Staff College, Quetta Postcard

In the opening years of the twentieth century it was recognised that there was a need for a staff college in India to instruct officers in the duties and requirements necessary to effectively command at a high level within the Indian army. In 1905 a staff college was founded in Deolali and in 1907 this moved to Quetta in Baluchistan. A series of buildings were constructed in which to instruct the officers and it is a postcard of these that is the subject of this week’s post:

These buildings survived a major earthquake in 1935, but following this it was decided to replace them with more robust structures. The main range of buildings in this view were therefore demolished over the years with the exception of the central tower:

This still exists today, albeit with the addition of an extra floor, however it is now isolated and stands alone as the college’s Memorial Tower:

Many famous soldiers passed through the college at Quetta, one was Claude Auchinleck and in his biography of the man, the author Phillip Warner describes the future Field Marshall’s time at the college:

In 1919 Auchinleck was given a vacancy at the Staff College, Quetta. He was thirty-five, a lieutenant-colonel, and considerably more experienced than many of his instructors. Attendance on a course of any type can often be a strain on the temper of experienced officer. Much of the time he feels is being spent on outmoded doctrine, and the sheer tedium of being instructed day after day tempts the pupil to be a little cynical, if nothing more. There is a tendency for classes to behave like naughty schoolboys. Quetta, founded by Kitchener along the lines of Camberley Staff College, was a thoroughly efficient college, but there as a feeling that the course at Camberley must be nearer to the heart of things and probably more progressive.

The links to Camberley College were strong throughout the interwar years, indeed both Quetta and Camberley shared the same entrance exams throughout this period. When Pakistan was formed after partition, the nascent nation kept Quetta as its staff college and many of its alumni would serve in senior positions in the armed forces of the new nation, a role the college has maintained to the current day.

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