Lieutenant-General Sir Napier Crookenden KCB DSO OBE

31 Aug 1915 - 31 Oct 2002

  • Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) medal
  • Distinguished Service Order medal
  • OBE medal

Napier Crookenden was born in Chester. Son of Col. Arthur Crookenden CBE DSO. Col. The Cheshire Regiment. Grandson of Col. Henry Crookenden RA.

He was educated at Wellington College and Royal Military College Sandhurst. Napier was commissioned into The Cheshire Regiment 30 September 1935. He served with 2 Cheshire in Egypt and Palestine in 1937. Then France 4 May 1939 and then with 6 Cheshire in the UK from 1940 to 42. In 1943 he was posted to The Staff College.

Brigade Major, 6th Airlanding Brigade from 1943 to July 1944. He became the CO of The 9th Parachute Bn in July 1944 to September 1946. Only 130 men of this battalion had survived the fighting in Normandy.  During this time he served in The UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Palestine. As Brigade Major, he did much of the planning of his brigade's part of The 6th Airborne Division's seizure of the bridgehead east of the Orne to protect the D Day landings. Napier had the presence of mind to buy up a paper boy's stock of the early edition of The Evening Standard with the banner headlines "Skymen Land in Europe". He took these newspapers with him in his glider so the troops who had landed before dawn could read the Press accounts of their exploits by nightfall. 

In 1946 he became the DS at Staff College and served there until 1948. Later that year he married Patricia, daughter of the Lord Kindersley CBE, MC. They had 2 sons and 2 daughters. 

OC Cheshire Depot 1948 - 50

GSO1 School of Land/Air Warfare 1950 - 52

GSO1 Plans to High Commissioner and Director of Operations Malaya 1952 - 54

NATO Defence College 1954

Col. GS Organisation and Training SHAPE 1955 - 57

Col. Staff Training Wing Amphibious Warfare centre 1958 - 59

Commander 16 Para Brigade 1960 - 61 

Imperial Defence College 1962.

Student Pilot Army Aviation Centre 1963.

Director of Land/Air Warfare MOD 1964 - 68

Commander in Chief Western Command UK 1969 - 72

Retired July 1971

Col. The Cheshire Regiment 1969 - 71.

Col. Commandant the Prince of Wales' Division 1971 to 74.

Parachute Regiment Council 1960 - 90.

Parachute Regimental Association Committee 1960 - 90.

President East Kent and Thanet Branches PRA 1984.

Trustee Imperial War Museum (IWM) 1973 - 83

Chairman of SSAFA 1974 - 85.

Member of Council Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation 1975.

Lieutenant HM Tower of London 1975 - 81.

Regional Director Lloyds Bank 1973 - 86.

KCB 1970, CB 1966, DSO 1945, OBE 1954, Deputy Lieutenant Kent 1979

Publications : "Drop Zone Normandy" 1976, "Airborne at War" 1978 and "Battle of The Bulge 1944" 1980.  



Created with documents researched from The 'Airborne Assault' archives. Box 2C3 27/1/44

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  • Commemorative Cover Formation of Army Air Corps and 1st Airlanding Brigade signed by Sir Napier Crookenden

    Commemorative Cover Formation of Army Air Corps and 1st Airlanding Brigade signed by Sir Napier Crookenden

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