Middle East Command

Middle East Command

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The Middle East Command was a British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 Command established prior to the Second World War in Egypt. Its primary role was to command British land forces and co-ordinate with the relevant naval and air commands to defend British interests in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean region.

The Command supervised military operations in the Western Desert, East Africa, Greece and the Middle East. Following the defeat of the Axis Forces in the Western Desert and the landing of additional Anglo-American forces during Operation Torch
Operation Torch
Operation Torch was the British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II during the North African Campaign, started on 8 November 1942....

, it transferred control of land forces to the newly created Allied Forces Headquarters
Allied Forces Headquarters
Allied Force Headquarters was the headquarters that controlled all Allied operational forces in the Mediterranean Theatre of World War II from late 1942 to the end of the war....

.

Role of Middle East Command


Middle East Command was established in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

, during June 1939, due to the rising tensions in Europe. Its purpose was to provide a centralised command structure in times of war for the three separate army commands based within the Mediterranean and Middle East area :: Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 and Palestine, Transjordan
Transjordan
The Emirate of Transjordan was a former Ottoman territory in the Southern Levant that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine...

. During periods of peace the command exerted authority over land forces based within Egypt, the Sudan, Palestine, Transjordan, and Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

. However if war broke out, the Command's area of responsibility would be extended to include British Somaliland
British Somaliland
British Somaliland was a British protectorate in the northern part of present-day Somalia. For much of its existence, British Somaliland was bordered by French Somaliland, Ethiopia, and Italian Somaliland. From 1940 to 1941, it was occupied by the Italians and was part of Italian East Africa...

, Aden
Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and the shores of the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

. As the war progressed, Middle East Command authority was extended over further areas including Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

, Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 and Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Wavell, commanding officer of Southern Command in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, was chosen as the first General Officer Commanding
General Officer Commanding
General Officer Commanding is the usual title given in the armies of Commonwealth nations to a general officer who holds a command appointment. Thus, a general might be the GOC II Corps or GOC 7th Armoured Division...

 in Chief, a position he took up in July 1939, and was given the acting rank
Acting (rank)
An Acting rank, is a military designation allowing an commissioned- or non-commissioned officer to assume a rank—usually higher and usually temporary—with the pay and allowances appropriate to that grade. As such, an officer may be ordered back to the previous grade...

 of General
General (United Kingdom)
General is currently the highest peace-time rank in the British Army and Royal Marines. It is subordinate to the Army rank of Field Marshal, has a NATO-code of OF-9, and is a four-star rank....

.

The Committee of Imperial Defence
Committee of Imperial Defence
The Committee of Imperial Defence was an important ad hoc part of the government of the United Kingdom and the British Empire from just after the Second Boer War until the start of World War II...

, when establishing the post of General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Middle East Command, made the decision that all three services should be responsible for the defence of the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. As Middle East Command wielded authority only over land forces, a triumvirate
Triumvirate
A triumvirate is a political regime dominated by three powerful individuals, each a triumvir . The arrangement can be formal or informal, and though the three are usually equal on paper, in reality this is rarely the case...

 was established to form the High Command. The two other members of this arrangement were the Naval Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham
Andrew Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope
Admiral of the Fleet Andrew Browne Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope KT, GCB, OM, DSO and two Bars , was a British admiral of the Second World War. Cunningham was widely known by his nickname, "ABC"....

 and Air Officer
Air Officer
An air officer is a Royal Air Force officer of the rank of air commodore or higher. Such officers may be termed "officers of air rank". The term is also used by many Commonwealth nations who have a similar rank structure to the RAF....

 Commanding-in-Chief, Air Chief Marshal Arthur Longmore
Arthur Longmore
Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Murray Longmore GCB, DSO was an early naval aviator, before reaching high rank in the Royal Air Force.-Biography:...

, RAF Middle East Command
RAF Middle East Command
Middle East Command was a command of the Royal Air Force formed on December 29, 1941 by renaming Headquarters RAF Middle East. During the early part of the Second World War the Command was one of the three major British service commands in the Middle East, the others being the British Army's...

. The Naval Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station
East Indies Station
The East Indies Station was a formation of the British Royal Navy from 1865 to 1941.From 1831 to 1865 the East Indies and the China Station were a single command known as the East Indies and China Station...

 would stand in for the Naval Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, in the latter's absence.

