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Sir Philip Christison, 4th Baronet
Nickname Christie[1]
Born (1893-11-17)November 17, 1893
Died December 21, 1993(1993-12-21) (aged 100) (aged 100)
Place of birth Edinburgh, Scotland
Place of death Melrose, Roxburghshire, Scotland
Allegiance  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1914–1949
Rank General
Unit Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
Duke of Wellington's Regiment
Commands held 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment (1937)
Quetta Brigade, India (1938)
Command and Staff College, Quetta (1940)
15th (Scottish) Division (1941)
XXXIII Indian Corps (1942)
XV Indian Corps (1943)
Fourteenth Army (1945, temporary)
Commander-in-Chief Allied Land Forces, South East Asia (1945)
Allied Forces, Dutch East Indies (1946)
Northern Command (1946)
Scottish Command and Governor of Edinburgh Castle 1947
Battles/wars World War I
Loos
the Somme
Arras
World War II
Burma Campaign
Indonesian National Revolution
Awards GBE
KBE (Sept. 1944)[2]
CB (1943)[3]
DSO (1945)[4]
MC (Jan. 1916)[5] (1917)[6]
MID (1945)[7]
Grand Cordon of the Order of the Cloud and Banner (Republic of China) (1949)[8]
Other work Secretary of the Scottish Education Department

General Sir (Alexander Frank) Philip Christison, 4th Baronet GBE CB DSO MC (17 November 1893 – 21 December 1993) was a British military commander of the Second World War.

Early life and career

Christison was born in Edinburgh, the eldest son of five children of Sir Alexander Christison, 3rd Baronet and his second wife, Florence. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and University College, Oxford where as a cadet, in the university's Officer Training Corps he was made second lieutenant in March 1914.[9]

Christison was commissioned into the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in 1914[10] and during World War I he saw action in the battles of Loos where he was awarded the Military Cross, the Somme and Arras.[11] In July 1917 he was awarded a bar to his MC. The citation for this award reads

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award a Bar to the Military Cross to the undermentioned Officers.

2nd Lt. (temp. Capt.) Alexander Frank Philip Christison, M.C., Cam. Highrs.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He displayed the utmost courage and determination in pushing back the enemy and clearing the north side of the village. By his tireless energy he succeeded in getting the position consolidated under heavy fire. (Military Cross gazetted 14th January, 1916.)[6]

In 1919, he relinquished his last wartime appointment as second command of the 6th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders in the rank of acting major and reverted to the rank of captain,[12] taking up the post of adjutant of a Territorial Army unit in 1920.[13]

After vacating his position as adjutant of the 4th battalion King's Own Scottish Borderers in November 1923,[14] Christison was assistant manager of the British Olympic team in Paris in 1924[11] which was followed by a further appointment as an adjutant,[15] this time with his regiment. Still a captain, he attended the Staff College, Camberley from January 1927[16] after which he was appointed as a staff officer grade 3 (GSO3) at the War Office.[17]

Having been made a brevet major in January 1930,[18] a sign of approval and likely future promotion at a time when prospects for promotion in the peacetime army were slow, Christison saw service from January 1931 as the brigade major (a brigade's senior staff officer) of the 3rd Infantry Brigade,[19] relinquishing the appointment in January 1933.[20] He was promoted to major in November 1933.[21]

In 1934 Christison was made a brevet lieutenant-colonel[22] and returned the Staff College as an instructor (GSO2)[23] where he became good friends with a fellow instructor, Bill Slim.[24]

In February 1937 Lieutenant Colonel AFP Christison MC, was appointed commander of the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment in the Multan area of the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province. In February 1938 he was promoted to Colonel[25] and selected to command a brigade in India.[10][26]

World War II

In 1940 and 1941, Christison was Commandant of the Staff College, Quetta in the former British India (now Pakistan).[10] In 1941 he was promoted acting major-general to command 15th (Scottish) Division in the UK (his rank was made permanent in July 1942).[27] Following this, he returned to India and after a short appointment as a military district commander, he was promoted acting lieutenant-general in late 1942[28] to command Indian XXXIII Corps. He assumed command of the Indian XV Corps in 1943,[11] part of the newly formed British Fourteenth Army, succeeding William Slim, who had been promoted to command the Fourteenth Army. The XV Corps made up the Southern Front of the Burma Campaign in the coastal region known as the Arakan.

During the Second Arakan Offensive in February 1944, XV Corps advanced southwards. A Japanese attempt to outflank and isolate elements of the Corps failed when 7th Indian Infantry Division held off the attacks and the Corps' administrative area – the "Admin Box" – successfully fought off attacks by the Japanese 55th Division (Battle of the Admin Box). This was the first time in World War II that a British army defeated the Japanese in a land battle.[24] XV Corps was withdrawn on 22 March to assist the allied defence of Imphal. In December 1944 Christison and his fellow corps commanders Stopford and Scoones were knighted and invested as KBE by the viceroy Lord Wavell at a ceremony at Imphal in front of the Scottish, Gurkha and Punjab regiments. Slim was knighted and invested as KCB at the same occasion.

