James Cassels (British Army officer)

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Sir James Cassels
Sir James Cassels in 1968.jpg
General Sir James Cassels in 1968
Nickname(s) "Jim"
Born (1907-02-28)28 February 1907
Quetta, British India
Died 13 December 1996(1996-12-13) (aged 89)
Newmarket, Suffolk, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1926–68
Rank Field Marshal
Unit Seaforth Highlanders
Commands held Chief of the General Staff (1965–68)
British Army of the Rhine (1960–63)
Northern Army Group (1960–63)
Eastern Command (1959–60)
I Corps (1953–54)
1st Commonwealth Division (1951–52)
6th Airborne Division (1946)
51st (Highland) Infantry Division (1945–46)
152nd Infantry Brigade (1944–45)
1st Battalion, Tyneside Scottish (1940)
Battles/wars Second World War
Jewish insurgency in Palestine
Korean War
Malayan Emergency
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in Despatches
Legion of Merit (United States)
Commander of the Order of the Defender of the Realm (Malaysia)[1]
Relations General Sir Robert Cassels (father)

Field Marshal Sir Archibald James Halkett Cassels, GCB, KBE, DSO (28 February 1907 – 13 December 1996) was a senior British Army officer who served as Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, from 1965 to 1968. As well as being a first-class cricket player, he served in the Second World War, commanded the 1st Commonwealth Division in the Korean War and was director of operations in Malaya during the Malayan Emergency. He later advised the British government on the implementation of the 1966 Defence White Paper.

Early life[edit]

Born the son of General Sir Robert Cassels and Florence Emily Cassels (née Jackson)[2] and educated at Rugby School and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst,[3] Cassels was commissioned into the Seaforth Highlanders on 30 August 1926.[4] He was posted to Central India in 1928 and, having been promoted to lieutenant on 20 August 1929, was appointed aide-de-camp to his father in May 1930.[5] He became adjutant of the 2nd battalion of his regiment in March 1934 and was promoted to captain on 22 March 1938.[5]

Cricket career[edit]

James Cassels
Personal information
Full name Archibald James Halkett Cassels
Batting style Right-handed
Bowling style Right-arm fast-medium/Off spin
Role All-rounder
Domestic team information
Years Team
1932–1935 Army
1932 Viceroy's XI
1928 Punjab Governor's XI
1928 Europeans (Lahore)
First-class debut 17 March 1928 Europeans v Hindus
Last First-class 1 June 1935 Army v Cambridge University
Career statistics
Competition First-class
Matches 5
Runs scored 197
Batting average 39.40
100s/50s 0/2
Top score 72
Balls bowled 954
Wickets 20
Bowling average 20.75
5 wickets in innings 2
10 wickets in match 0
Best bowling 6/51
Catches/stumpings 5/0
Source: CricketArchive, 31 May 2008

A right-handed batsman and right-arm fast-medium/Off spin bowler,[6] he played first-class cricket between 1928 and 1935[7] and also represented the Egyptian national team.[8]

His first recorded match came in 1921 when he played for his school team against Marlborough College at Lord's.[9] His first-class debut was in 1928 when he played for the Europeans against the Hindus in the Lahore Tournament, a tournament similar to the more famous Bombay Quadrangular Tournament but played in Lahore, then a part of India. He played for a Punjab Governor's XI against Northern India team in his second first-class match later that month, also in Lahore.[7] He took 6/51 in the second innings of that match,[10] his best innings bowling performance in first-class cricket.[6]

He played his next first-class match in Delhi in February 1932, playing for a Viceroy's XI against the Roshanara Club. He played his first first-class match in England that June, playing for the British Army cricket team against the RAF at The Oval,[7] making his highest first-class score of 72.[11] The following year he played for the Egyptian national side against HM Martineau's XI in Alexandria, taking five wickets in the second innings of the visitors.[12]

He played his final first-class match in the 1935 English season, playing for the Army against Cambridge University.[7] He continued to play cricket at a lower level, playing for Delhi against Lord Tennyson's XI in 1938. After the war, he played twice for the Army against the Royal Navy, in 1948 and 1949, and against Cambridge University in 1949.[9]

Military career[edit]

Cassels served in the Second World War, initially as brigade major of 157th Infantry Brigade which was sent to France in June 1940 and then withdrawn through Cherbourg.[5] After commanding the 1st Battalion, Tyneside Scottish (Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment)) later that year,[13] he became a general staff officer with 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division in September 1940 and then deputy director (plans) at the War Office on October 1941.[5] Promoted to major on 30 August 1943,[14] he joined the staff responsible for the planning for Operation Overlord in January 1944.[5] He was given command of 152nd Infantry Brigade in July 1944 and led it during the Normandy Campaign for which he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire on 28 September 1944[15] and awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 21 December 1944.[16] He was appointed General Officer Commanding 51st (Highland) Infantry Division on 28 May 1945 and commanded it in the Rhineland[5] being mentioned in despatches on 8 November 1945.[17]

The Korean War, during which Cassels commanded 1st Commonwealth Division.

After the war he commanded the 6th Airborne Division in counter-insurgency operations in Palestine[18] and was again mentioned in despatches.[19] Promoted to the substantive rank of colonel on 19 August 1947,[20] he became Director of Land / Air Warfare at the War Office in January 1948.[18] Having been promoted to brigadier on 4 March 1948[21] and to major general on 20 December 1948,[22] he became Chief Liaison Officer with the United Kingdom Services Liaison Staff at Melbourne in Australia on 16 December 1949[23] and was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the New Year Honours 1950.[24] He became the first General Officer Commanding the 1st Commonwealth Division in July 1951 during the Korean War[18] for which he was awarded the Legion of Merit in the Degree of Commander by the President of the United States on 16 September 1952[25] and appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire on 10 October 1952.[26]

Cassels served as director of operations during the Malayan Emergency.

