Commander-in-Chief, India

  • Reference
      GB 133 AUC/1024-1312
  • Dates of Creation
      Jun 1943-May 1948
  • Physical Description
      289 items.

Scope and Content

In June 1943 Auchinleck was appointed Commander-in-Chief, India, for a second time, in succession to Wavell, who had been promoted to Viceroy. Auchinleck played a crucial role as War Member of the Viceroy's Executive Council and as commander of the main staging-area for operations against the Japanese in Burma, mobilizing enormous numbers of troops and supplies for service in both the European and Far East theatres of war. Following the defeat of Japan, Auchinleck's main task was to prepare India's armed forces for the transfer of power from Britain. He hoped at first that an independent India would remain united, but when he saw that partition was inevitable, he worked tirelessly to ensure an orderly and equitable division of personnel, equipment and facilities, despite the worsening political situation and criticism by Indian nationalist leaders of his being biased towards Pakistan. His hopes of completing the task were frustrated when the date of independence was brought forward to 15 August 1947. In November 1947 Auchinleck's Headquarters as Supreme Commander were closed and he left India before his task was completed.

Papers in this series relate to the mobilization of the Indian armed forces during the war, particularly in the Middle East and South-East Asian theatres, to wider strategic issues towards the end of hostilities, and to the process of Indian independence and the partition of India and Pakistan. The papers illuminate such issues as relations between British and American commanders, arrangements for the allocation of Gurkha regiments after independence, the return of prisoners of war, Auchinleck's reluctance to use Indian forces to occupy French and Dutch possessions in Indo-China after the defeat of Japan, the trials of Indian National Army leaders and the reintegration of INA troops into the Indian Army, and communal violence during partition. The importance of the series can be gauged from the quantity of correspondence between Auchinleck and Archibald Wavell, Viceroy and Governor-General (1943-7), Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander, South-East Asia (1943-6), later Viceroy (1947) and Governor-General (1947-8), and members of their staff; with Leo Amery, Secretary of State for India and Burma (1940-5), other members of Churchill's wartime government and the subsequent Labour administration; and with nationalist politicians such as Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Governor-General of Pakistan (1947-8), Liaquat Ali Khan, Finance Minister in the Viceroy's Executive Council (1946-7), and Prime Minister of Pakistan (1947-51), and Jawaharlal Nehru, President of the Congress Party (1936-47) and Prime Minister of India (1947-63). In addition to correspondence there are telegrams, memoranda, minutes and detailed reports. Among the last is a lengthy and important report on the situation in India and Pakistan, which Auchinleck produced for the Cabinet and the Chiefs of Staff in September 1947 (AUC/1262).