In 1945, Christison assumed temporary command of the Fourteenth Army[11] and also deputised for Slim as Commander of Allied Land Forces, South-East Asia when Slim was on leave,[10] reverting to XV Corps on Slim's return. Christison led XV Corps into Rangoon in May of that year.[11]

In September 1945 Christison deputised for Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten as commander of SEAC and took the surrender of the Japanese Seventh Area Army and Japanese South Sea Fleet at Singapore on 3 September. From 1946, Christison was Allied Commander of forces in the Dutch East Indies. In November, Christison's troops were involved in a full-scale battle to suppress pro-Independence Indonesian soldiers and militia in Surabaya.

Post-war

Christison was General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command from 1946 to 1947;[10] he was then GOC-in-C of Scottish Command and Governor of Edinburgh Castle from 1947 to 1949[10] He was promoted to full general in August 1947.[29] He held the honorary appointments of Aide-de-Camp General to the King (1947[30] to 1949[31]) and Colonel of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (1947[32] to ). In 1947 he was appointed Colonel of the 10th Gurkha Rifles[33] and in late 1949 he was also made Colonel of a Territorial Army artillery unit.[34]

He retired from the Army in 1949[35] and farmed at Melrose in Scotland. During the 1950s and 1960s he was Secretary of the Scottish Education Department.

Christison married twice: to Betty Mitchell, with whom he had three daughters and a son, from 1916 until her death in 1974; and then to Vida Wallace Smith until her death in 1992.[11] He died in 1993 at the age of 100.[10]

Memorial

A brass memorial plaque to his memory is on the south aisle of St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh (Episcopal).

Citations

  1. Mead 2007, p. 99.
  2. "No. 36720". 26 September 1944. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/36720/supplement/ 
  3. "No. 35841". 29 September 1942. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/35841/supplement/ 
  4. "No. 36994". 20 March 1945. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/36994/supplement/ 
  5. "No. 29438". 11 January 1916. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/29438/supplement/ 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "No. 30188". 17 July 1917. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/30188/supplement/ 
  7. "No. 37184". 17 July 1945. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/37184/supplement/ 
  8. "No. 38620". 27 May 1949. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/38620/supplement/ 
  9. "No. 28808". 3 March 1914. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/28808/page/ 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Christison Family Papers: Life and Times of General Sir Philip Christison: an Autobiography
  12. "No. 31746". 20 January 1920. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/31746/supplement/ 
  13. "No. 31888". 4 May 1920. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/31888/supplement/ 
  14. "No. 32885". 4 December 1923. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/32885/page/ 
  15. "No. 32984". 21 October 1924. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/32984/page/ 
  16. "No. 33241". 21 January 1927. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/33241/page/ 
  17. "No. 33460". 25 January 1929. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/33460/page/ 
  18. "No. 33576". 4 February 1930. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/33576/page/ 
  19. "No. 33685". 30 January 1931. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/33685/page/ 
  20. "No. 33906". 21 January 1933. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/33906/page/ 
  21. "No. 33992". 3 November 1933. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/33992/page/ 
  22. "No. 34011". 2 January 1934. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/34011/page/ 
  23. "No. 34382". 23 March 1937. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/34382/page/ 
  24. 24.0 24.1 Mead 2007, p. 98.
  25. "No. 34488". 1 March 1938. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/34488/page/ 
  26. "No. 34504". 22 April 1938. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/34504/page/ 
  27. "No. 35803". 27 November 1942. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/35803/supplement/ 
  28. "No. 35812". 4 December 1942. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/35812/supplement/ 
  29. "No. 38051". 19 August 1947. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/38051/supplement/ 
  30. "No. 37144". 9 December 1947. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/37144/supplement/ 
  31. "No. 38668". 19 July 1949. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/38668/supplement/ 
  32. "No. 38068". 9 September 1947. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/38068/supplement/ 
  33. "No. 38019". 17 July 1947. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/38019/page/ 
  34. "No. 38891". 25 April 1950. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/38891/supplement/ 
  35. "No. 38651". 28 June 1949. https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/38651/supplement/ 

References

  • Mead, Richard (2007). Churchill's Lions: A biographical guide to the key British generals of World War II. Stroud (UK): Spellmount. ISBN 978-1-86227-431-0. 
  • unithistories.com
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Edwin Morris
GOC-in-C Northern Command
1946–1947
Succeeded by
Sir Montagu Stopford
Preceded by
Sir Neil Ritchie
GOC-in-C Scottish Command
1947–1949
Succeeded by
Sir Gordon MacMillan

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