Aldershot Command

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Aldershot Command
South-Eastern Command (United Kingdom) Badge.jpg
Active 1881-1941
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Command
Garrison/HQ Aldershot

Aldershot Command was a Home Command of the British Army.

History[edit]

Command Headquarters (behind the war memorial), in use 1894 to 1996 (when it was handed over to 4th Division)

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.[1][2][3] 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.[4]

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.[5][6]

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 to be formed within Aldershot Command, based at Aldershot. This scheme disappeared in 1881, when the districts were retitled ‘District Commands’.[7] In 1898 (when Queen Victoria’s son, the Duke of Connaught, was General Officer Commanding (GOC)) Aldershot Command was ranked I on the list. A purpose-built command headquarters was completed in 1894.[8]

The 1901 Army Estimates introduced by St John Brodrick allowed for six army corps based on six regional commands. As outlined in a paper published in 1903, I Corps was to be formed in a reconstituted Aldershot Command, with HQ at Aldershot.[9] General Sir Redvers Buller was appointed acting General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOCinC) of I Corps in April 1903.[10]

Under Army Order No 28 of 1907 the Home Commands were reorganised to provide a basis for the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).[11]

Composition of Aldershot Command 1907[11][edit]

1st Cavalry Brigade (Brig-Gen Hon Julian Byng)

1st Division (Maj-Gen James Grierson)

  • 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

2nd Division (Maj-Gen Bruce Hamilton)

  • 4th (Guards) Brigade London
  • 5th Brigade Aldershot
  • 6th Brigade Aldershot
  • Three Field Artillery Brigades RFA
  • Two Field Companies RE

Army Troops

  • 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[edit]

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 Lieutenant-General Sir Douglas Haig.[12] 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.[13] For the first two years of World War I command at Aldershot was divided between the Major-General, Administration (Major-General Alexander Hamilton-Gordon) and the commander of Aldershot Training Centre (General Sir Archibald Hunter). Aldershot Command was reinstated in 1916 under Hunter.

World War II[edit]

In 1939 Regular Troops reporting to Aldershot Command included 1st Infantry Division and 2nd Infantry Division.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] In 1941 the Command was downgraded to ‘Aldershot Area’ within a new South-Eastern Command.[17][18] South Eastern Command ceased to exist at the end of 1944,[19] and Aldershot was transferred to Southern Command, without its own GOC.[20]

Post-World War II[edit]

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.[21]

General Officers Commanding-in-Chief[edit]

Appointments as General Officers Commanding and General Officers Commanding-in-Chief have included:[22][23][24]

The Division at Aldershot

Aldershot District Command

Lieutenant-General Commanding Troops at Aldershot, and 1st Army Corps

  • 10 January 1901 General Sir Redvers Buller VC GCB KCMG (on his arrival back from South Africa)[38]
    • 25 October 1901 Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Hildyard, KCB (temporary when Buller was dismissed, pending the return from South Africa of French)[39][40]
  • 15 September 1902 Lieutenant-General Sir John French[41]

In 1905 title changed to GOCinC.
In 1907 title changed to Aldershot Corps.
In 1908 became Aldershot Command again.

Aldershot Command

GOC and Major-General Administration, Aldershot Command

GOC Aldershot Training Centre

Aldershot Command

South Eastern Command
Commanders included:[48]

Aldershot District

South East District

Southern District

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hardinge, memorandum dated 23 Sept 1853: The National Archives, WO 33/1.
  2. ^ Illustrated London News, 15 April 1854.
  3. ^ Aldershot Military Museum
  4. ^ Illustrated London News, 1855 Volume I, pp 462, 469; 1855 Volume II, pp 22, 54, 452–3.
  5. ^ Hart’s Army List from 1857
  6. ^ Monthly Army Lists.
  7. ^ Army List 1876–1881.
  8. ^ "Neighbourhood Centre". Rushmoor Council. p. 6. Retrieved 6 December 2015. 
  9. ^ Col John K. Dunlop, The Development of the British Army 1899–1914, London: Methuen, 1938.
  10. ^ Redvers Buller
  11. ^ a b Col John J. Dunlop, The Development of the British Army 1899–1914, London: Methuen, 1938.
  12. ^ Brigadier-General Sir James Edmonds, Military Operations, France and Belgium 1914, Volume I, (London: Macmillan, 3rd edn 1934; Woking: Shearer Publications, 1984 reprint) p 31.
  13. ^ Brigadier-General Sir James Edmonds, Military Operations, France and Belgium 1914, Volume II (London: Macmillan, 1925; Imperial War Museum/Battery Press reprint (nd)) p 5.
  14. ^ Patriot Files
  15. ^ Army List.
  16. ^ Basil Collier, The Defence of the United Kingdom, London: HMSO 1957, p 77.
  17. ^ Orders of Battle
  18. ^ Army Lists..
  19. ^ Flashes
  20. ^ Quarterly Army List.
  21. ^ Army Lists.
  22. ^ Whitaker's Almanacks 1869 - 1972
  23. ^ Aldershot Command at Regiments.org
  24. ^ Army commands
  25. ^ William Knollys
  26. ^ John Pennefather
  27. ^ James Yorke Scarlett
  28. ^ James Grant
  29. ^ Thomas Steele
  30. ^ Daniel Lysons
  31. ^ Archibald Alison
  32. ^ Evelyn Wood
  33. ^ Duke of Connaught
  34. ^ Redvers Buller
  35. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27126. p. 6180. 13 October 1899.
  36. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27146. p. 8542. 22 December 1899.
  37. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27229. p. 5692. 14 September 1900.
  38. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27267. p. 396. 18 January 1901.
  39. ^ "Sir Redvers Buller relieved of his command" The Times (London). Wednesday, 23 October 1901. (36593), p. 3.
  40. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27370. p. 7048. 1 November 1901.
  41. ^ John French
  42. ^ Horace Smith-Dorrien
  43. ^ Douglas Haig
  44. ^ Earl of Cavan
  45. ^ Thomas Morland
  46. ^ Philip Chetwode
  47. ^ David Campbell
  48. ^ British Military History: Aldershot Command Archived September 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.