T N S Wheeler CB CBE, Major General

Person
Major General T N S Wheeler CB CBE

Thomas Norman Samuel Wheeler was born in Worcester, England, on 16 June 1915 and died on 21 September 1990. His father, Thomas Henry Wheeler, served in the 3rd Hussars in the Boer War and later in the 4th Battalion The Worcestershire Regiment before joining the South African Police as the Director of Music. Norman Wheeler was educated at Waterkloof House in South Africa, St Helen's College in Southsea and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.

TNSW 37He was commissioned into The Royal Ulster Rifles on 29 August 1935 (left) and served in Palestine (the Arab Revolt) from 1937-39 where he was 2 RUR's Intelligence Officer and received a Mention in Despatches. He was Adjutant of the RUR Depot in Armagh, 1940-1941, when the Depot moved to Ballymena, before being posted as a General Staff Officer (GSO) Grade III to the HQ Canadian Corps HQ in 1941. He was appointed Brigade Major of 38 (Irish) Brigade, 1941-1942. Moving to HQ Middle East Land Forces, he was appointed Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General, from 1942-1943, then Deputy Adjutant and Quartermaster General in the Sudan in 1943, before returning to GHQ Middle East Land Forces as Assistant Quartermaster General.

He volunteered for parachute training in 1943 and was parachuted into the Balkans as a Lieutenant Colonel in Brigadier ‘Trotsky’ Davies’ Special Operations Executive (SOE) mission to support the Albanian partisans. His drops were delayed by bad weather and before he arrived at the SOE base in the Germanika mountains north east of Tirana, Brigadier Davies had been wounded and captured by the Germans during an operation to capture Enver Hoxha and his communist partisan staff. Hoxha evaded capture and set up a new HQ for the winter in the southern mountains where Norman Wheeler joined them taking over Davies’ role as the mission's senior British officer. Lt Col Wheeler witnessed and shared both the severe crisis the partisans experienced during the winter of 1943-44, and their spring recovery. He had difficulty exiting Albania, eventually managing to report to the SOE at Bari.

He returned as Support Company Commander to 2 RUR in time for the Normandy Landing later becoming the Second in Command (27 December 1944) and remaining in that appointment throughout the advance through NW Europe until the final fighting in Bremen. His next appointment from 1945-48 was as Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General, HQ 6th Airborne Division, during the Palestine Emergency. Both RUR battalions also served at this time in Palestine. He was selected in 1948 to be the Military Assistant to the Adjutant General, General Sir James Steele (late RUR) at the War Office. There followed staff appointments with the UK Services Liaison Staff Australia, Headquarters Northern Army Group, and HQ British Army of the Rhine (BAOR).

TNSw ParsonsIn 1958, he assumed command of 1 RUR leading the Battalion in Cyprus during the Cyprus (EOKA) Emergency where his battalion was involved in the 'Battle of the Barn, Leopetri'*. On promotion to Brigadier he moved to Lisburn in Northern Ireland to assume command of 39 Infantry Brigade in December 1959. In 1962 he was appointed Chief of Staff, I (British) Corps, British Army of the Rhine when his brother Neil was serving as the Senior Air Staff Officer at Headquarters RAF Germany. Major General Wheeler assumed command of the 2nd Division from 1964-66. Wheeler BugleHe moved to a NATO appointment as Chief of Staff, Contingencies Planning, SHAPE, in 1966. His final appointment was as Chief of Staff HQ BAOR from 1969-1971 before retiring on 9 June 1971.

(Above left, presenting the Parson's Rifle prize for the best individual shot to the 2 R IRISH (Rangers) winner on Bulford Range in 1980, when his son Lieutenant Colonel R N Wheeler (Roger) was commanding 2 R IRISH (Rangers) at Tidworth.)

(Right, the Wheeler Bugle presented to the 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Rangers by General Norman and his son, the then Captain Roger Wheeler.)

To view General Sir Roger Wheeler talking about his father, please click on this video

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To watch film footage of Major General Darling, General Officer Commanding and Director of Operations Cyprus District, reviewing the 1st Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles’ farewell parade, please click on Farewell, Famagusta. Please click on your back browser to return to this page of the VMG.