Sir Skipton Hill Climo (18681937), by Bassano, 1925
Climo, Sir Skipton Hill (18681937), army officer, was born on 24 December 1868 in co. Longford, the second son of Lieutenant-Colonel William Hill Climo (18381919) of the Army Medical Service and surgeon to the rifle brigade, and his wife, Margaret (1843/41922). His father, who was from Blacksod, co. Mayo, served in India and contributed to contemporary debates about army medicine, writing on the prevalence of venereal disease among British soldiers in India, and the inferior physical state of army recruits compared to the civilian population.
Climo was educated at Shrewsbury School and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was commissioned a second lieutenant on 11 February 1888 in the Border regiment. While serving with the 1st battalion in India he was promoted lieutenant on 11 July 1889. In September 1889 he transferred to the Indian staff corps and was posted to the 24th Punjab regiment. A keen polo and golf player he quickly established a close friendship with Andrew Skeen, a fellow officer.
Climo first saw active service in 18978 during the tribal risings that broke out along the length of the north-west frontier. The 24th Punjabis distinguished themselves at the defence of Malakand (July 1897), the relief of Chakdara Fort (August 1897), and the ensuing punitive operations in Mohmand and Bajaur country. For his services in this hard-fought campaign he was mentioned in dispatches, appointed DSO and given his brevet-majority; on 12 February 1899 he was made substantive major. In 1900 the 24th Punjabis formed part of the expeditionary force sent to China to suppress the Boxer uprising. He was present at the relief of Peking and the actions at Peitsang and Yangstun, and was mentioned in dispatches. As second-in-command of the 19th Punjabis, he took part in the Younghusband mission to Tibet in 1904. In February 1905 he was promoted major in the 24th Punjabis. He saw active service again in 1908 during the Mohmand expedition and took part in the engagement at Kargha, and was again mentioned in dispatches.
Climo was promoted lieutenant-colonel on 13 February 1912 and took command of the 24th Punjabis. Following the outbreak of the First World War he led his battalion to Egypt with the Indian expeditionary force F. As part of 30th Indian infantry brigade it was initially deployed to defend the Suez Canal from Turkish attacks. In late March 1915 the 24th Punjabis were redeployed to Mesopotamia, where they took part in the battle of Shaybah in the following month. Climo temporarily commanded 17th brigade in May 1915 during the attack aboard boats up the River Tigris at Qurna that resulted in the capture of Amara. As the commanding officer of the 24th Punjabis, he distinguished himself during 12th Indian division's advance up the Euphrates towards Nasiriyyah in appalling heat. On 3 June 1915 he was promoted colonel.
Climo briefly commanded 30th infantry brigade during the first battle of Kut al-Amara in September 1915 before returning to lead his battalion. The 24th Punjabis took part in the ensuing advance towards Baghdad. During the attack on Ctesiphon by troops under the command of Charles Townshend, Climo led the Indian troops of the hastily organized composite 30th infantry brigade that captured Vital Point redoubt and eight guns from the Turks sited beyond the position. During the afternoon of 22 November, however, Climo was hit twice in the leg and was again wounded while being evacuated on a stretcher. It was the end of his war in Mesopotamia. He was mentioned in dispatches on three occasions, promoted brevet colonel, made a CB and awarded the order of the Nile, third class. He returned to India and as a temporary brigadier-general commanded Nowshera brigade from May 1917, before being promoted major-general on 3 June 1918.
During the short-lived Third Afghan War in May 1919 Climo led the 3rd brigade on the Khyber line and was again mentioned in dispatches. The ensuing tribal rising in Waziristan, however, proved a far more difficult challenge for the army in India. In May 1919 he was appointed commander of the Waziristan force, with full military and political powers and reporting directly to army headquarters, to deal with the Mahsuds and Wazirs. The Tochi Wazirs quickly submitted in November 1919 and agreed terms with the British government. The second phase of the operation in central Waziristan, however, proved far more difficult as the Derajat column, commanded by Andrew Skeen, advanced deep into Mahsud territory. Its young, inexperienced, and half-trained troops suffered heavy casualties and were nearly defeated at Palosina in December 1919. Throughout these operations Climo exercised firm and effective control over his subordinate. The back of Mahsud resistance, however, was broken at the Ahnai Tangi gorge in January 1920 and a settlement was finally reached with the recalcitrant tribesmen in May 1920. Again mentioned in dispatches, he was advanced to KCB and on 1 June 1921 was promoted lieutenant-general.
Climo took command of Poona district, but in December 1922 relinquished active employment in the Indian army, and retired in late 1923. During his retirement Climo served as colonel of the 4th battalion of the 14th Punjab regiment (the renamed 24th Punjabis), as well as enjoying golf and fishing. On 15 April 1925, at Kensington, he married Ethel Bessie (18931974), daughter of Thomas Glaisby Mann of Harrogate. They had no children.
Climo died at his home at 7 Godwyn Gardens, Folkestone, Kent, on 31 March 1937, following a short illness, and was interred in the garrison churchyard at Shorncliffe. He was a gifted and highly regarded commander throughout his long career. Having distinguished himself on the north-west frontier in 18978 and in Mesopotamia during the First World War, he proved himself, as commander of the Waziristan force, an able, resolute, and skilled senior officer intimately acquainted with the peculiar demands of frontier warfare.
T. R. Moreman
The Times (1 April 1937) · Indian Army Lists · T. R. Moreman, The army in India and the development of frontier warfare, 18491947 (1998) · B. Robson, Crisis on the frontier: the third Afghan war and the campaign in Waziristan, 19191920 (2004) · War records of the 24th Punjabis (4th Battalion 14th Punjab Regiment), 191420 (1934)
Bassano, whole-plate glass negative, 1925, NPG [see illus.] · Lafayette, photograph, repro. in War records, frontispiece
Wealth at death
£7591 6s. 6d.: administration, 12 July 1937, CGPLA Eng. & Wales