Commander-in-Chief, India

(Redirected from Commander-in-Chief in India)

During the period of the Company rule in India and 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 GHQ 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 Commanders-in-Chief of the independent Indian Army and Pakistan Army, respectively, before becoming part of the office of the President of India from 1950 and of the Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army from 1947.

Commander-in-Chief, India
Francis Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings by Hugh Douglas Hamilton.jpg
Longest serving
General The Earl of Moira

October 1813 – January 1823
British Indian Army
StatusSenior-most officer of the British Indian Army
Reports toGovernor-General of India
SeatGHQ India
Term lengthNo fixed term
FormationApril 1752
First holderMajor general Stringer Lawrence
Final holderFM Sir Claude Auchinleck
Abolished15 August 1947
SuccessionCommanders-in-Chief of the Indian Army and Pakistan Army
Unofficial namesCommander-in-Chief in or of India

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 Bhavan (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-ChiefEdit

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

† denotes people who died in office.

Commanders-in-Chief of India, 1752–1801Edit

No. Portrait Commander-in-Chief Took office Left office Time in office Notes
1Lawrence, StringerMajor general
Stringer Lawrence
April 175223 September 17542 years, 5 monthsFoiled plans of Joseph François Dupleix to conquer southern India for France. Reorganized the Madras Army.
2Adlercron, JohnLieutenant general
John Adlercron
23 September 175411 November 17573 years, 49 daysCommanded the 39th Regiment, the first British regiment sent to India. His diary of his time in India has been published by the Folio Society.
3Clive, RobertMajor general
Robert Clive
December 1756February 17603 years, 2 monthsEstablished the military supremacy of the East India Company in southern India and Bengal.
4Caillaud, JohnBrigadier general
John Caillaud
February 1760December 176010 monthsActive in southern India against the French until 1759 when he was dispatched to Bengal.
5Carnac, JohnBrigadier general
John Carnac
December 1760April 17614 monthsDefeated the Mughal emperor near Bihar.
6Coote, EyreLieutenant general
Sir Eyre Coote
April 176117631–2 yearsCaptain in the 39th Regiment.
7Adams, ThomasMajor
Thomas Adams
1763January 17640–1 yearsOfficiating.
(5)Carnac, JohnBrigadier general
John Carnac
January 1764July 17646 months2nd time appointment as Commander-in-Chief. Promoted to brigadier general during this time.
8Munro, HectorGeneral
Sir Hector Munro
July 1764January 17656 monthsSuppressed sepoy mutiny at Patna. Won the victories of Buxar against Shuja-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Awadh, and Mir Qasim, which ranks amongst the most decisive battles ever fought in India.
(5)Carnac, JohnBrigadier general
John Carnac
January 1765May 17654 months3rd appointment as Commander-in-Chief. Defeated the Maratha Empire in the Doab.
(3)Clive, RobertMajor general
Robert Clive
May 1765January 17671 year, 8 months2nd time appointment as Commander-in-Chief.
9Smith, RichardBrigadier general
Richard Smith
January 1767March 17703 years, 2 monthsExerted considerable influence in the East India Company, and was a prominent creditor of the Nawab of Arcot.
10Barker, RobertBrigadier general
Sir Robert Barker
March 1770December 17733 years, 9 monthsSigned a treaty with the Rohillas against the Maratha Empire.
11Chapman, CharlesColonel
Charles Chapman
December 1773January 17741 monthCivil servant of the East India Company who studied tribal ethnicities and cultures, and reported his findings to the Bengal Government.
12Champion, AlexanderBrigadier general
Alexander Champion
January 1774November 177410 months
13Clavering, JohnLieutenant general
John Clavering
November 177430 August 1777 †2 years, 9 months
14Stibbert, GilesLieutenant general
Giles Stibbert
October 1777March 17791 year, 5 monthsOfficiating.
(6)Coote, EyreLieutenant general
Sir Eyre Coote
March 1779April 17834 years, 1 monthReappointment. Won the Battle of Porto Novo against odds of five to one, regarded as one of the greatest feats by the British in India.
(14)Stibbert, GilesLieutenant general
Giles Stibbert
April 1783July 17852 years, 3 monthsReappointment.
15Slopper, RobertGeneral
Sir Robert Sloper
July 1785September 17861 year, 2 months
16Cornwallis, CharlesGeneral
The Earl Cornwallis
September 1786October 17931 year, 2 monthsPromulgated the Permanent Settlement of Bengal. Served twice as Governor-General of India.
17Abercromby, RobertGeneral
Sir Robert Abercromby
October 1793January 17973 years, 3 monthsOfficiating.
18Morgan, CharlesMajor general
Charles Morgan
January 1797May 17981 year, 4 monthsOfficiating.
19Clarke, AluredField Marshal
Sir Alured Clarke
May 1798February 18012 years, 9 months

