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General Sir Bernard Charles Tolver Paget, GCB, DSO, MC (15 September 1887 – 16 February 1961) was a senior British Army officer during the Second World War. He commanded the 21st Army Group from June to December 1943 and was Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) Middle East Command from January 1944 to October 1946. He was the senior serving general in the British Army.

Sir Bernard Paget
The Commander in Chief Home Forces, General Sir Bernard Paget, October 1942 TR209.jpg
Born(1887-09-15)15 September 1887
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Died16 February 1961(1961-02-16) (aged 73)
Petersfield, Hampshire, England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1907–1946
Service number4112
UnitOxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Commands heldMiddle East Command (1944–46)
21st Army Group (1943)
GHQ Home Forces (1941–44)
South-Eastern Command (1941)
18th Infantry Division (1939–40)
Staff College, Camberley (1938–39)
4th Quetta Infantry Brigade (1936–37)
Battles/warsFirst World War
Second World War
Jewish insurgency in Mandatory Palestine
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches
Silver Medal of Military Valor (Italy)[1]
Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (Poland)
Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold with Palm (Belgium)[2]
Croix de guerre with Palm (Belgium)[2]
Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit (United States)[3]
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of St. Olav (Norway)[4]
RelationsTony Paget (Son)
Other workDeputy Lord Lieutenant of Southampton (March 1960)[5]

Early life and First World WarEdit

Paget was born in Oxford, Oxfordshire, the son of the Right Reverend Francis Paget, second son of Sir James Paget, 1st Baronet,[6] and was educated at Shrewsbury School from 1901-1906 and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst from 1906–1907. Paget was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Oxfordshire Light Infantry[21] on 13 November 1907[25] which became the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in 1908[7] Paget was posted on 15 December 1907 to the 2nd Battalion The Oxfordshire Light Infantry (52nd) at Tidworth, Wiltshire. On 5 February 1908 he transferred to the 1st Oxfordshire Light Infantry (43rd) at Lucknow, India. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1910.

On the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 he was appointed adjutant of the new 5th (Service) Battalion stationed at Aldershot, composed mainly of volunteers for Kitchener's Army, with which he went to the Western Front on 20 May 1915.[23] He was promoted to captain on 10 June 1915.[27] The battalion was serving as part of the 42nd Brigade, itself part of the 14th (Light) Division. On 25 September 1915, Paget and his battalion took part in the Battle of Loos; he was one of only two officers in the battalion to survive the battle.[24] On 30 September 1915 he took over temporary command of 5th (Service) Battalion.[30] He left the battalion to become Brigade Major 42nd Infantry Brigade on 20 November 2015.[31] Paget was awarded the Military Cross in November 1915,[8] and the Distinguished Service Order in January 1918. He was four times mentioned in despatches and wounded five times during the war. Following being wounded on 26 March 1918 Paget was evacuated to the UK where he became an instructor at the Staff College in Cambridge and remained in that post till the end of the war.[32]

Between the warsEdit

The war came to an end in November 1918 and, during the interwar period, he remained in the British Army. Having been made brevet major in 1917,[9] he was promoted to major in 1924 and brevet lieutenant colonel the following year. Paget was promoted to colonel in 1929 and became Commander of the depot at Cowley Barracks, Oxford in 1930. He initiated the founding of the regimental Chapel at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford in 1930.[40] He was Chief Instructor at the Staff College, at Quetta, British India (now the Command and Staff College, Pakistan), from 1932–1934.[10] Paget commanded the 4th Quetta Infantry Brigade from 1936–1937.[10] He was promoted to major general in December 1937 and was Commandant of the Staff College, Camberley between 1938 and 1939.[10]

Lieutenant General Sir Bernard Paget and Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary, watch an exercise involving the 42nd Armoured Division near Malton, North Yorkshire, 29 September 1942. The tank in the foreground is a Crusader and to Paget's left is the GOC, Major General Miles Dempsey.
Lieutenant General Sir Bernard Paget, C-in-C Home Forces, inspecting a 3-inch mortar crew, 9 January 1943.

Second World WarEdit

In late November 1939, nearly three months after the outbreak of the Second World War, Paget took over as General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 18th Infantry Division, a recently raised Territorial Army (TA) formation, relinquishing command in mid-May 1940.[10] In the acting rank of lieutenant general[11] he commanded British forces in the withdrawal at Åndalsnes in Norway[10] in 1940 during the Norwegian Campaign, and was subsequently appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath.[12] He was promoted to lieutenant general and made General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) South-Eastern Command in 1941.[10] He was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the New Year's Honours' List at the end of the year.[13] He went on to be GOC of GHQ Home Forces in the acting rank of general[14] in December 1941. The rank of general was made permanent in July 1943. Paget commanded the 21st Army Group in the United Kingdom from June to December 1943 prior to General Sir Bernard Montgomery taking over.[10] In January 1944 he became Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) Middle East Command[10] until October 1946, when he retired from the army.[10] He was appointed as Extra Aide-de-Camp to King George VI in October 1944.[35] Paget had been the longest serving Commander-in-Chief during the Second World War and became the senior General in the British Army.[20] In December 1944 he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta by the Polish government-in-exile.[15] In 1946 he was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.[16]

His final act of World War II took place between May and July 1945 during the Levant Crisis - Paget under orders from Churchill invaded Syria from Transjordan to curb French actions there which he achieved at no cost. His forces escorted French troops to their barracks and the violence ceased.

