Archibald Nye

Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Edward Nye, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, KCB, KBE, MC (23 April 1895 – 13 November 1967) was a senior British Army officer who served in both world wars. In the latter he served as Vice-Chief of the Imperial General Staff (VCIGS).

Sir Archibald Edward Nye
Born23 April 1895
Ship St Barracks, Dublin, Ireland
Died13 November 1967 (aged 72)
London, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1914–1946
Service number5851
UnitCorps of Army Schoolmasters
Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians)
Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Commands held2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Nowshera Brigade
Vice-Chief of the Imperial General Staff
Battles/warsFirst World War
Second World War
AwardsKnight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Military Cross
Spouse(s)Una Sheila Colleen Knox (m. 1939)
Other workGovernor of Madras
UK High Commissioner to India
British High Commissioner to Canada

After the Second World War he served as Governor of Madras, after which Nehru asked for him to stay on as High Commissioner in India.[1] He subsequently served as High Commissioner to Canada.

Early life

Archibald Edward Nye was born on 23 April 1895 at Ship Street Barracks, Dublin, to Charles Edward Nye and Mary Sexton. He was the second of three sons born to the couple, who also had three daughters. His father was a regimental sergeant major in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, British Army.[2]

Nye was educated at the Duke of York's Royal Military School, a boarding school for sons of non-commissioned officers, and desired to become a schoolmaster. But the First World War broke out at this juncture and Nye joined the Army.[2][3][4]

Military career

At the outset of the Great War, Nye went to France with the British Expeditionary Force in 1914, serving for just over a year as a non-commissioned officer in the Corps of Army Schoolmasters attached to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.[5] In 1915, as a sergeant, he was selected for a permanent commission in the Prince of Wales' Leinster Regiment, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant on 5 December 1915.[6][7]

He was further promoted to lieutenant on 5 September 1916, and to the acting rank of captain in August 1917.[8][9] Wounded twice in action, he was awarded the Military Cross for bravery.[10][4] The official citation for this ward reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on 20th October, 1918 near Esscher. He made a reconnaissance, under heavy shell and machine-gun fire, of the forward positions along the whole battalion front adjusting a portion on his own initiative to complete the line. He was of great assistance to his commanding officer throughout the week's fighting.[11]

Major-General Archibald Edward Nye, the Vice-Chief of the Imperial General Staff (VCIGS), at his desk in the War Office.

When the Leinster Regiment was disbanded, Nye was transferred to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.[3][4] During the interwar period he had a number of regimental appointments. Promoted to captain on 20 June 1923, he attended the staff officer's course at the Staff College, Camberley in 1924–25 which he successfully completed.[12] Following this, he served as a staff officer in Air Cooperation from 1926−28 before becoming a brigade major with the 33rd Infantry Brigade.[4] Brevetted to major on 1 July 1930, he completed his graduation in law and qualified as a barrister at the Inner Temple in 1932.[13] He was then posted as an instructor to the Staff College with the local rank of lieutenant-colonel, and advanced to brevet lieutenant-colonel on 1 July 1934.[14][15] Nye was promoted to the substantive rank of major on 8 September 1935, and to the substantive rank of lieutenant-colonel in September 1937.[16][17] From late 1937 to early 1939 he commanded the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.[2][3]

Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Nye, Vice-Chief of the Imperial General Staff with Lieutenant-Generals Freyberg (left) and McCreery (right) at Forli airfield, Italy during a flying visit to the British Eighth Army.

On 20 May 1939, Nye was promoted to colonel, with the temporary rank of brigadier, and sent to India to raise a brigade, commanding the Nowshera Brigade from May 1939 to January 1940.[18][19] In February 1940 he returned to London to take up the post of deputy director of Staff Duties, War Office and became Director of Staff Duties with the acting rank of major-general from 1 November.[20] Promoted to substantive major-general on 18 November 1941, in December he became Vice-Chief of the Imperial General Staff under Sir Alan Brooke with the acting rank of lieutenant-general from 5 December.[21][22] The enormous burdens placed on Brooke meant that he needed to delegate many of his tasks and for this he relied heavily on Nye. The partnership was highly successful and Nye remained in the job for the rest of the war.[23] It could be said that while Brooke ran the war, Nye ran the army.[24] Advanced to the temporary rank of lieutenant-general on 5 December 1942, in the 1944 Birthday Honours Nye was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, the first of five knighthoods he would ultimately be conferred with.[25][26] He was promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant-general on 14 September 1944.[25][27] Nye retired on 29 March 1946.[28]

Later life

Following his retirement, Nye was appointed Governor of Madras on 26 February 1946,[29] took charge on 5 May 1946[30] and served as Governor till 7 September 1948.[31] The day prior to his appointment as Governor there was a major labour strike in Madras.[29] The rest of his term was plagued by peasant uprisings all over the province.[32] These rebellions were aided and abetted by the Communists who established miniature governments along the northern frontiers of the Presidency, thereby demanding military action.[32]

Nye attributed their success to the "zeal and energy of young men who conducted their own newspapers and who preached the creed of expropriating landlords and distributing their land to needy and hungry labourers".[32] Nye was also the Colonel-in-chief of the Madras Regiment from 10 August 1946 to 31 March 1949.[33] The Recruits Training Centre was moved from Madukkarai near Coimbatore to Wellington in February 1947.[33] Nye inaugurated the Madras offices of the British Council in July–August 1948.[34]

