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Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces was a senior officer in the British Army during the First and Second World Wars. The role of the appointment was firstly to oversee the training and equipment of formations in preparation for their deployment overseas, and secondly, to command the forces required to defend the United Kingdom against an enemy incursion or invasion.


The First World WarEdit

The post was created for Field Marshal John French, 1st Earl of Ypres in December 1915, after his enforced resignation as the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force in the aftermath of the Battle of Loos. Bitterly disappointed, Lord French regarded the appointment as a demotion. Despite this, he energetically restructured the system of military training, drew up plans to defend the country against a German invasion and devised the first British air defence system, so that incoming Zeppelins and bombers could be tracked and countered by fighters and anti-aircraft artillery.[1]

Commanders-in-Chief, Home Forces, 1915 to 1921Edit

The Second World WarEdit

General Sir Bernard Paget inspecting a large-scale armoured exercise in Yorkshire, 1942.

The post of Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces was resurrected for Sir Walter Kirke on 3 September 1939.[4] He devised the first anti-invasion plan of the war in October, known as Operation Julius Caesar.[5] His successor, Sir Edmund Ironside was retired when his anti-invasion planning fell out of favour with the prime minister, Winston Churchill. Ironside was replaced by Sir Alan Brooke in July 1940. The headquarters was established at Kneller Hall in late 1939 but moved out to St Paul's School in July 1940.[6]

Commanders-in-Chief, Home Forces, 1939 to 1945Edit

  • General Sir Walter Kirke – September 1939 to May 1940
  • General Sir Edmund Ironside – May to July 1940
  • General Alan Brooke – July 1940 to December 1941
  • General Sir Bernard Paget – December 1941 to January 1944
  • General Sir Harold Franklyn – January 1944 to 1945[7]


  1. ^ Cassar, 1985, p. 288
  2. ^ Taylor, 1965, p. 47
  3. ^ Grossman, 2006, p. 138
  4. ^ Newbold, 1988, p. 16
  5. ^ Newbold, 1988, p. 35
  6. ^ Newbold, 1988, p. 245
  7. ^ Place, 2000, p. 6


  • Cassar, George H. (1985). The Tragedy of Sir John French. University of Delaware. ISBN 978-0-87413-241-0.
  • Grossman, Mark (2006). World Military Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary. Facts on File. ISBN 978-0-8160-4732-1.
  • Newbold, David John (1988). British Planning and Preparations to Resist Invasion on Land, September 1939 – September 1940 (pdf). (PhD). King's College, University of London. OCLC 940319374. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  • Place, Timothy Harrison (2000). Military Training in the British Army, 1940–1944: From Dunkirk to D-Day. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7146-8091-0.
  • Taylor, A. J. P. (1965). English History 1914–1945. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-821715-2.

Further readingEdit