Ivan Hirst

Ivan Hirst

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Ivan Hirst

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Major Ivan Hirst (4 March 1916 – 10 March 2000), was a British Army officer and engineer who was instrumental in reviving Volkswagen from a single factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, into a major postwar automotive manufacturer.


Born in Saddleworth, Yorkshire, England. Hirst's family had founded the Hirst Brothers Company, a manufacturer of watches, clocks and optical components in Oldham. Hirst studied optical engineering at the University of Manchester, prior to forming his own company repairing optical instruments. While a student he was a member of the university Officers' Training Corps contingent.

World War II

Hirst was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 7th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment (Territorial Army) on 27 June 1934, and promoted to lieutenant three years later. A Captain on the outbreak of the Second World War, he was appointed adjutant on 1 October 1939. He transferred to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) as a Mechanical Engineering Officer on 14 November 1941, and to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) on its formation on 1 October 1942. In the period after the D-Day landings he was in charge of a tank repair facility in Belgium. He landed in Germany in the summer of 1945, along with his colleague, Colonel Charles...
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