General Officer Commanding, Ceylon

General Officer Commanding, Ceylon (also known as Commander of Troops or Officer Commanding His/Her Majesties Troops, Ceylon) was the designation of the General Officer appointed to command all British Army units stationed in the island of Ceylon during the British colonial administration of the island.[1]



The post entitled the holder a seat in the Executive Council of Ceylon and the Legislative Council of Ceylon, advised the Governor of Ceylon on military matters.

Apart from British Army units that were deployed for garrison duty in the island, the officer held command over the Ceylon Defence Force if mobilized. However mobilization could be carried out only under orders from the Governor.

Following independence in 1948, the command was split. With the creation of the Ceylon Army, it head had was referred to as the Commander of the Ceylon Army and the British troops in Ceylon came under the command of the Commander, Ceylon Garrison and UK troops in Ceylon until the withdrawal of British troops from the island.

Official Residence


The GOC Ceylon was entitled to a Class A Quarters issued to government officers for the use of his official residence in Colombo and had the General's House, Nuwara Eliya as a country house.

List of General Officers Commanding, Ceylon

Portrait Rank Name Appointment Left office Unit Decorations
Captain Patrick Alexander Agnew 31 August 1795 1 March 1796 Madras European Regiment
  Major-General James Stuart 1 March 1796 1 January 1797 78th Regiment of Foot
Major-General Welbore Ellis Doyle 1 January 1797 2 July 1797 14th Regiment of Foot
Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Bonnevaux 2 July 1797 12 July 1797 10th Madras Native Infantry
  Major-General Pierre Frédéric de Meuron 12 July 1797 12 October 1798 Regiment de Meuron
  Colonel Josiah Champagné 14 March 1799 22 July 1799 80th Regiment of Foot GCH
Colonel Hay MacDowall 22 July 1799 March 1804 78th Regiment of Foot
Major-General David Douglas Wemyss March 1804 19 July 1805 18th Regiment of Foot
  Major-General Thomas Maitland 19 July 1805 19 March 1811 62nd Regiment of Foot GCB, GCMG, GCH, PC
Major-General John Wilson 19 March 1811 11 March 1812 5th Garrison Battalion
  General Sir Robert Brownrigg 11 March 1812 1 February 1820 Coldstream Guards GCB
  Major general Edward Barnes 1820 47th (Lancashire) Regiment of Foot GCB
Major general James Campbell 22 July 1822 94th Regiment of Foot
  Major general Hudson Lowe 1826 50th Foot GCMG, KCB
Major general John Wilson 14 October 1831 28th Foot
  Major general Robert Arbuthnot 1839 76th Regiment of Foot KCB
  Lieutenant general Colin Campbell 16 April 1841 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot KCB
Major general William Smelt 28 January 1847 103rd Regiment of Foot CB
Major general Philip Bainbrigge 23 May 1852 7th Regiment of Foot CB
Major general Thomas Reed 13 September 1854 12th Light Dragoons CB
Major general Henry Frederick Lockyer 1856 1860 97th (The Earl of Ulster's) Regiment of Foot CB, KH
  Major general Terence O'Brien 1860 1865
Major general Studholme John Hodgson 1865 1869 54th Regiment of Foot
Major general Henry Renny 1869 1874 81st Regiment of Foot CSI
Major general John Alfred Street 1874 1879 68th Regiment of Foot CB
Major general William Wilby 1879 1882 King's Own Royal Regiment CB
  Major general John Chetham McLeod 1882 1887 42nd Regiment of Foot KCB
  Major general Wilbraham Lennox 1887 1888 Royal Engineers VC, CB
  Major general William Massy 1888 1893 19th Regiment of Foot CB
Major general W. Clive-Justice 1893 1897 75th Regiment of Foot CMG
Major general F. T. Hobson 1897 1902
  Major general Hector MacDonald 1902 1903 92nd Gordon Highlanders KCB, DSO
Brigadier general G. L. C. Money 1903 1905 Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders CB, DSO
Brigadier general R .C. B. Lawrence 1905 1909 1st King's Dragoon Guards
Brigadier general A. J. Whitacre Allen 1909 1913 The Buffs CB
Brigadier general Henry Huntly Leith Malcolm 1913 1915 Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders CB, DSO
Brigadier general F. Hackett-Thompson 1915 1918 Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders CB
Brigadier general F. A. MacFarlane 1918 1920 CB
  Colonel commandant Clifford Coffin 1920 1924 Royal Engineers VC, CB, DSO & Bar
Colonel commandant Harold Higginson 1924 1927 Royal Dublin Fusiliers CB, DSO & Bar
Brigadier Austin Claude Girdwood 1927 1931 Northumberland Fusiliers CB, CMG, DSO & Bar[2]
Brigadier E. F. Shewell 1931 1934 Royal Artillery CMG, DSO[3]
Brigadier C. A. Lyon 1934 1937 Royal Artillery DSO[4]
Brigadier (local rank) J. O. Thurburn[5] 1937 1941 Royal Artillery MC
Major general Tim Inskip 1941 1942 13th Frontier Force Rifles CB, CIE, DSO, MC
  Lieutenant general Henry Pownall[6] 1942 1943 Royal Artillery KBE, DSO & Bar, MC
Major general Francis Tuker[7] March 1944 September 1944 Royal Sussex Regiment, 2nd Gurkha Rifles KCIE, CB, DSO, OBE

See also



  1. ^ "British Commanders". Archived from the original on 22 March 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  2. ^ Ceylon (1928). The Ceylon Blue Book.
  3. ^ ". THE . LONDON GAZETTE, .1 JUNE, 1928" (PDF). The London Gazette. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  4. ^ ". THE . LONDON GAZETTE, 1919" (PDF). The London Gazette.
  5. ^ "THE LONDON GAZETTE, 30 JULY, 1937" (PDF). Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  6. ^ "King's Collections : Archive Catalogues : POWNALL, Lt Gen Sir Henry Royds (1887-1961)". King's College London. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Officers of the Indian Army 1939-1945 -- T". Retrieved 17 March 2020.