Olaf Caroe

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Sir Olaf Kirkpatrick Kruuse Caroe KCSI KCIE (15 November 1892 – 23 November 1981) was an administrator in British India, working for the Indian Civil Service and the Indian Political Service. He served as the Governor of the North-West Frontier Province. He was a strategist of the Great Game and the Cold War on the southern periphery of the Soviet Union. His ideas are believed to have been highly influential in shaping the post-War policies of Britain and the United States.

Early life[edit]

Olaf Caroe was the son of architect William Douglas Caroe and Grace Desborough Rendall. He was educated at Winchester College and Magdalen College, Oxford,[1] where he read classics. He served in the army in the Punjab in World War I, and joined the Indian Civil Service in 1919.[2]


Caroe subsequently move to the Indian Political Service, where he was influential in foreign policy. He served as the Foreign Secretary to the Government of India through the World War II. After the war, he was appointed as the Governor of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), on the northwest border of the Indian subcontinent, adjoining Afghanistan and Russia.[3]

Caroe served as the Governor of the NWFP from 1946 to just before the Partition of India in 1947. Subject to accusations that he was too close to the Muslim League,[4] he encountered opposition from Congress Party politicians,[5] and was replaced in mid-1947 by Rob Lockhart as governor.


After returning from India in 1947, he wrote extensively. His strategic ideas proved influential:


  • Wells of Power. London: Macmillan. 1951.
  • Soviet Empire: The Turks of Central Asia and Stalinism. 1953.
    • Reprinted with an additional Introduction. London: Macmillan. 1967.
  • The Pathans 550 B.C.–A.D. 1957. Macmillan and Company, London 1958
    • Reprinted with a Foreword and an Epilogue on Russia. Karachi: OUP. 1983. ISBN 0-19-577221-0
  • From Nile to Indus: Economics and Security in the Middle East. 1960.
  • "The Geography and Ethnics of India's Northern Frontiers". The Geographical Journal. 126 (3). 1960.


  1. ^ "Personal recollections of Sir Olaf Caroe". university of Leeds Special Collections. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  2. ^ Brobst, The Future of the Great Game 2005, p. xvi.
  3. ^ Brobst, Kashmir 1947 1998, p. 93.
  4. ^ Wali Khan, Khan Abdul, "Chapter 18: Mountbatten Gets to Work", Facts are sacred, Awami National Party, archived from the original on 18 July 2004
  5. ^ Parshotam Mehra, The force Badshah Khan built (review of The Pathan Unarmed: Opposition & Memory in the North West Frontier by Mukulika Banerjee), Tribune India 2 December 2001
  6. ^ Rudolph, Lloyd I.; Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber (25 February 2006), "The Making of US Foreign Policy for South Asia" (PDF), Economic and Political Weekly: 703–709, archived from the original (PDF) on 4 September 2006


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ronald Evelyn Leslie Wingate
Chief Commissioner of Balochistan
Succeeded by
Arthur Edward Broadbent Parsons
Preceded by
Sir George Cunningham
Governor of the North-West Frontier Province
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Lockhart