Claude Auchinleck (1884-1981) left Sandhurst in 1904 and joined the Indian Army, being commissioned into the 62nd Punjabis. During World War I he was appointed to the D.S.O. and thrice mentioned in dispatches. In June 1941, during World War II, Churchill ordered 'the Auk' to take over from Sir A.P. (later Earl) Wavell as Commander-in-Chief Middle East. In 1946 he was promoted to field-marshal and was closely involved in the almost impossible task of supervising the separation of the Indian army during independence. After independence Auchinleck stayed on as supreme commander of the Indian and Pakistani forces. He was among the ten field-marshals of World War II honoured by a memorial in the crypt of St Paul's in November 1976.
The present composition is a study for a larger oil (30 x 25 in.) reproduced in F.W. Hawcroft, Edward Seago A Review of the Years 1953-1964, London, 1965, pl. 73.