Thomas Jacomb Hutton

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Sir Thomas Hutton
Sir Thomas Jacomb Hutton
Born (1890-03-27)27 March 1890
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Died 17 January 1981(1981-01-17) (aged 90)
London, England
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1909–1944
Rank Lieutenant General
Service number 19400
Unit Royal Artillery
Commands held Chief of the General Staff (India)
Burma Command
Battles/wars World War I
Arab revolt in Palestine
World War II
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire
Military Cross & bar
Mentioned in dispatches (5)
Spouse(s) Isabel Emslie Hutton (married 1921-1960)

Sir Thomas Jacomb Hutton, KCB, KCIE, MC & bar (27 March 1890 – 17 January 1981) was a British Army officer who held a variety of vital staff appointments between World War I and World War II, ultimately commanding the Burma Army during the early stages of the Japanese conquest of Burma in early 1942.[1]

Hutton was married to Scottish psychiatrist Isabel Emslie Hutton (1887-1960).[2]

Early life and First World War[edit]

Thomas Jacomb Hutton was born on 27 March 1890 in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, the eldest son of William Henry Hutton, and was educated at Rossall School and Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. On 23 December 1909, after passing out from Woolwich, he was, along with Edmond Schreiber, who like Hutton was a future general, commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Royal Artillery.[3][1] Promoted on 23 December 1912 to lieutenant,[4] Hutton served with the Royal Field Artillery ☆on the Western Front throughout World War I,[1] being promoted to captain in 1915 and brevet major in 1918. He became staff qualified, and served in 1918 as a General Staff Officer Grade 3 (GSO3) and as a brigade major from 1918 to 1919.[1]

Between the wars[edit]

From 1919 to 1920, Hutton served in the War Office as the Assistant Military Secretary and from 1923 to 1924 as the Deputy Assistant Adjutant General.[1] He met Scottish psychiatrist Isabel Galloway Emslie (1887-1960) in Constantinople and they married in 1921.[2]

After attending the Staff College, Camberley as a student from 1922 to 1923[1] from 1924 to 1926, Hutton was a General Staff Officer Grade 2 (GSO2) on the staff of Eastern Command, in the eastern counties of Britain.[1] He was officially promoted to the full rank of Major in 1927, and from 1927 to 1930 he was the Military Assistant to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) and later attended the Imperial Defence College.[1][5] He was "double jumped" to the rank of full colonel in 1930 and served from 1933 to 1936 as General Staff Officer Grade 1 (GSO1) in the Directorate of Military Operations in the War Office.[1]

In 1936, Hutton served in the British forces in Palestine during the Arab revolt.[1] From 1936 to 1938 he was the GSO1 (Chief of Staff) in the 1st Infantry Division (United Kingdom), which was sent to Palestine. He was promoted to major general and appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC) Western Independent District, in India.[1]

World War II[edit]

In 1940, after the outbreak of the Second World War, he was appointed Deputy Chief of the General Staff, GHQ India.[1] The following year he was promoted Lieutenant General and appointed Chief of the General Staff in India.[1]

Burma Army[edit]

In 1942, Hutton was appointed General Officer Commanding Burma Command,[1] which was facing imminent invasion by Japanese troops. Burma Army was subordinated to the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command, of which Wavell was Commander in Chief.

Hutton initially ordered his subordinates to fight as close to the borders as possible. Some of them thought that he was doing so on Wavell's orders, but Hutton actually wished to gain time for reinforcements to arrive.[6] This resulted in the defeat of the ill-equipped and badly-trained Burmese and Indian formations which tried to fight close to the frontier.

Hutton now considered that Rangoon, the capital, could not be defended. He attempted to divert reinforcements to ports further north. Wavell considered this to be defeatism, and stormed at Hutton in front of witnesses at a meeting on 28 February. He did not argue back, feeling that a dignified silence was the best rebuke.[7] Hutton had already been superseded by General Harold Alexander as GOC of Burma Army, and appointed Alexander's Chief of Staff, an embarrassing appointment he held until Burma Army was disbanded later in the year.

During the crisis in Burma in 1942, it was felt by some senior officers (such as General Sir Alan Hartley, the acting Commander in Chief in India), that Hutton made a good chief of staff but was not fitted for command in the field.[8] In this respect, it was unfortunate that Hutton had held command of no major formation before being promoted to command an army.

Hutton subsequently served until 1944 as Secretary of the War Resources and Reconstruction Committees of Council, India.[1] In 1944, he retired from the Army,[1] although he retained the honorary post of Colonel Commandant of the Royal Artillery until 1952.[citation needed]

Later career[edit]

Hutton held a variety of Civil Posts after his retirement: from 1944 to 1946, he was Officiating Secretary, Viceroy's Executive Council in India;[1] from 1947 to 1949, he was a Regional Officer for the Ministry of Health; from 1949 to 1953, as General Manager of the Anglo-American Council on Productivity; from 1953 to 1957 as Director of the British Productivity Council, and from 1957 to 1964 as Chairman of Organisation and Methods Training Council.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "King's Collections : Archive Catalogues : HUTTON, Lt Gen Sir Thomas Jacomb (1890-1981)". Retrieved 2017-12-29.
  2. ^ a b Hutton, Isabel Galloway Emslie [née Isabel Galloway Emslie], Lady Hutton (1887–1960). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/71709.
  3. ^ London Gasette (28329). 14 January 1910. p. 340. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ London Gasette (28674). 24 December 1912. p. 9784. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Smart, p. 165
  6. ^ Allen, Burma: The Longest War, pp.25-26
  7. ^ Allen, Burma:The Longest War, p.48
  8. ^ Allen, Burma: the Longest War, pp.50-51


  • Allen, Louis (1984). Burma: The Longest War. Dent Publishing. ISBN 0-460-02474-4.
  • Smart, Nick (2005). Biographical Dictionary of British Generals of the Second World War. Barnesley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 1844150496.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Eric de Burgh
Chief of the General Staff (India)
May–December 1941
Succeeded by
Sir Edwin Morris
Preceded by
Kenneth McLeod
Burma Command
Succeeded by
Sir Harold Alexander