Wavell had suggested that due to the complex and uncertain situation in the Middle East region, following the collapse of France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

, that a committee, under a Cabinet Minister, should be established in the Middle East region to perform duties delegated to it by the Home Office, thus relieving the need to constantly refer to the War Cabinet for instructions. An alternative suggestion, however, was accepted :: a ministerial committee would be established in London with the task of continually keeping the affairs of the Middle East region under review. On 28 June 1941, a position - similar to the original request put forward by Wavell - was established when Oliver Lyttelton
Oliver Lyttelton, 1st Viscount Chandos
Oliver Lyttelton, 1st Viscount Chandos KG, PC, DSO, MC was a British businessman who was brought into government during the Second World War, holding a number of ministerial posts.-Background, education and military career:...

 was appointed to the position of Minister of State in the Middle East and dispatched to the Middle East. His role was to provide the three commanders-in-chief the political guidance they needed, advice on propaganda, subversive warfare, finance and economic warfare.

Middle East Command, upon it establishment, was to also co-ordinate with the French military in the Middle East and Africa. The command was also authorised to liaise with the Turkish General Staff and possibly, at a later date, the Greek General Staff.

Second World War


On 30 August 1939 Middle East Command received instructions stating that if they received a formal telegram informing them that a state of war existed between the United Kingdom and Italy; that all defensive measures taken against the Italians should be as non-provocative as possible. Following the start of the Second World War and the quick defeat of Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 in September 1939, the threat of an Axis Powers attack from the Balkans against British positions in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean region became a serious possibility. On 19 October 1939, the Treaty of Mutual Assistance was signed between the United Kingdom, France and Turkey; General Wavell signed on behalf of the United Kingdom. Following the signing of this treaty, the Middle East Command, as well as the representatives of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, were authorized to begin discussions with the Turkish general staff, and a further conference was held during March 1940.

At the same time Wavell ordered his subordinate commanders to start planning operations on the assumption that the United Kingdom would soon be at war with Italy. Lieutenant-General Wilson
Henry Maitland Wilson, 1st Baron Wilson
Field Marshal Henry Maitland Wilson, 1st Baron Wilson, GCB, GBE, DSO , also known as "Jumbo" Wilson, saw active service in the Second Boer War and First World War, and became a senior British general in the Middle East and Mediterranean during the Second World War...

, commander of British forces in Egypt, was to plan for the capture of Bardia
Bardia
Bardia is a geographic region in the Democratic Republic of Nepal.Bardia comprises a portion of the Terai, or lowland hills and valleys of southern Nepal. The Terai is over 1,000 feet in elevation, and extends all along the Indian border...

 and Jaghbub (Libya) and to examine the possibility of using special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

. Wilson was also to make preparations within Egypt to receive an additional six divisions. Lieutenant-General Barker was ordered to estimate the minimum requirements for the internal security of the British mandate of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, not to consider an attack on Palestine from the north a serious threat, and be prepared to reinforce the Iraqi Army. The commanding officers in Kenya and the Sudan were given the task of reviewing operations for the purpose of destroying and dispersing Italian forces and support local risings all in support of the main Allied offensive, which was planned to be launched from French Somaliland
French Somaliland
French Somaliland was a French colony in the Horn of Africa. Established after the French signed various treaties between 1883 and 1887 with the then ruling Somali Sultans, the colony lasted from 1896 until 1946, when it became an overseas territory of France....

. General Platt
William Platt
General Sir William Platt GBE, KCB, DSO was an officer in the British Army, the Australian Army, and the New Zealand Army during World War I and World War II.-Early years:...

, commanding British forces in the Sudan, was also asked to consider launching an operation against Kufra
Kufra
Kufra is a basin and oasis group in Al Kufrah District, southeastern Cyrenaica in Libya. Kufra is historically important above all because at the end of nineteenth century it became the center and holy place of the Senussi order...

 (southern Libya). Following October 1939, as the Italians had made no aggressive moves, the Armoured Division and other units were withdrawn from the frontline area, while training and exercises were conducted in the desert.

