Commander-in-Chief, India

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During the period of the Company rule in India and the British Raj, the Commander-in-Chief, India (often "Commander-in-Chief in or of India") was the supreme commander of the British Indian Army. The Commander-in-Chief and most of his staff were based at General Headquarters, India, and liaised with the civilian Governor-General of India. Following the Partition of India in 1947 and the creation of the independent dominions of India and Pakistan, the post was abolished. It was briefly replaced by the position of Supreme Commander of India and Pakistan before the role was abolished in November 1948.[1] Subsequently, the role of Commander-in-Chief was merged into the offices of the Governors-General of India and Pakistan, respectively, before becoming part of the office of President of India from 1950, of the President of Pakistan from 1956.

Prior to independence, the official residence was the Flagstaff House, which later became the residence of the first Prime Minister of India; as Teen Murti Bhavan (Teen Murti House), it is now a museum.

This is a list of people who were the military Commander-in-Chief, India until 1947. The rank and title are the final ones for the officer's career and not necessarily applicable to his tenure as Commander-in-Chief, India.

List of Commanders-in-Chief[edit]

Commanders-in-Chief have been:[2][3]

† denotes people who died in office.

Commanders-in-Chief of India, 1748–1801[edit]

Commander-in-Chief Took office Left office Time in office Notes
1
Stringer Lawrence
Lawrence, StringerMajor general
Stringer Lawrence
(1697–1775)
January 174817545–6 yearsFoiled plans of Joseph François Dupleix to conquer southern India for France. Reorganized the Madras Army.
2
John Adlercron
Adlercron, JohnLieutenant general
John Adlercron
(1691–1766)
January 174817540 years
3
Robert Clive
Clive, RobertMajor general
Robert Clive
(1725–1774)
December 1756February 17603 years, 62 daysEstablished the military supremacy of the East India Company in southern India and Bengal.
4
John Caillaud
Caillaud, JohnBrigadier general
John Caillaud
(1726–1812)
February 1760December 1760304 daysActive in southern India against the French until 1759 when he was dispatched to Bengal.
5
John Carnac
Carnac, JohnBrigadier general
John Carnac
(1716–1800)
December 1760April 1761121 daysDefeated the Delhi Emperor near Bihar.
6
Sir Eyre Coote
Coote, EyreLieutenant general
Sir Eyre Coote
(1726–1783)
April 176117631–2 yearsCaptained the 39th Regiment, the first British regiment sent to India.
7
Thomas Adams
Adams, ThomasMajor
Thomas Adams
(1730–1764)
1763January 17640–1 yearsOfficiating.
(5)
John Carnac
Carnac, JohnBrigadier general
John Carnac
(1716–1800)
January 1764July 1764182 days2nd time appointment as Commander-in-Chief. Promoted to brigadier general during this time.
