May, 1940.

Dill's health was poor and Winston Churchill soon realized that he needed a more dynamic figure in this post. In December 1941 he was replaced by General Alan Brooke and sent to represent the Chiefs of Staff in the United States.

John Dill died in Washington on 4th November 1944. General George Marshall arranged for Dill to be the first foreigner to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Primary Sources

(1) Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (1947)

Last spring the Germans had constructed huge tents in an open space in the Lager. For the whole of the good season each of them had catered for over 1,000 men: now the tents had been taken down, and an excess 2,000 guests crowded our huts. We old prisoners knew that the Germans did not like these irregularities and that something would soon happen to reduce our number.