On 15 February 1940, the position of General Officer Commanding in Chief, Middle East was renamed to Commander-in-Chief Middle East. The new title received some criticism on the grounds that command in the Middle East was a joint venture between all three services. As the head of Middle East Command held authority only over ground forces the criticism was expressed that the name should have been Army or Land Commander-in-Chief.

For the first nine months of the Second World War, the Middle Eastern theatre was quiet. This was until Italy's declaration of war on 10 June 1940 and the start of the East African Campaign
East African Campaign (World War II)
The East African Campaign was a series of battles fought in East Africa during World War II by the British Empire, the British Commonwealth of Nations and several allies against the forces of Italy from June 1940 to November 1941....

. However, in spite of his inferiority in troop numbers, Wavell was able to not only defend against the Italian attacks but by May 1941, he was able to defeat the Italians and occupy their east African colonies
Italian East Africa
Italian East Africa was an Italian colonial administrative subdivision established in 1936, resulting from the merger of the Ethiopian Empire with the old colonies of Italian Somaliland and Italian Eritrea. In August 1940, British Somaliland was conquered and annexed to Italian East Africa...

 of Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, and Italian Somaliland
Italian Somaliland
Italian Somaliland , also known as Italian Somalia, was a colony of the Kingdom of Italy from the 1880s until 1936 in the region of modern-day Somalia. Ruled in the 19th century by the Somali Sultanate of Hobyo and the Majeerteen Sultanate, the territory was later acquired by Italy through various...

.

When tensions increased in Iraq, Wavell - in agreement with the Commander-in-Chief, India
Commander-in-Chief, India
During the period of the British Raj, the Commander-in-Chief, India was the supreme commander of the Indian Army. The Commander-in-Chief and most of his staff were based at General Headquarters, India, and liaised with the civilian Governor-General of India...

 - on 9 March 1941 suggested to the Chiefs of Staff that, if fighting was to occur in the country, it should be conducted under India Command.

In the meantime, Wavell had sent a force to Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 to suppress a coup d'etat
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 by elements sympathetic to Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

. In June 1941, he ordered the invasion and occupation of Syria and Lebanon
Syria-Lebanon campaign
The Syria–Lebanon campaign, also known as Operation Exporter, was the Allied invasion of Vichy French-controlled Syria and Lebanon, in June–July 1941, during World War II. Time Magazine referred to the fighting as a "mixed show" while it was taking place and the campaign remains little known, even...

 to prevent further potential support of Iraq by the Germans through these Vichy French-controlled areas. In July he ordered Iraqforce
Iraqforce
Iraqforce was a British and Commonwealth formation that came together in the Kingdom of Iraq. The formation fought in the Middle East during World War II.-Background:...

 to Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran
Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran
The Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran was the Allied invasion of the Imperial State of Iran during World War II, by British, Commonwealth, and Soviet armed forces. The invasion from August 25 to September 17, 1941, was codenamed Operation Countenance...

 in cooperation with the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 forces from the north to safeguard the oilfields. Iran and Iraq were transferred out of the Middle East Command into a separate Persia and Iraq Command
Persia and Iraq Command
The Persia and Iraq Command was a British Army Command established in September 1942 in Baghdad. Its primary role was to secure from land and air attack the oilfields and oil installations in Persia and Iraq...

 in August 1942.

In the Western Desert
Western Desert Campaign
The Western Desert Campaign, also known as the Desert War, was the initial stage of the North African Campaign during the Second World War. The campaign was heavily influenced by the availability of supplies and transport. The ability of the Allied forces, operating from besieged Malta, to...

, by February 1941, the British had appeared to be on the verge of overrunning the last Italian forces in Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

. This would have ended Axis control in all of Africa. Then the tide of war turned against the British as the Germans attacked through the Balkans and continued on to occupy Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

. The Nazi Germans reinforced the Italians in Libya with the Afrika Korps
Afrika Korps
The German Africa Corps , or the Afrika Korps as it was popularly called, was the German expeditionary force in Libya and Tunisia during the North African Campaign of World War II...

 and the British suffered further setbacks. Wavell and Auchinleck exchanged positions, Claude Auchinleck
Claude Auchinleck
Field Marshal Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, GCB, GCIE, CSI, DSO, OBE , nicknamed "The Auk", was a British army commander during World War II. He was a career soldier who spent much of his military career in India, where he developed a love of the country and a lasting affinity for the soldiers...

 becoming C-in-C Middle East and Wavell becoming C-in-C in India.