In November 1947, when Sir Frederick Gentle, the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, resigned over the Government of India order that the Chief Minister of the particular state should be consulted along with the Union Home Minister with regard to the selection of High Court judges, Nye expressed support for Gentle against political interference in appointment of judges.[35]

Nye presided over independence day celebrations in Madras city. On 15 August 1947, Nye was sworn-in by Chief Justice Gentle as the first Governor of Madras in the Dominion of India while O.P. Ramaswami Reddiar was sworn in as Premier.[36] Nye unfurled the Indian tricolour at the Island Grounds.[36]

Following his term in Madras, Nye was appointed the UK's High Commissioner to India, in which post he served from 1948 to 1952. He then served as the UK's High Commissioner to Canada from 1952 to 1956.[2]


In 1939, Nye married divorcee Una Sheila Colleen, daughter of Sir Harry Hugh Sidney Knox. The couple had one daughter.[2]

In the 1960s and 1970s, Lady Nye was a member of Wiltshire County Council and was a member of its Education Committee.[37]


Order of wear per current London Gazette regulations.[38]

  • Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India (GCSI) (August 14, 1947) [39]
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (GCMG) (June 7, 1951) [40]
  • Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (GCIE) (February 8, 1946) [41]
  • Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, Military Division (KCB) (January 1, 1946) [42]
  • Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Military Division (KBE) (June 1, 1944)
  • Military Cross (MC) (1918)


  1. Alanbrooke (2001), p. xli.
  2. "Nye, Sir Archibald Edward (1895-1967), army officer". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35272. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. "British Army officer histories". Unit Histories. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  4. Smart 2005, p. 238.
  5. British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920, A-Z Nicholl - Parry Nur, Uddin - Nye, Wilfred P J
  6. "No. 29417". The London Gazette. 24 December 1915. p. 12845.
  7. "(124) - Army lists > Half-yearly Army lists 1923 - Feb 1950 (From 1947, annual, despite the name) > 1938 > Second half - British Military lists - National Library of Scotland". Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  8. "No. 29853". The London Gazette. 8 December 1916. p. 11972.
  9. "No. 30283". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 September 1917. p. 9518.
  10. "No. 31266". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 April 1919. p. 4331.
  11. "No. 31680". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 December 1919. p. 15358.
  12. "No. 32841". The London Gazette. 3 July 1923. p. 4617.
  13. "No. 33624". The London Gazette. 11 July 1930. p. 4363.
  14. "No. 33853". The London Gazette. 9 August 1932. p. 5139.
  15. "No. 34066". The London Gazette. 3 July 1934. p. 4230.
  16. "No. 34233". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 December 1935. p. 8197.
  17. "No. 34457". The London Gazette. 23 November 1937. p. 7349.
  18. "No. 34632". The London Gazette. 6 June 1939. p. 3779.
  19. "No. 34648". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 July 1939. p. 5106.
  20. "No. 34988". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 November 1940. p. 6479.
  21. "No. 35369". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 December 1941. p. 6937.
  22. "No. 35377". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 December 1941. p. 7043.
  23. Mead 2007, p. 330.
  24. Mead 2007, p. 328.
  25. "No. 35836". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 December 1942. p. 5625.
  26. "No. 36544". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 June 1944. p. 2573.
  27. "No. 36711". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 September 1944. p. 4373.
  28. "No. 37522". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 April 1946. p. 1729.
  29. Saroja Sundarrajan (1989). March to freedom in Madras Presidency, 1916–1947. Lalitha Publications. p. 632.
  30. "Provinces of British India – Madras". worldstatesmen.
  31. "Indian States since 1947 – Tamil Nadu". worldstatesmen.
  32. Sir Francis Low (1972). Struggle for Asia. p. 96.
  33. "Madras Regiment". Indian Army. Archived from the original on 29 August 2009.
  34. S. Muthiah (21 March 2005). "Recalling the beginnings". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 November 2005.
  35. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, correspondence and select documents, Volume 8. Allied Publishers. 1984. p. 293. ISBN 81-7023-002-0.
  36. Ramakrishnan, T. (15 August 2012). "When city revelled in day-long jubilation". The Hindu.
  37. The Municipal Year Book and Public Services Directory (1972), p. 856: "Nye, Lady, Alderstone Hse. Whiteparish, Salisbury." ; The Education Committees' Year Book (1971), p. 238
  38. "No. 62529". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 January 2019. p. 326.
  39. "No. 38161". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1948. p. 5.
  40. "No. 39243". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 June 1951. p. 3064.
  41. "No. 37461". The London Gazette. 8 February 1946. p. 863.
  42. "No. 37407". The London Gazette. 1 January 1946. p. 5.


  • Alanbrooke, Field Marshal Lord (2001). Danchev, Alex; Todman, Daniel (eds.). War Diaries 1939–1945. Phoenix Press. ISBN 1-84212-526-5.
  • 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.
  • Smart, Nick (2005). Biographical Dictionary of British Generals of the Second World War. Barnesley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 1844150496.
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