Anderson attended the Army Staff College at Camberley, commanded a regiment on the Northwest Frontier of India, and served in Palestine from 1930 to 1932. Promoted to colonel in 1934, he commanded the 11th Infantry Brigade as part of the 3rd Infantry Division of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France at the beginning of World War II. Toward the end of the withdrawal to Dunkerque, he took command of the 3rd Division. Promoted to major general, he held a variety of posts in the United Kingdom during the next two years, culminating in heading the Eastern Command.
In autumn 1942, Anderson became the senior British officer in Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower's U.S. headquarters in London. Although unpopular with many U.S. officers, Anderson was well liked by Eisenhower. Anderson commanded the Eastern Task Force in the Allied invasion of North Africa, Operation torch. Anderson's units landed at Algiers, although in respect to French sensibilities, an American, Major General Charles Ryder, commanded the actual landing. Anderson took over the day after the landing, and on 11 November 1942, he became head of the newly constituted British First Army and was concurrently promoted to lieutenant general. Anderson's acerbic nature and dour personality tinged with pessimism did not suit him for command of an Allied force.
Ordered to quickly advance eastward to Tunis, 500 miles away, Anderson had only four brigades at his disposal. Rugged terrain, poor weather, stiffening Axis defenses, and lack of transportation thwarted his offensive, which was stopped 12 miles short of its goal. In January 1943, Eisenhower added to Anderson's command the French XIX Corps and Major General Lloyd Fredenhall's U.S. II Corps. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and General Hans Jürgen von Arnim then launched a series of counterattacks, most notably at Kasserine Pass during 14–22 February, that threw the Allied armies into disarray. Although there were efforts to replace Anderson, he remained in command of First Army, and his troops entered Tunis in May 1943.
Anderson returned to Britain to take over the British Second Army headquarters in June 1943 and began to plan for the invasion of France. In January 1944, however, Anderson was shifted to Eastern Command. From January 1945 to October 1946, Anderson headed the East Africa Command. During 1947–1952, he was governor and commander in chief of Gibraltar. Promoted to full general in 1949, he retired in 1952. Anderson died at Gibraltar on 29 April 1959.
Dana Lombardy and T. P. Schweider
D'Este, Carlo. Eisenhower, A Soldier's Life. New York: Henry Holt, 2002.; Howe, George F. Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1957.; Kelly, Orr. Meeting the Fox. New York: Wiley, 2002.; Rolf, David. The Bloody Road to Tunis. London: Greenhill Books, 2001.