8
Sir Hector Munro
Munro, HectorGeneral
Sir Hector Munro
(1726–1805)
July 1764January 1765184 daysSuppressed sepoy mutiny at Patna. Won the victories of Buxar against Shuja-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Awadh, and Mir Qasim, which ranks amongst the most decisive battles ever fought in India.
(5)
John Carnac
Carnac, JohnBrigadier general
John Carnac
(1716–1800)
January 1765May 1765120 days3rd appointment as Commander-in-Chief. Defeated the Maratha Empire in the Doab.
(3)
Robert Clive
Clive, RobertMajor general
Robert Clive
(1725–1774)
May 1765January 17671 year, 245 days2nd time appointment as Commander-in-Chief. Conquered Bengal from Nawab Siraj ud Dullah.
9
Richard Smith
Smith, RichardBrigadier general
Richard Smith
(1734–1803)
January 1767March 17703 years, 59 daysExerted considerable influence in the East India Company, and was a prominent creditor of the Nawab of Arcot.
10
Sir Robert Barker
Barker, RobertBrigadier general
Sir Robert Barker
(1732–1789)
March 1770December 17733 years, 275 daysSigned a treaty with the Rohillas against the Maratha Empire.
11
Charles Chapman
Chapman, CharlesColonel
Charles Chapman
(1716–1795)
December 1773January 177431 daysCivil servant of the East India Company who studied tribal ethnicities and cultures, and reported his findings to the Bengal Government.
12
Alexander Champion
Champion, AlexanderBrigadier general
Alexander Champion
January 1774November 1774304 days
13
John Clavering
Clavering, JohnLieutenant general
John Clavering
(1722–1777)
November 177430 August 1777 †2 years, 302 days
14
Giles Stibbert
Stibbert, GilesLieutenant general
Giles Stibbert
(1734–1809)
October 1777March 17791 year, 151 daysOfficiating.
(6)
Sir Eyre Coote
Coote, EyreLieutenant general
Sir Eyre Coote
(1726–1783)
March 1779April 17834 years, 31 daysReappointment. Won the Battle of Porto Novo against odds of five to one, regarded as one of the greatest feats by the British in India.
(14)
Giles Stibbert
Stibbert, GilesLieutenant general
Giles Stibbert
(1734–1809)
April 1783July 17852 years, 91 daysReappointment.
15
Sir Robert Sloper
Slopper, RobertGeneral
Sir Robert Sloper
(1729–1802)
July 1785September 17861 year, 62 days
16
The Earl Cornwallis
Cornwallis, CharlesGeneral
The Earl Cornwallis
(1738–1805)
September 1786October 17931 year, 62 daysPromulgated the Permanent Settlement of Bengal. Served twice as Governor-General of India.
17
Sir Robert Abercromby
Abercromby, RobertGeneral
Sir Robert Abercromby
(1740–1827)
October 1793January 17973 years, 92 daysOfficiating.
18
Charles Morgan
Morgan, CharlesMajor general
Charles Morgan
(1741–1818)
January 1797May 17981 year, 120 daysOfficiating.
19
Sir Alured Clarke
Clarke, AluredField Marshal
Sir Alured Clarke
(1744–1832)
May 1798February 18012 years, 276 days

