Military Wiki
Northern Command
Active c. 1838–1889, 1905–1972
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Type Home Command
Garrison/HQ York

Northern Command was a Home Command of the British Army in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Nineteenth century[]

The District Commands of the British Army in Great Britain and Ireland first appear in print in 1840, at which time Northern Command was held by Maj-Gen Sir Charles James Napier, appointed in 1838. During his time the troops stationed within Northern Command were frequently deployed in support of the civil authorities during the Chartist unrest in the northern industrial cities.[1][2] Napier was succeeded in 1841 by Maj-Gen Sir William Gomm, when the command included the counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, Durham, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Flintshire, Denbighshire and the Isle of Man, with HQ at Manchester. Later the Midland Counties of Shropshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Northamptonshire were added and from 1850 to 1854 the Command included three sub-commands: NW Counties (HQ Manchester), NE Counties (HQ York) and Midlands (HQ Birmingham). From 1854 to 1857 there were two sub-commands, Northern Counties and Midland Counties, each with a brigade staff, but after that they disappeared and Northern Command remained a unitary command.[3]

In 1876 a Mobilisation Scheme for the forces in Great Britain and Ireland was published, with the 'Active Army' divided into eight army corps based on the District Commands. '6th Corps' was to be formed within Northern Command, based at Chester. This scheme had been dropped by 1881.[4] Northern Command continued to be an important administrative organisation until 1 July 1889, when it was divided into two separate Commands: North Eastern, under Maj-Gen N. Stevenson (HQ York), and North Western, under Maj-Gen W.H. Goodenough (HQ Chester).[3]

Twentieth century[]

The 1901 Army Estimates introduced by St John Brodrick allowed for six army corps based on six regional commands. As outlined in a paper published in 1903, V Corps was to be formed in a reconstituted Northern Command, with HQ at York.[5] Maj-Gen Sir Leslie Rundle was appointed acting General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOCinC) of Northern Command on 10 October 1903, and it reappears in the Army List in 1905, with the boundaries defined as 'Berwick-on-Tweed (so far as regards the Militia, Yeomanry and Volunteers) and the Counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, Durham, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the Isle of Man. The defences on the southern shores of the estuaries of the Humber and Mersey are included in the Northern Command'.[6] By 1908 the Midland Counties of Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire and Rutland had been added, but Westmoreland, Cumberland and Lancashire had been moved into registered office address Western Command.[7]

The Command HQ was established in Fishergate in York in 1905. The site was named Imphal Barracks in 1951, but closed in 1958, when Northern Command HQ moved to a new Imphal Barracks on Fulford Road, York.[8][9]

World War I[]

Army Order No 324, issued on 21 August 1914, authorised the formation of a 'New Army' of six Divisions, manned by volunteers who had responded to Earl Kitchener's appeal (hence the First New Army was known as 'K1'). Each division was to be under the administration of one of the Home Commands, and Northern Command formed what became the 11th (Northern) Division.[10] It was followed by 17th (Northern) Division of K2 in September 1914.[10]

At the end of 1914, Sir Herbert Plumer, the GOCinC, left Northern Command to form V Corps in France, and Maj-Gen Henry Lawson was placed in temporary command, followed by Lt-Gen Sir John Maxwell after he had suppressed the Easter Rising in Ireland. Maxwell was formally appointed GOCinC in November 1916.[11]

World War II[]

In 1939 Regular Troops reporting to Northern Command included 5th Infantry Division, based at Catterick.[12] Other Regular Troops reporting to Northern Command at that time included:[12]

Territorial Army troops included 25th Army Tank Brigade.

The Command was merged into HQ UK Land Forces (HQ UKLF) in 1972 and portions of the former headquarters are now serviced accommodation.[13]

Imphal Barracks, a name now given to an establishment in Fulford, would go on to be Headquarters 2nd Infantry Division during the 1980s[14] and from 2008 is Headquarters 6th (UK) Division.

General Officers Commanding-in-Chief[]

GOCs and GOCinCs have included (with dates of appointment):[11][15][16][17]

Note: Between 1889 and 1905 the Command was divided into smaller Districts


  1. Hart's Army List 1840.
  2. Priscilla Napier, I Have Sind: Charles Napier in India 1841-1844, Salisbury: Michael Russell, 1990.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hart's Army Lists.
  4. Army List 1876–1881.
  5. Col John K. Dunlop, The Development of the British Army 1899–1914, London: Methuen, 1938.
  6. Quarterly Army List April 1905.
  7. Army List 1908.
  8. British History on line: Imphal Barracks
  9. Subterranea Britannica
  10. 10.0 10.1 The long, long trail
  11. 11.0 11.1 Army Lists.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Patriot Files
  13. Fishergate: Serviced Officers
  14. Isby and Kamps, Armies of NATO's Central Front.
  15. Whitaker's Almanacks 1905 - 1972
  16. Northern Command at
  17. Army Commands

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