Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck is a study not only of the individual but also of how the British Army, Indian Army and the Empire were transformed during his long military career. Auchinleck was commissioned into the Indian Army from 1904 and served with distinction against the Turks in Egypt and the Mesopotamian campaign, earning a DSO. Between the wars he was involved in the pacification of the Northwest Frontier (now Pakistan).
In the Second World War he briefly led a division in the ill-fated Norway campaign before being appointed Commander-in-Chief, India. He is best remembered for his controversial stint in command in North Africa, where he replaced Wavell in July 1941. He halted Rommel at the First Battle of El Alamein but was then replaced by Montgomery and resumed as C-in-C India, where his logistical support for Fourteenth Army was vital to success in Burma. Post-war he planned and oversaw Partition and British withdrawal from India. Here, as in North Africa, interference from his political masters added to the burdens of command. Evan McGilvray appraises Auchinleck’s long and varied career in its entirety.