Philip Christison

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Sir Philip Christison, 4th Baronet
Nickname(s) Christie[1]
Born (1893-11-17)17 November 1893
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died 21 December 1993(1993-12-21) (aged 100)
Melrose, Roxburghshire, Scotland
Buried at Méharicourt Communal Cemetery
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1914–49
Rank General
Unit Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Duke of Wellington's Regiment
Commands held Scottish Command (1947–49)
Northern Command (1946–47)
Allied Forces, Dutch East Indies (1945–46)
Allied Land Forces, South East Asia (1945)
Fourteenth Army (1945)
XV Indian Corps (1943–46)
XXXIII Indian Corps (1942–43)
15th (Scottish) Division (1941–42)
Command and Staff College, Quetta (1940–41)
Quetta Brigade (1938–40)
2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment (1937–38)

First World War

Second World War

Indonesian National Revolution
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Companion of the Order of the Bath[2]
Distinguished Service Order[3]
Military Cross & Bar[4][5]
Mentioned in Despatches (2)[6]
Grand Cordon of the Order of the Cloud and Banner (China)[7]
Other work Secretary of the Scottish Education Department

General Sir Alexander Frank Philip Christison, 4th Baronet, GBE, CB, DSO, MC & Bar (17 November 1893 – 21 December 1993) was a British Army commander of the Second World War.

Early life and career[edit]

Christison was born in Edinburgh, the eldest son of five children of Sir Alexander Christison, 3rd Baronet and his second wife, Florence. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and University College, Oxford where, as a cadet in the university's Officer Training Corps, he was made second lieutenant in March 1914.[8]

Christison was commissioned into the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in 1914[9] and during the First World War he saw action in the battles of Loos (where he was awarded the Military Cross), the Somme and Arras.[10] In July 1917 he was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross. The citation for this award reads:

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award a Bar to the Military Cross to the undermentioned Officers.

2nd Lt. (temp. Capt.) Alexander Frank Philip Christison, M.C., Cam. Highrs.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He displayed the utmost courage and determination in pushing back the enemy and clearing the north side of the village. By his tireless energy he succeeded in getting the position consolidated under heavy fire. (Military Cross gazetted 14th January, 1916.)[5]

In 1919, he relinquished his last wartime appointment as second in command of the 6th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders in the rank of acting major and reverted to the rank of captain,[11] taking up the post of adjutant of a Territorial Army unit in 1920.[12]

After vacating his position as adjutant of the 4th battalion King's Own Scottish Borderers in November 1923,[13] Christison was assistant manager of the British Olympic team in Paris in 1924[10] which was followed by a further appointment as an adjutant,[14] this time with his regiment. Still a captain, he attended the Staff College, Camberley from January 1927[15] after which he was appointed as a staff officer grade 3 (GSO3) at the War Office.[16]

Having been made a brevet major in January 1930,[17] a sign of approval and likely future promotion at a time when prospects for promotion in the peacetime army were slow, Christison saw service from January 1931 as the brigade major (a brigade's senior staff officer) of the 3rd Infantry Brigade,[18] relinquishing the appointment in January 1933.[19] He was promoted to major in November 1933.[20]

In 1934 Christison was made a brevet lieutenant colonel[21] and returned the Staff College as an instructor (GSO2)[22] where he became good friends with a fellow instructor, Bill Slim.[23]

In February 1937, Christison was appointed commander of the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment in the Multan area of the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province. In February 1938 he was promoted to colonel[24] and selected to command a brigade in India.[9][25]

Second World War[edit]

In 1940 and 1941, Christison was Commandant of the Staff College, Quetta in the former British India (now Pakistan).[9] In 1941 he was promoted acting major general to command 15th (Scottish) Division in the United Kingdom (his rank was made permanent in July 1942).[26] Following this, he returned to India and after a short appointment as a military district commander, he was promoted acting lieutenant general in late 1942[27] to command Indian XXXIII Corps. He assumed command of the Indian XV Corps in 1943,[10] part of the newly formed British Fourteenth Army, succeeding William Slim, who had been promoted to command the Fourteenth Army. The XV Corps made up the Southern Front of the Burma Campaign in the coastal region known as the Arakan.

