Aldershot Command was a Home Command of the British Army.
After the success of the Chobham Manoeuvres of 1853, a permanent training camp was established at Aldershot in 1854 on the recommendation of the Commander-in-Chief, Viscount Hardinge. During the Crimean War, regiments of Militia embodied for home defence were housed at the camp, and the Brigade of Guards used it for summer training, and were reviewed by Queen Victoria.
After the Crimean War, a division of Regular troops was permanently based at Aldershot, and ‘the Division at Aldershot’ (including artillery at Christchurch, Hampshire, and cavalry at Hounslow, Middlesex), became one of the most important home commands of the British Army.
In January 1876 a ‘Mobilization Scheme for the forces in Great Britain and Ireland’ was published, with the ‘Active Army’ divided into eight army corps based on the major Commands and Districts. 2nd Corps was headquartered at Aldershot. This scheme disappeared in 1881, when the districts were retitled ‘District Commands’, with Aldershot usually listed as IX or X. In 1898 (when Queen Victoria’s son, the Duke of Connaught, was General Officer Commanding (GOC)) Aldershot Command was ranked I on the list. From 1901 to 1908 Aldershot Command was given the additional title of First Army Corps.
1st Cavalry Brigade (Brig-Gen Hon Julian Byng)
- 1st Brigade Aldershot
- 2nd Brigade Blackdown
- 3rd Brigade Bordon
- Three Field Artillery Brigades (each of three batteries) Royal Field Artillery
- One Field Artillery (Howitzer) Brigade RFA
- Two Field Companies Royal Engineers
- Two Divisional Telegraph Companies RE
- 4th (Guards) Brigade London
- 5th Brigade Aldershot
- 6th Brigade Aldershot
- Three Field Artillery Brigades RFA
- Two Field Companies RE
- 1st & 2nd Air Line Companies, RE
- 1st & 2nd Cable Telegraph Companies RE
- 1st & 2nd Wireless Telegraph Companies RE
- 1st & 2nd Balloon Companies RE
- 1st & 3rd Bridging Train RE
World War I
When the BEF was sent to France on the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Aldershot Command provided the basis for I Corps under Lt-Gen Sir Douglas Haig. The Territorial Force and Special Reserve then took over home defence, with the assembly of ‘Central Force’ beginning on 18 August 1914. ‘First Army’ of Central Force was headquartered at Aldershot, with the Highland Division (later 51st (Highland) Division) and Highland Mounted Brigade of the TF under command. For the first two years of World War I command at Aldershot was divided between the Major-General, Administration (Maj-Gen Alexander Hamilton-Gordon) and the commander of Aldershot Training Centre (Gen Sir Archibald Hunter). Aldershot Command was reinstated in 1916 under Hunter.
World War II
In 1939 Regular Troops reporting to Aldershot Command included 1st Infantry Division and 2nd Infantry Division. On the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, a similar process to August 1914 was repeated when the GOCinC Aldershot Command (Sir John Dill) became GOC I Corps in the new BEF despatched to France. Unlike the other Home Commands, Aldershot had no Coast Divisions or other defence forces under its command, and was solely responsible for providing drafts and reserve formations. In 1941 the Command was downgraded to ‘Aldershot Area’ within a new South-Eastern Command. South Eastern Command ceased to exist at the end of 1944, and Aldershot was transferred to Southern Command, without its own GOC.
Post-World War II
GOCs were appointed to Aldershot District from 1944 to 1967, when it disappeared in the reorganisation that led to Southern Command being redesignated GHQ UK Land Forces. From 1968, the HQ of South East District was at Aldershot; it was renamed Southern District in 1992, and HQ 4th Division in 1995.
General Officers Commanding-in-Chief
The Division at Aldershot
- 1857 Lt-Gen Sir William Knollys
- 1 July 1860 Lt-Gen Sir John Pennefather
- 1 October 1865 Lt-Gen Sir James Yorke Scarlett
- 1 November 1870 Gen Sir James Grant
- 14 April 1875 Gen Sir Thomas Steele
Aldershot District Command
- 1 July 1880 Gen Sir Daniel Lysons
- 1 August 1883 Lt-Gen Sir Archibald Alison
- 1 January 1889 Lt-Gen Sir Evelyn Wood VC
- 9 October 1893 (GOCinC) Gen HRH the Duke of Connaught
- 9 October 1898 Gen Sir Redvers Buller VC
- 8 October 1899 Lt-Gen Sir William Butler (temporary while Buller commanded in South Africa)
Lieutenant-General Commanding Troops at Aldershot, and 1st Army Corps
- 10 January 1901 Gen Sir Redvers Buller VC, GCB (on his arrival back from South Africa)
- 15 September 1902 Lt-Gen Sir John French
In 1905 title changed to GOCinC.
