Claude Auchinleck

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Field Marshal Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, GCB, GCIE, CSI, DSO, OBE (21 June 1884 – 23 March 1981), nicknamed "The Auk", was a British army commander during World War II. He was a career soldier who spent much of his military career in India, where he developed a love of the country and a lasting affinity for the soldiers he commanded. In July 1941 he was appointed Commander in Chief of the Middle East theatre; after initial succeses the war in North Africa turned against the British, and he was relieved of the post in 1942 during the crucial Alamein campaign. He served thereafter as C-in-C India until his resignation in 1947. He passed his retirement in Marrakesh, dying there at the age of 96.

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Early life and career

The Auchinlecks were an Ulster-Scots family from County Fermanagh, where they had settled in the 17th century. Claude Auchinleck was born in Aldershot, son of Colonel John and Mary Auchinleck, while his father's regiment was stationed there.[13] His father died in 1892, when he was eight years old, and Auchinleck grew up in impoverished circumstances, but he was able, through hard work and scholarships, to graduate from Wellington College and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

Auchinleck applied to join the Indian Army and, having achieved a qualifying position in the entrance examination joined as an unattached second lieutenant in January 1903[14] and in 1904 joined the 62nd Punjabis. He was able to learn Punjabi rapidly and, able to speak fluently with his soldiers, he absorbed a knowledge of local dialects and customs. This familiarity engendered a lasting mutual respect, enhanced by his own personality.[15] In April 1905 he was promoted to lieutenant[16] and in January 1912 he was promoted to captain.[17]

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