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Major General Robert Elliott Urquhart, CB, DSO (28 November, 1901 - 13 December, 1988) was a British military officer. He became prominent for his role commanding the British 1st Airborne Division during Operation Market Garden.
Urquhart was not originally an airborne officer. Through 1941, he had been a staff officer in the 3rd Division. Between 1941 and 1942, he commanded the 2nd Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. After holding that command, until 1943, he was a staff officer in the 51st Infantry Division, which was stationed in North Africa. For a short time, he commanded the British 231st Infantry Brigade, which faced action in Sicily.
Until 1944, he was a staff officer in XII Corps. However, in that year, he was given command of the 1st Airborne Division. Its former commander (Major-General G.F.Hopkinson) had been killed in Italy, and his successor, Brigadier Eric Down had been given a command in India. Ironically, Urquhart was prone to airsickness and had never commanded or, for that matter, been a member of an airborne unit. His first combat action was at the Battle of Arnhem; after his unit lost 3/4 of its soldiers at Arnhem, it never saw action in World War II again. Following the war he served in several staff positions, including service during the Malayan Emergency, until his retirement from the army in 1955.
After leaving the army Urquhart became an executive in the steel industry, retiring in 1970. In 1958 Urquart published Arnhem: Britain's Infamous Airborne Assault of World War II (ISBN 0-9644704-3-8) detailing his exploits in the battle.
Urquhart was portraited by Sean Connery in the 1977 film A Bridge Too Far. He is the subject of the biography Urquhart of Arnhem (ISBN 0-08-041318-8) by John Baynes.
Urquhart and his wife Pamela had four children, among them Elspeth Campbell (wife of politician Menzies Campbell).
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