Wauchope served in South Africa with the Black Watch and was severely wounded during the Second Boer War. He then served in India from 1903 to 1914. During World War I he returned to Europe and fought in France until 1916 when he was transferred to Mesopotamia and was wounded. Following the war he was chief of the British section of the Berlin Control Commission and then served in Northern Ireland from 1927 to 1929.
In 1931, he became High Commissioner of the British Mandate of Palestine and TransJordan. He tolerated a significant increase in Jewish immigration and was criticized for being lax after the outbreak of the Arab rebellion which broke out in 1936. He tried to cope with this through the proposal for a legislative council and extending local self government. He was relieved from the position of High Commissioner in 1938 marking the introduction of a harsher British policy towards the mandate.