Commander-in-Chief, 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 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 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.

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.

List of Commanders-in-Chief

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

Teen Murti Bhavan in New Delhi
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
Sir James Craig
Officiating 1801 February
Gerard Lake
Improved the Indian Army by making all arms, infantry, cavalry and artillery, more mobile and more manageable. 1801 March
The Marquess Cornwallis
Reappointment. With Sir Arthur Wellesley, he supervised the Second Anglo-Maratha War against the Sindhia and the Holkar. 1805 July
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
John Simcoe
Appointed to post in England late 1805, but died before departing for India and replaced by Lake 1806
The Lord Lake
Reappointment following death of John Graves Simcoe, who died after accepting the appointment in England 1806
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
Forbes Champagné
Officiating 1807 December
Field Marshal
Sir George Nugent
1811 January
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
Sir Edward Paget
1823 January
Field Marshal
The Lord Combermere
1st Viscount Combermere from 1827 1825 October
The Earl of Dalhousie
Began the British suppression of the Thuggee murder-cults. 1830 January
Sir Edward Barnes
Constructed the military road between Colombo and Kandy, made the first census of the population, and introduced coffee cultivation. 1832 January
Lord William Bentinck
Suppressed the Hindu custom of suttee. 1833 October
Lord William Bentinck
Reappointment 1834 April
Sir James Watson
Established the famous police organisation known as the "Thuggee and Dacoity Department" within the Government of India. 1835 March
Sir Henry Fane
1835 September
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
Sir Charles James Napier
Conquered Sindh and made it part of Bombay Presidency. 1849 May
Field Marshal
Sir William Gomm
1851 December
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
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
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. 4 June 1861
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. 23 March 1865
General The Lord Napier of Magdala He did much to benefit the army and to encourage good shooting. 9 April 1870
General Sir Frederick Haines 10 April 1876
General Sir Donald Stewart 8 April 1881
Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Roberts 1st Baron Roberts of Kandahar 28 November 1885
General Sir George Stuart White 8 April 1893
General Sir Charles Nairne Officiating 20 March 1898
General Sir William Lockhart 4 November 1898
General Sir Arthur Palmer 19 March 1900[4]
General The Viscount Kitchener Reconstructed the disorganised Indian Army, but quarrelled with the Viceroy Lord Curzon, who resigned. 28 November 1902
General Sir O'Moore Creagh Douglas Haig, then a lieutenant-general, served as Chief of the General Staff (India) 1909–12 10 September 1909
General Sir Beauchamp Duff 8 March 1914
General Sir Charles Monro 1 October 1916
General The Lord Rawlinson former GOC, British Fourth Army on Western Front; died in office 21 November 1920
General Sir Claud Jacob 3 April 1925
Field Marshal The Lord Birdwood distinguished commander of Anzac troops on Gallipoli and the Western Front 6 August 1925
Field Marshal Sir Philip Chetwode The Indian Military Academy was established during his tenure. 30 November 1930
General Sir Robert Cassels 30 November 1935
General Sir Claude Auchinleck left to become Commander-in-Chief Middle East (swapped jobs with Wavell) 27 January 1941
General Sir Archibald Wavell Left to take command of the short lived ABDACOM; later became Viceroy. 5 July 1941
General Sir Alan Hartley 5 January 1942
Field Marshal Sir Archibald Wavell Reappointment. Sir Alan Hartley appointed Deputy Commander-in-Chief. 7 March 1942
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. 20 June 1943

See also


  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.
Alexander Champion (East India Company officer)

Brigadier-General Alexander Champion (died 15 March 1793) was Commander-in-Chief, India.

Arthur Power Palmer

General Sir Arthur Power Palmer, (25 June 1840 – 28 February 1904) was Commander-in-Chief, India between March 1900 and December 1902.

Charles Chapman (British Army officer)

Colonel Charles Chapman (died 2 August 1795) was Commander-in-Chief, India.

Charles Edward Nairne

General Sir Charles Edward Nairne (30 June 1836 – 19 February 1899) was Commander-in-Chief, India.

Charles Morgan (British Army officer)

Lieutenant General Charles Morgan (1741 – 21 March 1818) was Commander-in-Chief, India.