During the Second Arakan Offensive in February 1944, XV Corps advanced southwards. A Japanese attempt to outflank and isolate elements of the Corps failed when 7th Indian Infantry Division held off the attacks and the Corps' administrative area – the "Admin Box" – successfully fought off attacks by the Japanese 55th Division (Battle of the Admin Box). This was the first time in the Second World War that a British army had defeated the Japanese in a land battle.[23] XV Corps was withdrawn on 22 March to assist the allied defence of Imphal. In December 1944 Christison and his fellow corps commanders Montagu Stopford and Geoffrey Scoones were knighted and invested as Knights Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the viceroy Lord Wavell at a ceremony at Imphal in front of the Scottish, Gurkha and Punjab regiments.[28] Slim was knighted and invested as Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath at the same occasion.

In 1945, Christison assumed temporary command of the Fourteenth Army[10] and also deputised for Slim as Commander of Allied Land Forces, South-East Asia when Slim was on leave,[9] reverting to XV Corps on Slim's return. Christison led XV Corps into Rangoon in May of that year.[10]

In September 1945 Christison deputised for Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten as commander of South East Asia Command, and took the surrender of the Japanese Seventh Area Army and Japanese South Sea Fleet at Singapore on 3 September. From 1946, Christison was Allied Commander of forces in the Dutch East Indies. In November, Christison's troops were involved in a full-scale battle to suppress pro-Independence Indonesian soldiers and militia in Surabaya.


Plaque to General Philip Christison, St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh

Christison was General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command from 1946 to 1947;[9] he was then GOC-in-C of Scottish Command and Governor of Edinburgh Castle from 1947 to 1949[9] He was promoted to full general in August 1947.[29] He held the honorary appointments of Aide-de-Camp General to the King (1947[30] to 1949[31]) and Colonel of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (1947[32] to ). In 1947 he was appointed Colonel of the 10th Gurkha Rifles[33] and in late 1949 he was also made Colonel of a Territorial Army artillery unit.[34]

He retired from the army in 1949[35] and farmed at Melrose in Scotland. During the 1950s and 1960s he was Secretary of the Scottish Education Department.

Christison married twice: to Betty Mitchell, with whom he had three daughters and a son, from 1916 until her death in 1974; and then to Vida Wallace Smith until her death in 1992.[10] He died in 1993 at the age of 100.[9]


A brass memorial plaque to his memory lies on the south aisle of St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh (Episcopal).


  1. ^ Mead 2007, p. 99.
  2. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35841. p. 3. 29 September 1942. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36994. p. 1544. 20 March 1945. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29438. p. 582. 11 January 1916. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  5. ^ a b The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30188. p. 7216. 17 July 1917. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37184. p. 3746. 17 July 1945. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38620. p. 2607. 27 May 1949. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28808. p. 1734. 3 March 1914. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  10. ^ a b c d e f Christison Family Papers: Life and Times of General Sir Philip Christison: an Autobiography
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31746. p. 941. 20 January 1920. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31888. p. 5207. 4 May 1920. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32885. p. 8451. 4 December 1923. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32984. p. 7591. 21 October 1924. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33241. p. 436. 21 January 1927. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33460. p. 616. 25 January 1929. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33576. p. 726. 4 February 1930. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33685. p. 673. 30 January 1931. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33906. p. 591. 21 January 1933. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  20. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33992. p. 7108. 3 November 1933. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  21. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34011. p. 55. 2 January 1934. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  22. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34382. p. 1913. 23 March 1937. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  23. ^ a b Mead 2007, p. 98.
  24. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34488. p. 1347. 1 March 1938. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  25. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34504. p. 2653. 22 April 1938. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  26. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35803. p. 5207. 27 November 1942. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  27. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35812. p. 5331. 4 December 1942. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  28. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36720. p. 4473. 26 September 1944. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  29. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38051. p. 3933. 19 August 1947. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  30. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37144. p. 5863. 9 December 1947. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  31. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38668. p. 3531. 19 July 1949. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  32. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38068. p. 4280. 9 September 1947. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  33. ^ The London Gazette: no. 38019. p. 3373. 17 July 1947. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  34. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38891. p. 2019. 25 April 1950. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  35. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38651. p. 3175. 28 June 1949. Retrieved 27 February 2012.


Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Edwin Morris
GOC-in-C Northern Command
Succeeded by
Sir Montagu Stopford
Preceded by
Sir Neil Ritchie
GOC-in-C Scottish Command
Succeeded by
Sir Gordon MacMillan