In the 1930s, Horrocks attended the Staff College of Camberley, and he was subsequently an instructor there. In 1939, Horrocks commanded a battalion in the 3rd Division in France, where he made an excellent impression on his commander, Bernard Montgomery. Promoted to brigadier general in June 1940 during the Dunkerque evacuation, Horrocks then commanded the 9th Armored Division. In August 1942, when Montgomery took over the Eighth Army, he named Horrocks, now a lieutenant general, to head XIII Corps. XII Corps played a key role in repelling the Afrika Korps attack at the crucial Battle of Alma Halfa, and it fought against the 21st Panzer Division at El Alamein. Horrocks then took command of X Corps and led it during the successful flanking maneuver at Mareth in March 1943. During April and May 1943, Horrocks commanded IX Corps during the final drive against Tunis.
In June 1943, while preparing for the invasion of Italy, Horrocks was badly wounded during an air raid on Bizerte. This kept him out of action for a year. In August 1944, Horrocks took command of XXX Corps, which he led until the end of the war in General Miles Dempsey's Second British Army. Accomplishments of XXX Corps included the capture of Amiens, Brussels, Antwerp, and Bremen and helping to reduce the Ardennes salient. Horrocks is best remembered for his role during Operation market-garden, when XXX Corps failed to relieve the British 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem. Horrocks called the failure "the blackest moment of my life."
After the war, Horrocks commanded the British Army of the Rhine before his war wounds forced his retirement in 1949. Horrocks later wrote his autobiography, A Full Life (1960), and became a television commentator. Horrocks died in Fishbourne, England, on 4 January 1985.
Thomas D. Veve
Horrocks, Brian. A Full Life. London: William Collin's Sons, 1960.; Horrocks, Brian. Escape to Action. New York: St. Martin's, 1961.; Ryan, Cornelius. A Bridge Too Far. London: Hamish Hamilton Limited, 1974.; Warner, Philip. Horrocks: The General Who Led from the Front. London: Hamish Hamilton Limited, 1984.