Claude Auchinleck was born in 1884 and died in 1981. Auchinleck found fame in North Africa during World War Two, when Churchill dismissed him after the first battle at El Alamien when he came up against the ‘Desert Fox’ – Rommel. He was replaced with Bernard Montgomery.
Auchinleck was educated at Wellington College. He joined the Indian Army in 1904 aged 20. He served in Egypt and Palestine during World War One and he progressed through the commissioned ranks gaining a reputation for efficiency. In World War Two, he commanded the British forces at Narvik in Norway. This was a failure and the British had to pull out.
Early in 1941, Auchinleck was sent out to India to command forces out there. In July 1941, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the Allied forces in the Middle East, taking over from Wavell. Throughout the rest of 1941, ‘the Auk’ was reasonably successful taking all of Cyrenaica by the end of 1941.
However, ‘the Auk’ was up against the ‘Desert Fox’ – Rommel. By June 1942, Rommel had regained all the land captured by Auchinleck and the Allies created a formidable defensive barrier around the small town of El Alamein. Though the Allies won the first battle of El Alamein, Churchill was not convinced that Auchinleck had the necessary qualities to lead men towards final victory in North Africa. He was dismissed and replaced by Montgomery.
In 1943, Auchinleck was made commander-in-chief of the forces in India and was promoted to field marshall. After World War Two, he served as supreme commander in India and Pakistan during the lead up to independence for both countries. However, he was accused of being too much in favour of the Pakistanis and destabilising the region. Auchinleck resigned and retired to Marrakech in North Africa. He died in 1981.