Thomas Corbett (Indian Army officer)

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Thomas William Corbett
Born 2 June 1888
Died 30 December 1981 (aged 93)
Sussex, England
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Indian Army
Years of service 1907–1943
Rank Lieutenant General
Unit 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)
Commands held 2nd Lancers (Gardner's Horse)
Sialkot Brigade
31st Indian Armoured Division
IV Corps
7th Indian Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards CB (1 January 1941)
MC (3 June 1918)
MC (7 November 1918)

Lieutenant-General Thomas William Corbett CB MC and bar (2 June 1888 – 30 December 1981) was a British Indian Army officer who commanded IV Corps during World War II.

Early life and military career

Corbett attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and was commissioned onto the Unattached List for the Indian Army 19 January 1907.[1] Posted to India he was attached to 1st battalion The Queens regiment 15 March 1907 for a year. He was admitted to Indian Army 15 March 1908 and joined 9th Hodson's Horse.[2]

At the start of World War I,[3] he landed in France on 7 November 1914. He was wounded on 21 December 1914.[4] He became Staff Captain of the 3rd (Ambala) Cavalry Brigade on 4 April 1916,[5] brigade major for tye 1st Cavalry Brigade on 8 June 1917,[5] and Brigade Major for the Ambala Brigade on 23 February 1918.[5] He served in France until 31 March 1918 when transferred to serve in Palestine. Awarded the Military Cross (MC) in the London Gazette 3 June 1918. He was wounded on 23 May 1918 leading a trench raid there for which he was later awarded a bar to his MC.[4][6] He was also mentioned in despatches twice.[7][8] He went on to be brigade major for the 160th Brigade, Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) on 2 August 1918.[5]

Between the wars

After the war Corbett became Deputy Adjutant and Quartermaster General for 4th Cavalry Division of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force on 7 August 1919 to 31 August 1920 [5][9]

He attended Staff College, Quetta in 1921-22 and was appointed a General Staff Officer grade 2 on the General Staff, Southern Command, India from 15 February 1922 until 28 August 1925. He was again appointed a General Staff Officer grade 2 as Staff officer to Major-General Cavalry from 26 September 1925 to 4 December 1926.[10][11]

He was appointed a General Staff Officer grade 2 and Instructor at the Staff College, Quetta from 14 January 1930 to 31 August 1932[9] and transferred to 2nd Lancers on 12 May 1930.[9] He served as Commanding Officer of 2nd Lancers from 31 October 1933 to 7 April 1935.[12] He was subsequently appointed to the post of Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General from 8 April 1935 to 5 September 1935.[9] He served as a General Staff Officer grade 1 and Instructor at the Staff College, Quetta from 6 September 1935 to 27 June 1938 and as Commander of the Sialkot Brigade from 2 August 1938 to 28 January 1940.[9][13]

World War II

Corbett served in World War II as a Brigadier responsible for the Cavalry at Army Headquarters India and then as Inspector of Cavalry Army Headquarters India from 29 Jan 1940 to 31 Aug 1940 [9] before becoming General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 1st Indian Armoured Division 1 September 1940 (later known as 31st Indian Armoured Division).[13][14]He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in January 1941.[15] He went on to be Commander of IV Corps from January to March 1942 in Iraq[16] before being appointed Chief of Staff in the Middle East later that year.[3] Corbett was dismissed in the 'Cairo purge' in August 1942. He was then GOC 7th Indian Infantry Division in India from 23 October 1942 [17] until July 1943 when he handed command over to Frank Messervy before retiring as a Major General 23 October 1943.[3][18]

By October 1945 he had been re-employed as head of the Combined Inter Services Historical Section (India) whilst on the Indian Regular Reserve of Officers.[19]


  1. ^ London Gazette 18 January 1907
  2. ^ January 1915 Indian Army List
  3. ^ a b c Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  4. ^ a b Cardew, Major F. G., O.B.E., Hodson`s Horse 1857-1922
  5. ^ a b c d e Quarterly Army List for quarter ending 31 March 1922
  6. ^ "No. 30997". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 November 1918. p. 13137.
  7. ^ London Gazette 1 January 1916
  8. ^ London Gazette 15 May 1917
  9. ^ a b c d e f Indian Army List Supplement 1941
  10. ^ Indian Army Lists July 1921, October 1923 & October 1925
  11. ^ Indian Army List Supplement 1941
  12. ^ Indian Army List April 1934 & Indian Army List Supplement 1941
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ Half Yearly Army List 1941
  15. ^ London Gazette 1 January 1941
  16. ^ Army Commands Archived 5 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ July 1943 Most Secret edition, Indian Army List, page 56
  18. ^ London Gazette 31 December 1943
  19. ^ October 1945 Indian Army List


  • Smart, Nick (2005). Biographical Dictionary of British Generals of the Second World War. Barnesley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 1844150496.
Military offices
Preceded by
New post
GOC 1st Indian Armoured Division
Succeeded by
Post redesignated 31st Indian Armoured Division
Preceded by
New post
GOC 31st Indian Armoured Division
Succeeded by
Robert Wordsworth
Preceded by
Francis Nosworthy
GOC IV Corps
January – March 1942
Succeeded by
Noel Irwin
Preceded by
Roland Richardson
GOC 7th Indian Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Frank Messervy
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