Commander-in-Chief, India

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The third British Commander-in-Chief of India, Major General Robert Clive. Clive was one of the many Commanders-in-Chief who, as "soldier-politicals", helped the British gain ascendancy in India.

During the period of the British Raj, the Commander-in-Chief, India (often "Commander-in-Chief in or of India") was the supreme commander of the 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, and 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 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

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

Teen Murti Bhavan, the former Official residence of Commander in Chief, built with establishment of New Delhi after 1911, it became Nehru's residence as Prime Minister, now a museum in his memory.

Commanders-in-Chief of India, 1748–1801

Name Notes Appointed
Stringer Lawrence
Foiled French plans to conquer southern India.
Reorganized the Madras Army.
1748 January
John Adlercron
Robert Clive
Established the military supremacy of the East India Company in southern India and Bengal. 1756 December
John Caillaud
Active in southern India against the French until 1759 when he was dispatched to Bengal. 1760 February
John Carnac
Defeated the Delhi Emperor near Bihar. 1760 December
Sir Eyre Coote
Captained the 39th Regiment, the first British regiment sent to India. 1761 April
Thomas Adams
Officiating 1763
John Carnac
2nd time appointment as Commander-in-Chief.
Promoted to Brigadier-General during this time.
1764 January
Sir Hector Munro
Suppressed sepoy mutiny at Patna. Won the victories of Buxar against Shuja-ud-Dowlah, the nawab wasir of Oudh, and Mir Kasim, which ranks amongst the most decisive battles ever fought in India. 1764 July
John Carnac
3rd appointment as Commander-in-Chief.
Defeated the Maratha Empire in the Doab.
1765 January
Robert Clive
2nd time appointment as Commander-in-Chief.
Conquered Bengal from Nawab Siraj ud Dullah.
1765 May
Richard Smith
Exerted considerable influence in the East India Company, and was a prominent creditor of the Nawab of Arcot. 1767 January
Sir Robert Barker
Signed a treaty with the Rohillas against the Maratha Empire. 1770 March
Charles Chapman
Civil servant of the East India Company who studied tribal ethnicities and cultures, and reported his findings to the Bengal Government. 1773 December
Alexander Champion
(d. 1793)
1774 January
Sir John Clavering
1774 November
Giles Stibbert
(d. 1804)
Officiating 1777 October
Sir Eyre Coote
Reappointment. Won the Battle of Porto Novo against odds of five to one, regarded as one of the greatest feats by the British in India. 1779 March
Giles Stibbert
(d. 1804)
Reappointment 1783 April
Sir Robert Sloper
1785 July
The Earl Cornwallis
Promulgated the Permanent Settlement of Bengal.
Served twice as Governor-General of India.
1786 September
Sir Robert Abercromby
Officiating 1793 October
Charles Morgan
Officiating 1797 January
Field Marshal
Sir Alured Clarke
1798 May

