Eastern Command (United Kingdom)

Eastern Command was a Command of the British Army.

Eastern Command
Eastern Command (United Kingdom) Badge.jpg
Country United Kingdom
BranchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
Garrison/HQColchester (1866–1905)
London (1905–1939)
Hounslow (1939-1941, 1945–1968)
Luton Hoo (1941–1945)

Nineteenth centuryEdit

Colchester Garrison, command headquarters from 1866 to 1905

Great Britain was divided into military districts on the outbreak of war with France in 1793.[1] In the first half of the 19th century the command included the counties of Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire and Hertfordshire.[2] It was based in Colchester.[3]

Disbanded after the Napoleonic Wars, the Eastern District Command was re-created in 1866[4][5] and was based at Flagstaff House in Colchester.[6] In January 1876 a ‘Mobilization Scheme for the forces in Great Britain and Ireland’ was published, with the ‘Active Army’ divided into eight army corps based on the District Commands. 1st Corps was to be formed within Eastern Command, based in Colchester. This scheme disappeared in 1881, when the districts were retitled ‘District Commands.[7]

Twentieth centuryEdit

The 1901 Army Estimates introduced by St John Brodrick allowed for six army corps based on six regional commands. As outlined in a paper published in 1903, IV Corps was to be formed in a reconstituted Eastern Command, with HQ at London.[8] Lieutenant General Lord Grenfell was appointed acting General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOCinC) of IV Corps in April 1903.[9]

First World WarEdit

50 Pall Mall (second building on the left), command headquarters during the First World War

Army Order No 324, issued on 21 August 1914, authorised the formation of a 'New Army' of six Divisions, manned by volunteers who had responded to Earl Kitchener's appeal (hence the First New Army was known as 'K1'). Each division was to be under the administration of one of the Home Commands, and Eastern Command formed what became the 12th (Eastern) Division.[10] It was followed by 18th (Eastern) Division of K2 in September 1914.[11] During the First World War, HQ Eastern Command was in London: initially at Horse Guards,[12] then (from February 1916) at 50 Pall Mall, London;[13] in 1919 it moved to 41 Queen's Gardens, Bayswater.[14]

Second World WarEdit

Luton Hoo, command headquarters from 1941 to 1945

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the headquarters was again located at Horse Guards,[15] but by October 1939 it had moved to Hounslow Barracks.[16] At that time Regular Troops reporting to the Command included 4th Infantry Division.[15] In 1941,[17] the Command relocated to Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire.[18] During the war, the 76th Infantry (Reserve) Division was assigned to the command as its training formation.[19]

Post WarEdit

Cavalry Barracks, Hounslow, command headquarters from 1939 to 1941 and 1945 to 1968

After the War the command moved back to Hounslow Barracks in Hounslow.[20] When the Territorial Army was reformed in 1947, 54th (East Anglian) was not reconstituted as a field division, but 161st Infantry Brigade was reformed as an independent infantry brigade in Eastern Command.[21] In 1954 a single-storey blockhouse was built at Wilton Park in Beaconsfield, to provide a protected Eastern Command headquarters for use in the event of war; however in 1957 this provision was superseded by plans for Regional Seats of Government.[22]

In 1968, Eastern Command was dissolved and merged into a reconfigured Southern Command.[23] The new HQ Southern Command was established at Hounslow, and the last GOCinC Eastern Command took over as GOCinC Southern Command.[24] In 1972, Southern Command, together with the other two geographic commands, was merged with Army Strategic Command to form a new command: UK Land Forces (UKLF).[25]

Command Training CentresEdit

Between 1941 and 1943, each regional command of the British Army formed at-least one training centre which trained those recruits preparing to move overseas. The centres which were based within the command were:[26]

General Officers Commanding-in-ChiefEdit

GOCs and GOCinCs have included:[27][28][29]
General Officer Commanding Eastern District

10th Division was renamed 6th Division in 1905.

Commander 4th Army Corps

Home District at Horse Guards, Eastern District at Colchester, Thames District at Chatham and Woolwich District were grouped under 4th Army Corps in 1903.

4th Army Corps was renamed Eastern Command 1 June 1905.

General Officer Commanding Eastern Command


  1. ^ Robert Burnham and Ron McGuigan, The British Army Against Napoleon: Facts, Lists and Trivia, 1805–1815 (2010) p. 7.
  2. ^ Trollope, Anthony (2014). "An Autobiography: and Other Writings". Oxford University Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-0199675289.
  3. ^ "The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, Volume 97, Part 2". 1827. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  4. ^ Pevsner, p 282
  5. ^ "'Barracks', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 9, the Borough of Colchester, ed. Janet Cooper and C R Elrington". London. 1994. p. 251-255. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Roman circus foundations uncovered at Flagstaff House". The Colchester Archaeologist. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  7. ^ Army List 1876–1881.
  8. ^ Col John K. Dunlop, The Development of the British Army 1899–1914, London: Methuen, 1938.
  9. ^ a b c "No. 27545". The London Gazette. 21 April 1903. p. 2527.
  10. ^ "12th Division". The long, long trail. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  11. ^ "18th Division". The long, long trail. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  12. ^ Hart's Army List, January 1916
  13. ^ Jeffery, p. 198
  14. ^ Hart's Army List, July 1919
  15. ^ a b Patriot Files
  16. ^ Hart's Army List, October 1939
  17. ^ Raymond, Barry (2003). A History of the Army in Hounslow circa 1215 to the Present Day. Small Print. p. 120. ISBN 978-1859880616.
  18. ^ Discover Bedfordshire Archived June 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Forty 2013, Reserve Divisions.
  20. ^ TA Heathcote, The British Field Marshals 1736–1997, Pen & Sword Books, Published 1999, ISBN 0-85052-696-5, Page 120
  21. ^ Watson, TA 1947. Archived December 5, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Subterranea Britannica
  23. ^ Kneen, J. M.; Sutton, D. J. (1996). Craftsmen of the Army: The Story of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Volume 2: 1969-1992. London: Leo Cooper. p. 253.
  24. ^ Raymond, Barry (2003). A History of the Army in Hounslow circa 1215 to the Present Day. Small Print. ISBN 978-1859880616.
  25. ^ "Army Command Structure (United Kingdom)". Hansard. 17 December 1970. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  26. ^ Frederick, pp. 115–6.
  27. ^ Whitaker's Almanacks 1905 – 1972
  28. ^ Eastern Command at Regiments.org
  29. ^ "Army Commands" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  30. ^ "William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  31. ^ Wickwire (1980), pp. 252–253
  32. ^ "Craig, James Henry". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  33. ^ Philippart, John (1816). "The Royal Military Calendar".
  34. ^ "Lord Chatham's aides-de-camp at Walcheren, 1809". Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  35. ^ David R. Fisher and Stephen Farrell, BYNG, Sir John (1772–1860), of 6 Portman Square, Mdx. and Bellaghy, co. Londonderry in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820–1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
  36. ^ "No. 27625". The London Gazette. 11 December 1903. p. 8198.
  37. ^ "No. 27659". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 March 1904. p. 1792.
  38. ^ "No. 27684". The London Gazette. 10 June 1904. p. 3711.