Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes Bt DSO

Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was born in London on 12 Nov 1902. He was the son of Sir Eustace Fiennes 1st Baronet of Broughton Castle, Oxfordshire who was a soldier, politician and colonial administrator in the Seychelles and Leeward Islands. Sir Ranulph was a lieutenant-colonel commanding the Scots Greys who fought and died in World War Two.The photo shows him in front of a Grant tank in North Africa. At the battle of El Alamein the regiment spent the night of 23/24 Oct 1942 negotiating the first German minefield. But they had difficulty penetrating the second one so Sir Ranulph (known as 'Lugs') personally organised the squadrons' defence of the bridgehead covering the gap in the first minefield, sending forward recce parties to the second. They kept the enemy occupied in the south of the battle area which greatly contributed to the victory. At Nofilia on 17 Dec 1942 Lieutenant-Colonel Fiennes led an attack on the retreating German rearguard. His command vehicle was a Stuart tank with the turret removed known as Astra. This battle lasted all day and resulted in the Greys losing 7 tanks and three men. Whilst commanding the regiment in Italy he trod on a German anti-personnel S-mine and died of his wounds 11 days later in Naples on 24 Nov 1943. He was posthumously awarded the DSO. He was the father of the better known Ranulph Fiennes, the explorer, who was also an officer in the Scots Greys and was born 3 months after his father's death.

Patrick O'Rourke recalls his experiences under the command of Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes.

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by Stephen Luscombe