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Archibald Wavell
Wavell
Historical Figure
Nationality: United Kingdom
Date of Birth: 1883
Date of Death: 1950
Cause of Death: Postoperative Complications
Religion: Anglican
Occupation: Soldier, Governor
Children: four
Military Branch: British Army
Turtledove Appearances:
The War That Came Early
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
Appearance(s): Coup d'Etat
Type of Appearance: Direct
Archibald Percival Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell, GCB, GCSI, GCIE, CMG, MC, PC (5 May 1883 - 24 May 1950) was an officer of the British Army from 1901 through 1943, ultimately rising to the rank of field marshal. During the First World War, he mostly served as a staff officer, though he did see action in that conflict, losing his left eye at the Second Battle of Ypres. He served in a number of capacities in the interwar years. He was made Commander-in-Chief of Middle East Command several weeks before World War II broke out. The theater was quiet until Italy declared war against the UK in June of 1940. Despite being severely outnumbered by Italian forces in East Africa, Wavell and his subordinates won decisive victories at the Battles of Beda Fomm and Keren, allowing the Allied Forces to expel the Axis from Ethiopia and Somaliland. However, from February to June 1941, German General Erwin Rommel turned the tables on Wavell, leading Wavell to be transferred to the India Command. He served the last two years of his military career as Commander-in-Chief, India, where he was involved in the Allied defeat at Singapore and also bore ultimate responsibility for the British expulsion from Burma. In 1943 he left the Army and became the penultimate Viceroy of India, a post he held till 1947, when he was recalled by Clement Attlee, who lacked confidence in his abilities. Wavell retired and was rewarded for his years of service with the titles Earl of Wavell and Viscount Keren of Eritrea and Winchester. He returned to his hometown of Colchester, where he was awarded the largely ceremonial title High Steward of Colchester. He died in 1950.

Archibald Wavell in The War That Came EarlyEdit

General Archibald Wavell was an officer of the British General Staff during the Second Worl War, including the period after the Hess Agreement brought Britain into an alliance with Germany against the USSR. In the spring of 1941, he granted a request for a meeting to retired Staff Sergeant Alistair Walsh, who had served under him during the interwar years. When he received Walsh's request, Wavell was unaware that Walsh was an informal liaison for Ronald Cartland to Army officers whose support Cartland wanted to secure in anticipation of a coup d'etat. Wavell listened to Walsh's criticisms of the Government of Prime Minister Horace Wilson and appeared somewhat sympathetic personally. However, when Walsh subtly discussed Cartland's intentions (though he did not use Cartland's name), Wavell made it very clear that, as far as he was concerned, a soldier's first duty was to carry out the policies of the Government, whoever led it. He was adamant that military interference had no place in Britain's political processes, and that he considered suggestions to the contrary to be treasonous. Nevertheless, he did not have Walsh arrested on suspicion of treason, instead allowing him to leave General Staff HQ after urging him to carry a cautionary message to his associates.[1]

Within a very short time, however, Wavell did indeed help lead a military coup against the Wilson government. He personally informed King George VI of the abrupt change of government. The King knighted Wavell on the spot, and Queen Elizabeth was so excited that she kissed him on the cheek.[2]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Coup d'Etat ch 5
  2. ibid ch 10

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