Commanders-in-Chief of India, 1801–1857

Name Notes Appointed
General Sir James Craig Officiating 1801 February
General Gerard Lake Improved the Indian Army by making all arms, infantry, cavalry and artillery, more mobile and more manageable. 1801 March
General The Marquess Cornwallis Reappointment. With Sir Arthur Wellesley, he supervised the Second Anglo-Maratha War against the Sindhia and the Holkar. 1805 July
General The Lord Lake Reappointment 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. 1805 October
General John Simcoe Appointed to post in England late 1805, but died before departing for India and replaced by Lake 1806
General The Lord Lake Reappointment following death of John Graves Simcoe, who died after accepting the appointment in England 1806
General Sir George Hewett Transformed Meerut into a British stronghold that would be used as a launching point for future military campaigns into northern India. 1807 October
Lieutenant-General Forbes Champagné Officiating 1807 December
Field Marshal Sir George Nugent 1811 January
General The Earl of Moira 1st Marquess of Hastings from 1816; Oversaw British forces in the Gurkha War; conquered the Marathas; repaired the Mogul canals in Delhi; instituted educational reforms. 1813 October
General Sir Edward Paget 1823 January
Field Marshal The Lord Combermere 1st Viscount Combermere from 1827 1825 October
General The Earl of Dalhousie Began the British suppression of the Thuggee murder-cults. 1830 January
Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Barnes Constructed the military road between Colombo and Kandy, made the first census of the population, and introduced coffee cultivation. 1832 January
General Lord William Bentinck Suppressed the Hindu custom of suttee. 1833 October
General Lord William Bentinck Reappointment 1834 April
General Sir James Watson Established the famous police organisation known as the "Thuggee and Dacoity Department" within the Government of India. 1835 March
General Sir Henry Fane 1835 September
General Sir Jasper Nicolls Officiating 1839 December
Field Marshal Hugh Gough 1st 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. 1843 August
General Sir Charles James Napier Conquered Sindh and made it part of Bombay Presidency. 1849 May
Field Marshal Sir William Gomm 1851 December
Major-General George Anson Outbreak of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Died of cholera during his march against the Indian mutineers at Delhi in May, 1857. 1856 January
Lieutenant-General Sir Patrick Grant Directed operations against the Indian mutineers, sending forces under Havelock and Outram for the relief of Cawnpore and Lucknow, until the arrival of Sir Colin Campbell from England. 1857 June
General Sir Colin Campbell 1st Baron Clyde from 1858; Abandoned then recaptured Lucknow. Supervised military operations in Oudh until the Indian Rebellion had been subdued. 1857 August

Commanders-in-Chief of India, 1861–1947

Teen Murti (three statues), a memorial to the soldiers killed in action during World War I, stands outside Teen Murti House, which gives the building its present name
Name Notes Appointed
Lieutenant-General Sir Hugh Rose Improved discipline and enabled the amalgamation of the East India Company's army into the Queen's army to be carried out. 1861 June 4
General Sir William Mansfield Prior 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. 1865 March 23
General The Lord Napier of Magdala He did much to benefit the army and to encourage good shooting. 1870 April 9
General Sir Frederick Haines 1876 April 10
General Sir Donald Stewart 1881 April 8
Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Roberts 1st Baron Roberts of Kandahar 1885 November 28
General Sir George Stuart White 1893 April 8
General Sir Charles Nairne Officiating 1898 March 20
General Sir William Lockhart 1898 November 4
General Sir Arthur Palmer 1900 March 19[4]
General The Viscount Kitchener Reconstructed the disorganised Indian Army, but quarrelled with the Viceroy Lord Curzon, who resigned. 1902 November 28
General Sir O'Moore Creagh Douglas Haig, then a lieutenant-general, served as Chief of the General Staff (India) 1909–12 1909 September 10
General Sir Beauchamp Duff 1914 March 8
General Sir Charles Monro 1916 October 1
General The Lord Rawlinson former GOC, British Fourth Army on Western Front; died in office 1920 November 21
General Sir Claud Jacob 1925 April 3
Field Marshal The Lord Birdwood distinguished commander of Anzac troops on Gallipoli and the Western Front 1925 August 6
Field Marshal Sir Philip Chetwode 1930 November 30
General Sir Robert Cassels 1935 November 30
General Sir Claude Auchinleck left to become Commander-in-Chief Middle East (swapped jobs with Wavell) 1941 January 27
General Sir Archibald Wavell Left to take command of the short lived ABDACOM; later became Viceroy. 1941 July 5
General Sir Alan Hartley 1942 January 5
Field Marshal Sir Archibald Wavell Reappointment. Sir Alan Hartley appointed Deputy Commander-in-Chief. 1942 March 7
Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck Served 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. 1943 June 20

See also


  1. Warner (1982), p. 269
  2. Commanders-in-Chief Land Forces
  3. Army Commands
  4. The London Gazette: no. 27299. p. 2114. 26 March 1901.