Charles Harington (British Army officer, born 1910)

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Charles Henry Pepys Harington
Born 1910
Tunbridge Wells
Died 13 February 2007 (aged 96–97)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1930–1971
Rank General
Commands held 1st Bn Manchester Regiment
1st Bn Parachute Regiment
49th Infantry Brigade
School of Infantry
3rd Division
Staff College, Camberley
Middle East Command
Battles/wars Second World War
Mau Mau Uprising
Aden Emergency
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross

General Sir Charles Henry Pepys Harington, GCB, CBE, DSO, MC (1910 – 13 February 2007) was an officer in the British Army. He served in the British Expeditionary Force and in Normandy in the Second World War. He was later Commander-in-Chief of the three-service Middle East Command from 1963 to 1965, based at Aden. He ended his Army career as Chief of Personnel and Logistics at the UK Ministry of Defence from 1968 to 1971.

Early life and career[edit]

Harington was born in Tunbridge Wells, into a military family. He was related to General Sir Charles Harington Harington, the commander in Constantinople in 1922 during the Chanak crisis. His father, Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Hastings Harington, an officer in the Indian Army, was killed in Mesopotamia in 1916, and Harington and his two sisters were raised by their widowed mother.

He was educated at Malvern College and Sandhurst. He was commissioned into the 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment in 1930.[1] He excelled at athletics, holding the Army record for the 440 yard hurdles and competing for the Army against the other services. He was captain of the 2nd Battalion's athletics team, winning the Army Inter-Unit Team Athletic Championship in 1937, 1938 and 1939. He was the adjutant of the 2nd Battalion from 1936 to 1939.

Second World War[edit]

He joined the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium in 1939 and 1940, commanding a machinegun company of the 2nd Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment in the 1st Infantry Division. During the retreat from the River Dyle in the face of the German blitzkrieg in May 1940, his company formed part of the division's rearguard, supporting the 13th/18th Royal Hussars and 21st Anti-Tank Regiment of the Royal Artillery. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions, and was evacuated from Dunkirk.

He spent most of the Second World War on staff appointments, and married Victoire Marion Williams-Freeman in 1942. Promoted to lieutenant colonel, he took command of the 1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment, in March 1944.[1] The unit was poorly trained and virtually unfit for duty, but Harington quickly brought it to full combat readiness. The battalion fought well in Normandy after D-Day, and Harington was awarded the DSO.

Post-war service[edit]

Harington was rapidly promoted after the war. He was General Staff Officer Grade 1 at the headquarters of the 53rd (Welsh) Division,[1] then served as an instructor at the Staff College in Camberley for two years, before joining the British Military Mission in Greece during the Greek Civil War.[1] He commanded the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment from 1949 to 1951.[1] He then served as military assistant to two Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Field Marshal Viscount Slim and General Sir John Harding, before spending time at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in France.[1]

Promoted to Brigadier, he commanded the 49th Infantry Brigade in Kenya in 1955 and 1956, during the Mau Mau Uprising.[1] He was appointed CBE in 1957, and was commandant of the School of Infantry in Warminster in 1958.[1] He was promoted to Major General, and took command of the 3rd Division in 1959.[1] He then became commandant of the Staff College, Camberley in 1961.[1] He succeeded Major General Tom Brodie as Colonel of the Cheshire Regiment in January 1962,[2] remaining the regiment's Colonel until 1968.


Promoted to lieutenant general, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the three-service Middle East Command in May 1963, with responsibility for an area extending from the Persian Gulf to East Africa.[1] In January 1964, he had to deal with mutinous battalions in newly independent Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda, formerly part of the King's African Rifles. He was knighted in 1964.

He then had to deal with insurgency of Haushabi and Radfan tribes in the Western Aden Protectorate on the road between Aden and Dhala. The deployment of British forces bolstered support for the Front for the Liberation of South Yemen, triggering a campaign of violence in Aden itself.

Sir Arthur Charles, the Speaker of the nascent National Council, was murdered outside his house in Crater in September 1965. Direct British rule was reimposed when the President of the Council, Abdull al-Qawi Mecca-wi, refused to condemn the killing. The subsequent counterinsurgency operations failed: the Aden Police were infiltrated, and officers in the local Special Branch were killed. In 1966, the British government, led by Harold Wilson, decided to withdraw British forces from Aden and the Protectorates by 1968, by which time Harington had returned to the UK.

Late career[edit]

Memorial to Charles Harington in Chester Cathedral

Harington returned from Aden in 1966 to take up the position of Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff.[1] He was promoted to general in 1968, and became Chief of Personnel and Logistics at the UK Ministry of Defence.[1] He was appointed GCB in 1969, and was an Aide-de-camp to the H. M. the Queen from 1969 to 1971. He retired from the Army in 1971.

In retirement, Harington was president of the Combined Cadet Force Association from 1971 to 1980 and also from 1972 to 1980 chairman of the Governors of the Royal Star and Garter Home, Richmond, for disabled ex-servicemen. He was a vice-president of Battersea Dogs' Home and from 1966 to 1999 president of the Milocarian (Tri-Service) Athletic Club. He also enjoyed sailing, and was president of the Hurlingham Club for over twenty-five years.

Harington's wife died in 2000, and he himself in 2007, to be survived by a son and two daughters.

Awards and decorations[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  2. ^ "(Supplement) no. 42560". The London Gazette. 29 December 1961. p. 77. Retrieved 3 February 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Houterman, Hans. "British Army Officers 1939–1945: Harington, [Sir] Charles Henry Pepys". Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
Military offices
Preceded by
George Gordon-Lennox
General Officer Commanding the 3rd Division
Succeeded by
Vivian Street
Preceded by
Reginald Hewetson
Commandant of the Staff College, Camberley
Succeeded by
John Worsley
Preceded by
Sir Richard Anderson
C-in-C Middle East Land Forces
Succeeded by
Post Disbanded
Preceded by
Sir John Hackett
Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Ian Freeland
Preceded by
Sir Desmond Dreyer
Chief of Personnel and Logistics, UK Ministry of Defence
Succeeded by
Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris