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Archibald Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell

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Title: Archibald Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell  
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Subject: Alan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke, Burma Campaign, Operation Sonnenblume, Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Interim Government of India
Collection: 1883 Births, 1950 Deaths, Anthologists, British Army Personnel of the Second Boer War, British Army Personnel of World War I, British Commander-in-Chiefs of India, British Field Marshals of World War II, British Military Personnel of the 1936–39 Arab Revolt in Palestine, British People with Disabilities, Burials in Hampshire, Chancellors of the University of Aberdeen, Chief Commanders of the Legion of Merit, Commanders of the Order of the Seal of Solomon, Commandeurs of the Légion D'Honneur, Earls in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, English Anglicans, Graduates of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Grand Crosses of the Order of George I with Swords, Knights Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau, Knights of the Order of St John, Lord-Lieutenants of the County of London, Members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, Military History of Malaya During World War II, One-Eyed People, People Educated at Summer Fields School, People Educated at Winchester College, People from Colchester, Privy Counsellors, Recipients of the Czechoslovak War Cross, Recipients of the Military Cross, Recipients of the Order of Saint Stanislaus (Russian), 3Rd Class, Recipients of the Order of Solomon, Recipients of the Order of St. Vladimir, Recipients of the Order of the Cloud and Banner, Recipients of the Order of the Nile, Recipients of the Order of the Star of Nepal, Recipients of the War Cross (Greece), Silver Crosses of the Virtuti Militari, Viceroys of India, World War II Political Leaders
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Archibald Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell

Field Marshal The Right Honourable
The Earl Wavell
Sir Archibald Wavell in Field Marshal's uniform
Viceroy and Governor-General of India
In office
1 October 1943 – 21 February 1947
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Clement Attlee
Preceded by The Marquess of Linlithgow
Succeeded by The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma
Personal details
Born Archibald Percival Wavell
(1883-05-05)5 May 1883
Colchester, Essex,
United Kingdom
Died 24 May 1950(1950-05-24) (aged 67)
Westminster, London,
United Kingdom
Relations Married to Eugenie Marie Quirk, one son and three daughters

Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (4 March 1941)
Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India (Aug/September 1943)
Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (Aug/September 1943)
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (1 January 1919)
Military Cross (23 June 1915)
Knight of Justice of the Order of St. John (4 January 1944)
Order of St Stanislaus, 3rd class with Swords (Russia)
Order of St. Vladimir (Russia) (1917)
Croix de Guerre (Commandeur) (France) (1920)
Commandeur, Légion d'honneur (France) (1920)
Order of El Nahda, 2nd Class (Hejaz) (1920)
Grand Cross, Order of George I with Swords (Greece) (1941)
Virtuti Militari, 5th Class (Poland) (1941)
War Cross, 1st Class (Greece) (1942)
Commander, Order of the Seal of Solomon (Ethiopia) (1942)
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange Nassau (Netherlands) (1943)
War Cross (Czechoslovakia) (1943)

Legion of Merit, Chief Commander (USA) (1948)
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1901–1943
Rank Field Marshal
Commands 6th Infantry Brigade
2nd Division
British Troops Palestine and Trans-Jordan
Southern Command
Middle East Command
GHQ India
American-British-Dutch-Australian Command

Second Boer War First World War:

Arab revolt in Palestine

Second World War:

CMG MC PC (5 May 1883 – 24 May 1950) was a senior commander in the British Army. He served in the Second Boer War, the Bazar Valley Campaign and the Great War, during which he was wounded in the Second Battle of Ypres. He served in the Second World War, initially as Commander-in-Chief Middle East, in which role he led British forces to victory over the Italians in western Egypt and eastern Libya during Operation Compass in December 1940, only to be defeated by the German army in the Western Desert in April 1941. He served as Commander-in-Chief, India, from July 1941 until June 1943 (apart from a brief tour as Commander of ABDACOM) and then served as Viceroy of India until his retirement in February 1947.


  • Early life 1
  • Early career 2
  • First World War 3
  • Between the world wars 4
  • Second World War military commands 5
    • Middle East Command 5.1
    • India Command 5.2
  • Viceroy of India 6
  • Later life 7
  • Family 8
  • Honours and awards 9
    • British 9.1
    • Others 9.2
  • Quotes 10
  • Publications 11
  • See also 12
  • Footnotes and citations 13
  • Sources 14

Early life

Born the son of Archibald Graham Wavell (who later became a major-general in the British Army and military commander of Johannesburg after its capture during the Boer War[1]) and Lillie Wavell (née Percival), Wavell attended the leading preparatory boarding school Summer Fields near Oxford, followed by Winchester College, where he was a scholar, and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.[2] His headmaster, Dr. Fearon, had advised his father that there was no need to send him into the Army as he had "sufficient ability to make his way in other walks of life".[3]

Early career

After graduating from Sandhurst, Wavell was commissioned on 8 May 1901 into the Black Watch[4] and fought in the Second Boer War.[2] In 1903, he was transferred to India and, having been promoted to lieutenant on 13 August 1904,[5] he fought in the Bazar Valley Campaign of February 1908.[6] In January 1909 was seconded from his regiment to be a student at the Staff College.[7] He was one of only two in his class to graduate with an A grade.[8] In 1911, he spent a year as a military observer with the Russian Army to learn Russian,[6] returning to his regiment in December of that year.[9] In April 1912 he became a General Staff Officer Grade 3 (GSO3) in the Russian Section of the War Office.[10] In July, he was granted the temporary rank of captain and became GSO3 at the Directorate of Military Training.[11] On 20 March 1913 Wavell was promoted to the substantive rank of captain.[12] After visiting manoeuvres at Kiev in summer 1913, he was arrested at the Russo-Polish border as a suspected spy, following a search of his Moscow hotel room by the secret police, but managed to remove from his papers an incriminating document listing the information wanted by the War Office.[13]

Wavell was working at the War Office during the Curragh Incident. His letters to his father record his disgust at the Government's behaviour in giving an ultimatum to officers – he had little doubt that the Government had been planning to crush the Ulster Protestants, whatever they later claimed. However, he was also concerned at the Army's effectively intervening in politics, not least as there would be an even greater appearance of bias when the Army was used against industrial unrest.[14]

First World War

Wavell was working as a staff officer when the First World War began. As a captain, he was sent to France to a posting at General HQ of the British Expeditionary Force as General Staff Officer Grade 2 (GSO2), but shortly afterwards, in November 1914, was appointed Brigade Major of 9th Infantry Brigade.[15] He was wounded in the Second Battle of Ypres of 1915, losing his left eye[16] and winning the Military Cross.[17] In October 1915 he became a GSO2 in the 64th Highland Division.[2]

In December 1915, after he had recovered, Wavell was returned to General HQ in France as a GSO2.[18] He was promoted to the substantive rank of major on 8 May 1916.[19] In October 1916 Wavell was graded General Staff Officer Grade 1 (GSO1) as an acting lieutenant colonel,[20] and was then assigned as a liaison officer to the Russian Army in the Caucasus.[6] In June 1917, he was promoted to brevet lieutenant colonel[21] and continued to work as a staff officer (GSO1),[22] as liaison officer with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force headquarters.[6]

In January 1918 Wavell received a further staff appointment as Assistant Adjutant & Quartermaster General (AA&QMG)[23] working at the Supreme War Council in Versailles.[16] In March 1918 Wavell was made a temporary brigadier general and returned to Palestine where he served as the brigadier general of the General Staff (BGGS) with XX Corps, part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force.[16]

Between the world wars

Wavell was given a number of assignments between the wars, though like many officers he had to accept a reduction in rank. In May 1920 he relinquished the temporary rank of brigadier general, reverting to brevet lieutenant colonel.[24] In December 1921, still a brevet lieutenant colonel, he became an Assistant Adjutant General (AAG) at the War Office[25] and, having been promoted to full colonel on 3 June 1921,[26] he became a GSO1 in the Directorate of Military Operations in July 1923.[27]

Apart from a short period unemployed on half pay in 1926,[28][29] Wavell continued to hold GSO1 appointments, latterly in the King,[31] a position he held until October 1933 when he was promoted to major general.[32][33] However, there was a shortage of jobs for major generals at this time and in January 1934, on relinquishing command of his brigade, he found himself unemployed on half pay once again.[34]

By the end of the year, although still on half pay, Wavell had been designated to command 2nd Division and appointed a CB.[35] In March 1935, he took command of his division.[36] In August 1937 he was transferred to Palestine, where there was growing unrest, to be General Officer Commanding (GOC) British Forces in Palestine and Trans-Jordan[37] and was promoted to lieutenant general on 21 January 1938.[38]

In April 1938 Wavell became General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) Southern Command in the UK.[39] In July 1939, he was named as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Middle East Command with the local rank of full general.[40] Subsequently, on 15 February 1940, to reflect the broadening of his oversight responsibilities to include East Africa, Greece and the Balkans, his title was changed to Commander-in-Chief Middle East.[41]

Second World War military commands

Middle East Command

The Middle Eastern theatre was quiet for the first few months of the war until Italy's declaration of war in June 1940. The Italian forces in North and East Africa greatly outnumbered the British and Wavell's policy was therefore one of "flexible containment" to buy time to build up adequate forces to take the offensive. Having fallen back in front of Italian advances from Libya, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Wavell mounted successful offensives into Libya (Operation Compass) in December 1940 and Eritrea and Ethiopia in January 1941. By February 1941, his Western Desert Force under Lieutenant General Richard O'Connor had defeated the Italian Tenth Army at Beda Fomm taking 130,000 prisoners and appeared to be on the verge of overrunning the last Italian forces in Libya, which would have ended all direct Axis control in North Africa.[42] His troops in East Africa also had the Italians under pressure and at the end of March his forces in Eritrea under William Platt won the decisive battle of the campaign at Keren which led to the occupation of the Italian colonies in Ethiopia and Somaliland.[43]

Wavell (right) meets Lt. General Quinan, commander of British and Indian Army forces in Iraq in April 1941.

However, in February Wavell had been ordered to halt his advance into Libya and send troops to Greece where the Germans and Italians were attacking. He disagreed with this decision but followed his orders. The result was a disaster. The Germans were given the opportunity to reinforce the Italians in North Africa with the Afrika Korps and by the end of April the weakened Western Desert Force had been pushed all the way back to the Egyptian border, leaving Tobruk under siege.[44] In Greece General Wilson's Force W was unable to set up an adequate defence on the Greek mainland and were forced to withdraw to Crete, suffering 15,000 casualties and leaving behind all their heavy equipment and artillery. Crete was attacked by German airborne forces on 20 May and as in Greece, the British and Commonwealth troops were forced once more to evacuate.[44]

Events in Greece provoked a pro-Axis faction to take over the government of Iraq. Wavell, hard pressed on his other fronts, was unwilling to divert precious resources to Iraq and so it fell to Claude Auchinleck's India Command to send troops to Basra. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, saw Iraq as vital to Britain's strategic interests and in early May, under heavy pressure from London, Wavell agreed to send a division-sized force across the desert from Palestine to relieve the besieged British air base at Habbaniya and to assume overall control of troops in Iraq. By the end of May Quinan's forces in Iraq had captured Baghdad and the Anglo-Iraqi War had ended with troops in Iraq once more reverting to the overall control of GHQ in Delhi. However, Churchill had been unimpressed by Wavell's reluctance to act.[44]

In early June Wavell sent a force under General Wilson to invade Syria and Lebanon, responding to the help given by the Vichy France authorities there to the Iraq Government during the Anglo-Iraqi War. Initial hopes of a quick victory faded as the French put up a determined defence. Churchill determined to relieve Wavell and after the failure in mid June of Operation Battleaxe, intended to relieve Tobruk, he told Wavell on 20 June that he was to be replaced by Auchinleck, whose attitude during the Iraq crisis had impressed him.[45] Rommel rated Wavell highly, despite Wavell's lack of success against him, and he carried an annotated translation of his book Generals and Generalship in his pocket throughout the North Africa Campaign.[46]

Of Wavell, Auchinleck wrote: "In no sense do I wish to infer [sic] that I found an unsatisfactory situation on my arrival – far from it. Not only was I greatly impressed by the solid foundations laid by my predecessor, but I was also able the better to appreciate the vastness of the problems with which he had been confronted and the greatness of his achievements, in a command in which some 40 different languages are spoken by the British and Allied Forces."[47]

India Command

Wavell at his desk in Delhi during the Second World War

Wavell in effect swapped jobs with Auchinleck, transferring to India where he became Commander-in-Chief, India and a member of the Governor General's Executive Council.[48] Initially his command covered India and Iraq so that within a month of taking charge he launched Iraqforce to invade Persia in co-operation with the Russians in order to secure the oilfields and the lines of communication to the Soviet Union.[45]

Wavell once again had the misfortune of being placed in charge of an undermanned theatre which became a war zone when the Japanese declared war on the United Kingdom in December 1941. He was made Commander-in-Chief of ABDACOM (American-British-Dutch-Australian Command).[49]

Late at night on 10 February 1942, Wavell prepared to board a flying boat, to fly from Singapore to Java. He stepped out of a staff car, not noticing (because of his blind left eye) that it was parked at the edge of a pier. He broke two bones in his back when he fell, and this injury affected his temperament for some time.[50]

On 23 February 1942, with Malaya lost and the Allied position in Java and Sumatra precarious, ABDACOM was closed down and its headquarters in Java evacuated. Wavell returned to India to resume his position as C-in-C India where his responsibilities now included the defence of Burma.[51]

Wavell (right) with Brooke-Popham in WW II

On 23 February British forces in Burma had suffered a serious setback when Major-General Jackie Smyth's decision to destroy the bridge over the Sittang river to prevent the enemy crossing had resulted in most of his division being trapped on the wrong side of the river. The Viceroy Lord Linlithgow sent a signal criticising the conduct of the field commanders to Churchill who forwarded it to Wavell together with an offer to send Harold Alexander, who had commanded the rearguard at Dunkirk. Alexander took command of Allied land forces in Burma in early March[51] with William Slim arriving shortly afterwards from commanding a division in Iraq to take command of its principal formation, Burma Corps. Nevertheless, the pressure from the Japanese Armies was unstoppable and a withdrawal to India was ordered which was completed by the end of May before the start of the monsoon season which brought Japanese progress to a halt.[52]

In order to wrest some of the initiative from the Japanese, Wavell ordered the Eastern Army in India to mount an offensive in the

Military offices
Preceded by
Henry Jackson
General Officer Commanding the 2nd Division
Succeeded by
Henry Wilson
Preceded by
Sir John Dill
General Officer Commanding
British Forces in Palestine and Trans-Jordan

Succeeded by
Robert Haining
Preceded by
Sir John Burnett-Stuart
GOC-in-C Southern Command
Succeeded by
Sir Alan Brooke
New title Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command
Succeeded by
Sir Claude Auchinleck
Preceded by
Sir Claude Auchinleck
Commander-in-Chief, India
Succeeded by
Sir Alan Hartley
New title Commander of ABDACOM
Office abolished
Preceded by
Sir Alan Hartley
Commander-in-Chief, India
Succeeded by
Sir Claude Auchinleck
Government offices
Preceded by
The Marquess of Linlithgow
Viceroy of India
Succeeded by
The Viscount Mountbatten of Burma
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Lord Chetwode
Constable of the Tower of London
Succeeded by
The Viscount Alanbrooke
Preceded by
The Duke of Wellington
Lord Lieutenant of the County of London
Succeeded by
The Viscount Alanbrooke
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl Wavell
Succeeded by
Archibald Wavell
Viscount Keren
New creation Viscount Wavell
  • Allen, Louis (1984). Burma: The Longest War. J.M. Dent and Sons.  
  • . 20 August 1946. (Supplement) no. 37695. pp. 4215–4230: The London Gazette in  
  • Axelrod, Alan (2008). The Real History of World War II. Sterling Publishing Co.  
  • Frame, Alex (2008). Flying Boats: My Father's War in the Mediterranean. Victoria University Press.  
  • Heathcote, Tony (1999). The British Field Marshals 1736–1997. Barnsley (UK): Pen & Sword.  
  • Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "World War II unit histories and officers". Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. Retrieved 20 December 2008. 
  • Mead, Richard (2007). Churchill's Lions: A biographical guide to the key British generals of World War II. Stroud (UK): Spellmount. pp. 544 pages.  
  • Pagden, Anthony (2008). Worlds at War: The 2,500-year Struggle between East and West. Oxford University Press US.  


  1. ^ Schofield 2006, p. 15
  2. ^ a b c Heathcote, p. 287
  3. ^ Schofield 2006, p15
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27311. p. 3130. 7 May 1901.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27710. p. 5697. 2 September 1904.
  6. ^ a b c d "Archibald Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell". Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28221. p. 946. 5 February 1909.
  8. ^ Schofield 2006, p33
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28578. p. 881. 6 February 1912.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28597. p. 2585. 9 April 1912.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28626. p. 5083. 12 July 1912.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28720. p. 3592. 20 May 1913.
  13. ^ Schofield 2006, p39
  14. ^ Schofield 2006, p42-3
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 28994. p. 10278. 1 December 1914.
  16. ^ a b c d e "Archibald Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell". Unit histories. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29202. p. 6118. 22 June 1915.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29389. p. 12037. 30 November 1915.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29605. p. 5439. 30 May 1916.
  20. ^ The London Gazette: no. 30002. p. 3001. 27 March 1917.
  21. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30111. p. 5465. 1 June 1917.
  22. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30178. p. 6953. 10 July 1917.
  23. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30528. p. 2130. 15 February 1918.
  24. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31893. p. 5345. 7 May 1920.
  25. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 32568. p. 143. 5 January 1922.
  26. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32728. p. 5204. 11 July 1922.
  27. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32844. p. 4854. 13 July 1923.
  28. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33123. p. 299. 12 January 1926.
  29. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33219. p. 7255. 9 November 1926.
  30. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33623. p. 4271. 8 July 1930.
  31. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33807. p. 1679. 11 March 1931.
  32. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33992. p. 7107. 3 November 1933.
  33. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33987. p. 6692. 17 October 1933.
  34. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34015. p. 390. 16 January 1934.
  35. ^ a b The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31093. p. 52. 31 December 1918.
  36. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34143. p. 1905. 19 March 1935.
  37. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34430. p. 5439. 27 August 1937.
  38. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34482. p. 968. 15 February 1938.
  39. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34506. p. 2781. 28 April 1938.
  40. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34650. p. 5311. 1 August 1939.
  41. ^ Playfair, Vol. I, page 63.
  42. ^ Mead (2007), p. 473
  43. ^ Mead (2007), pp. 473–475
  44. ^ a b c Mead (2007), p. 475
  45. ^ a b Mead (2007), p. 476
  46. ^ a b c Mead (2007), p. 480
  47. ^ Auchinleck, p. 4215
  48. ^ The London Gazette: no. 35222. p. 4152. 18 July 1941.
  49. ^ Klemen, L (1999–2000). "General Sir Archibald Percival Wavell". Dutch East Indies Campaign website. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  50. ^ Allen, pp. 644–645
  51. ^ a b Mead (2007), p. 478
  52. ^ a b Mead (2007), p. 479
  53. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35841. p. 33. 29 December 1942.
  54. ^ The London Gazette: no. 36105. p. 3340. 23 July 1943.
  55. ^ The London Gazette: no. 36208. p. 4513. 12 October 1943.
  56. ^ Heathcote, p. 290
  57. ^ "Wavell". Lively Stories. Retrieved 25 March 2015. 
  58. ^ The London Gazette: no. 37956. p. 2190. 16 May 1947.
  59. ^ Mead (2007), p. 481
  60. ^ Frame, p. 90
  61. ^ "Our War Leaders in Peacetime – Wavell in The War Illustrated, Volume 10, No. 237". 19 July 1946. p. 213. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  62. ^ "Lord Wavell, British War Leader, Dies". Oxnard Press-Courier. 24 May 1950. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  63. ^ "A Great Soldier Passes". British Pathé. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  64. ^ "Lord Wavell Given Hero's Funeral In Heat Wave Like Africa Desert". The Montreal Gazette. 8 June 1950. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  65. ^ Schofield 2006, p394-5
  66. ^ "History of St. Andrew's Garrison Church". St Andrew's Garrison Church, Aldershot. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  67. ^ H.J.J. Sargint (11 July 1943). "Lady Wavell". The Palm Beach Post. p. 20. 
  68. ^ "Dowager Countess Wavell". Online dictionary of distinguished women, Index W. Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  69. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29202. p. 6118. 22 June 1915.
  70. ^ The London Gazette: no. 35094. p. 1303. 4 March 1941.
  71. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34585. p. 3. 30 December 1938.
  72. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34119. p. 4. 28 December 1934.
  73. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 36208. p. 4513. 12 October 1943.
  74. ^ The London Gazette: no. 36315. p. 114. 4 January 1944.
  75. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29945. p. 1601. 13 August 1917.
  76. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31890. p. 5228. 4 May 1920.
  77. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31890. p. 5228. 7 May 1920.
  78. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 32069. p. 9606. 28 September 1920.
  79. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35157. p. 2648. 9 May 1941.
  80. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35282. p. 5501. 23 September 1941.
  81. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35519. p. 1595. 7 April 1942.
  82. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35546. p. 1961. 5 May 1942.
  83. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35863. p. 323. 12 January 1943.
  84. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36103. p. 3319. 20 July 1943.
  85. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38359. p. 4189. 23 July 1948.
  86. ^ Quoted in Axelrod, p. 180
  87. ^ Pagden, p. 407
  88. ^ In Praise of Infantry, Field-Marshal Earl Wavell, "The Times", Thursday, 19 April 1945

Footnotes and citations

See also

  • Official Middle East Despatches December 1940 to February 1941 published in The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37628. pp. 3261–3269. 25 June 1946.
  • Official Middle East Despatches February 1941 to July 1941 published in The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37638. pp. 3423–3444. 2 July 1946.
  • Official Iran, Iraq and Syria Despatches April 1941 to January 1942 published in The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37685. pp. 4093–4101. 13 August 1946.
  • Official India Despatches March 1942 to December 1942 published in The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37728. pp. 4663–4671. 17 September 1946.
Contributions to periodicals
  • Tsar Nicholas II by Andrei Georgievich Elchaninov. Translated from the Russian by Archibald Percival Wavell. Hugh Rees. 1913. 
  • The Tsar and his People by Andrei Georgievich Elchaninov. Translated from the Russian by Archibald P. Wavell. Hugh Rees. 1914. 
  • The Palestine Campaigns. London: Constable. 1933.  
  • Allenby, a study in greatness: the biography of Field-Marshal Viscount Allenby of Megiddo and Felixstowe, G.C.B., G.C.M.G. London: Harrap. 1940–43.  
  • Generals and Generalship; the Lees Knowles lectures delivered at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1939. London: Times Publishing. 1941.  
  • Soldiers and Soldiering; or, Epithets of war. London: J. Cape. 1953.  
  • Other Men's Flowers; an anthology of poetry. London: J. Cape. 1977 [1944].  
  • Other Men's Flowers; an anthology of poetry (Memorial ed.). London: Pimlico. 1992 [1952]. ; "this first paperback edition contains not only Lord Wavell's own introduction and annotations, but also the introduction written by his son, to whom the book was originally dedicated".
  • Allenby, Soldier and Statesman. London: White Lion. 1974 [1946].  
  • Speaking Generally; broadcasts, orders and addresses in time of war (1939–43). London: Macmillan. 1946.  
  • The Good Soldier. London: Macmillan. 1948.  
  • Wavell: the Viceroy's Journal. London: Oxford University Press. 1973.  


  • "I think he (Benito Mussolini) must do something, if he cannot make a graceful dive he will at least have to jump in somehow; he can hardly put on his dressing-gown and walk down the stairs again."[86]
  • "After the 'war to end war' they seem to have been pretty successful in Paris at making a 'Peace to end Peace.'"[87](commenting on the treaties ending the First World War; this quotation was the basis for the title of Fromkin, David (1989), A Peace to End All Peace, New York: Henry Holt, ISBN 0-8050-6884-8)
  • "Let us be clear about three facts: First, all battles and all wars are won in the end by the infantryman. Secondly, the infantryman always bears the brunt. His casualties are heavier, he suffers greater extremes of discomfort and fatigue than the other arms. Thirdly, the art of the infantryman is less stereotyped and far harder to acquire in modern war than that of any other arm."[88]




Ribbon bar (as it would look today)

Honours and awards

  • (1) 27 January 1943 Maj. Hon. Simon Nevill Astley (b. 13 August 1919; d. 16 March 1946), 2nd son of Albert Edward Delaval [Astley], 21st Baron Hastings, by his wife Lady Margueritte Helen Nevill, only child by his second wife of Henry Gilbert Ralph [Nevill], 3rd Marquess of Abergavenny.
  • (2) 19 June 1948 Maj. Harry Alexander Gordon MC (d. 19 June 1965), 2nd son of Cdr. Alastair Gordon DSO RN.
  • (3) Maj. Donald Struan Robertson (d. 1991), son of the Rt. Hon. Sir Malcolm Arnold Robertson GCMG KBE.
  • Archibald John Arthur Wavell, later 2nd Earl Wavell, b. 11 May 1916.
  • Eugenie Pamela Wavell, b. 2 December 1918, married 14 March 1942 Lt.-Col. A. F. W. Humphrys MBE.
  • Felicity Ann Wavell, b. 21 July 1921, married 20 February 1947 Capt. P. M. Longmore MC, son of Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Longmore.
  • Joan Patricia Quirk Wavell, b. 23 April 1923, married


Wavell married Eugenie Marie Quirk, only daughter of Col. J. O. Quirk CB DSO, on 22 April 1915.[67] She survived him and died, as Dowager Countess Wavell, on 11 October 1987, aged 100 years.[68]


Wavell is buried in the old mediaeval cloister at Winchester College, next to the Chantry Chapel. His tombstone simply bears the inscription "Wavell". St Andrew's Garrison Church, Aldershot, an Army church, contains a large wooden plaque dedicated to Lord Wavell.[66]

Wavell died on 24 May 1950 after a relapse following abdominal surgery on 5 May.[62] After his death, his body lay in state at the Tower of London where he had been Constable. A military funeral was held on 7 June 1950 with the funeral procession travelling along the Thames from the Tower to Westminster Pier and then to Westminster Abbey for the funeral service.[63] This was the first military funeral by river since that of Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson in 1806.[64] The funeral was attended by the then Prime Minister Clement Attlee as well as Lord Halifax and fellow officers including Field Marshals Alanbrooke and Montgomery. Winston Churchill did not attend the service.[65]

Wavell was a great lover of literature, and while Viceroy of India he compiled and annotated an anthology of great poetry, Other Men's Flowers, which was published in 1944. He wrote the last poem in the anthology himself and described it as a "...little wayside dandelion of my own".[59] He had a great memory for poetry and often quoted it at length. He is depicted in Evelyn Waugh's novel "Officers and Gentlemen", part of the Sword of Honour trilogy, reciting a translation of Callimachus's poetry in public.[60] He was also a member of the Church of England and a deeply religious man.[61]

In 1947 Wavell returned to England and was made High Steward of Colchester. The same year, he was created Earl Wavell and given the additional title of Viscount Keren of Eritrea and Winchester.[58]

Memorial plaques for Field Marshal 1st Earl Wavell (died 1950) and his son, the 2nd Earl Wavell (died 1953), in Winchester Cathedral.
Field Marshal Lord Wavell's banner as Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, now displayed in Winchester Cathedral.

Later life

Although Wavell was initially popular with Indian politicians, pressure mounted concerning the likely structure and timing of an independent India. He attempted to move the debate along but received little support from Churchill (who was against Indian independence), nor from Clement Attlee, Churchill's successor as Prime Minister. He was also hampered by the differences between the various Indian political factions. At the end of the war, rising Indian expectations continued to be unfulfilled, and inter-communal violence increased. Eventually, in 1947, Attlee lost confidence in Wavell and replaced him with Lord Mountbatten of Burma.[46]

Wavell as Viceroy of India (centre), with the C-in-C of the Indian Army Auchinleck (right) and Montgomery.

One of Wavell's first actions in office was to address the Bengal famine of 1943 by ordering the army to distribute relief supplies to the starving rural Bengalis. He attempted with mixed success to increase the supplies of rice to reduce the prices.[56] During his reign, Gandhi was leading the Quit India campaign, Mohammad Ali Jinnah was working for an independent state for the Muslims and Subhas Chandra Bose befriended Japan "and were pressing forward along India's Eastern border".[57]

In January 1943 Wavell had been promoted to field marshal.[53] When Linlinthgow retired as viceroy in the summer of 1943, Wavell was chosen to replace him,[46] surprisingly, given his poor relationship with Churchill. He himself was again replaced in his military post in June by Auchinleck, who by this point had also experienced setbacks in North Africa. In 1943, Wavell was created a viscount (taking the style Viscount Wavell of Cyrenaica and of Winchester, in the county of Southampton)[54] and in September, he was formally named Governor-General and Viceroy of India.[55]

Viceroy of India


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