Philip Walhouse Chetwode
Son of Lt.-Col. Sir George Chetwode, 6th Bt. and Alice Jane Chetwode
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About Field Marshal Philip Chetwode, 1st Baron Chetwode, 7th Baronet of Oakley, GCB, OM, GCSI, KCMG, DSO
Field Marshal Philip Walhouse Chetwode, 1st Baron Chetwode, 7th Baronet of Oakley, GCB, OM, GCSI, KCMG, DSO (21 September 1869 – 6 July 1950) was a British cavalry officer who became Commander in Chief in India.
Early life and education
Chetwode was the son of Sir George Chetwode, 6th Baronet, and Alice Jane Bass daughter of Michael Thomas Bass the brewer. He 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. He then received a regular commission with the 19th Hussars in 1889, giving him early acquaintance with both light infantry and cavalry.
Chetwode first saw active service in the Chinwir Hills expedition in Burma from 1892 to 1893 and later in the Second Boer War where he took part in the defence of Ladysmith. In 1906, he became assistant military secretary to Sir John French and in 1908 was given command of a regiment in a cavalry brigade under the command of Edmund Allenby. In World War I, he served on the Western Front in smaller cavalry commands with little distinction. His 5th Cavalry brigade helped cover the retreat from the frontier, and checked the pursuing Germans at Cerizy. Later in the First Battle of the Marne, Chetwode's Brigade joined with Sir Hubert Gough to become the 2nd Cavalry division. Gough had been behind the Curragh incident of March 1914 and Chetwode's willingness replace him on his temporary resignation had caused some ill feeling. During this phase, there was some criticism of Sir Philip's caution in pursuit. After the British Army was held at the First Battle of the Aisne, Chetwode went up to Flanders and took part in the Second Battle of Ypres. With the war in Europe become bogged down in trench warfare, Chetwode was lucky to be transferred to the near East in December 1916 commanding the Desert Column in the Egyptian Expeditionary Force under Sir Archibald Murray. In 1917 he commanded a Cavalry Division at the First Battle of Gaza and the Second Battle of Gaza.
When Edmund Allenby took command of the Allied forces in Palestine, Chetwode was promoted to command of XX Corps. He led the corps with distinction at the Third Battle of Gaza. He led the main attack at the Battle of Jerusalem, capturing the city after one day of fighting. The next year he again led his corps with distinction at the Battle of Megiddo.
Service in India and after
After the war Chetwode had a number of staff appointments serving as Military Secretary from 1919, Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff from 1920, Adjutant-General to the Forces from 1922 and Commander in Chief Aldershot Command from 1923. He was promoted to General in 1926. In 1928 he became Chief of the General Staff in India and in 1930 was appointed Commander-in-Chief, India. He was promoted to field marshal in 1933. 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 IMA.
He returned from India, in 1936. He received the OM and an Honorary DCL at Oxford the same year. His other awards included the Croix de Guerre, Order of the Nile 2nd Class, Order of the Sacred Treasure 1st Class and other foreign orders. He was Constable of the Tower from 1943 to 1948 and was Commander of the Legion of Honour. He was also President of the Royal Geographical Society.
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 married Hester (Star) Alice Camilla Stapleton Cotton and had a son and daughter. Their daughter, 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 Birch.
Honours and awards