Geoffrey Baker

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For the fourteenth-century English chronicler, see Geoffrey the Baker.
Sir Geoffrey Baker
Gbaker.jpg
Field Marshal Sir Geoffrey Baker
Born (1912-06-20)20 June 1912
Murree, India
Died 8 May 1980(1980-05-08) (aged 67)
Wellington College, Berkshire
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1932 - 1971
Rank Field Marshal
Unit Royal Artillery
Commands held
Battles/wars
Awards

Field Marshal Sir Geoffrey Harding Baker GCB, CMG, CBE, MC (20 June 1912 – 8 May 1980) was Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army. He served in World War II and became Director of Operations and Chief of Staff for the campaign against EOKA in Cyprus during the Cyprus Emergency and later in his career provided advice to the British Government on the deployment of troops to Northern Ireland at the start of the Troubles.

Army career[edit]

Born the son of Colonel Cecil Norris Baker and Ella Mary Baker (née Hutchinson)[1] and educated at Wellington College and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich,[2] Baker was commissioned into the Royal Artillery on 28 January 1932.[3] He was promoted to lieutenant on 28 January 1935 and was posted later that year to Meerut in India.[2]

Wellington College where Baker was educated

He served in World War II and, having been promoted to captain on 28 January 1940 and posted as a staff officer to Headquarters Middle East in May 1940,[2] he took part in the campaign in East Africa during which he fought at the Battle of Keren[2] for which he was awarded the MC on 8 July 1941;[4] he was wounded three times and was mentioned in dispatches on 30 December 1941[5] and on 15 December 1942.[6] He was appointed Commanding Officer of 127 Field Regiment RA in July 1943 and, having been appointed OBE for his services in the Middle East on 14 October 1943,[7] he led his regiment during the Allied invasion of Sicily.[8] In March 1944 he joined to staff at 21st Army Group and took part in the Normandy landings and the campaign in North West Europe[8] being mentioned in despatches on 10 May 1945,[9] appointed CBE on 24 January 1946[10] and awarded the Legion of Merit in the Degree of Commander by the President of the United States on 17 September 1948.[11]

After the War he co-ordinated administrative services in the Allied Control Commission in Germany.[8] Promoted to the substantive rank of major on 1 July 1946,[12] he was appointed Deputy Director of Staff Duties at the War Office in January 1947.[8] After promotion to lieutenant colonel on 31 December 1951,[13] he took command of 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery at Munsterlager and, following promotion to colonel on 20 June 1953[14] and having been appointed CB in the New Year Honours 1955,[15] he became Director of Operations and Chief of Staff for the campaign against EOKA in Cyprus in November 1955 during the Cyprus Emergency for which he was appointed CMG in the New Year Honours 1958.[16] He became Assistant Chief of Staff at Headquarters Northern Army Group in February 1959 and, on promotion to major-general on 3 February 1960,[17] he was appointed Chief-of-Staff at Southern Command.[8] He went on to be Chief of Staff at SHAPE in November 1961 in which capacity he was responsible for contingency planning for Berlin at the time of the construction of the Berlin Wall.[8]

Baker advised the Government on its response to the Troubles in Northern Ireland in 1970

Following his appointment as Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff[18] with the rank of lieutenant general on 2 September 1963,[19] and having been advanced to KCB in the 1964 New Year Honours,[20] he became General Officer Commanding Southern Command on 31 October 1966.[21] Having been promoted to full general on 7 May 1967[22] and advanced to GCB in the New Year Honours 1968,[23] he was appointed Chief of the General Staff on 1 March 1968.[24] In this role he provided advice to the British Government on the deployment of troops to Northern Ireland at the start of the Troubles: his assessment was that Special Branch had inadequate intelligence on the IRA.[25] He was promoted to field marshal on 31 March 1971[26] on his retirement from the British Army.[27]

In retirement he became Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery from July 1964, Colonel Commandant of the Royal Military Police from March 1968, Colonel Commandant of the Royal Horse Artillery from November 1970 and Master Gunner, St. James's Park from 1970.[27] He was also Constable of the Tower of London from 1 August 1975.[28] He was a governor of both Wellington College and Radley College.[1]

He died at Wellington College on 8 May 1980.[1]

Family[edit]

In 1946 he married Valerie Lockhart; they had one daughter (the military artist Alix Baker)[29] and two sons.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Geoffrey Harding Baker". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Heathcote, Anthony pg 37
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33794. p. 631. 29 January 1932. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35209. p. 3884. 4 July 1941. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 35396. p. 7342. 26 December 1941. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35821. p. 5437. 11 December 1942. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36209. p. 4540. 12 October 1943. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Heathcote, Anthony pg 38
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37072. p. 2456. 8 May 1945. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37442. p. 615. 22 January 1946. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38405. p. 5037. 14 September 1948. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37635. p. 3365. 28 June 1946. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39454. p. 693. 1 February 1952. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40085. p. 626. 26 January 1954. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40366. p. 3. 31 December 1954. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40960. p. 5. 28 December 1956. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41967. p. 1533. 26 February 1960. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 43096. p. 7355. 30 August 1963. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 43116. p. 7975. 24 September 1963.. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  20. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 43200. p. 3. 31 December 1963. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  21. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44158. p. 11799. 28 October 1966. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  22. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44361. p. 7629. 7 July 1967. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  23. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44484. p. 3. 29 December 1967. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  24. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44539. p. 2655. 1 March 1968. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  25. ^ "Papers reveal Government in the dark over IRA". BBC News. 1 January 2000. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  26. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 45337. p. 3336. 5 April 1971. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  27. ^ a b Heathcote, Anthony pg 39
  28. ^ The London Gazette: no. 46652. p. 9961. 5 August 1975. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  29. ^ "Exhibiting scenes of war and peace". Times Online. 26 June 2007. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Heathcote, Tony (1999). The British Field Marshals 1736–1997. Barnsley (UK): Pen & Sword. ISBN 0-85052-696-5. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir William Pike
Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff
1963–1966
Succeeded by
Sir Desmond Fitzpatrick
Preceded by
Sir Kenneth Darling
GOC-in-C Southern Command
1966–1968
Succeeded by
Sir John Mogg
Preceded by
Sir James Cassels
Chief of the General Staff
1968–1971
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Carver
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Robert Mansergh
Master Gunner,
St. James's Park

1970–1976
Succeeded by
Sir Harry Tuzo
Preceded by
Sir Richard Hull
Constable of the Tower of London
1975 – 1980
Succeeded by
Sir Peter Hunt