In 1907 title changed to Aldershot Corps.
In 1908 became Aldershot Command again.
GOC and Maj-Gen Administration, Aldershot Command
- 1914-16 Maj-Gen Alexander Hamilton-Gordon
GOC Aldershot Training Centre
- 1914-16 Gen Sir Archibald Hunter
- April 1916 Gen Sir Archibald Hunter
- 1 October 1917 Gen Sir Archibald Murray
- 15 November 1919 Gen Lord Rawlinson
- 2 November 1920 Gen The Earl of Cavan
- 1922 to 1923 Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Morland
- 1 March 1923 Lieutenant General Sir Philip Chetwode
- 1 March 1927 Lieutenant General Sir David Campbell
- 30 June 1931 Lieutenant General Sir Charles Harrington
- 12 October 1933 Lieutenant General Sir Francis Gathorne-Hardy
- 12 October 1937 Lieutenant General Sir John Dill
- 3 September 1939 to 1940 Lieutenant General Sir Charles Broad
- 7 March 1940 Lieutenant General Michael Barker
- 21 May 1940 Maj-Gen Geoffrey Raikes
- 25 June 1940 Maj-Gen Dudley Johnson VC
South Eastern Command
- 15 February 1941 Lieutenant General Sir Bernard Paget
- 25 December 1941 Lieutenant General Sir Bernard Montgomery
- 7 August 1942 Lieutenant General Sir John Swayne
- 19 March 1944 Lieutenant General Sir Edmond Schreiber
- 25 September 1944 Lieutenant General Eric Miles
- 1944 Major-General Charles Norman
- 1946 Major-General Joseph Baillon
- 1948 Major-General William Dimoline
- 1 September 1951 Major-General John Eldridge
- 1953 Major-General Edward Burke-Gaffney
- 8 February 1954 Major-General Sir Douglas Campbell
- 7 February 1956 Major-General Ronald Bramwell-Davis
- 7 February 1960 Major-General Sir Denis O’Connor
- 8 November 1961 Major-General John Francis Metcalfe
- 7 November 1963 Major-General Patrick Man
- 4 July 1966 Major-General Charles Stainforth
South East District
- November 1969 Major-General Bernard Penfold
- April 1972 Lieutenant-General Sir Allan Taylor
- December 1972 Lieutenant-General Sir Terence McMeekin
- December 1974 Lieutenant-General Sir James Wilson
- May 1977 Lieutenant-General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley
- May 1979 Lieutenant-General Sir George Cooper
- January 1981 Lieutenant-General Sir Paul Travers
- February 1982 Lieutenant-General Sir Richard Trant
- September 1983 Lieutenant-General Sir Geoffrey Howlett
- December 1985 Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Gray
- January 1988 Lieutenant-General Sir Peter de la Billière
- December 1990 Lieutenant-General Sir Richard Swinburn
- February 1994 Lieutenant-General Sir Anthony Denison-Smith
- Col John J. Dunlop, The Development of the British Army 1899–1914, London: Methuen, 1938.
- Hardinge, memorandum dated 23 Sept 1853: The National Archives, WO 33/1.
- Illustrated London News, 15 April 1854.
- Aldershot Military Museum
- Illustrated London News, 1855 Volume I, pp 462, 469; 1855 Volume II, pp 22, 54, 452–3.
- Hart’s Army List from 1857
- Monthly Army Lists.
- Army Lists.
- Brig-Gen Sir James Edmonds, Military Operations, France and Belgium 1914, Volume I, (London: Macmillan, 3rd edn 1934; Woking: Shearer Publications, 1984 reprint) p 31.
- Brig-Gen Sir James Edmonds, Military Operations, France and Belgium 1914, Volume II (London: Macmillan, 1925; Imperial War Museum/Battery Press reprint (nd)) p 5.
- Patriot Files
- Army List.
- Basil Collier, The Defence of the United Kingdom, London: HMSO 1957, p 77.
- Orders of Battle
- Army Lists..
- Quarterly Army List.
- Army Lists.
- Whitaker's Almanacks 1869 - 1972
- Aldershot Command at Regiments.org
- Army commands
- William Knollys
- John Pennefather
- James Yorke Scarlett
- James Grant
- Thomas Steele
- Daniel Lysons
- Archibald Alison
- Evelyn Wood
- Duke of Connaught
- Redvers Buller
- "Sir Redvers Buller relieved of his command" The Times (London). Wednesday, 23 October 1901. (36593), p. 3.
- The London Gazette: . 1 November 1901.
- John French
- Horace Smith-Dorrien
- Douglas Haig
- Earl of Cavan
- Thomas Morland
- Philip Chetwode
- David Campbell
- British Military History: Aldershot Command[dead link]