Wavell, Archibald Percival Wavell, 1st Earl

Wavell, Archibald Percival Wavell, 1st Earl wāˈvəl [key], 1883–1950, British field marshal and viceroy of India. Wavell first saw service in the South African War and in India. During World War I he fought in France (and lost an eye) and in Palestine, where, under the command of General Allenby, he first learned the desert strategy that he was to employ so successfully later. He returned to Palestine as commander of the British forces to keep order during the Arab-Jewish riots of 1937–39. In World War II, Wavell was commander in chief of the Middle East, in which capacity he put to rout the Italian forces in Cyrenaica (see North Africa, campaigns in), only to be forced back later in 1941 by the Axis drive. He then exchanged commands with General Auchinleck, becoming commander in chief of India. After Japan entered the war, he was for some months (1942) supreme commander of the Allies in East Asia, but the command was abolished as the Allies lost control of the area. Resuming his command in India, Wavell became viceroy and governor-general in 1943. From that time until his resignation in 1947, his main concern was the preparation of India for self-rule; toward this end he worked continuously with the numerous Indian factions. He was created Viscount Wavell of Cyrenaica and Winchester in 1943 and earl in 1947. He wrote The Palestine Campaigns (1928), Allenby (1940), Generals and Generalship (1941), Allenby in Egypt (1943), Speaking Generally (1946), and The Good Soldier (1947). He also edited an anthology of poetry, Other Men's Flowers (1944).

See biography by J. H. Robertson (2 vol., 1964–69).

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