Commanders-in-Chief of India, 1801–1857Edit

No. Portrait Commander-in-Chief Took office Left office Time in office Notes
1Craig, JamesGeneral
Sir James Craig
February 1801March 18011 monthOfficiating.
2Lake, GeraldGeneral
Gerard Lake
March 1801July 18054 years, 4 monthsConducted a campaign with a string of victories that gave the British control of Northern India, Delhi and the Mughal emperor but failed to take Bhurtpore. Improved the Indian Army by making all arms, infantry, cavalry and artillery, more mobile and more manageable.
3Cornwallis, CharlesGeneral
The Earl Cornwallis
July 1805October 18053 monthsReappointment. With Sir Arthur Wellesley, he supervised the Second Anglo-Maratha War against the Sindhia and the Holkar.
(2)Lake, GeraldGeneral
The Lord Lake
October 180518060–1 yearsReappointment 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.
4Simcoe, JohnGeneral
John Simcoe
180626 October 1806 †0 yearsAppointed to post in England in late 1805, but died before departing for India and replaced by Lake.
(2)Lake, GeraldGeneral
The Lord Lake
1806October 18070–1 yearsReappointment following death of John Simcoe, who died after accepting the appointment in England.
5Hewett, GeorgeGeneral
Sir George Hewett
October 1807December 18072 monthsTransformed Meerut into a British stronghold that would be used as a launching point for future military campaigns into northern India.
6Champagné, ForbesLieutenant general
Forbes Champagné
December 1807January 18113 years, 1 monthOfficiating.
7Nugent, GeorgeField Marshal
Sir George Nugent
January 1811October 18132 years, 9 months
8Hastings, FrancisGeneral
The Earl of Moira
October 1813January 18239 years, 3 months1st Marquess of Hastings from 1816; Oversaw British forces in the Gurkha War; conquered the Marathas; repaired the Mogul canals in Delhi; instituted educational reforms.
9Paget, EdwardGeneral
Sir Edward Paget
January 1823October 18252 years, 9 months
10Cotton, StapletonField Marshal
The Lord Combermere
October 1825January 18304 years, 3 months1st Viscount Combermere from 1827. Captured Bhurtpore (which Lake had failed to do) in 1824.
11Ramsay, GeorgeGeneral
The Earl of Dalhousie
January 1830January 18322 yearsBegan the British suppression of the Thuggee murder-cults.
12Barnes, EdwardLieutenant general
Sir Edward Barnes
January 1832October 18331 year, 9 monthsConstructed the military road between Colombo and Kandy, made the first census of the population, and introduced coffee cultivation.
13Bentinck, WilliamGeneral
Lord William Bentinck
October 1833March 18351 year, 5 monthsSuppressed the Hindu custom of sati. Reappointed in April 1834.
14Watson, JamesGeneral
Sir James Watson
March 1835September 18356 monthsEstablished the famous police organisation known as the "Thuggee and Dacoity Department" within the Government of India.
15Fane, HenryGeneral
Sir Henry Fane
September 1835December 18394 years, 3 months
16Nicholls, JasperGeneral
Sir Jasper Nicolls
December 1839August 18433 years, 8 monthsOfficiating.
17Gough, HughField Marshal
Hugh Gough
August 1843May 18495 years, 9 months1st 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.
18Napier, CharlesGeneral
Sir Charles James Napier
May 1849December 18512 years, 7 monthsConquered Sindh and made it part of Bombay Presidency.
19Gomm, WilliamField Marshal
Sir William Gomm
December 1851January 18564 years, 1 month
20Anson, GeorgeMajor general
George Anson
January 185627 May 1857 †1 year, 4 monthsOutbreak of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Died of cholera during his march against the Indian Rebellion at Delhi.
21Grant, PatrickLieutenant general
Sir Patrick Grant
June 1857August 18572 monthsDirected operations against the Indian Rebellion, sending forces under Havelock and Outram for the relief of Cawnpore and Lucknow, until the arrival of Sir Colin Campbell from England.
22Campbell, ColinGeneral
Sir Colin Campbell
August 18574 June 18613 years, 10 months1st Baron Clyde from 1858; Abandoned then recaptured Lucknow. Supervised military operations in Oudh until the Indian Rebellion had been subdued.