While Auchinleck was in command, the British Eighth Army confronting the German Afrika Corps and the Italian Army
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

 was commanded successively by General Sir Alan Cunningham and General Sir Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie
General Sir Neil Methuen Ritchie GBE, KCB, DSO, MC, KStJ was a senior British army officer during the Second World War.-Military career:...

. General Richie was dismissed after defeats at the hands of General Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel , popularly known as the Desert Fox , was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought....

. Auchinleck assumed the field command himself and the German/Italian advance was halted the at the First Battle of El Alamein
First Battle of El Alamein
The First Battle of El Alamein was a battle of the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War, fought between Axis forces of the Panzer Army Africa commanded by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, and Allied forces The First Battle of El Alamein (1–27 July 1942) was a battle of the Western Desert...

. The "Auk," as he was known to his troops, struggled with the innate conservatism of the army establishment to get the armoured and infantry wings of the army to fight together on the German pattern, but had only limited success.

Like his opponent Rommel (and his predecessor Wavell), Auchinleck was subjected to constant political interference. He received a series of hectoring telegrams and instructions from Prime Minister Churchill throughout late 1941 and early 1942. Churchill constantly sought an offensive from Auchinleck. Disappointed with the military reverses in Egypt and Cyrenaica, he was desperate for some sort of British victory before the planned American landings in North Africa ("Torch") scheduled for November 1942. In August 1942, immediately after the Eighth Army had all but exhausted itself after First Alamein, Churchill flew to Cairo, purportedly for consultations with Auchinleck, but had in fact made up his mind before he left Britain. Auchinleck was sacked by Churchill, almost certainly because he refused to be bullied by Churchill into ordering a major offensive before he and his troops were properly prepared. He was replaced as C-in-C Middle East by General Alexander and as GOC Eighth Army by Lieutenant-General William Gott
William Gott
Lieutenant-General William Henry Ewart Gott CB, CBE, DSO and bar, MC , nicknamed "Strafer", was a British Army officer during both the First and Second World Wars, reaching the rank of lieutenant-general when serving in the British Eighth Army.-Military career:Educated at Harrow School he was...

, who was killed in Egypt before taking up command. On Gott's death, Lieutenant-General (later Field Marshal Viscount) Bernard Montgomery was appointed commander of the Eighth Army. Auchinleck was offered the command of a newly-created Persia and Iraq Command
Persia and Iraq Command
The Persia and Iraq Command was a British Army Command established in September 1942 in Baghdad. Its primary role was to secure from land and air attack the oilfields and oil installations in Persia and Iraq...

 which was being split out from Middle East Command but felt unable to accept the appointment, which was then taken by General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson.

Alexander presided over Montgomery's victory at the Second Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place over 20 days from 23 October – 11 November 1942. The First Battle of El Alamein had stalled the Axis advance. Thereafter, Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery...

. After the Anglo-American forces from Operation Torch
Operation Torch
Operation Torch was the British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II during the North African Campaign, started on 8 November 1942....

 and the Western Desert forces met in Tunisia in January 1943, he became deputy to Dwight Eisenhower in AFHQ.

With Eighth Army passing to AFHQ's command, Middle East Command became somewhat of a military backwater. Henry Maitland Wilson succeeded Alexander at its commander-in-chief and during his tenure it mounted only one significant operation: the unsuccessful Dodecanese Campaign
Dodecanese Campaign
The Dodecanese Campaign of World War II was an attempt by Allied forces, mostly British, to capture the Italian-held Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea following the surrender of Italy in September 1943, and use them as bases against the German-controlled Balkans...

 from September to November 1943.

Postwar


After 1945, the Middle East Command was reformed as Middle East Land Forces. Middle East Land Forces commanded the forces in Libya (25th Armoured Brigade, which was later subsumed into 10th Armoured Division) until 1957, and the 1st Infantry Division, 3rd Infantry Division, two armoured regiments, and other forces, in the Suez Canal Zone until the early 1950s. It is not entirely clear whether HQ MELF directed the British forces in Palestine until 1948, and thus whether Commander-in-Chief Palestine and Transjordan, General
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 Evelyn Barker
Evelyn Barker
General Sir Evelyn Hugh Barker KCB KBE DSO MC was a British Army general in World War II, and commander of British forces in the Mandate Palestine from 1946 to 1947...