Claude Auchinleck

Field Marshal Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, (21 June 1884 – 23 March 1981) was a British Army commander during the Second World War. He was a career soldier who spent much of his military career in India, where he rose to become Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army by early 1941. In July 1941 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Middle East theatre, but after initial successes the war in North Africa turned against the British, and he was relieved of the post in 1942 during the crucial Alamein campaign. In June 1943 he was once again appointed Commander-in-Chief, India, where his support through the organisation of supply, maintenance and training for Slim's Fourteenth Army played an important role in its success. He served as Commander-in-Chief, India until the Partition in 1947, when he assumed the role of Supreme Commander of all British forces in India and Pakistan until late 1948.

Clive, Alberta

Clive is a village in central Alberta, Canada. It is located 15 minutes east of Lacombe and 30 minutes from Red Deer.

The village was named in honour of Robert Clive, Commander-in-Chief, India.

George Hewett

General Sir George Hewett, 1st Baronet (11 June 1750 – 21 March 1840) was Commander-in-Chief, India and then Commander-in-Chief, Ireland for the British Army.

Giles Stibbert

Lt.-Gen. Giles Stibbert (1734–1809) was Commander-in-Chief, India.

India Command

Following the Kitchener Reforms of 1903 during the British Raj, the Commander-in-Chief, India, enjoyed control of the Army of India and answered to the civilian Viceroy of India. The Commander-in-Chief's staff was overseen by the Chief of the General Staff. GHQ India was based in Calcutta and Simla (the winter capital of the Raj) until the seat of power moved to New Delhi in 1911.In addition to India, it was responsible at varying periods for parts of the Middle East (in particular Aden Settlement and, later, Aden Colony, as well as Iraq and Persia). For significant periods before the creation of South East Asia Command (SEAC) in 1943, the C-in-C India was also responsible for Ceylon and Burma.

The Commander-in-Chief, India, had some 2,000 officers and 2.5 million troops under his command in 1945. GHQ India was redesignated Army HQ in 1947 when India was partitioned.

James Watson (British Army officer)

Lieutenant General Sir James Watson KCB (1772 – 14 August 1862) was a British Army officer and Commander-in-Chief, India.

Jasper Nicolls

Lieutenant General Sir Jasper Nicolls KCB (15 July 1778 – 4 May 1849) was Commander-in-Chief, India.

John Adlercron

Lieutenant General John Adlercron (died 31 July 1766) was Commander-in-Chief, India.

John Caillaud

Brigadier-General John Caillaud (5 February 1726 – December 1812) was Commander-in-Chief, India.

Patrick Grant

Field Marshal Sir Patrick Grant, (11 September 1804 – 28 March 1895) was a senior Indian Army officer. He fought at the Battle of Maharajpore during the Gwalior Campaign, at the Battle of Mudki, the Battle of Ferozeshah and the Battle of Sobraon during the First Anglo-Sikh War and at the Battle of Chillianwala and the Battle of Gujrat during the Second Anglo-Sikh War. During the Indian Mutiny, as acting Commander-in-Chief, India, he directed the operations against the mutineers, sending forces under Henry Havelock and James Outram for the relief of Cawnpore and Lucknow. He later became Governor of Malta.

Richard Smith (East India Company officer)

Brigadier-General Richard Smith (baptised 1734 – 3 July 1803) was Commander-in-Chief, India of the East India Company (Bengal).

Robert Abercromby of Airthrey

General Sir Robert Abercromby (21 October 1740 – 3 November 1827), the youngest brother of Sir Ralph Abercromby, was a general in the army, appointed Knight of the Order of the Bath, a Governor of Bombay and Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army and then Commander-in-Chief, India.

Robert Sloper

General Sir Robert Sloper KB (8 May 1729 – 18 August 1802) was Commander-in-Chief, India.

Sir Robert Barker, 1st Baronet

Brigadier-General Sir Robert Barker, 1st Baronet, FRS (1732 – 14 September 1789) was a British Army officer who served in the Seven Years' War and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1774 to 1780. He served as Commander-in-Chief, India between 1770 and 1773.

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