Aug 282014

Field Marshal Philip Walhouse Chetwode

Field Marshal Philip Walhouse Chetwode, 1st Baron Chetwode, 7th Baronet of Oakley, GCB OM GCSI KCMG DSO (21st of September 1869 – 6th of July 1950) he was a British Army officer. He saw action during the Second Boer War, during which he was present at the Siege of Ladysmith in December 1899. He saw action again during World War I on the Western Front, taking part in the First Battle of Ypres, and then in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign during which he led his corps at the First Battle of Gaza in the March of 1917, at the Battle of Beersheba in the October of 1917 and the Battle of Jerusalem in the November of 1917.

After the War he held a series of senior military appointments including Adjutant-General to the Forces and then Commander in Chief Aldershot Command. He went on to be Chief of the General Staff in India in 1928 and Commander in Chief in India in 1930 and was much concerned with the modernisation and “Indianisation” of the army in India.

Early life and education

Born the son of Sir George Chetwode, 6th Baronet and Alice Jane Bass (daughter of Michael Thomas Bass the brewer), Chetwode was educated at Eton, where he was an athlete of some distinction, and entered the army through the Militia with his first commission being in the 3rd battalion the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on 11th of April 1888. He then received a regular commission with the 19th Hussars on 20th of November 1889.

War service

Promoted to lieutenant on 6th of August in 1890, Chetwode first saw active service in the Chin Hills expedition in Burma from 1892 to 1893 and was promoted to captain on 7th of February in 1897. He also served in the Second Boer War where he took part in the actions at Reitfontein in October 1899, Ladysmith in December 1899, Laing’s Nek in June 1900 and Belfast in August 1900: he was twice mentioned in despatches and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Promoted to major on the 21st of December 1901, he succeeded as 7th Baronet in 1905.

Philip Chetwode c. 1930s

In 1906, Chetwode became assistant military secretary to Sir John French and on 3 January 1908 he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel on appointment as commanding officer of the 19th HussarsHaving been placed on half-pay list from 3rd of January 1912, he was promoted to colonel on the 1st April in 1912 and appointed Commander of the London Mounted Brigade.

During the Curragh incident in the March of 1914 Chetwode was offered command of the 3rd Cavalry Brigade when Hubert Gough threatened to resign. He knew that he would be “looked upon by all his brother officers as a scab” but thought it “his duty as a soldier to do as he was ordered & not to meddle in politics”. In the event Gough kept his command and Chetwode remained with the London Mounted Brigade, but his willingness to replace Gough caused some ill feeling. Promoted to temporary brigadier-general on 15 May 1914, he was given command of the 5th Cavalry Brigade in August 1914.

In World War I, Chetwode served on the Western Front: his brigade helped cover the retreat from the frontier, and checked the pursuing Germans at Cerizy on 29th August 1914. After taking part in the First Battle of Ypres in October 1914, he was appointed General Officer Commanding 2nd Cavalry Division with promotion to temporary major-general on 15th July 1915 and to substantive major-general on 1st of January 1916. With the war in Europe become bogged down in trench warfare,Chetwode was lucky to be transferred to the Palestine where he was given command of the Desert Mounted Corps and promoted to temporary lieutenant general with effect from 22nd of November 1916. He led the corps at Rafa in January 1917 and at the First Battle of Gaza in March 1917. When Edmund Allenby took command of the Allied forces in Palestine in the June of 1917, Chetwode was promoted to command of XX Corps. He led his corps to military success at the Battle of Beersheba in the October of 1917 and at the Battle of Jerusalem in the November of 1917. During the Sinai and Palestine Campaign he was mentioned in despatches eight times.

Service in India and after

After the war, and following promotion to the substantive rank of lieutenant-general on 1 January 1919, Chetwode was appointed to a number of senior military appointments serving as Military Secretary from 1919, Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff from October 1920, Adjutant-General to the Forces from September 1922 and Commander in Chief Aldershot Command from early 1923. He was promoted to full general on the 1st of June 1926.

Chetwode became Chief of the General Staff in India in 1928 and Commander-in-Chief, India in November 1930. He was promoted to field marshal on 13th February 1933. In his tenure as Commander-in-Chief, India, Chetwode was an opponent of replacing horses with tanks; he “made the surprising pronouncement that the Army in India would be unlikely to adopt tanks for a very long time, and then only to keep up the momentum of horsed cavalry.” He was much concerned with the modernisation and “Indianisation” of the army in India. The main building and its central hall at the Indian Military Academy is named after him. The credo of the Academy, engraved on the entrance to the central hall, is a passage from his address delivered at the formal inauguration of the Academy in 1932 – “The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time.” This is known as the “Chetwode Motto” and is the motto of the officers passing out from the Academy.

Chetwode returned from India in May 1934. He was Constable of the Tower from 1943 to 1948 and also President of the Royal Geographical Society as well as the recipient of an Honorary DCL from Oxford University. He was created Baron Chetwode of Chetwode in the County of Buckingham on the 10th of July 1945 and died in London on 6th of June in 1950.


He married Hester (Star) Alice Camilla Stapleton Cotton and had a son and daughter.

Roger married Molly Berry, daughter of the 1st Viscount Camrose. He was killed on active service in 14th of August 1940 at age 34, leaving two sons: Philip, the 2nd Baron Chetwode, and Christopher.

Penelope married John Betjeman the poet (later Poet Laureate) and had a son Paul and daughter Candida Lycett Green. Chetwode’s sister Florence was married to General Noel Birch.

Honours and awards

DSO : Companion of the Distinguished Service Order – 20th of November 1900 – for services during the operations in South Africa (Second Boer War

KCMG : Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George – 4th of June 1917

GCB : Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) – 3rd of June 1929

KCB : Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath – 11th of January 1918

CB : Companion of the Order of the Bath – 18th of February 1915

KJStJ : Knight of Justice of the Venerable Order of St. John – 23rd of December 1930

GCSI : Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India – 4thof June 1934

OM : Member of the Order of Merit – 1st of January 1936


Croix de Guerre of France – 21st of May 1917

Order of the Nile, 2nd Class of the Kingdom of Egypt – 9th of November 1918

Sourced from Wikipedia