Commanders-in-Chief of India, 1801–1857[edit]

Commander-in-Chief Took office Left office Time in office Notes
1
Sir James Craig
Craig, JamesGeneral
Sir James Craig
(1748–1812)
February 1801March 180128 daysOfficiating.
2
Gerard Lake
Lake, GeraldGeneral
Gerard Lake
(1744–1808)
March 1801July 18054 years, 122 daysImproved the Indian Army by making all arms, infantry, cavalry and artillery, more mobile and more manageable.
3
The Earl Cornwallis
Cornwallis, CharlesGeneral
The Earl Cornwallis
(1738–1805)
July 1805October 180592 daysReappointment. With Sir Arthur Wellesley, he supervised the Second Anglo-Maratha War against the Sindhia and the Holkar.
(2)
The Lord Lake
Lake, GeraldGeneral
The Lord Lake
(1744–1808)
October 180518060–1 yearsReappointment following the death of Cornwallis' successor John Graves Simcoe. Upon Cornwallis' death, Lake pursued the Holkar to the Punjab. The Holkar capitulated at Amritsar in December 1805.
4
John Simcoe
Simcoe, JohnGeneral
John Simcoe
(1752–1806)
180626 October 1806 †0 yearsAppointed to post in England in late 1805, but died before departing for India and replaced by Lake.
(2)
The Lord Lake
Lake, GeraldGeneral
The Lord Lake
(1744–1808)
1806October 18070–1 yearsReappointment following death of John Simcoe, who died after accepting the appointment in England.
5
Sir George Hewett
Hewett, GeorgeGeneral
Sir George Hewett
(1750–1840)
October 1807December 180761 daysTransformed Meerut into a British stronghold that would be used as a launching point for future military campaigns into northern India.
6
Forbes Champagné
Champagné, ForbesLieutenant general
Forbes Champagné
(1754–1816)
December 1807January 18113 years, 31 daysOfficiating.
7
Sir George Nugent
Nugent, GeorgeField Marshal
Sir George Nugent
(1757–1849)
January 1811October 18132 years, 273 days
8
The Earl of Moira
Hastings, FrancisGeneral
The Earl of Moira
(1754–1826)
October 1813January 18239 years, 92 days1st Marquess of Hastings from 1816; Oversaw British forces in the Gurkha War; conquered the Marathas; repaired the Mogul canals in Delhi; instituted educational reforms.
9
Sir Edward Paget
Paget, EdwardGeneral
Sir Edward Paget
(1775–1849)
January 1823October 18252 years, 273 days
10
The Lord Combermere
Cotton, StapletonField Marshal
The Lord Combermere
(1773–1865)
October 1825January 18304 years, 92 days1st Viscount Combermere from 1827.
11
The Earl of Dalhousie
Ramsay, GeorgeGeneral
The Earl of Dalhousie
(1770–1838)
January 1830January 18322 years, 0 daysBegan the British suppression of the Thuggee murder-cults.
12
Sir Edward Barnes
Barnes, EdwardLieutenant general
Sir Edward Barnes
(1776–1838)
January 1832October 18331 year, 273 daysConstructed the military road between Colombo and Kandy, made the first census of the population, and introduced coffee cultivation.
13
Lord William Bentinck
Bentinck, WilliamGeneral
Lord William Bentinck
(1774–1839)
October 1833March 18351 year, 151 daysSuppressed the Hindu custom of sati. Reappointed in April 1834.
14
Sir James Watson
Watson, JamesGeneral
Sir James Watson
(1772–1862)
March 1835September 1835184 daysEstablished the famous police organisation known as the "Thuggee and Dacoity Department" within the Government of India.
15
Sir Henry Fane
Fane, HenryGeneral
Sir Henry Fane
(1778–1840)
September 1835December 18394 years, 91 days
16
Sir Jasper Nicolls
Nicholls, JasperGeneral
Sir Jasper Nicolls
(1778–1849)
December 1839August 18433 years, 243 daysOfficiating.
17
Hugh Gough
Gough, HughField Marshal
Hugh Gough
(1779–1869)
August 1843May 18495 years, 273 days1st Baron Gough from 1846; Defeated the Mahrattas at Maharajpur. Conducted operations against the Sikhs and won the battles of Mudki, Ferozeshah and Sobraon. Soon after, the Sikhs surrendered at Lahore.
18
Sir Charles James Napier
Napier, CharlesGeneral
Sir Charles James Napier
(1782–1853)
May 1849December 18512 years, 214 daysConquered Sindh and made it part of Bombay Presidency.
19
Sir William Gomm
Gomm, WilliamField Marshal
Sir William Gomm
(1784–1875)
December 1851January 18564 years, 31 days
20
George Anson
Anson, GeorgeMajor general
George Anson
(1797–1857)
January 185627 May 1857 †1 year, 146 daysOutbreak of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Died of cholera during his march against the Indian Rebellion at Delhi.
21
Sir Patrick Grant
Grant, PatrickLieutenant general
Sir Patrick Grant
(1804–1895)
June 1857August 185787 daysDirected operations against the Indian Rebellion, sending forces under Havelock and Outram for the relief of Cawnpore and Lucknow, until the arrival of Sir Colin Campbell from England.
22
Sir Colin Campbell
Campbell, ColinGeneral
Sir Colin Campbell
(1792–1863)
August 18574 June 18613 years, 307 days1st Baron Clyde from 1858; Abandoned then recaptured Lucknow. Supervised military operations in Oudh until the Indian Rebellion had been subdued.

Commanders-in-Chief of India, 1861–1947[edit]