He was made general officer commanding of the 1 (British) Corps on 4 January 1953[27] and, having been promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general on 2 February 1954,[28] became Director of Military Training at the War Office on 15 November 1954.[29] He was appointed director of operations in Malaya on 17 September 1957 during the Malayan Emergency[30] and, having been promoted to full general on 29 November 1958,[31] became General Officer Commanding-in-Chief for Eastern Command on 29 June 1959.[32] He became commanding officer of the Northern Army Group and commander-in-chief of British Army of the Rhine on 7 January 1960[33] and, having advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the New Year Honours 1961,[34] became Adjutant-General to the Forces on 1 June 1963.[35] He became Chief of the General Staff on 8 February 1965[36] and advised the British Government on the implementation of the 1966 Defence White Paper which, inter alia, established the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve.[37] He was promoted to field marshal on 29 February 1968 on his retirement from the British Army.[37]

He was also colonel of the Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, The Duke of Albany's) from 15 March 1957[38] and Colonel Commandant of the Royal Military Police from 27 May 1957.[39] He was also a member of the Committee of the Marylebone Cricket Club.[2]

His interests included fishing, dance music, playing the guitar and the clarinet and playing various sports including cricket, polo and golf.[2] He died at Newmarket in Suffolk on 13 December 1996.[2]


In 1935 he married Joyce Kirk; they had one son.[5] Following the death of his first wife, he married Joy Dickson in 1978.[37]


  1. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1958." (PDF). 
  2. ^ a b c d "Cassels, Sir (Archibald) James Halkett". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Heathcote, Anthony pg 79
  4. ^ "no. 33198". The London Gazette. 3 September 1926. p. 5766. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Heathcote, Anthony pg 80
  6. ^ a b "CricketArchive profile". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d "First-class matches played by Archibald Cassels". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "Teams played for by Archibals Cassels". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "Other matches played by Archibald Cassels". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  10. ^ "Scorecard of Punjab Governor's XI v Northern India, 24 March 1938". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  11. ^ "Obituaries". Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 1998. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  12. ^ "Scorecard of Egypt v HM Martineau's XI, 24 April 1933". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  13. ^ Officers 1TS, 1TS Second World War History, pg 37–38
  14. ^ "(Supplement) no. 36153". The London Gazette. 27 August 1943. p. 3880. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  15. ^ "(Supplement) no. 36720". The London Gazette. 26 September 1944. p. 4473. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  16. ^ "(Supplement) no. 36850". The London Gazette. 19 December 1944. p. 5854. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  17. ^ "(Supplement) no. 37340". The London Gazette. 6 November 1945. p. 5447. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  18. ^ a b c Heathcote, Anthony pg 81
  19. ^ "(Supplement) no. 38505". The London Gazette. 7 January 1949. p. 124. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  20. ^ "(Supplement) no. 38217". The London Gazette. 20 February 1948. p. 1417. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  21. ^ "(Supplement) no. 38270". The London Gazette. 23 April 1948. p. 2585. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  22. ^ "(Supplement) no. 38545". The London Gazette. 25 February 1949. p. 987. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  23. ^ "(Supplement) no. 38805". The London Gazette. 6 January 1950. p. 99. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  24. ^ "(Supplement) no. 38797". The London Gazette. 30 December 1949. p. 3. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  25. ^ "no. 39646". The London Gazette. 16 September 1952. p. 4920. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  26. ^ "(Supplement) no. 39666". The London Gazette. 7 October 1952. p. 5323. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  27. ^ "(Supplement) no. 39778". The London Gazette. 13 February 1953. p. 967. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  28. ^ "(Supplement) no. 40106". The London Gazette. 23 February 1954. p. 1145. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  29. ^ "(Supplement) no. 40326". The London Gazette. 16 November 1954. p. 6479. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  30. ^ "(Supplement) no. 41191". The London Gazette. 1 October 1957. p. 5753. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  31. ^ "(Supplement) no. 41561". The London Gazette. 28 November 1958. p. 7349. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  32. ^ "(Supplement) no. 41752". The London Gazette. 26 June 1959. p. 4219. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  33. ^ "(Supplement) no. 41923". The London Gazette. 5 January 1960. p. 249. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  34. ^ "(Supplement) no. 42231". The London Gazette. 27 December 1960. p. 8891. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  35. ^ "(Supplement) no. 43018". The London Gazette. 31 May 1963. p. 4847. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  36. ^ "(Supplement) no. 43569". The London Gazette. 5 February 1965. p. 1361. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  37. ^ a b c Heathcote, Anthony pg 82
  38. ^ "(Supplement) no. 41007". The London Gazette. 19 February 1957. p. 1195. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  39. ^ "(Supplement) no. 41034". The London Gazette. 26 March 1957. p. 1948. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Obituary: Daily Telegraph 21 December 1996
  • Heathcote, Tony (1999). The British Field Marshals 1736–1997. Barnsley (UK): Pen & Sword. ISBN 0-85052-696-5. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Eric Bols
General Officer Commanding the 6th Airborne Division
March 1946 – December 1946
Succeeded by
Eric Bols
Preceded by
Sir Dudley Ward
GOC 1st (British) Corps
Succeeded by
Sir Hugh Stockwell
Preceded by
Sir Charles Coleman
GOC-in-C Eastern Command
Succeeded by
Sir Gerald Lathbury
Preceded by
Sir Alfred Ward
Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine
Succeeded by
Sir William Stirling
Preceded by
Sir Richard Goodbody
Adjutant General
Succeeded by
Sir Reginald Hewetson
Preceded by
Sir Richard Hull
Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Geoffrey Baker