After the war Paget was Colonel of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry from October 1946 to September 1955[17] In May 1954, he presented new Queen's Colours to the regiment at Osnabrück. On 8 May 1955, he handed over the old Queen's Colours to the Dean of Christ Church Cathedral for safekeeping in a ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.[41] He took his last salute from his regiment as Colonel Commandant at the parade to commemorate the bicentenary of the 52nd on 14 October 1955 at Osnabrück, West Germany.[29] He was Colonel of the Intelligence Corps and Colonel of the Reconnaissance Regiment.[37] He was Principal of Ashridge College of Citizenship from 1946 to 1949.[34] He was a Governor of Radley College, Eastbourne College, St Edwards and Welbeck College.[37] Paget was President of the Army Benevolent Fund.[37] He was Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea from 1949[18] to 1956.[19] He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire in 1960.[28] He retired to Petersfield, Hampshire in 1957.[33] Paget was installed as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath at a service in Westminster Abbey on 27 October 1960 and his Banner was hung in the Henry VII Chapel.[36]


He married Winifred Nora Paget on 7 February 1918 with whom he was to have two sons. His younger son, Lieutenant Tony Paget, died on 5 March 1945 from wounds received while serving with the 1st Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (the 43rd) during the Battle of the Reichswald. He received the Distinguished Service Order for his gallantry during the battle.

His elder son Sir Julian Paget, 4th Baronet, CVO was commissioned into the Coldstream Guards and served in NW Europe during the Second World War. He commanded a battalion of the Coldstream Guards before he retired from the Army in 1969. He became a military historian and author of many books. He was a Gentleman Usher to the Queen from 1971 to 1991. He inherited the title of 4th Baronet in 1972.[38] He died on 25 September 2016. [39]

General Sir Bernard Paget died on 16 February 1961.


  1. ^ "No. 30096". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 May 1917. p. 5201.
  2. ^ a b "No. 37853". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 January 1947. p. 324.
  3. ^ "No. 38018". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 July 1947. p. 3319.
  4. ^ "No. 38240". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 March 1948. p. 1919.
  5. ^ "No. 42001". The London Gazette. 5 April 1960. p. 2472.
  6. ^ Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990,[page needed]
  7. ^ "No. 28079". The London Gazette. 12 November 1907. p. 7582.
  8. ^ "No. 29371". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 November 1915. p. 11451.
  9. ^ "No. 30111". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 June 1917. p. 5466.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  11. ^ "No. 34869". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 June 1940. p. 3505.
  12. ^ "No. 34893". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 July 1940. p. 4243.
  13. ^ "No. 35399". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1941. p. 3.
  14. ^ "No. 35397". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 December 1941. p. 7369.
  15. ^ "No. 36828". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 December 1944. p. 5616.
  16. ^ "No. 37407". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 1945. p. 4.
  17. ^ "No. 40484". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 May 1955. p. 2994.
  18. ^ "No. 38742". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 October 1949. p. 5065.
  19. ^ "No. 40917". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 November 1956. p. 6249.

20. Paget, Julian (2008) The Crusading General page 1. 21. Paget, Julian (2008) The Crusading General page 5. 22. Paget, Julian (2008) The Crusading General page 165. 23. Paget, Julian (2008) The Crusading General page 8. 24. Paget, Julian (2008) The Crusading General page 8. 25. Paget, Julian (2008) The Crusading General page 165. 26. Paget, Julian (2008) The Crusading General page 165. 27. Paget, Julian (2008) The Crusading General page 165. 28. Paget, Julian (2008) The Crusading General page 155. 29. Paget, Julian (2008) page 157. 30. Paget, Julian (2008) page 9. 31. Paget, Julian (2008) page 9. 32. Paget, Julian (2008) page 12. 33. Paget, Julian (2008) page 167. 34. Paget, Julian (2008) page 167. 35. Paget, Julian (2008) page 105. 36. Paget, Julian (2008) page 158. 37. Paget, Julian (2008) page 154. 38. Paget, Julian (2008) notes on author. 39.[permanent dead link] 40. Paget, Julian (2008) page 156. 41 Paget, Julian (2008) page 156.


  • Mead, Richard (2007). Churchill's Lions: a biographical guide to the key British generals of World War II. Stroud (UK): Spellmount. ISBN 978-1-86227-431-0.
  • Smart, Nick (2005). Biographical Dictionary of British Generals of the Second World War. Barnesley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 1844150496.
  • Paget, Julian (2008) The Crusading General: The Life of General Sir Bernard Paget GCB DSO MC. Pen & Sword Military. ISBN 978 18441 58102.

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Ronald Adam
Commandant of the Staff College, Camberley
Succeeded by
Robert Collins
Preceded by
Thomas Dalby
GOC 18th Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Ralph Eastwood
New title GOC-in-C South-Eastern Command
February–December 1941
Succeeded by
Bernard Montgomery
Preceded by
Sir Alan Brooke
C-in-C Home Forces
Succeeded by
Sir Harold Frankyn
New title GOC-in-C 21st Army Group
June–December 1943
Succeeded by
Sir Bernard Montgomery
Preceded by
Sir Henry Wilson
C-in-C Middle East Command
Post disbanded
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir John Hanbury-Williams
Colonel of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Succeeded by
Sir John Winterton
Preceded by
Sir Clive Liddell
Governor, Royal Hospital Chelsea
Succeeded by
Sir Cameron Nicholson