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Sir James Cassels
Field Marshal Sir James Cassels
Nickname Jim
Born (1907-02-28)28 February 1907
Died 13 December 1996(1996-12-13) (aged 89)
Place of birth Quetta, British India
Place of death Newmarket, Suffolk
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1926–1968
Rank Field Marshal
Commands held

Field Marshal Sir Archibald James Halkett Cassels, GCB, KBE, DSO (28 February 1907 – 13 December 1996) was Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army. As well as being a first-class cricket player, he served in World War II, commanded the 1st Commonwealth Division in the Korean War and was Director of Operations in Malaya during the Malayan Emergency. He later advised the British Government on the implementation of the 1966 Defence White Paper.

Early life

Born the son of General Sir Robert Cassels and Florence Emily Cassels (née Jackson)[1] and educated at Rugby School and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst,[2] Cassels was commissioned into the Seaforth Highlanders on 30 August 1926.[3] He was posted to Central India in 1928 and, having been promoted to lieutenant on 20 August 1929, was appointed aide-de-camp to his father in May 1930.[4] He became adjutant of the 2nd battalion of his regiment in March 1934 and was promoted to captain on 22 March 1938.[4]

Cricket career

James Cassels

A right-handed batsman and right-arm fast-medium/Off spin bowler,[5] he played first-class cricket between 1928 and 1935[6] and also represented the Egyptian national team.[7]

His first recorded match came in 1921 when he played for his school team against Marlborough College at Lord's.[8] His first-class debut was in 1928 when he played for the Europeans against the Hindus in the Lahore Tournament, a tournament similar to the more famous Bombay Quadrangular Tournament but played in Lahore, then a part of India. He played for a Punjab Governor's XI against Northern India team in his second first-class match later that month, also in Lahore.[6] He took 6/51 in the second innings of that match,[9] his best innings bowling performance in first-class cricket.[5]

He played his next first-class match in Delhi in February 1932, playing for a Viceroy's XI against the Roshanara Club. He played his first first-class match in England that June, playing for the British Army cricket team against the RAF at The Oval,[6] making his highest first-class score of 72.[10] The following year he played for the Egyptian national side against HM Martineau's XI in Alexandria, taking five wickets in the second innings of the visitors.[11]

He played his final first-class match in the 1935 English season, playing for the Army against Cambridge University.[6] He continued to play cricket at a lower level, playing for Delhi against Lord Tennyson's XI in 1938. After the war, he played twice for the Army against the Royal Navy, in 1948 and 1949, and against Cambridge University in 1949.[8]

Military career

Cassels served in World War II initially as brigade major of 157th (Highland Light Infantry) Brigade which was sent to France in June 1940 and then withdrawn through Cherbourg.[4] After commanding the 1st Battalion Tyneside Scottish (The Black Watch-The Royal Highland Regiment) later that year,[12] he became a General Staff Officer with 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division in September 1940 and then Deputy Director (Plans) at the War Office on October 1941.[4] Promoted to major on 30 August 1943,[13] he joined the staff responsible for the planning for Operation Overlord in January 1944.[4] He was given command of 152nd Infantry Brigade in July 1944 and led it during the Normandy Campaign for which he was appointed CBE on 28 September 1944[14] and awarded the DSO on 21 December 1944.[15] He was appointed General Officer Commanding 51st (Highland) Infantry Division on 28 May 1945 and commanded it in the Rhineland[4] being mentioned in despatches on 8 November 1945.[16]

After the War he commanded the 6th Airborne Division in counter-insurgency operations in Palestine[17] and was again mentioned in despatches.[18] Promoted to the substantive rank of colonel on 19 August 1947,[19] he became Director of Land / Air Warfare at the War Office in January 1948.[17] Having been promoted to brigadier on 4 March 1948[20] and to major-general on 20 December 1948,[21] he became Chief Liaison Officer with the United Kingdom Services Liaison Staff at Melbourne in Australia on 16 December 1949[22] and was appointed CB in the New Year Honours 1950.[23] He became the first General Officer Commanding the 1st Commonwealth Division in July 1951 during the Korean War[17] for which he was awarded the Legion of Merit in the Degree of Commander by the President of the United States on 16 September 1952[24] and appointed KBE on 10 October 1952.[25]

