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Sir Beauchamp Duff
Born (1855-02-17)February 17, 1855
Died January 20, 1918(1918-01-20) (aged 62)
Place of birth Turriff, Aberdeenshire
Place of death London
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Indian Army
Years of service 1874 - 1918
Rank General (1911)
Awards CIE (1897), CB (1901), KCVO (1906), KCB (1907), KCSI (1910), GCB (1911), GCSI (1916), KStJ

General Sir Beauchamp Duff, GCB, GCSI, KCVO, CIE, KStJ (17 February 1855 – 20 January 1918), was a Scottish officer with a distinguished military career in the British Indian Army serving as Commander-in-Chief of India during World War I.

Early life

Duff was educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond before attending the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, from which he graduated in 1874. Duff was commissioned in the Royal Artillery in 1874[1] and served in the Afghan War from 1878 to 1880.[1] In 1881, he was transferred to the Indian Staff Corps and then attended the Staff College from 1888 to 1889.[1]


He was Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General at the Indian Army Headquarters from 1891 to 1895, then served as a Brigade Major in the Isazai Expedition in 1892.[1] He was Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General during the Waziristan Expedition from 1894 to 1895.[1] From 1895 to 1899 he was Military Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief in India before being appointed Assistant Military Secretary for Indian Affairs in the War Office in 1899.[1] However, the same year he took part in the South African War of 1899 to 1901.[1] Upon returning to India, he served as Deputy Adjutant-General at the Indian Army Headquarters from 1901 to 1902, before commanding the Allahabad District as a Brigadier-General in 1903.[1] With the appointment of Lord Kitchener as Commander-in-Chief of India in November 1902, Duff quickly rose in ranks, serving first as Adjutant-General, India from June 1903 to March 1906 and then as Chief of the General Staff in India from March 1906 to 1909.[1] Following Kitchener's departure, Duff served as Secretary in the Military Department of the India Office from 1910 to 1914.[1]

In 1914, he was appointed as ADC General to H.M. the King. On 8 March 1914, Duff reached the top position when replacing General O'Moore Creagh as Commander-in-Chief, India.[1]

World War I

During the war, the Mesopotamian Campaign was under the responsibility of the Indian Army up until the disaster surrounding the surrender at Kut. The campaign started well with the landing in Basra in November 1914, but the attack on Baghdad by 9,000 troops of the 6th Indian Division commanded by General Townshend in 1915 ended in catastrophe when the remnants of the British invasion force were surrounded in Kut El Amara, and three attempts to relieve the trapped British and Indian troops also ended in failure, at the cost of 23,000 lives.[2] The surrender on 29 April 1916 was described as one of the worst military disasters of the British Army. Consequently, Duff was relieved of command on 1 October 1916. In 1917, the Mesopotamia Commission of Enquiry was damning in its conclusions. While General Townshend was exonerated, the Commission was harsh towards the Government of India and Duff together with the Viceroy, Lord Hardinge. Both were found to have showed little desire to help and some desire actually to obstruct the energetic prosecution of the war.[3]

General Nixon, the Commander-in-Chief of the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force, was also held responsible for the failed campaign.[2] Unable to live with the shame, Duff committed suicide on 20 January 1918.[2]


  • Lieutenant (1874)
  • Captain (1886)
  • Major (1894)
  • Lieutenant-Colonel (1894)
  • Colonel (1898)
  • Brigadier-General (1902)
  • Major-General (1903)
  • Lieutenant-General
  • General (1911)


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 First World War disaster general's medals go under the hammer The Scotsman, 8 July 2006
  3. Report of the Mesopotamia Commission of Enquiry, p. 123

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Horace Smith-Dorrien
Adjutant-General, India
Succeeded by
Alfred Martin
Preceded by
New Post
Chief of the General Staff (India)
Succeeded by
Sir Douglas Haig
Preceded by
Sir O'Moore Creagh
Military Secretary to the India Office
Succeeded by
Sir Edmund Barrow
Preceded by
Sir O'Moore Creagh
Commander-in-Chief, India
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Monro

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