, reported to Cairo.

In 1959 Middle East Command was divided into two commands split by the Suez canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

.

The two parts were British Forces Arabian Peninsular, which was based at Aden
Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

, and the rump of the former Command which was based in Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 and which in 1961 was renamed Near East Command
Near East Command
-History:In 1959 Middle East Command was divided into two commands split by the Suez canal.The two parts were British Forces Arabian Peninsular, which was based at Aden, and the rump of Middle East Command which was based in Cyprus and which in 1961 was renamed Near East Command.It was disbanded in...

.

Middle East Command was disbanded on 28 November 1967 and the command of British forces in the Persian Gulf was transferred to Headquarters, British Forces Gulf which was based in Bahrain
Bahrain
' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

.

Commanders-in-Chief


Commanders-in-Chief have included:


Middle East Command
  • General Sir Archibald Wavell 28 July 1939 – 4 July 1941
  • General Sir Claude Auchinleck
    Claude Auchinleck
    Field Marshal Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, GCB, GCIE, CSI, DSO, OBE , nicknamed "The Auk", was a British army commander during World War II. He was a career soldier who spent much of his military career in India, where he developed a love of the country and a lasting affinity for the soldiers...

     5 July 1941 – 14 August 1942
  • General Sir Harold Alexander 15 August 1942 – February 1943
  • General Sir Henry Wilson February 1943 – January 1944
  • General Sir Bernard Paget
    Bernard Paget
    General Sir Bernard Charles Tolver Paget GCB, DSO, MC was a British officer who served in both the First and Second World Wars.-Military career:...

     January 1944 – October 1946


Middle East Land Forces
  • General Sir Miles Dempsey
    Miles Dempsey
    General Sir Miles Christopher Dempsey, GBE, KCB, DSO, MC was commander of the British Second Army during the D-Day landings in the Second World War...

     1946 – 1947
  • General Sir John Crocker
    John Crocker
    General Sir John Tredinnick Crocker GCB, KBE, DSO, MC was a British Army officer and corps commander during the Second World War.- First World War :...

     1947 – 1950
  • General Sir Brian Robertson
    Brian Robertson, 1st Baron Robertson of Oakridge
    General Brian Hubert Robertson, 1st Baron Robertson of Oakridge, GCB, GBE, KCMG, KCVO, DSO, MC , known as Sir Brian Robertson, 2nd Baronet, from 1933 to 1961, was a British Army General....

     1950 - 1953
  • General Sir Cameron Nicholson
    Cameron Nicholson
    General Sir Cameron Gordon Graham Nicholson GCB KBE DSO & Bar MC is a former Adjutant-General to the Forces.-Military career:Cameron Nicholson was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1915...

     1953
  • General Sir Charles Keightley
    Charles Keightley
    General Sir Charles Frederic Keightley, GCB, GBE, DSO was a senior officer in the British Army during and following World War II.-Military career:...

     1953 – 1957
  • General Sir Geoffrey Bourne
    Geoffrey Bourne, Baron Bourne
    General Geoffrey Kemp Bourne, Baron Bourne GCB, KBE, CMG was a British soldier.-Military career:Commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1923, Bourne served in Hong Kong from 1930 to 1932, in Gibraltar from 1933 and 1934, in the Staff College, Camberley in 1935 and 1936, and in Colchester in 1937...

     1957 – 1958
  • Lieutenant-General Sir Roger Bower 1958 – 1960
  • General Sir Richard Anderson
    Richard Anderson (British Army officer)
    Lieutenant General Sir Richard Neville Anderson KCB CBE DSO was a British Army General who achieved high office in the 1960s.-Military career:...

      1960 – 1963
  • General Sir Charles Harington
    Charles Henry Pepys Harington
    General Sir Charles Henry Pepys Harington GCB, CBE, DSO, MC was an officer in the British Army. He served in the British Expeditionary Force and in Normandy in the Second World War. He was later Commander-in-Chief of the three-service Middle East Command from 1963 to 1965, based at Aden...

    1963 – 1966