Commander-in-Chief Took office Left office Time in office Notes
1
Sir Hugh Rose
Rose, HughLieutenant general
Sir Hugh Rose
(1801–1885)
4 June 186123 March 18653 years, 292 daysImproved discipline and enabled the amalgamation of the East India Company's army into the Queen's army to be carried out.
2
Sir William Mansfield
Mansfield, WilliamGeneral
Sir William Mansfield
(1819–1876)
23 March 18659 April 18705 years, 17 daysPrior to his appointment, Mansfield served in the Sutlej campaign, commanded the 53rd Regiment in the Punjab, and was part of Peshawar operations in the northwest frontier.
3
The Lord Napier of Magdala
Napier, RobertGeneral
The Lord Napier of Magdala
(1810–1890)
9 April 187010 April 18766 years, 1 dayHe did much to benefit the army and to encourage good shooting.
4
Sir Frederick Haines
Haines, FrederickGeneral
Sir Frederick Haines
(1819–1909)
10 April 18768 April 18814 years, 363 days
5
Sir Donald Stewart
Stewart, DonaldGeneral
Sir Donald Stewart
(1824–1900)
8 April 188128 November 18854 years, 234 days
6
Sir Frederick Roberts
Roberts, FrederickLieutenant general
Sir Frederick Roberts
(1832–1914)
28 November 18858 April 18937 years, 131 days1st Baron Roberts of Kandahar
7
Sir George White
White, GeorgeGeneral
Sir George White
(1835–1912)
8 April 189320 March 18984 years, 346 days
8
Sir Charles Nairne
Nairne, CharlesGeneral
Sir Charles Nairne
(1836–1899)
20 March 18984 November 1898229 daysOfficiating.
9
Sir William Lockhart
Lockhart, WilliamGeneral
Sir William Lockhart
(1841–1900)
4 November 189818 March 1900 †1 year, 134 days
10
Sir Arthur Palmer
Palmer, ArthurGeneral
Sir Arthur Palmer
(1840–1904)
19 March 1900[4]28 November 19022 years, 254 days
11
The Viscount Kitchener
Kitchener, HerbertGeneral
The Viscount Kitchener
(1850–1916)
28 November 190210 September 19096 years, 286 daysReconstructed the disorganised Indian Army, but quarreled with the Viceroy Lord Curzon, who resigned.
12
Sir O'Moore Creagh
Creagh, O'MooreGeneral
Sir O'Moore Creagh
(1848–1923)
10 September 19098 March 19144 years, 179 daysDouglas Haig, then a lieutenant general, served as Chief of the General Staff (India) in 1909–12.
13
Sir Beauchamp Duff
Duff, BeauchampGeneral
Sir Beauchamp Duff
(1855–1918)
8 March 19141 October 19162 years, 207 days
14
Sir Charles Monro
Monro, CharlesGeneral
Sir Charles Monro
(1860–1929)
1 October 191621 November 19204 years, 51 days
15
The Lord Rawlinson
Rawlinson, HenryGeneral
The Lord Rawlinson
(1864–1925)
21 November 192028 March 1925 †4 years, 127 daysFormer GOC, British Fourth Army on the Western Front.
16
Sir Claud Jacob
Jacob, ClaudGeneral
Sir Claud Jacob
(1863–1948)
3 April 19256 August 1925125 days
17
The Lord Birdwood
Birdwood, WilliamField Marshal
The Lord Birdwood
(1865–1951)
6 August 192530 November 19305 years, 116 daysDistinguished commander of ANZAC troops on Gallipoli and the Western Front.
18
The Lord Chetwode
Chetwode, PhilipField Marshal
The Lord Chetwode
(1869–1950)
30 November 193030 November 19355 years, 0 daysThe Indian Military Academy was established during his tenure.
19
Sir Robert Cassels
Cassels, RobertGeneral
Sir Robert Cassels
(1876–1959)
30 November 193527 January 19415 years, 58 days
20
Sir Claude Auchinleck
Auchinleck, ClaudeGeneral
Sir Claude Auchinleck
(1884–1981)
27 January 19415 July 1941159 daysLeft to take command of the Middle East Command (swapped jobs with Wavell).
21
Sir Archibald Wavell
Wavell, ArchibaldGeneral
Sir Archibald Wavell
(1883–1950)
5 July 19415 January 1942184 daysLeft to take command of the short lived ABDACOM; later became Viceroy.
22
Sir Alan Hartley
Hartley, AlanGeneral
Sir Alan Hartley
(1882–1954)
5 January 19427 March 194261 days
(21)
Sir Archibald Wavell
Wavell, ArchibaldField Marshal
Sir Archibald Wavell
(1883–1950)
7 March 194220 June 19431 year, 105 daysReappointment. Sir Alan Hartley appointed Deputy C-in-C, India.
(20)
Sir Claude Auchinleck
Auchinleck, ClaudeField Marshal
Sir Claude Auchinleck
(1884–1981)
20 June 194315 August 19474 years, 56 daysServed as the last C-in-C, India. Reappointed 15 August 1947, and became Supreme Commander of India and Pakistan. Oversaw division of the Armed forces between the two new countries. Served in this capacity until November 1948, when the role of Supreme Commander was abolished.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Warner (1982), p. 269
  2. ^ Commanders-in-Chief Archived 2012-02-19 at the Wayback Machine Land Forces
  3. ^ Army Commands Archived July 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "No. 27299". The London Gazette. 26 March 1901. p. 2114.