He was made General Officer Commanding 1 (British) Corps on 4 January 1953[26] and, having been promoted to the rank of lieutenant general on 2 February 1954,[27] became Director of Military Training at the War Office on 15 November 1954.[28] He was appointed Director of Operations in Malaya on 17 September 1957 during the Malayan Emergency[29] and, having been promoted to full general on 29 November 1958,[30] became General Officer Commanding-in-Chief for Eastern Command on 29 June 1959.[31] He became Commander of the Northern Army Group and Commander-in-Chief of British Army of the Rhine on 7 January 1960[32] and, having advanced to GCB in the New Year Honours 1961,[33] became Adjutant-General on 1 June 1963.[34] He became Chief of the General Staff on 8 February 1965[35] and advised the British Government on the implementation of the 1966 Defence White Paper which, inter alia, established the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve.[36] He was promoted to field marshal on 29 February 1968 on his retirement from the British Army.[36]

He was also Colonel of the Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, The Duke of Albany's) from 15 March 1957[37] and Colonel Commandant of the Royal Military Police from 27 May 1957.[38] He was also a member of the Committee of the Marylebone Cricket Club.[1]

His interests included fishing, dance music, playing the guitar and the clarinet and playing various sports including cricket, polo and golf.[1] He died at Newmarket in Suffolk on 13 December 1996.[1]


In 1935 he married Joyce Kirk; they had one son.[4] Following the death of his first wife, he married Joy Dickson in 1978.[36]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Cassels, Sir (Archibald) James Halkett". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  2. Heathcote, Anthony pg 79
  3. "No. 33198". 3 September 1926. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Heathcote, Anthony pg 80
  5. 5.0 5.1 "CricketArchive profile". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "First-class matches played by Archibald Cassels". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  7. "Teams played for by Archibals Cassels". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Other matches played by Archibald Cassels". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  9. "Scorecard of Punjab Governor's XI v Northern India, 24 March 1938". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  10. "Obituaries". Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 1998. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  11. "Scorecard of Egypt v HM Martineau's XI, 24 April 1933". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 December 2011. 
  12. Officers 1TS, 1TS Second World War History, pg 37–38
  13. "No. 36153". 27 August 1943. 
  14. "No. 36720". 26 September 1944. 
  15. "No. 36850". 19 December 1944. 
  16. "No. 37340". 6 November 1945. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Heathcote, Anthony pg 81
  18. "No. 38505". 7 January 1949. 
  19. "No. 38217". 20 February 1948. 
  20. "No. 38270". 23 April 1948. 
  21. "No. 38545". 25 February 1949. 
  22. "No. 38805". 6 January 1950. 
  23. "No. 38797". 30 December 1949. 
  24. "No. 39646". 16 September 1952. 
  25. "No. 39666". 7 October 1952. 
  26. "No. 39778". 13 February 1953. 
  27. "No. 40106". 23 February 1954. 
  28. "No. 40326". 16 November 1954. 
  29. "No. 41191". 1 October 1957. 
  30. "No. 41561". 28 November 1958. 
  31. "No. 41752". 26 June 1959. 
  32. "No. 41923". 5 January 1960. 
  33. "No. 42231". 27 December 1960. 
  34. "No. 43018". 31 May 1963. 
  35. "No. 43569". 5 February 1965. 
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 Heathcote, Anthony pg 82
  37. "No. 41007". 19 February 1957. 
  38. "No. 41034". 26 March 1957. 

Further reading

  • Obituary: Daily Telegraph 21 December 1996
  • Heathcote, Tony (1999). The British Field Marshals 1736–1997. Barnsley (UK): Pen & Sword. ISBN 0-85052-696-5. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Eric Bols
General Officer Commanding the 6th Airborne Division
March 1946 – December 1946
Succeeded by
Eric Bols
Preceded by
Sir Dudley Ward
GOC 1st (British) Corps
Succeeded by
Sir Hugh Stockwell
Preceded by
Sir Charles Coleman
GOC-in-C Eastern Command
Succeeded by
Sir Gerald Lathbury
Preceded by
Sir Alfred Ward
Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine
Succeeded by
Sir William Stirling
Preceded by
Sir Richard Goodbody
Adjutant General
Succeeded by
Sir Reginald Hewetson
Preceded by
Sir Richard Hull
Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Geoffrey Baker

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