Commanders-in-Chief of India, 1861–1947Edit

No. Portrait Commander-in-Chief Took office Left office Time in office Notes
1Rose, HughLieutenant general
Sir Hugh Rose
4 June 186123 March 18653 years, 292 daysImproved discipline and enabled the amalgamation of the East India Company's army into the Queen's army to be carried out.
2Mansfield, WilliamGeneral
Sir William Mansfield
23 March 18659 April 18705 years, 17 daysPrior 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.
3Napier, RobertGeneral
The Lord Napier of Magdala
9 April 187010 April 18766 years, 1 dayHe did much to benefit the army and to encourage good shooting.
4Haines, FrederickGeneral
Sir Frederick Haines
10 April 18768 April 18814 years, 363 days
5Stewart, DonaldGeneral
Sir Donald Stewart
8 April 188128 November 18854 years, 234 days
6Roberts, FrederickLieutenant general
Sir Frederick Roberts
28 November 18858 April 18937 years, 131 days1st Baron Roberts of Kandahar
7White, GeorgeGeneral
Sir George White
8 April 189320 March 18984 years, 346 days
8Nairne, CharlesGeneral
Sir Charles Nairne
20 March 18984 November 1898229 daysOfficiating.
9Lockhart, WilliamGeneral
Sir William Lockhart
4 November 189818 March 1900 †1 year, 134 days
10Palmer, ArthurGeneral
Sir Arthur Palmer
19 March 1900[4]28 November 19022 years, 254 days
11Kitchener, HerbertGeneral
The Viscount Kitchener
28 November 190210 September 19096 years, 286 daysReconstructed the disorganised Indian Army, but quarreled with the Viceroy Lord Curzon, who resigned.
12Creagh, O'MooreGeneral
Sir O'Moore Creagh
10 September 19098 March 19144 years, 179 daysDouglas Haig, then a lieutenant general, served as Chief of the General Staff (India) in 1909–12.
13Duff, BeauchampGeneral
Sir Beauchamp Duff
8 March 19141 October 19162 years, 207 days
14Monro, CharlesGeneral
Sir Charles Monro
1 October 191621 November 19204 years, 51 days
15Rawlinson, HenryGeneral
The Lord Rawlinson
21 November 192028 March 1925 †4 years, 127 daysFormer GOC, British Fourth Army on the Western Front.
16Jacob, ClaudGeneral
Sir Claud Jacob
3 April 19256 August 1925125 days
17Birdwood, WilliamField Marshal
The Lord Birdwood
6 August 192530 November 19305 years, 116 daysDistinguished commander of ANZAC troops on Gallipoli and the Western Front.
18Chetwode, PhilipField Marshal
The Lord Chetwode
30 November 193030 November 19355 years, 0 daysThe Indian Military Academy was established during his tenure.
19Cassels, RobertGeneral
Sir Robert Cassels
30 November 193527 January 19415 years, 58 days
20Auchinleck, ClaudeGeneral
Sir Claude Auchinleck
27 January 19415 July 1941159 daysLeft to take command of the Middle East Command (swapped jobs with Wavell).
21Wavell, ArchibaldGeneral
Sir Archibald Wavell
5 July 19415 January 1942184 daysLeft to take command of the short lived ABDACOM; later became Viceroy.
22Hartley, AlanGeneral
Sir Alan Hartley
5 January 19427 March 194261 days
(21)Wavell, ArchibaldField Marshal
Sir Archibald Wavell
7 March 194220 June 19431 year, 105 daysReappointment. Sir Alan Hartley appointed Deputy C-in-C, India.
(20)Auchinleck, ClaudeField Marshal
Sir Claude Auchinleck
20 June 194315 August 19474 years, 56 daysServed 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.

See alsoEdit


  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.

External linksEdit