General Boy

The Life of Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Browning

Richard Mead

Date Published :
August 2017
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
16pp black and white plates
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781473898998
Pages : 288
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock


This is the first biography of Boy Browning, whose name is inextricably linked with the creation and employment of Britains airborne forces in the Second World War. Commissioned into the Grenadier Guards, Browning served on the Western Front, earning a DSO during the Battle of Cambrai.

As Adjutant at Sandhurst, he began the tradition of riding a horse up the steps at the end of the commissioning parade. Browning represented England as a hurdler and Great Britain at the 1928 Winter Olympics. In 1932 Browning married Daphne du Maurier, who was ten years younger and became one of the 20th century's most enduring and popular novelists with titles such as Jamaica Inn and Rebecca.

Browning commanded two brigades before being appointed to command 1 Airborne Division in 1941, later acting as Eisenhowers advisor on airborne warfare in the Mediterranean. In 1944 he commanded 1st Airborne Corps, which he took to Holland for Operation MARKET GARDEN that September. Allegedly coining the phrase a bridge too far, he has received much of the blame for the operations failure.

In late 1944, Browning became Chief of Staff to Mountbatten. In 1948 he became Comptroller and Treasurer to Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip and then Treasurer to the latter following the Queens accession. He was a close adviser to the Royal couple who respected his judgment.

By this time Boy and Daphne lived separate lives with Boy working at the Palace in London and Daphne reluctant to leave her beloved Cornwall although the marriage remained intact. Questions exist as to Daphnes sexuality and Boy had a succession of discrete mistresses. After a nervous breakdown probably due to marriage problems, he resigned in 1959 and retired to Cornwall. Browning died in March 1965.

About The Author

Educated at Cambridge University, Richard Mead is a chartered accountant with wide commercial experience. As a military historian he specialises in the Second World War. This is his second book. He lives near Cirencester, Gloucestershire.


As a fighting soldier "Boy' Browning had already acquired a reputation in the British Army by the end of the First World War. As a 20-year-old Grenadier Guards lieutenant he had won the DSO on the Western Front in 1917 for taking command of three companies whose officers had all been wounded and inspiring them to repel attacks by overwhelming numbers of Germans. ... During the Second World War he established himself as a leading advocate of airborne operations and, as Richard Mead's book makes clear, the creation of Britain's airborne forces as a distinct fighting arm was very much his achievement. Richard Mead is even-headed and, if we would have liked to know a good deal more about the remarkable marriage to du Maurier, he gives us a convincing impression of what kind of man - and soldier - her husband actually was.

- The Times Newspaper

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